20 August 2020CopyrightRory O'Neill

Rival knitters go to Japanese court in copyright dispute

A copyright dispute over rival knitting tutorials has ended up in Japanese court, in a “rare” dispute between YouTube content creators, according to local media reports.

The plaintiff, a woman from Toyama Prefecture, claims the defendants abused YouTube’s provisions against copyright infringement and wants ¥1.1 million ($10,360) in compensation, according to Japanese newspaper The Mainichi.

YouTube automatically removed two of the plaintiff’s videos on crocheting after receiving a complaint from the defendants in February, the paper adds.

The plaintiff emailed defendants saying she was “completely unaware of having imitated another person's work” and asked for more information about the alleged infringement, after her videos were taken down.

But, according to her complaint, the defendants told her to contact YouTube instead. Yukihide Kato, a Japanese copyright lawyer representing the plaintiff, said there had not to date been any court judgments that recognised copyright over knitted works or knitting methods.

“The system of removing videos automatically is also problematic,” The Mainichi quotes Kato as saying.

YouTube has previously faced scrutiny for its policies protecting against copyright infringement. The platform updated its systems last July, having been under pressure to both better protect creators’ rights and ward off frivolous complaints.

YouTube said it would evaluate the accuracy of timestamps cited in copyright complaints, and that copyright owners who repeatedly fail to provide accurate data will have their access to the claiming system revoked.

But the new rules appear mostly designed to deal with music-based complaints, with YouTube promising better editing tools to mute infringing songs.

An adviser to the EU’s top court said last month that YouTube was also not liable for infringing videos uploaded to the platform.

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16 July 2020   Platforms like YouTube and Cyando are not directly liable for infringing content uploaded by their users, an adviser to the EU’s top court has said.
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