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Google hires Happy Tree Friends to explain copyright to YouTube uploaders

Google's tightening their copyright policies for YouTube uploads. If you upload copyrighted material to YouTube, you'll have to watch a video called "YouTube Copyright School" and then pass a test on copyright to continue using the site.

That video features the Happy Tree Friends, Internet cartoon celebrities. The cartoon is known for the contrast between the cute animals and the graphic cartoon violence, but they've cleaned up their act for the big league of YouTube Copyright School.

After watching that video, YouTube users get two more chances before, on the third strike, being banned for life. According to Politico, this is the company's response to lawmakers and the entertainment industry complaining that Google hasn't cracked down on copyright infringement.

Given the giant amount of copyrighted material on YouTube put up there by people without the right to do so, it's an interesting approach as everyone tries to figure out the nature of copyright in the Internet age. There seems to be a tacit acceptance of a lot of this material being up by some artists and companies, so it will be interesting to see if this has much impact.

If Google gets really serious about copyright, it could also swing in the opposite direction and have a chilling effect where videos that people might have formerly assumed were fair use now don't get produced because the user is too worried about the ramifications.

On the other hand, all this handwringing gives us at least one thing to be thankful for: a new Happy Tree Friends video.

(via The Atlantic Wire)

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