The Death of Fair Use in Cyberspace: YouTube and the Problem With Content ID

By: Taylor B. Bartholomew

YouTube has grown exponentially over the past several years. With that growth came unprecedented levels of copyright infringement by uploaders on the site, forcing YouTube’s parent company, Google Inc., to introduce a new technology known as Content ID. This tool allows YouTube to automatically scan and identify potential cases of copyright infringement on an unparalleled scale. However, Content ID is overbroad in its identification of copyright infringement, often singling out legitimate uses of content. Every potential case of copyright infringement identified by Content ID triggers an automatic copyright claim on behalf of the copyright holder on YouTube and subsequently freezes all revenue streams, for all parties, regardless of the legitimacy of the underlying claim. Using the plight of one video game reviewer known as “Angry Joe” as a paradigmatic example of the problems that Content ID can create, this Issue Brief argues that in its present form, Content ID has had disastrous consequences for the doctrine of fair use, YouTube itself, and ultimately, the very spirit of copyright law. By shifting the neutral presumption accompanied with fair use against the uploader, Content ID effectively overrides judicial precedent.

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Cite: 13 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 66

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