How Video is Changing Copyright for Bloggers

Filed as Guides on September 16, 2011 4:36 pm

Video Camera ImageWith more and more bloggers dipping their toes into creating video content for their sites, the climate they’re working in is changing when it comes to copyright.

Though copyright, by design, protects all forms of content equally, how it is enforced and who is doing the enforcing changes drastically with the medium. This means that bloggers who might take some of their habits, both good and bad, from text into video, might be in for a bit of culture shock.

So what are some of the copyright changes a blogger should expect when going from text to video? Here’s just a small sample of some of the ways the two media are very different from both a practical and a legal perspective.

1. Less Infringement of Blogger Content

First, the good news. Bloggers who make the switch to video or start creating video for their site will likely find that their videos are stolen a lot less than their written works.

There are many reasons for this. First, it’s generally much easier to embed a video rather than download it and re-upload it to a new account. Second, fewer people have the ability to edit and manipulate video content productively, reducing the number of potential plagiarists significantly.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is that there is little SEO benefit from taking video content, thus reducing the gain someone would get from scraping and republishing your video content wholesale.

In short, people just play nicer with video content and, though there is definitely some infringement of videos, especially from more popular series, most bloggers won’t have to worry about it as much.

2. Greater Difficulty Tracking Content

The bad news is that, while you certainly will likely see less plagiarism and infringement of your work, it’s also much harder to track. The tools for tracking video content are, more or less, only available to the largest content producers and are well out of the hands of the average blogger.

As such, if there is infringement of your work, other than searching for the title of it and hoping to find all uses of it, there isn’t much that you can do.

In short, if you’re the type of person who likes to be aware of how your content is being used, the Web just isn’t as friendly of a place for video content, even if it is less likely to be misused.

3. More Takedowns Coming Your Way

So, while the news is mixed when it comes to other people using and misusing your content, it’s a similar story when it comes to how you interact with the content of others.

Those aforementioned tools that the major content producers have basically guarnatee that they are aware almost instantly of any use of their work you make. Whether it’s a song playing in the background, a video clip for a review or anything in between.

The tools are sensitive enough so that even a few seconds of a song can trip them and the major content producers are very active in seeking this content out and getting it removed from the various video hosting sites, especially YouTube.

Unfortunately, the aggressiveness of this enforcement combined with the sensitivity of some of the tools means that not all of the takedown notices are accurate or fair. So, as a video blogger, you need to be aware of your rights, make sure that you use content within the bounds of fair use and, if needed, stand up for your rights.

In most cases, especially those involving more automated takedowns, this is very easy to do and doesn’t require the filing of a full counter-notice. However, you still want to be very sure of your position before you move forward.

In the end, as a video blogger you are much more likely to find yourself on the wrong end of a takedown notice, rightly or wrongly, but if it does happen it’s more often than not just a minor nuisance, as long as it doesn’t happen too often.

4. Better Partnership Opportunities

But as scary as the prospect of facing a takedown is, video content also has greater opportunities for using content legally. YouTube has been aggressively signing deals with record labels and songwriters in a bid to make the use of their music available to its members, all the while sharing revenue with artists, authors and labels.

Where newspapers, book publishers, etc. make it more difficult to obtain licenses to use their content, music is becoming much more available and video content, most likely, isn’t far behind.

On top of that, there’s already a very large library of Creative Commons and other freely-licensed music and video available to use.

In short, with video, it may actually be easier to remix and repurpose other content legally and without having to rely upon a fair use defense.

Bottom Line

In short, with video the news is some good and some bad. You’ll likely find your content is misused less but you’ll have a harder time tracking it when it is. Likewise, you’ll find that there is more aggressive copyright enforcement by the major players in this area, but also that they are more open to licensing agreements that let you use their work for free.

The result of this is simple, the copyright climate for video is not necessarily better or worse than the one for text, but merely different.

Still, it is important to learn how to navigate this new climate so that you can both get the best use of the content you create and to stay out of trouble.

Otherwise, you may be in for a very nasty piece of culture shock that could cost you all of your hard work.

Your Questions

Have a question about the law and freelance writing? Either leave a comment below or contact me directly if you wish to keep the information private (However, please mention that it is a suggestion for The Blog Herald. This column will be determined largely by your suggestions and questions so let me know what you want to know about.

Disclosure

I am not an attorney and nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice.

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