We’ve been receiving a lot of questions from members about what makes a video copyright infringing and ineligible for upload on YouTube. Posting copyright-infringing content can lead to the termination of your account, and possibly monetary damages if a copyright owner decides to take legal action. Below are some guidelines to help you determine whether your video is eligible or whether it infringes someone else’s copyright. You can also find copyright FAQs within our Help Center.
As a general matter, we at YouTube respect the rights of artists and creators, and hope you will work with us to keep our community a creative, legal and positive experience for everyone, including artists and creators.
How To Make Sure Your Video Does Not Infringe Someone Else’s Copyrights
Be sure that all components of your video are your original creation—even the audio portion. For example, if you use an audio track of a sound recording owned by a record label without that record label’s permission, your video may be infringing the copyrights of others, and may be subject to removal.
Commercial Content Is Copyrighted
The most common reason we take down videos for copyright infringement is that they are direct copies of copyrighted content and the owners of the copyrighted content have alerted us that their content is being used without their permission. Once we become aware of an unauthorized use, we will remove the video promptly. That is the law.
Some examples of copyrighted content are:
Including sitcoms, sports broadcasts, news broadcasts, comedy shows, cartoons, dramas, etc.
Includes network and cable TV, pay-per-view and on-demand TV
Music videos, such as the ones you might find on music video channels
Videos of live concerts, even if you captured the video yourself
Even if you took the video yourself, the performer controls the right to use his/her image in a video, the songwriter owns the rights to the song being performed, and sometimes the venue prohibits filming without permission, so this video is likely to infringe somebody else’s rights.
Movies and movie trailers
Slide shows that include photos or images owned by somebody else
A Few Guiding Principles
It doesn’t matter how long or short the clip is, or exactly how it got to YouTube. If you taped it off cable, videotaped your TV screen, or downloaded it from some other website, it is still copyrighted, and requires the copyright owner’s permission to distribute.
It doesn’t matter whether or not you give credit to the owner/author/songwriter—it is still copyrighted.
It doesn’t matter that you are not selling the video for money—it is still copyrighted.
It doesn’t matter whether or not the video contains a copyright notice—it is still copyrighted.
It doesn’t matter whether other similar videos appear on our site—it is still copyrighted.
It doesn’t matter if you created a video made of short clips of copyrighted content—even though you edited it together, the content is still copyrighted.
What Will Happen If You Upload Infringing Content
Anytime YouTube becomes aware that a video or any part of a video on our site infringes the copyrights of a third party, we will take it down from the site. We are required to do so by law. If you believe that a video on the site infringes your copyright, send us a copyright notice and we will take it down. If you believe that we have removed a video that you uploaded in error and that you are the copyright owner or have permission, you can file a counter notice and let us know. Accounts determined to be repeat infringers may be subject to termination. Users with suspended or terminated accounts are prohibited from creating new accounts or accessing YouTube’s community features.
Using Some Copyrighted Content in Your Videos
While videos that are direct copies of someone else’s content are clear copyright violations, there are certain very limited circumstances in which the use of very short clips of a copyrighted video or song may be legal even without permission. This is known as the "fair use" principle of copyright law.
To determine whether a particular use of a short clip of a copyrighted video or song qualifies as a "fair use," you need to analyze and weigh four factors that are outlined in the U.S. copyright statute.
Unfortunately, the weighing of these four factors is often quite subjective and complex. For this reason, it’s often difficult to determine whether a particular use is a "fair use." If the copyright owner disagrees with your interpretation of fair use, the copyright owner may chose to resolve the dispute in court. If the court agrees with the copyright owner, then you are infringing the copyrights of the owner and you may be liable for monetary damages.
Unfortunately we cannot make a determination whether your video qualifies as fair use. If you disagree with a copyright takedown notice that you have received, you may file a counter-notification. However, we cannot offer you legal advice in these matters. If you have questions about your situation, we suggest you consult legal counsel.
If you would like to learn more about the principle of fair use, below are a few links to websites that discuss it. Please remember, however, that your decision about whether and how to exercise your fair use rights is solely yours, and we at YouTube bear no responsibility for your decision.
Fair Use Links on the Web
DISCLAIMER: WE ARE NOT YOUR ATTORNEYS, AND THE INFORMATION WE PRESENT HERE IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. WE PRESENT THIS INFORMATION FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.