Is this really the Vice President of the United States talking?
News: The Stanford Fair Use Project scored a major victory for fair use yesterday in a case pitting Yoko Ono Lennon (along with Sean Ono Lennon, Julian Lennon, and EMI Blackwood Music) against the producers of the movie “Expelled,” which seeks to debate intelligent design and evolution (with a slant to the critics of the adequacy of evolution). The district court rule that using 15 seconds of John Lennon’s “Imagine” in the 1 hour 39 minute movie was likely a fair use. You can find the opinion on Lessig’s blog.
Analysis: I haven’t seen the movie, but, by the description in the opinion, the movie’s use of the 15 seconds of the John Lennon strikes me as a very easy case of fair use. The movie producers were using the Lennon song in order to show its naivete in thinking we can live in a world with “Nothing to kill or die for/ and no religion too,” or that a world without religion is even desirable.
News: One of my students showed me this nifty website founded by some bright kids at MIT. The group is called MIT Free Culture — I take it inspired by Larry Lessig — and it tracks 230,348 videos on YouTube to see how many are removed for alleged copyright violations. So far, 4,948 such videos removed from YouTube, presumably based on DMCA notices.
Analysis: These are interesting numbers. Of course, we don’t know how many of these copyright claims were legitimate. And we don’t know how MIT Free Culture chose its sample. So, putting aside all those variables, the number of DMCA notices seem rather low — by my math, a little over 2% of the total videos in the sample. So that suggests that a lot of the content on YouTube is not infringing or copyright holders don’t mind.