Is Embedding YouTube Videos An Infringement Of Copyright?

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Introduction
YouTube videos are a great source of content and it is common to see YouTube videos being embedded in websites and blogs. You are probably thinking of doing the same thing yourself, but have a question on whether doing so will infringe on someone’s copyright. Well, the bad news is that the answer is not a simple yes or no, but the good news is that it is generally all right to embed YouTube videos.

So, if you want to know why there is no simple answer, get comfortable and let’s begin:


What Is Copyright And Copyright Infringement?
Copyright is the exclusive right to copy, distribute, perform and display a piece of work. Holding the copyright also gives you the right to prepare derivative works from the original. And, as the copyright holder, you are also allowed to assign those same rights to somebody else.

And so it follows that when you infringe on the copyright of others, you copy, distribute, perform or display a piece of work without the copyright holder’s permission. Copyright infringement also happens when you copy, distribute, perform or display derivative works of the original copyrighted work without the copyright holder’s permission.

One other thing about copyright is that so long as you created the original piece of work, you are the copyright holder. There is no need for you to perform any sort of registration. One notable exception is that if you are paid to create the work, then the copyright belongs to whoever paid you.


Embedding Your Own YouTube Videos
If it is your own truly original video, then there will be no copyright infringement issues since you are the copyright holder and you can say how and in what manner your video can be used. However, there might be third party copyrighted material in your work that could pose problems. Examples of third party works or material that could pose problems would include:

  • Your work is based on a copyrighted work and is considered a derivative work, and therefore you do not hold the copyright.
  • Excerpts from movies, television programs and audio tracks.
  • Commercial products featured in the video.
  • Identifiable person or persons in the video.


YouTube’s Terms And Conditions
Before going on to the issues of embedding somebody else’s YouTube videos, it would be instructive to look at clause 6C of YouTube’s Terms and Conditions which states: “...You also hereby grant each user of the Service a non-exclusive license to access your Content through the Service, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such Content as permitted through the functionality of the Service and under these Terms of Service....” 2

I’m no lawyer but I believe that means any YouTube video can be embedded into a website or blog using the embed code provided by YouTube. By uploading the video to YouTube, the copyright holder automatically grants you the license to embed his video onto your website or blog.


Third Party YouTube Videos
One issue would be whether the third party can claim ownership of the video. The same copyright issues that you could face with your own video would similarly be faced by the third party. Before embedding a third party video, you must look through the video for possible copyright infringement and other issues, even if the third party claims the copyright. Remember that if there are copyright or other issues, you are also liable since you are displaying it on your website or blog, although you did not produce the video yourself.

Assuming the third party is the legal copyright holder, there is another issue that you might like to consider before embedding his video on your site. The license granted to you to display his videos is revocable at any time. In other words, he can withdraw your license at any time without warning by simply removing his videos from YouTube, or disabling the embed code.


Conclusion
I hope I have clarified a little on the complexities of embedding YouTube videos onto your website. But so long as you take reasonable precautions to avoid infringing on the copyrights of others, the worst that can happen is probably receiving a letter or email telling you that you do not have the license to display the YouTube video on your site and to remove it immediately.


Disclaimer
I am not a lawyer, and this article is not intended to serve as legal advice. The information presented is accurate to the best of my knowledge, but I cannot take responsibility for any inaccuracies.


References
1. Copyright Law - http://hubpages.com/hub/Copyright-Law
2. YouTube’s Terms and Conditions - http://www.youtube.com/t/terms
3. US Copyright Office - http://www.copyright.gov/

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Comments 12 comments

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

Thank you for your very informative hub.


wandererh profile image

wandererh 5 years ago from Singapore Author

Thank you for visiting, Hello, hello,.


LindaJM profile image

LindaJM 5 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

YouTube users can elect not to allow embedding; if they don't choose that option then they're allowing it. When I use someone else's video on my pages I like to provide a backlink to the creator's YouTube profile page. I'm new on HubPages - and as far as I can tell, so far, that option isn't automatic here as it is on Squidoo, where I've done most of my content writing for the last two years.


wandererh profile image

wandererh 5 years ago from Singapore Author

Providing a linkback is a good idea instead of just the video. You can make that suggestion to HubPages as they seem to be in the process of continual development and might just take it up.


quicksand profile image

quicksand 5 years ago

Thanks for the alert. I shall be concious of all these in the future. Perhaps not using too many videos on my sites would be wise I guess. :)


wandererh profile image

wandererh 5 years ago from Singapore Author

quicksand - Actually, I was quite happy with what I found out as I previously thought that you need written permission before you can use a YouTube video. But not using too many YouTube videos would also be wise, or you could make some of your own. :)


wayseeker profile image

wayseeker 5 years ago from Colorado

Excellent information. Many thanks, wandererh.


wandererh profile image

wandererh 4 years ago from Singapore Author

Thanks, wayseeker! :)


Sage in a Cage profile image

Sage in a Cage 4 years ago

Your hub answered all my questions about using youtube videos. Thanks so much! It actually gives me a lot more freedom than I previously thought. Voted up!


wandererh profile image

wandererh 4 years ago from Singapore Author

Sage in a Cage - Glad I could help. This hub actually started from my own questions about youtube videos, and I made it into a hub. :)


sm825 profile image

sm825 4 years ago from The Uknown

This hub is very useful to people who may not have took the time to find out for themselves by reading there TOS. Because I have come upon a few times where I could not describe a method to a guide very well, but with this method I can embed a video that may explain it better for me. Also it may just be helpful to those who just want to watch a video on it instead.


wandererh profile image

wandererh 4 years ago from Singapore Author

sm825 - You got that right, who really reads the TOS anyway? It's all right when you have a TOS of a reasonable length, but the TOS of some sites are many pages in length, and with language that only a lawyer can understand. After a while, I suspect that most just gave up reading the TOS altogether.

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