Is Embedding YouTube Videos An Infringement Of Copyright?
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.
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.
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.