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Court Confirms Reaction Videos Are Fair Use

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A court has ruled that the reaction (in this case, YouTube) video “genre” represents fair use under copyright rules (DMCA).

The case involves Thiccc Boy Productions suing Kyle Swindelles for alleged copyright infringement.

Thiccc Boy claimed that the violation happened regarding videos of a podcast the company produces – The Fighter and the Kid, hosted by Brendan Schaub.

Swindelles included a number of segments from Thiccc YouTube material in his own reaction videos.

The US District Court for Rhode Island which dealt with the lawsuit, stated that while there is no doubt that this had happened – Swindelles’ defense was that his inclusion of the said material is protected by the fair use rule.

We obtained a copy of the ruling for you here.

The fair use doctrine, the court remarked, was added to the Copyright Act in order to limit “the otherwise exclusive rights enjoyed by copyright holders.”

The decision to rule in Swindelles’ favor is explained by stating that the four videos cited by Thiccc Boy, instead of infringing, “undisputedly commented on the quality of the discussion in the copyrighted works.”

As for the videos whose copyright was allegedly violated, the court found that their nature – three people in a basic “studio” consisting of chairs and microphones, discussing popular culture and events in their own lives, is effectively the equivalent of TV talk show clips.

Once again, because of the nature of it all – those very same (Thiccc Boy) videos being reaction and commentary on copyrighted content of others – they are “more factual than creative.”

As for Swindelles also showing frames of that copyrighted martial of others, first included in the Thiccc Boy videos – the court said this was not a violation because Swindelles neither commented on nor criticized those.

Examining the question of whether the audience could be fooled into thinking Thiccc Boy videos are actually made by Swindelles, the judge decided that the commentary and criticism expressed in the reaction videos make sure this does not happen.

All in all, the ruling concludes that, “Mr. Swindelles’ use of the copyrighted material serves a public benefit.”

And it doesn’t seem that the podcast host Schaub decided it was a good idea to state he was going after those “harassing him online, including comics” – (so was it harassing – or infringement that’s the problem?)

Schaub went on to make threats of “monster lawyers and friends in dark places who are going to get the job done.”

“Troublesome,” is how the court described these comments.

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