Regardless of if it is legal to download the video from YouTube in the first place, could it be considered fair-use to upload the video with some parts of the video and audio censored (giving credit to the original author)?

The specifics: I edited Taylor Swift's Shake it Off (titled "Taylor Swift - Shake it Off (censored)") to remove all the twerking as well as the entire bridge in order to make it kid-friendly (as I have kids who love the song and Taylor Swift). I put it on YouTube as a private video and got a ContentID match and after a couple of days didn't receive a Copyright Infringement Notice ... so I went ahead and made it public ... and of course it gets taken down a few days later.

I don't think I'll "fight" it; I'm just curious if there is any case-law out there similar to this situation.

  • 1
    I'm not going to speak to the legality of this. However, I will say people have been editing the smut produced by Hollywood since the start. Today there are services like ClearPlay, VidAngel, and enJoy Movies Your Way to block out offensive content and they seem to be operating within the law. I'm not familiar with similar services for music, but I would guess the same approach could easily be taken.
    – user2497
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 23:08
  • 1
    These services are often unlawful exploiting copyrights without a license.
    – Trish
    Commented Aug 14, 2019 at 11:07

1 Answer 1


No, you misunderstand Fair use and infringed copyright

Fair use only exists if enough of the four factors are given for it:

  • The Transformative Factor
  • The Nature of the Copyrighted Work
  • The Amount and Substantiality of the Portion Taken
  • The Effect of the Use Upon the Potential Market

You fail on all of them:

  • Cutting the video does not alter the meaning or expression. which means it is nontransformative and thus against OP.
  • Music is usually with fictional works, the best you can get here is "neutral*. but I would weigh against OP.
  • Your Video took the total of the video and nothing else. Against OP.
  • The full-length Video has a potential market that does include underage children. Your video tried to infringe on that market. Against OP.


You are not enacting Fair Use but infringe copyright.

Similar case: Vidangel

Vidangel had been offering films in a censored fashion without the approval of the copyright holders. A court ruled that this is not fair use and it was sanctioned for 65 Million US-dollar.

  • Fair Use is determined based on the four considerations you list. It doesn't necessarily require all elements to be satisfied. It's at least theoretically determined on a case-by-case basis, but I can't imagine this being Fair Use. Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 16:00
  • @DavidThornley corrected
    – Trish
    Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 16:29

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