YouTuber is a drowning fish in anime Copyright Strikes for Everyone

YouTuber Drowning in Anime Copyright Strikes Got Everyone A Win

Mark Fitzpatrick sits in front of bookselves filled with manga and delivers news about his copyright battle with Toei from his gamer chair.

Screenshot: Totally Not Mark

Mark Fitzpatrick, the anime YouTube channel’s new director, has a new video. Totally Not MarkIt was clear that he won more than one battle in his fight Toei Animation – Copyright Strike WarYouTube also adopted a new copyright rules for content creators.

YouTube’s new YouTube rule gives creators flexibility within international copyright laws. Videos may be taken down by one country, but kept up in another. Creators don’t have to worry about videos being removed or banned. This means that videos will be more likely to stay up in countries such as the U.S., which have stronger fair use provisions.

“It’s certainly reassuring,” Fitzpatrick told Kotaku via email, “But with fair use so ill-respected in so many territories, and YouTube creators with no control over where their content will be shared once they upload there’s certainly a long way to go.”

The situation began this past December, when Toei issued more than 150 copyright claims against Fitzpatrick’s lengthy anime and manga reviews. At the time, Fitzpatrick thanked his fans for their support in a video and announced he would be “Resigning from the situation.”

Continue reading: YouTuber hits with 150 copyright claims for reviews featuring Anime Footage

Fitzpatrick reveals in a Video of the Week providing an update on the legal saga, someone “high up at YouTube’’ who wished to remain anonymous, reached out to him via Discord. Fitzpatrick stated that the contact not only apologized for not getting his situation addressed sooner but also disclosed a conflict between YouTube, Toei and his videos fair usage status.

“I’m not going to lie, hearing a human voice that felt both sincerely eager to help and understanding of this impossible situation felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders,” Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick was only informed of the copyright issue by Toei in December 2020, when he marked 150 videos with violations of copyright strike. This was just the beginning. According to Fitzpatrick’s YouTube contact, the animation company then contacted YouTube directly upping those 150 strikes to full takedown notices before emailing Fitzpatrick.

“These are requests to YouTube not to block my content but to delete [the videos] off of my channel…[which] likely would result in the termination of my account,” he said. “And that’s bad.”

According to Fitzpatrick, YouTube decided not to honor Toei’s removal request because that would violate the platform’s fair use copyright policy. YouTube instead asked Toei for more justification to why his channel was receiving takedown notices.

But rather than providing YouTube with evidence, Fitzpatrick says Toei used the website’s automated reporting tools to manually claim and block more than 150 of his videos.

The following week, a game of phone tag ensued between Toei, the Japanese YouTube team, the American YouTube team, Fitzpatrick’s YouTube contact, and himself to reach “some sort of understanding” regarding his copyright situation. Toei ended up providing a new list of 86 videos of the original 150 or so that the company deemed should not remain on YouTube, a move Fitzpatrick described as “baffling” and “inconsistent.” Toei, he concludes, has no idea of the meaning of fair use or the rules the company wants creators to abide by.

“Contained in this list was frankly the most arbitrary assortment of videos that I had ever seen,” he said. “It honestly appeared as if someone chose videos at random as if chucking darts at a dart board.”

Although Fitzpatrick regained control of his videos, he wasn’t out of the woods yet. If Toei filed a lawsuit against him in Japan with its “less robust” interpretation of “fair use,” it’s likely he could lose. Which is where YouTube’s new legal innovation comes in.

YouTube’s new copyright rule allows owners like Toei to have videos removed from, say, Japan’s YouTube site, but said videos will remain up in other territories as long as they fall under the country’s fair use policies. To have videos removed in areas with greater fair use allowances, companies will need to present their case according to the copyright laws applicable to those territories.

Toward the end of his video update, Fitzpatrick laments that Toei’s hostile actions leave a lot of collaborative opportunities on the table without “proper consideration.”

“Similarly to how video games have embraced the online sphere, I sincerely believe that a collaborative or symbiotic relationship between online creators and copyright owners is not only more than possible but would likely work extremely well for both sides if they are open to it,” Fitzpatrick said.

Update: 1/27/2022 12:05 p.m. ET: Fitzpatrick’s provided comment to Kotaku regarding the status of his copyright battle with Toei Animation and how YouTube’s new fair will impact smaller content creators.

Clarification: 1/27/2022 5:51 p.m. ET: Jack Malon is a YouTube policy communications manager. Kotaku that the policy cited in the article isn’t completely new per se and is consistent with how YouTube approaches other legal removals, but rather that this is YouTube has applied the rule for the first time to its copyright policy.

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