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On YouTube, it is common for users to upload videos that they have created or own the rights to. However, some users may attempt to avoid copyright infringement by uploading mirrored versions of videos that they do not own the rights to. In these cases, does the original YouTuber still have any copyrights over a mirrored version of their video? Can they still make a claim against the uploader for using their content without permission?

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First of all, taking a video made by someone else, making alterations and then distributing the resulting work is probably already a copyright violation. There are exemptions like fair use (check the comments for an example), but just taking a whole video, mirroring it and reposting it without any own contribution very likely does not constitute fair use. The people who do that don't avoid copyright infingement. They just try to avoid getting caught by any automatic system YouTube has in place to detect copyright infringements. But avoiding automatic filters does not mean to avoid DMCA takedown notices, cease&desist letters or lawsuits from real humans who find a mirrored version of their video and feel that their copyright was violated.

However, alterations to a creative work can be a creative work in itself. So regardless of the fact that one violated copyright in creating a derivative work, that derivative work might still be eligible for copyright in its own right. That means someone who reposts a video originally made by party A and then altered by party B would violate the copyright of both A and B at once and thus expose themselves to potential legal actions from either party.

But the question is if simply mirroring a video constitutes the necessary threshold of originality to make the resulting work eligible for copyright. In most courts, it probably would not.

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  • The Hughs/Benjamin case comes to mind: complete recut under new title is criticism.
    – Trish
    Mar 17, 2023 at 12:06
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    @Trish You mean this case? Yes, a recut was considered fair use in that particular case, but I would be careful to consider that a blanket statement that would also apply in slightly different cases. There were several arguments why this video was fair use which might not apply in other cases. Namely that it only used 20% of the original footage, that the primary purpose of the recut was clearly to comment on the original work and that it didn't diminish the economical value of the original work.
    – Philipp
    Mar 17, 2023 at 12:16
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Mirroring is copyright violation

A mirror of an image is either a copy or a derivative work. Doing either without permission is copyright violation.

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    Can you add source to it ? Mar 17, 2023 at 8:16
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    A good overview gives commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Derivative_works. When someone just copies a video (or a picture), it is an extreme case of a derivative work because it (almost) exclusively consists of the original work of art.
    – PMF
    Mar 17, 2023 at 8:47
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    But would simply mirroring a video pass the Threshold of Originality test? I doubt it.
    – Philipp
    Mar 17, 2023 at 11:39
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    I think this answer is ambiguous. It's not clear if the "Yes" refers to the copyright of the original YouTuber or the copyright of the YouTuber who made the derivative work. It's also not clear if "Making derivative work is one of the rights copyright gives." is supposed to mean that rights are given to the original creator or rights are given automatically to the creator of the derivative work. I probably know what you mean, but many readers probably would not.
    – Philipp
    Mar 17, 2023 at 12:02

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