Thursday, March 29, 2018

reading list: parody takedowns on Google

Erickson, K. & Kretschmer, M. (2018) ‘This Video is Unavailable’: Analyzing Copyright Takedown of User-Generated Content on YouTube. Journal of Intellectual Property, Information Technology and ECommerce Law (JIPITEC), 9(1).

From the abstract:

This research investigates factors that motivate takedown of user-generated content by
copyright owners. We study takedowns within an original dataset of 1,839 YouTube music video parodies observed between January 2012 and December 2016. We find an overall rate of takedowns within the sample of 32.9% across the 4-year period. … The variables analysed include commercial substitution, artistic/moral concerns, cultural differences between firms and YouTube uploader practices. The main finding is that policy concerns frequently raised by rightholders are not associated with statistically significant patterns of action. For example, the potential for reputational harm from parodic use does not appear to predict takedown behavior. Neither does commercial popularity of the original music track trigger a systematic response from rightholders. Instead, music genre and production values emerge as significant factors.

In particular, lower production values increase the risk of takedowns, contrary to the hypothesis that substitution would be a more-feared risk for higher-production-value parodies.  A clear intent either to target the song itself or to use the parody to target some other entity both decrease the risk of takedowns, showing again that the satire/parody distinction is not a legally helpful one.  From the conclusion: “The central finding is that rightholders appear to make complex choices that are assisted by automatic detection mechanisms, with little concern for the artistic integrity of the creative works they represent. The significant difference between musical genres suggests that rightholders, even in the same medium, behave quite differently from their peers.

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