Levels – by “Clay G – YLT2012”

Here is our final project, a short film of our freshman year antics, edited together in the spirit of vidding. In addition to creating a nostalgic montage of youthful naivety, we hoped to create a video that shed light upon fair use.



The video used the original works “Shots,” by LMFAO and “Levels” by Avicii. We felt that these songs were necessary to use in the background because they help to bring us back to freshman year.  Many memories from our first semester here were accompanied by Avicii’s song. However, these songs are copyrighted works. If it were not for the fair use statute, it would be illegal for us to use these songs in our video.

Fair use exists as the lone, strong legal defense against copyright infringement, and allows for reproduction of an original work for such uses as criticism, comment, reporting, and education. This project was educational, as it was made for the Law, Technology, and Culture course; but even if we made the video in our free time, this derivative work would be fair use.


Section 107 of the Copyright Law of 1976 defines four factors that help courts to determine if a work is fair use:

  1. The purpose and character of the use
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for the value of the copyrighted work


Our video is a transformative use of the songs. The clips are edited to have a distinct beginning, middle, and end. Just like many freshman year night, the film begins with drinks, is filled with dancing and play violence, and ends with passing out. We edited the songs together to make a smooth transition between “Shots” and “Levels.” Some of the video footage is sped up to match the tempo of the music. We cut the clips such that important events landed on the beat. (Look at the swipes at the camera, or Jacob slapping the sink). Since the derivative use is transformative, this is a sign that it is fair use.

In theory, the strength of a copyright suit should be proportional to the amount of the original work used in the derivative work. Only the chorus of “Shots” is used, but most of “Levels” is playing during the video. But given other fair use considerations, this one does not play an important role in determining if our video is copyright infringement.

Lastly, our use does not interfere with the utilitarian basis of copyright law. Our Youtube video does not take away or hurt the market for either song because, let’s get real, it’s not going to get a lot of views, and anyone who wanted to hear the entirety of the original songs would not watch our creation.

Clearly, our montage is not copyright infringement, and addresses many aspects of the fair use statute. In addition, it brought Jacob and I back to all the stupid shit we did as freshman, and reminded us that we should continue to film ourselves when things get cray.

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