Friday, January 16, 2009

Another YouTube fair use battle brewing; reviewer and 'video essayist' Kevin Lee has account suspended following copyright claims

YouTube is again the battlefield for a fight between copyright owners and an alleged fair user of their works. Filmmaker and video producer Kevin Lee had his entire YouTube account, consisting of 70 videos, including 40 "video essays," removed following DMCA takedown notices. The incident is receiving lots of attention in the film studies blogosphere, and EFF has offered Lee assistance.

Lee hasn't yet revealed much in the way of detail about the takedowns; apparently the final "strike" that led YouTube to disable his account was a claim by French film archive INA over the video embedded here. It's impossible to say with certainty whether Lee's uses were fair and therefore noninfringing without seeing the videos themselves, and the context in which they appeared. However, assuming that his uses were truly in the context of "reviews," and the length of the clips was not excessive, it would seem his fair use argument would be very strong; "criticism [and] comment" are two of the classic fair use purposes enumerated in the statute.

There's no indication whether Lee has filed a counternotice with YouTube to contest one or more of the takedown notices, though EFF has suggested this step to Lee.

I'm trying to get additional info from Lee and will follow up.

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