Sourced from smh.com.au
The days of anything goes on YouTube are over. If you’re planning on using copyrighted content as part of your own creative masterpiece, you’re more or less inviting legal action, says a new research paper.
The paper, authored by Damien O’Brien and Brian Fitzgerald of Queensland University of Technology (QUT), identifies “remixes” and “mashups” of copyrighted content as a critical factor that’s been overlooked by Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock in his new copyright reforms, announced on May 14.
“We now inhabit a ‘remix culture’, a culture which is dominated by amateur creators – creators who are no longer willing to be merely passive receptors of content,” the paper reads.
“The challenge for creativity and the economy of digital content production is the extent to which mashup and remix artists should be allowed to borrow.”
YouTube serves more than 100 million short video clips per day, which includes many from amateur film producers who use copyrighted material in conjunction with their own creativity to develop something new. Permission from the original copyright owners is rarely sought.
One example cited in the paper is a video remix from December 2005, where a Perth group called Dean Gray uploaded a remixed version of Green Day’s album American Idiot – dubbed American Edit – to the internet.
“Within days they received a cease and desist letter on behalf of Warner Bros and Green Day,” the paper reads.
“Dean Gray is like many of a new generation of amateur creators. They can sit at home in the bedroom and produce the most wonderful things. Most often they do not want money. Merely, they wish to share the finished product with the world.”
The paper poses the question: should Dean Gray (and authors of other remixes) pay for a license, even if their clip is non-commercial and doesn’t necessarily rob Green Day of album sales?
Under current copyright laws, unless permission has been given in advance through an open content license (e.g. Creative Commons), according to the law the answer is “yes”.
“The exclusive rights of the copyright owner over acts such as reproduction/copying,
communication, adaptation and performance – unless licensed openly – by their very
nature reduce the ability to negotiate copyright material without permission,” says the paper.
The copyright reforms announced by the Attorney-General do little to remedy the issue, which means legal action could be taken against Australian mashup and remix artists, says the paper.
“There appears to be no provision for any fair dealing exception for mashups
or remixes which are highly transformative, non-commercial derivatives that do not
compete with the primary market of the copyright owner.”
The legal implications of this could be felt sooner rather than later, having already surfaced in the US. It appears copyright owners are now far more confident in taking legal action against YouTube now that it’s got the weight of Google’s substantive cash reserves behind it.
On November 20, YouTube removed no less than 29,549 videos that used material from Japanese copyright holders without permission. Six days later the site removed 1000 sports videos (including Australian Open Tennis footage), while on Friday YouTube removed all clips taken from the Daily Show, Colbert Report and South Park, at the request of Comedy Central.