YouTube is an amazing service for a huge number of reasons, but if there's one thing that's not fun about it, it's the ever-existing threat of a company taking legal action against you because of a video upload. We see this happen all of the time, and often, users don't even know what they're actually allowed to upload. Uploading a song or parody, for example, is a hit-or-miss endeavor: you may get away with it or simply have the company monetize it on its own; or, if you catch a particular company on a bad day, you may wake up to a disabled video and a hit against your account.
Some might argue that anyone who uploads a video should know whether or not they're allowed to, but as we've seen in the past, even completely legitimate videos have been flagged by the big movie companies. Last spring, a complaint from Sony Pictures resulted in a 100% open source movie made by the Blender foundation being blocked on YouTube. It's quite an interesting sort of power where you can affect something that you have absolutely no hand in.
Nonetheless, while YouTube and Google are responsible for going forth with required legal actions, it doesn't mean that it agrees with them. At all. And as a result, a great thing is happening.
With a new initiative, Google says that it will fund the legal defense of videos it believes was reported for the wrong reasons. Of course, no one could expect that it will be able to jump to the rescue all of the time, but truly legitimate take-down requests are more uncommon than illegitimate ones.
Where this gets even cooler is with the fact that YouTube will feature the videos it ends up defending (with the permission of their creators) in the copyright section of the website. The point of this is to show strong examples of what's considered fair use, and thus is legal. This is where companies would want to look before issuing a DMCA request, although we're sure it'd strike no one as a surprise to see most companies ignore them.
Nonetheless, this is a great move by YouTube, and perhaps just as important for the service as it is for its users.