youtube UGC and copyright lawIn the early days of user-generated content (UGC), organizations would use video created by amateurs. Even now a number of companies and organizations crowd source content from their communities. Today, there are many instances of video professionals creating their own form of UGC. Similar to fan fiction and fan videos, many produce content based on previously copyrighted work. In the United States, “Fair Doctrine Law” allows a certain amount of copyrighted material to be used without permission. Many videographers use these types of videos on YouTube as a way to attract viewers and build an audience. They have to carefully walk the line, to create something “new” and a completely different take on an original story without infringing on the original.

Last month, filmmaker Joseph Kahn generated some controversy through his UGC fan video that paid homage to the “Power Rangers” in an R-Rated alternate universe version of the tame children’s show. Kahn is an accomplished film maker and award winning music video director who has worked with the likes of Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Eminem among others. Kahn initially posted his 14-minute original “Power Rangers” video to YouTube and Vimeo. The lavishly produced video, which took seven-days to shoot and nine months to finish, was a way for Kahn to experiment with an idea. Vimeo initially pulled the video, citing the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. After age disclaimers were added (due to the language, violence and mature themes) in the “Powers/Ranger” video, the content was re-posted to video sharing sites. If you’re interested here’s the video; fair warning it is not safe for work and it is DEFINITELY not safe for kids:


Ten or fifteen years ago, Kahn would not have had a way to easily distribute his “Power/Rangers” to viewers. In Kahn’s words: “I just wanted to make a Power Rangers good for once,” Kahn told Deadline, “It’s kind of a silly franchise. It was an experiment in tone; it was a challenge. I took the silliest property I could think of and tried to see if I could make it serious enough.” Filmmakers can now make experiments like this and YouTube allows them to distribute their own bootleg projects without relying on big studios or distributors.

The evolution of UGC can be attributed to the rise of YouTube as a video sharing site. For the first time, content creators have had a venue to share video content. The changing nature of how viewers consume entertainment content has directly influenced professional content creators.

Going back to business and how this affects most of you, user-generated content can play a fundamental role in any web video marketing strategies. Amateur UGC video can be as an outstanding way to convey emotion. Keeping within copyright rules, even bending them a bit without breaking them, while producing a video can tell a brand story in a new and unique way that resonates with audiences.


Eric Guerin is the founder of Adelie Studios. He chooses to use his creative powers for good and not evil by helping businesses to better market themselves using animated marketing videos. He can easily be bribed with coffee. Read more of Eric’s posts