Google-owned YouTube has the following notice on their upload page:
Do not upload any TV shows, music videos, music concerts, or commercials without permission unless they consist entirely of content you created yourself. Please refer to our Copyright Tips page for some guidelines and links to help you determine whether your video infringes someone else’s copyright.
It’s perhaps the ultimate case of cognitive dissonance: by YouTube’s own rules, YouTube cannot exist.
Then again, rather than hoping for change with services like YouTube, I’m hoping that copyright laws change – taking into effect mostly the actual commercial impact redistribution has to the content creator, not whether or not something’s a copy.
But YouTube also has the following bit on their copyright tips page, explaining when “fair use” rules might apply, and detailing the problems with the concept – namely, that you need a lawyer to find out what exactly is fair use & and to then potentially defend your decision in court (link in quote added by me):
Using Some Copyrighted Content in Your Videos
While videos that are direct copies of someone else’s content are clear copyright violations, there are certain very limited circumstances in which the use of very short clips of a copyrighted video or song may be legal even without permission. This is known as the “fair use” principle of copyright law.
To determine whether a particular use of a short clip of a copyrighted video or song qualifies as a “fair use,” you need to analyze and weigh four factors that are outlined in the U.S. copyright statute. Unfortunately, the weighing of these four factors is often quite subjective and complex, and for this reason, it’s often difficult to determine whether a particular use is a “fair use.” If the copyright owner disagrees with your interpretation of fair use, the copyright owner may chose to resolve the dispute in court. If it turns out that your use is not a fair use, then you are infringing the copyrights of the owner and you may be liable for monetary damages.