As online video burgeons, so do questions about what kinds of uses of copyrighted works are legal online. Inevitably, those questions will be settled at least as much by practice and private negotiation as by legal action. Recent discussions of filtering and monitoring practices for platform providers show the importance of identifying lawful uses, while meeting industry concern to limit unauthorized use of copyrighted material. This study showcases user practices in use of copyrighted works within their own online videos at the dawn of this process. It identifies nine common kinds of re-appropriation practices, including satire and parody, criticism, and video diaries. It shows that a substantial amount of user-generated video uses copyrighted material in ways that are eligible for fair use consideration, although no coordinated work has yet been done to understand such practices through the fair use lens.
Thus, a significant set of creative practices is potentially both legal and at risk of curtailment by currently discussed ways to control online piracy and theft of copyrighted works.