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I'm writing a blog entry and I want to illustrate it with a minute-long clip from a movie. Not a hugely popular blockbuster movie, but one you've probably heard of.

I uploaded the minute long video to YouTube, great, but then within a few hours I got a copyright notice rejection, and the video is auto-blocked worldwide as a result of the copyright holder's chosen default policy. (I can still see it in my account, which is nice of them.)

I'm not trying to be some copyright infringing monster, and IANAL, but I believe it should be kinda within my rights of fair use to "quote" a one minute segment of a movie as part of a larger blog entry. Unfortunately, I don't think this is possible with YouTube because their copyright detection system has gotten scarily good:

We compare each upload against all the reference files in our database. This heat map is going to show you how the brain of this system works.

alt text

Here we can see the reference file being compared to the user generated content. The system compares every moment of one to the other to see if there's a match. This means we can identify a match even if the copy uses just a portion of the original file, plays it in slow motion, and has degraded audio or video.

The scale and speed of this system is truly breathtaking -- we're not just talking about a few videos, we're talking about over 100 years of video every day between new uploads and the legacy scans we regularly do across all of the content on the site. And when we compare those 100 years of video, we're comparing it against millions of reference files in our database. It'd be like 36,000 people staring at 36,000 monitors each and every day without as much as a coffee break.

I highly recommend watching the TED talk.

Anyway, I realize that I have been profoundly thoroughly defeated -- my one minute clip of the movie, that I want to use as an illustration in a blog post, can't survive on YouTube with this particular copyright holder's global block policy in place.

So: where can I host a video of what I believe to be a fair use 1 minute excerpt of a movie, without it constantly being at risk of being pulled?

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10 Answers 10


As Margaret Gould Stewart says during her talk:

Think carefully about the policy you attach to that content. By simply blocking it, you miss out on new art forms, new audiences, new distribution channels and new revenue streams.

They don't want the publicity you would have brought to your 130,000 readers for free, so I don't see why you should force it onto them.

Their choice, their loss.

Update: Looks like Jeff, indeed, didn't :)

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that's a different clip –  Jeff Atwood Sep 17 '10 at 17:33
Yet, the 1 minute video is now on youtube. Wonder how @Jeff managed it. –  Cawas Jun 15 '11 at 13:03
@Cawas, No it isn't, it is hosted on another site: blog.codinghorror.com/but-you-did-not-persuade-me –  Pacerier Jun 3 '14 at 12:35
@Pacerier you're right, nice finding! No idea what I meant back then, but I guess it was on youtube for a while. Now, as you said, the other host is another one: getvively.com –  Cawas Jun 4 '14 at 22:04

YouTube have a process for overriding the content matching system in cases like this. You can dispute the Content ID match (I presume there is an option to claim fair use), and then the copyright owner has to manually review the match and decide if they still want the video taken down. If they do want it taken down then you can take it a step further and file a "counter-notification" and then the copyright owner has to decide whether to seek a court order or give up.

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indeed, giving this a shot.. with fair use claim description as "90 sec excerpt to be used in editorial blog entry at codinghorror.com" –  Jeff Atwood Sep 5 '10 at 6:34
fair use claim denied without explanation :( –  Jeff Atwood Sep 17 '10 at 17:32
It seems like they should have to give some explanation. I wonder if Google would be amenable to requiring that? –  Benson Sep 17 '10 at 18:17
@Benson: Not likely, the way Google will bend over for pretty much anyone with money. Like cell phone service providers. Or Hollywood. –  Chris Charabaruk Sep 17 '10 at 19:34
How do you file a "counter-notification"? And wouldn't fair use be protected under the first amendment? A simple google search gave me this results:google.com/… endora.wide.msu.edu/3.1/coverweb/ty/ff.html whatisfairuse.blogspot.com.br/2008/03/… –  Alberto de Paola Jul 24 '12 at 14:51

Put it on your own server. One minute isn't much. Or use s3.

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it is when you have 130,000 daily readers. 130,000 times ~20 megabytes is ~2.5 gigabytes of bandwidth in a day. I guess that's not so terrible for a few days based on the Amazon S3 cost calculator -- but over the long run, I'd have to pull the video for fear it getting hard-linked elsewhere. –  Jeff Atwood Sep 5 '10 at 4:41
They aren't all going to play it though, are they. Use a poster frame image with clickthrough to play the video. –  Kevin Marks Sep 5 '10 at 4:57
Maybe the question should be framed, "Who can I find to give me free storage and bandwidth to host videos for my own use on my personal site?". Eg, why should youtube bare the cost of hosting the video for your blog, instead of you yourself? –  davr Sep 17 '10 at 18:45
@davr for whatever reason they accept any other video –  Tom Sep 17 '10 at 18:55
@davr makes a good point. Youtube could arbitrarily block whatever video they wish - it's their business. The only good way to get around this is to host the video yourself, and then you can bear the blunt of the fair use lawsuit if and when it happens. –  Stefan Kendall Sep 18 '10 at 5:54

Vimeo is a good choice

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per vimeo.com/terms though "Do not post material belonging to others as your own." –  Jeff Atwood Sep 5 '10 at 4:55
+1 as a matter of fact, I don't know why Vimeo isn't beating the **** out of YouTube already –  Shady M. Najib Sep 18 '10 at 13:03
@Jeff: State clearly that they aren't yours! That could be a work around :D –  Shady M. Najib Sep 18 '10 at 13:04
How posting 1 minute of a whole 100 minutes or so film would be "posting as your own", though? –  Cawas Jun 4 '14 at 22:06

I would try MetaCafe or Dailymotion.

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dailymotion - same 60 second clip was flagged and pulled within 30 minutes. Presumably by some kind of detection system? Odd. –  Jeff Atwood Sep 5 '10 at 5:48

As suggested by Kevin Marks, host it yourself, it's way simpler.

Instead of S3, you can use the free Coral CDN if you're afraid for the bandwidth. But I don't know if they have a size or download limit on cached content.

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Revver might be a good option. They claim to be tough on copyright infringement and to respond to takedown notices quickly but they also explicitly claim that they support Fair Use:

We also believe strongly in the freedoms provided by the doctrine of Fair Use under US copyright law and to comparable protections provided under the copyright laws in various other jurisdictions. We understand that we are living in a remix culture and we support an open media environment. US copyright law was created with the intent to support artists' creativity - by protecting artists' originality and by allowing artists to build appropriately on the creations of others - and so was Revver.

They say they personally review every video before it goes live so they probably don't have automated copyright bots like youtube.

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How is it possible/scalable to personally review every video? The link revver.com seems to be down. –  Pacerier Jun 3 '14 at 15:02

I would look at both Flickr/Yahoo! Video (I believe Yahoo owns the Flickr site).

While I am not a lawyer, their terms of use don't explicitly rule out fair use purposes. They do, however, indicate that you must have the "consent" of the copyright holder to post content. Since fair use laws elide that requirement, you may be OK.

There's enough legal ambiguity about what is/is not fair use that most video hosting sites want to steer far clear of any appearance of violation. I suspect most don't want to get legally entangled with copyright holders over the behavior of their users - so they err on the side of caution.

You can also find a fairly comprehensive list of video hosting sites on Wikipedia.

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If the movie is available on Hulu.com, you can choose to embed a portion of the movie by doing the following:

  1. Begin playing the movie.
  2. Press the Embed link on the right side.
  3. Drag the sliders on the bottom to only include the section you want.
  4. Copy the embed code.

Of course this will only work if Hulu has the movie you want to use, and they might choose to show advertisements. At least the copyright holders permit this usage though.

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That's great, so long as you only care about American readership. The rest of the world is out in the cold when it comes to Hulu. No thanks. –  Chris Charabaruk Sep 17 '10 at 19:35
@ChrisCharabaruk, Why does hulu only work in US? –  Pacerier Jun 3 '14 at 15:04

Maybe you could stretch its running time by 5% minimum (according to your linked article "Fun with YouTube's Audio Content ID System") to satisfy slipping the audio through, and as for the video, I dunno' maybe take a video of it playing on your TV set so it's not full frame detectable.

Just throwing pasta at the wall to see if it sticks.

But likely you'll go with a service that just lets you keep the damn video as others have mentioned.

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Based on my research, I don't think attempting to game YouTube's system is a worthwhile use of my time for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it's very good and thus hard to beat without mostly destroying the video in the process –  Jeff Atwood Sep 5 '10 at 5:12
the talk addresses this specific "technique". So long as the matching matrix is mostly diagonal, Youtube will block the video. –  badp Sep 5 '10 at 9:12
@JohnK, It may work, but even if it does, there's little guarantee that it will stay there, thus limiting it to only a stopgap solution. –  Pacerier Jun 3 '14 at 15:05

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