Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Learning from Psy About Copyright and YouTube Takedowns

Copyright is an important but poorly understood topic for many teachers. This summer in 3 day iPad Media Camps I’ve been leading, I explore copyright issues with participants on day 2 when we learn how to create and publish “Quick Edit Videos.” I share both the copyright chapter of “Playing with Media” (2011) and the EFF’s website “Guide to YouTube Removals” as valuable resources which shed “balanced light” on copyright issues as they relate to the classroom and student-created media. We also watch Chapter 4 of the wonderful (and LEGAL) Disney movie remix, “A Fair(y) Use Tale” and use it to discuss fair use. I used the free website TubeChop to create the shortened/specific version of this video chapter below:

Back in October 2013, Forbes published the article, “How Much Did It Cost YouTube To Stream Gangnam Style?” In it, authors estimated at that time (before Psy’s “Gangam Style” video became the first to ever go over 1 billion views in December) it cost YouTube $296,360 to stream the video, but brought in revenue of $348,285. This is not only good news for Psy and other content creators of viral videos on YouTube, it’s also good news for teachers, since it means YouTube has effectively figured out how to monetize online videos. This provides, in the words of master-educator and YouTube videographer Jim Sill, our amazing proposition today as citizens as well as teachers: Free, unlimited storage and sharing of high definition videos via YouTube. This is an incredible, literally mind-blowing proposition most teachers have only started to explore and understand. (Including me!)

In Forbes’ June 12, 2014, article, “At 2 Billion Views, ‘Gangnam Style’ Has Made Psy A Very Rich Man,” we not only gain additional insight into the profits available for Google as well as viral video creators, we also can gain some important insights into copyright and remixed videos which use commercially produced music. This is important, since students often want to include clips of copyrighted songs in their own video productions. Is that legal? The best answer is usually, “It depends.” Article author Hugh McIntyre explains:

Interestingly, Psy is making money every day not just from his own video(s), but those of other users from around the world. YouTube has a system for detecting when copyrighted material is being used in a video, and should it be found, the content’s owner has the choice of either taking that video down or getting a share of the advertising revenue. Often record labels will quickly remove copies of new singles, so as to centralize views to the one they have uploaded. Psy chose for others to be able to use his track, and is raking in money from the 40,000 or so parody videos, lyric videos and the like that all use “Gangnam Style”, though calculating how much is a daunting task.

I encourage you to read the free, online chapter on Copyright from “Playing with Media,” and discuss these topics with your students as well as other teachers. Use this recent Forbes article about Psy and “Gangam Style” to talk about these issues. Use the acrostic “Harry Potter Can Fly” to help remember the choices available to content creators when it comes to openly and commercially licensed media!

Harry Potter Can Fly! by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Creative Commons  License  by  Wesley Fryer 

H = Homegrown
P = Public domain
C = Creative Commons
F = Fair use

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