'This Video is Unavailable': Analyzing Copyright Takedown of User-Generated Content on YouTube
(2018) Journal of Intellectual Property, Information Technology and E- Commerce Law (JIPITEC), 9(1)
29 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2018 Last revised: 6 May 2018
Date Written: March 20, 2018
What factors lead a copyright owner to request removal of potentially infringing user-generated content? So-called “notice-and-takedown” measures are provided in the United States under Section 512 of the U.S. Copyright Act (as amended by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act 1998) and enabled in the European Union under the Directive on Electronic Commerce (2000/31/EC). While the combination of limiting liability (“safe harbor”) and notice-and-takedown procedures was originally conceived as a means of balancing innovation with the interests of rightholders, there has been limited empirical study of their effects.
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. We use a Cox proportional hazards model to investigate the factors that lead to removal of videos. 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.
Keywords: Copyright, Notice and Takedown, DMCA, YouTube, Parody, Hazards Model
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