Soros-Funded Nonprofit’s YouTube Channel Gets A Pass On Copyright Infringement Allegations

Kyle Perisic | Contributor

Right Wing Watch, a left-wing nonprofit aimed at exposing the “extreme agenda” of conservatives, owns a YouTube channel that consists entirely of other people’s videos, yet after several copyright disputes, YouTube has yet to delete the channel.

The nonprofit is owned by People For the American Way, which is funded by George Soros’ Open Society Initiative. The Daily Caller News Foundation review of the Right Watch’s channel found that of the almost 450 videos, not one of them appears to be its own original video.

This by itself would not be a problem if Right Wing Watch provided commentary to the clips they upload, but the channel is completely void of it. The videos are simply clips of other, many times copyrighted, videos.

Videos Right Wing Watch often re-uploads include from channels like Fox News, InfoWars, small Catholic television networks, and various popular conservative personalities on YouTube.

Right Wing Watch leverages its power to influence people in positions of power. It successfully drew enough negative attention in 2014 to the conservative views of two Home and Garden Television (HGTV) network hosts, David and Jason Benham — specifically their views on abortion and gay marriage.

The Benham brothers were set to host a new HGTV show in 2014 called, “Flip It Forward.” But that all changed when Right Wing Watch launch a campaign against the brothers with a May 2014 article titled, “HGTV Picks Anti-Gay, Anti-Choice Extremist For New Reality TV Show.”

In the end, HGTV decided not to move forward with the show, The Daily Caller reported.

Some people have given Right Wing Watch permission to use those videos, including Sean Campbell, a conservative videographer.

Campbell shot a video of Sheriff Joe Arpaio in March talking about the conspiracy theory that says former President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. At first, Right Wing Watch downloaded and re-uploaded a portion of his video with the Right Wing Watch watermark.

“Right Wing Watch used my video and got credit as high as CNN,” Campbell told TheDCNF. Right Wing Watch used a clip of Campbell’s video, embedded it in one of its article, and took away views from Campbell. Right Wing Watch’s clip of Campbell’s video got thousands of views, while Campbell’s original has only a few hundred at the time of publication.

“Had they contacted me I would have given it to them,” Campbell said. Eventually the two worked it out and Right Wing Watch removed the clip from its YouTube channel and replaced the video in the article with Campbell’s full version.

The videos on Right Wing Watch’s channel appear to be used mostly for RightWingWatch.org articles, which provide context and commentary to those videos. But according to YouTube’s policies, the existence of them on the video-sharing platform appears to still be a violation of its copyright policies if the original video uploaders claimed ownership.

A video can still be claimed by a copyright owner even if Right Wing Watch gave credit to the copyright owner or refrained from monetizing the infringing video, a YouTube guideline states. Right Wing Watch doesn’t appear to monetize the videos it uploads.

Searching through the comments section of some of the videos on Right Wing Watch’s channel, it’s clear that some of the video owners are not happy with Right Wing Watch downloading and re-uploading their videos with the Right Wing Watch watermark in the upper right hand corner.

There are 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute on average. Given YouTube’s limited staff, disputing each copyright violation personally would take an extremely long time. Instead, the company lets the copyright owner and the alleged copyright violator dispute the claim between themselves or in the court of law.

“YouTube follows the notice and takedown processes required by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). We do not determine who owns the rights to what content. That is determined by the courts,” A YouTube spokesperson said in a statement to TheDCNF in an email Wednesday.

Given Right Wing Watch’s nonprofit status, enough users assume this by itself gives them the right to upload copyrights video. However, YouTube had to address this myth. (RELATED: YouTube Will Deem ‘Quality News’ Sources To Fight Fake News)

“Myth #3: ‘Entertainment’ or ‘non-profit’ uses are automatically fair use,” a copyright guide states. “Courts will look carefully at the purpose of your use in evaluating whether it is fair.”

Additionally, declaring videos to be “for entertainment purposes only,” the copyright guide adds, “is unlikely to tip the scales in the fair use balancing test. Similarly, ‘non-profit’ uses are favored in the fair use analysis, but it’s not an automatic defense by itself.”

A spokesperson for People For the American Way told TheDCNF Wednesday that it doesn’t “have a count of how many copyright complaints have been filed against our channel over the years.”

“In each case we’ve filed a counter claim and in every instance the claim has been resolved in our favor,” the organization spokesperson added. “The video clips that Right Wing Watch posts are covered by fair use.”

YouTube’s full statement is below:

YouTube follows the notice and takedown processes required by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). We do not determine who owns the rights to what content. That is determined by the courts. If we receive a valid copyright claim on a piece of content, we act quickly to take down that content. If and when we receive a valid counter notification in response to that takedown request, and the initial claimant does not provide evidence of a lawsuit to restrain the publication of the content, then we reinstate the video in question, again in keeping with the DMCA. We also provide tools and resources to rightsholders and uploaders to help them understand and mediate copyright claims. When we see that there is a potential case for fair use, we ask the claimant to make sure they’ve conducted that analysis, which we did in this case.

This post has been updated to include comment from People For the American Way.

Follow Kyle on Twitter @KylePerisic

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