You don’t have to spend too much time on You Tube to quickly realize that there are a lot of potential copyright issues with You Tube. While it is arguably legal under the Safe Harbor Provisions of the U.S. Copyright Code to post snippets, excerpts or short clips of full on movies or TV shows on You Tube, actually showing full clips or a large segments of content can violate U.S. Copyright Law.
The big factor in determining whether taking somebody’s work and showing it to the public or using it violates the Copyright holders rights is whether your doing it for commercial purposes. Apparently, nobody gave this memo to You Tube. As you can well imagine, there are a lot of people that post excerpts of video games or even whole segments of video games to foster discussion. In other words, they are trying to engage the community based on content that is found in copyrighted work. Again, the legality of this depends on the motivation. Well, You Tube just ruled out an initiative that would flag thousands of game related videos if they contain certain trigger words or key words.
The big tragedy of all this banning and content flagging is the fact that a lot of these videos have the affirmation of the copyright holders to have the permission of the copyright holders. Many copyright holders are smart. They know that fanatically protecting their copyright might result in less people knowing about there product. So, if they were a little bit more liberal in the distribution of excerpts or segments or clips of their work then people would get a chance to appreciate the value of their work and would want to buy the full version.
Sure, a certain percentage of these people that watched clips would then go on to find torrent or pirate sites to download the full version. But for the most part, there are enough people that would buy the legitimate copy of the full work to make giving out rights to snippets worth it. Well, all this has blown past You Tube and it has just started flagging all this video game related videos. This has cost quite a fire storm online and as a result, many people that make money publicizing video game snippets and upcoming video game titles are losing out on ad revenues and income from all their work on you tube.
The take away from all this is very simple. Number one, if you are going to rely on you tube to make money, you better have a back up plan. The iron rule of the internet is ‘whatever the internet gives, it can take away’. It really is that simple. It doesn’t matter whether you make your money through Facebook or through search engine optimization at Google. whatever the internet gives, it can take away. The second take away from all of these is that you tube is not really paying attention to the acutal copyright holders. Many copyright holders have many different interest so its probably a good idea to listen to those people before it cracks down.