YouTube users have long been infuriated by the site's strict copyright policies, which can make it easy to make false claims against videos that use small samples of copyrighted content in new and original ways — such as for parody or critique (think an Honest Trailer or a transformative remix). But according to a post on Google's Public Policy Blog from Copyright Legal Director Fred von Lohmann, the site is planning to take a stand against wrongful requests to remove content by targeting a select few of the best examples of fair use, championing their causes, and even "agreeing to defend them in court if necessary."
"We’ll keep the videos live on YouTube in the U.S.," Lehmann wrote, "Feature them in the YouTube Copyright Center as strong examples of fair use, and cover the cost of any copyright lawsuits brought against them."
The Daily Dot reports that Google's actions have earned support from many advocates for better and clearer copyright policies on the site. Currently, it's easy for people to use false claims to intimidate users, and even censor their speech, and Google's promise to do more to protect them seems like a step forward. Still, it is only a first step, and, as Wired points out, Google relies heavily on an automated system to identify copyright infringements that tends to favor those filing complaints (which can force a user to either remove the video or give up any claim to its advertising revenue) over users fighting them.
Google has posted a playlist (above) of four videos it is defending and has provided a list of several others at the bottom of its page on fair use. "If your video is chosen for this effort, we’ll get in touch with you," the page reads. "Please don’t contact us asking to protect your video; we’ll find you if we’re able to offer you this protection." And when Google says they'll find you, they'll find you.