Trigger-happy copyright owners sending massive amounts of takedown notices on YouTube has by now effectively become a part and parcel of the “user experience” on the Google-owned video-sharing giant.
The trouble with these is not their sheer volume, but that many are unfounded and unfair, as the copyright claims cited in them don't hold up. Nevertheless, they have the potential to make YouTube content creators' lives very complicated – not least thanks to financial losses.
And the fact the practice is so widespread doesn't mean it should not be contested. Now the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has announced it is representing one popular YouTuber, Boxing Now channel's owner John MacKay, seeking to protect himself from the takedown notices dished out by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
EFF claims this is a classic case of copyright owners misinterpreting the rules and ignoring the fair use legal doctrine – that allows for limited use of copyrighted material without having to first obtain permission from the holder.
In MacKay's case, what drew UFC's attention were his post-fight audio commentary videos, featuring by and large his own, original content, along with a small number of still images from UFC events. According to EFF what this YouTuber is doing in no way represents infringement.
So far, UFC has asked YouTube to remove five of MacKay's videos – which the platform did – only to then reinstate them acting on the creator's successful counter-notices.
However, timing is of the essence, as the bulk of MacKay's traffic comes immediately after the sporting events he comments on have taken place – meaning that when the videos are removed, even if they are reposted later – he still bleeds viewers and loses “a significant amount of money.”
The EFF has sent a letter to UFC asking the company to stop with baseless takedown notices again MacKay's videos, and start taking into account the fair use rule before requesting removal of content.
The EFF also observed that UFC may simply be attempting to get rid of competition on YouTube, as the martial arts promotion company has its own post-fight commentary videos.
“Is UFC afraid of a fair fight?,” the digital rights group asks in the letter.