There's been a potential situation in the world of copyright and copyright claims building for quite a long time.
Is a video of me singing the words to a Beatles song violating copyright? Or does that fall under fair use?
Is it right that a video of me doing a dance cover (to the original song) of a popular Beyonce song could get taken down if her copyright management thought that it should?
I really have no idea, because copyright laws are unclear when it comes to fair use, and in most cases, people just give in to copy right holders rather than get caught up in a legal battle.
Recently, a court ruled against Universal re: copyright.
A Pennsylvania woman uploaded a video of her son dancing in her kitchen while one of Prince's songs played in the background (from her home stereo, not overlaid) back in 2007. Due to a claim by Universal Music, the video was taken down for six weeks. The woman challenged the claim, and it went back up, but she also filed against Universal for the trouble of it being down. Ultimately, she won the case and then, when Universal appealed, she won again.
How the EFF is Changing Things
The reason this case wasn't dropped was because the EFF was footing the bill and encouraging her (and others in her situation) to continue to follow through with claims like these.
"The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. We work to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows."
Thanks to the EFF, people are actually pushing back for reasonable fair use exceptions to copyrights. Usually, the problem isn't that courts are unwilling to rule on this. It's that pretty much every case gets settled out of court.
What's The Issue?
Basically, there are too many staffers out there working under the big music labels that are being too strict in their use of copyright laws. All they have to do is submit a claim to Youtube, and the video is down. While I understand that copyright infringement is a big deal and should be taken seriously, videos like this one --where the music is simply incidental and does not appear to have been picked specifically--should not be taken down.
I believe that copyright holders need to start properly considering fair use, and copyright laws need to be adjusted to provide more avenues for those who want to use and appreciate a song in their Youtube videos. Fine if they are not able to monetize the videos, but the take down system that is currently in place is out of line when it comes to many fair use videos!