Copyright infringement on You Tube

Copyright infringement on You Tube

The first rule about copyright infringement on You Tube is that copyright infringement on You Tube is not like copyright infringement on other platforms. You Tube has it’s own application of copyright laws. We often get asked by production studios to write contracts for consultants, contractors, clients and so on. These consultants monetise digital channels on You Tube with original content that has been created by the studio for a TV series, or other media channel. The importance of You Tube to creators of original content can’t be overstated. It has come a long way from the start up concept by co founders Jawed Karim, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen in 2005 for sharing a few personal videos with friends. It has transformed the online video and probably television more generally. If you want more statistics on You Tube’s dominance of the online video space click here

Copyright infringement on You Tube, advertising and You Tube Content

If you are a producer, actor, musician, magician, or other talent, you can create a digital channel on You Tube and start monetising your content through advertising.

Before you do so you need to obey copyright laws as applied on You Tube. You need to ensure that you own full copyright to the content for commercial use before you can use it. That means that you cannot include studio music, or footage or artwork that you do not have the rights to use. You may not display things like logos, thumbnails, software interfaces and games without the consent of their owners. Advertisers are wary of user generated content on You Tube infringing copyright, so to get advertising make sure you have cleared all rights to your content.

To get permission you need to either contact the copyright holder direct, or in some circumstances, there are organisations that grant royalty free licences for restricted use of content including footage and music for a fee. Never take a chance that you might not get caught. Make sure you check ownership of content before you use it. Use a real lawyer to advise you if you are in doubt. Online legal services and chat rooms are free or cheap but might cost you in the long run.

Copyright infringement on You Tube, Permitted acts “Fair Dealing” and Fair Use”

In the UK under something called the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (for more information on UK Copyright Law refer to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 – UK Copyright Law) – Chapter III sets out acts that are permitted in relation to copyright works. s29 and 30 contain the general permitted acts normally referred to as “Fair Dealing”. These restrictions to the copyright of the owner are more limited than “Fair Use” in the US. You would not be able to rely on “Fair Dealing” or “Fair Use” for the commercial use of copyrighted content you do not have permission to use on a You Tube video, and it would be very unlikely that you would get away with it for a non commercial use (it would depend on the circumstances of each case). You Tube have a sophisticated Content Id system for detecting and removing copyrighted content. Three take-down notices and you could be banned from You Tube. In other words copyright infringement on You Tube does not apply fair use as you might normally think of it.

So how do you get started monetising content on You Tube?

Monetising content on You Tube is very easy. You simply enable content monetisation on your digital channel in your account settings. If your account is live (it has not been blocked because of infringing copyright content) you’ll receive a message and you are now a You Tube Partner. You then verify your account.


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To book a face to face consultation for commercial legal advice regarding a You Tube video channel or mobile app video channel you should contact a specialist solicitor (charge rates may apply and may vary).

One Response to Copyright infringement on You Tube

  1. Cameron Thomas says:

    Good article here. I would also highly recommend picking up a copy of the 4th edition of Clearance & Copyright from Michael Donaldson and Lisa Callif. I read that book cover to cover and as an indie filmmaker, I found it to be so insightful. It has made my life so much easier to really know where I stand legally when it comes to using logos, copyrighted music and video clips.
    Clearance & Copyright 4th edition is an absolutely essential book for those who are recording film or even publishing content on the web. After all there really is nothing worse than slaving away for months on a project, only to find that you can’t publish it.
    Well worth taking a moment to look up this book and check out the authors website.


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