Rebecca Prince started a gaming channel on YouTube “just for fun” but within two months, she had more than 10,000 subscribers tuning in to get her gaming tips and reactions. Since first starting her own channel in August 2014, Prince has established two popular channels, Instagamrr and Becky Boop, with a combined 50,000 subscribers and 5 million views.
As her numbers climbed, so did Prince’s exposure to copyright challenges. Her firsthand experience of having a video falsely flagged for copyright infringement compelled her to educate herself–and her fellow YouTubers–about how to file counterclaims and counternotices when their content is protected by fair use. She recently filed an amicus brief in the “Dancing Baby” copyright lawsuit to support fellow YouTuber Stephanie Lenz in taking her case to the Supreme Court. During the infamous “Gamergate” controversy, Prince explained how she was the target of a patently false DMCA takedown notice, yet feared that filing a counternotice would result in the identification of her personal information, including her address, to her harasser.
“People want to be educated, not just entertained on YouTube,” Prince said of her Becky Boop channel, which explores copyright, fair use, online harassment, and other internet news items and provides her analysis and reactions. “When YouTubers experience false copyright takedowns, they often feel they have nowhere to turn; this affects not only them, but the millions of viewers watching.”
Issues surrounding copyright and the fans she reaches and helps to educate aren’t just a passion for Prince, they also impact her bottom line. Like so many others, Prince earns a living from the ad revenues and brand sponsorships from her YouTube channels. She also uses Twitter, Periscope, Instagram and Snapchat, as well as YouTube livestreaming to engage with her followers.
“[Copyright] restrictions online are already onerous enough…Notice-and-staydown would scare people away. The entire YouTube community is talking about it,” says Prince when asked how burdensome copyright regulations that hold tech companies liable for their users’ copyright infringement could affect her YouTube career. “I’m already giving up quite a bit to do this, but it’s what I’m passionate about. With too many obstacles, I might not be able to justify continuing to do what I do.”
A current graduate student at Harvard University, Prince endeavors to serve as a resource for her fellow YouTube creators, most of whom cannot afford a lawyer and are frequently intimidated by rightsholder claims and takedown notices.