Anime YouTuber Battle Against Copyright Results in New YouTube Rule

Photo credit: Totally Not Mark YouTube

A YouTuber’s legal fight against a Japanese animation company influenced YouTube’s international copyright policy.

Mark Fitzpatrick, owner of YouTube channel Totally Not Mark, regularly reviews anime on his channel. Fitzpatrick received more than 150 copyright strikes on her channel in December, enough to remove her from YouTube. However, most of the videos that received copyright strikes were not anime reviews; they were how to draw explainer videos for the characters.

The crux of the whole problem is that Japanese copyright law does not contain a fair use clause like US law. Japan has moral rights for all types of works, allowing creators to choose how their work is represented. “The author has the right to preserve the integrity of his work and his title against any deformation, mutilation or other modification against his will”, this is how Japanese law reads.

Fitzpatrick says someone of YouTube contacted him personally about the copyright strikes. The contact not only apologized for the copyright strikes, but also said YouTube had a prior dispute with Toei Animation over Fitzpatrick’s videos. After Toei flagged the first 150 videos with copyright violations, they appealed to YouTube to have the videos removed from the platform entirely.

YouTube has decided not to honor Toei’s removal request, as it would violate the platform’s fair use policy. Instead, YouTube asked Toei to provide further justification as to why Fitzpatrick’s channel should be taken down. Rather than provide this evidence, Toei used YouTube’s automated complaints system to block the videos.

Fitzpatrick, YouTube and Toei Animation then played a phone game to discuss the issue. Fitzpatrick says Toei offered a list of 86 videos of the original 150 that should be removed.

“This list frankly had the most arbitrary assortment of videos I’ve ever seen,” Fitzpatrick Recount gambling website Kotaku. “It honestly looked like someone was randomly choosing videos like they were throwing darts at a dart board.” YouTube’s provision allows owners like Toei to have videos removed from YouTube Japan, but not in other territories where they fall under fair use.

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