The thing is about copyright is that I follow the laws as best I can but watch so many break the laws. I feel like I am missing out. I can't help but to think that all of the videos posted that use copyrighted music and materials will one day pay for their misuse. I also feel that the users who break the laws and post copyrighted material are potentially ruining the free web for the rest of us.
Don't get me wrong. The laws are ridiculous. The Constitution wanted to give protection to original work and thinkers, but it is written in such a way that eventually these products will return to the public to build upon (really, are there original ideas or just mash ups of other ideas). Congress continues to extend what constitutes public domain every few years. I don't know the truth of this, but I have heard that copyright control has been extended everything Disney's Mickey Mouse comes up to be entered into the public domain. Whatever, copyright seems to protect greed more often then fair use. BUT, I do believe in the concept. Our execution of the law has much to be desired.
Courts have begun to sue copyright breakers by fining per dub of copyright infringement. I suppose this could extend to per download. With fines, set in law at a minimum of $750 per infraction, this soon amounts to a lot of money.
The Center for Social Media has published a short document on what is their idea of fair use and appropriate use. This is not legal advice in as much as it is a guideline to help keep one from furthering the scrap in greedy pockets.
It is upon us to police ourselves and push our creativity to avoid breaking copyright laws. In the best case it helps other artists like ourselves. In the worst case it prevents the greedy from getting richer.