I am here to address an ongoing conflict, one that rages on between YouTube and its fellow contributors,
those who, like me, include copyrighted material in their videos for critiquing purposes.
For instance, I often use clips and sometimes music so that my videos are more eye-catching and cause
viewer’s ears to perk up. After all, who wouldn’t want to see a crazed Jack Nicholson in The Shining
approaching his terrified wife on a stairwell saying…”Wendy, give me the bat. Wendy, I’m not going to hurt
you. I’m just going to bash your brains in” or hear the Pennywise theme creeping its way into the video’s
The other reason I use said material, the much more important reason, is to ensure that the point or the
critique I’m trying to convey is supported, comes clearly across, and is presented in a way that is not only
cohesive but actually holds viewer’s attention and carries it through to the video’s conclusion.
Oh, but YouTube doesn’t like that. Let me put it this way. Do you remember those red check marks your
grade school teachers gave you while perusing your “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” essay? Well,
those same red marks, or rather slashes, are given to you on YouTube as well but on a much grander
I can’t tell you how many copyright claims I’ve had placed on my videos since creating my channel three
years ago. What this means is that someone, either an agent hired by YouTube to spot and exploit said
content or perhaps even the sole proprietor of the content itself, claims it with the intention of earning
revenue that is due to them.
The only time revenue is circulated is when the video is monetized, meaning that the creator agrees to
have advertisements running alongside their videos with the potential of earning a profit the more the
video grows in popularity. Monetization is not permitted by YouTube, however, unless the video earns
well over a thousand views, if it goes viral in other words. My videos never seem to fetch anywhere near
as many views and so those trying to cash in on aforementioned material are really wasting their time.
This isn’t to say that I don’t have faith in either my channel or my creations. I enjoy making and publishing
videos and I know that somewhere out there someone else enjoys them as well and they appreciate the
hard work I’ve put into them.
Moreover, not all of the claims that are pitted against my videos are valid. And YouTube’s behavior can
often be construed as bullying and dare I say it, unconstitutional.
That is where Fair Use comes in.
Under the first amendment, Freedom of Speech, there does exist a doctrine referred to as “Fair Use”
which states that brief excerpts of copyrighted material may, under certain circumstances, be quoted
verbatim for purposes such as criticism, news reporting, teaching and research, without the need for
permission or payment to the copyright holder.
Perhaps some YouTubers, including yours truly, may have overstepped their bounds in regard to the
circumstances mentioned above. Other times they don’t and this doctrine may be argued in court and
potentially turn the heads of more than a few sympathetic jurors.
However, this article is not about who is right or wrong. It’s about creativity. It’s about how
reviewers/videographers like me can defend their work, how they can raise up a golden shield to deflect
an onslaught of arrows so to speak.
The conflict may never be resolved. Not entirely. It will go through many stages and many changes in the
coming years. Maybe someday an executive decision will be made. I’m not entirely sure but I think the
Supreme Court may have the final say.
Whatever the case may be, the Ranting Usher is going to keep on doing what he loves because when you
do something you love, that is one freedom that knows no boundaries, no rules and no regulations, only