The Future on Online Video: Copyright and Creativity

The latest from Red Herring on what we may expect to see from YouTube and company:

It’s hard to forget the hilarious spoof video featuring George Bush and Tony Blair singing a touching rendition of “Endless Love.”

The parody, a huge hit on Google Video, YouTube, and other video-sharing web sites, pokes fun at the unusually close relationship between the United States and British leaders who plunged their countries into the disastrous Iraq war.

The video, which fuses the Lionel Richie/Donna Summer duet with video clips from mainstream media outlets, is widely considered a form of political speech and an example of “fair use”—the exemption to U.S. copyright law that lets people borrow and transform copyrighted material to comment, criticize, teach, or report news.

But new video-filtering tools that MySpace and YouTube hope will automatically detect and block copyrighted content could prevent commentators from posting such videos in the future. To free-speech advocates, these “fingerprinting” tools are a dangerous threat to an emerging form of free speech on the Internet.

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