With more than 1 billion monthly users, YouTube is the world’s largest video sharing platform; in 2012, only seven years after its creation, 60 hours of video were uploaded every minute and YouTube mobile alone received over 600 million views per day. However, despite the website’s huge popularity, its policy on copyrighted material (especially concerning music and audio) is still perceived to be a ‘grey area’. ‘YouTubers’ confused over the issue can find themselves in the midst of a (often accidental) copyright infringement dispute, which can lead to users’ accounts being suspended, videos muted and even to litigation. In order to avoid these situations, all YouTube users should have a thorough understanding of the website’s copyright policy and know how to respond to false infringement claims, should they be served one.
On 14 June, a case against Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant, and guitarist Jimmy Page, went on trial in Los Angeles. The lawsuit, originally filed in May 2014, charges that Led Zeppelin took the opening section of one of its most iconic anthems, “Stairway to Heaven”, from the lesser-known song “Taurus”, performed by the American rock band Spirit. Michel Skidmore, representing the estate of Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe (who died in 1997), accused Led Zeppelin of the ‘falsification of Rock n’ Roll history’; a claim that was deemed to be ‘inventive, yet legally baseless’ by the court. However, experts say that Led Zeppelin does not necessarily have the upper hand going into trial.