Hoping to halt the spread of online music, movie and multimedia piracy, YouTube has started a publicity campaign to educate Internet users on copyright infringement. Users who receive notices of alleged law-breaking offenses will also be forced to watch a PSA-style tutorial advertisement and pass a test before they can continue using the top online video service.
Designed to heighten awareness for Google’s new, updated copyright policies and the dangers of online piracy, the four-and-a-half-minute cartoon video, titled “YouTube Copyright School,” stars characters from the well-known video series Happy Tree Friends. A series of sarcastic animated vignettes, complete with melodramatic narrator, covers the basics of copyright law, penalties and dangers and Google’s policies for policing videos which violate its terms. Unexpectedly entertaining, it promises to offer a reasonable overview of the basics of illegal online content sharing and digital distribution without boring viewers to tears.
Previously, YouTube issued warnings regarding possible service termination, lawsuits and financial penalties to alleged offenders in hopes of curtailing the uploading of copyrighted music, movies and multimedia. Now, suspects will instead have to view the video tutorial, and successfully pass a quiz that gauges their understanding of the company’s new copyright rules and policies, before they can upload additional videos. Watching the video can also help users remove strikes or past instances of infringement (account service is suspended when three strikes are reached) from their account history.
"We want to help our users operate within the law and within our guidelines. Requiring that people complete copyright school after receiving a copyright notification means they'll understand why their actions were wrong, come away with a better understanding of the law and be more likely to comply with YouTube's guidelines in future," a YouTube representative told news blog Politico.
Google has recently come under fire for its perceived lack of action in the fight to shut down websites that enable illegal sharing of software, movies, music and other copyrighted works.