The Weekend Rant, Vol. 1

Everyone has at least one thing that pisses them off. Some people have a lot. I happen to be a part of that latter category. Many of the things that I choose to rage about have to do with music and its business. Time to vent and tell people why they’re all stupid.

YouTube has been a very valuable asset to me in discovering new bands, checking out music videos, etc. Though I prefer Vimeo, YouTube easily has the largest selection of videos on the ‘net. At this point in time, it seems like a majority of videos I watch have a top-rated comment that says something along the lines of this (which I took directly from a YouTube video):

“YOUTUBE IS PROMOTION, NOT OWNING.”

There are so many ways that this statement is both wrong and disillusioned, and it annoys the hell out of me. I don’t expect everyone to know every arm of what copyrights protect you against, but for those of you who would like to know, here they are in a simple and boiled-down version:

  1. The right to reproduce the copyrighted work
  2. The right to prepare derivative works based upon the work
  3. The right to distribute copies of the work to the public
  4. The right to perform the copyrighted work publicly
  5. The right to display the copyrighted work publicly

(to you IP law savvy people, I know there’s technically six if you count performing a sound recording, but for simplicity sake, I’m counting that with public performance)

By uploading a copyrighted video to YouTube you do not have the rights to, you are breaking four (almost five of these). If you bothered to count, that’s all of them. So yes, you are breaking the law by “promoting” videos on YouTube. So now that we’ve covered that it’s actually illegal, what are the other repercussions of this? Well, you’re enjoying copyrighted content for free. Enjoying this content for free means that the people who would normally be making money from this content aren’t anymore. This means artists, labels, publishers, the works.

Oh, you want to wave the fair use claim? Good luck, here’s what is covered by fair use, again in a simple and boiled-down way:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

This one is a bit more complex than the rights that copyright affords you, and is by no means black and white. It would take a lot to explain these things in detail, but the Fair Use Wikipedia article is very well written and covers the common misconceptions of fair use. In short, there is almost no way whatsoever for your argue of fair use to hold up in court if you uploaded a copyrighted work to YouTube. You can’t even have YouTube be your meat shield in this case because of the “safe harbor” law that prevents sites on the Internet, such as YouTube, who can’t (reasonably) be expected to patrol all their content for copyright infringements.

So please, people, stop complaining about needing to see an ad or two before your video. It’s allowing you to enjoy content for free (which you like) and allows for the content’s creators to make money from their content (meaning they can keep making it, which you like). If you’re still adamant about not having ads and such, suffer any/all of the following repercussions: poor quality content, videos being removed due to copyright infringement, or you end up needing to pay for certain content. Pick your poison.

The moral of this story: learn something about the stuff you complain about before you complain so you don’t look like a total asshat.

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