Fair Use Question of the Month: Fair Use & YouTube


by CMSI editorial staff

Dear CSMI,

I am a YouTube addict who dabbles in video making of my own. I’m worried though as some of my videos have included copyrighted material (typically overly commercialized country music). I would try and make videos without these songs, but that’s kind of hard to do when the whole point of the video is to critique what I see as – to put it kindly – less than stellar musicianship. Does fair use offer any sort of protection in my case?


Dear Rogelio,

I’m happy to inform you that there is an entire code available to you having to do with fair use and online video. It’s called Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video and within its ‘Best Practices’ section Item One directly relates to commenting or critiquing copyrighted material. Item One tells us that ‘video makers have the right to use as much of the original work as they need in order to put it under some kind of scrutiny,’ within limitations–you’ll want to think about all of them. For instance, one of them is ‘the use should not be so extensive or pervasive that it ceases to function as critique.’ In your case, this would mean that people can just go to your video to enjoy that less than stellar musicianship for its own sake. Once you’ve considered the different limitations outlined in the code, then you should have a better idea of what use of music your videos can contain.

Tuesday’s Fairuse Week Post: https://cmsimpact.org/fair-use-blog/fair-use-film-courses-broderick-fox-empowering-creators/


Happy Fair Use Week! And Where to Find the Good Stuff