Skip links

What copyright issues are there when uploading to YouTube?


Who could have predicted at the launch of You Tube in 2005 that just 8 years later an estimated 72hours worth of video would be uploaded EVERY MINUTE to the social media site?

Now granted, 30 hours of that are taken up with people murdering Adele hits on an acoustic guitar and another 20 hours of people blindly filming their cats falling down attic stairs, chasing their tails or taking a snooze with their canine housemate, but still entertainment none the less.

Now, you might think that your humble ‘how to’ video produced by your small business might well get lost in the video quagmire, and it well might if you fail to promote it properly, but one thing you must not neglect is the issue of copyright.  Know the facts or risk having the content removed and the PR disaster that will follow.

The Facts

What is copyright? – Copyright is the legal right given to the creator of an original piece of work.  It gives them the right to:

  1. Copy the work (unsurprisingly!)
  2. Be credited for the work.
  3. Determine who may adapt the work to other forms.
  4. Determine who may perform the work.
  5. Decide who may financially benefit from the work.


Copyright infringement

So your video, to some extent, is protected, but you must ensure that by doing this you are not infringing the rights of another YouTube user, whether that be an individual or a large corporate business.

9/10 times this is done accidentally.  A video will be created with a track playing in the background.  This track does not have to be the number 1, or even in the charts, but if you have not created it yourself, you are infringing copyright and your video content could be taken down.

What will You Tube do?

Well I say your video content could be removed. The fact of the matter is that vast amounts of copyrighted material is still available on You Tube – and often the original creator of the work knows all about it!

This is down to YouTube’s Content ID system, which aims to automatically detect uploaded content, which infringes copyright.  When it is detected, the original creator is informed and given three options of how to proceed:

  1. Block it — The video is removed.
  2. Track it — The video can stay online, but the creator will be able to track how many views it receives and from where.
  3. Monetize it — Creator can choose to advertise on the video and they will receive revenue from those adverts.

Possible drawbacks

So, by all means use a Katy Perry track in the background of an advert, but be aware of the drawbacks:

  1. Your video may be completely removed from YouTube, making it an almighty waste of time and energy.
  2. Accept that, at any point, a mass of bawdy advertising might obscure your masterpiece, making it a nightmare to view for potential customers.

Be careful

Regardless of the Content ID system, remember, if you use someone else’s content without their permission then you are breaking the law.  The original creator still has the right to sue at any point.  It hasn’t happened yet, but there’s a first for everything.

 By Content Assistant – Helen Gotts

Leave a comment