Embedded YouTube Videos and Copyright Infringement

Most people encourage you to enhance your online articles and websites by embedding youTube videos. YouTube videos are often entertaining, and will keep visitors on your site for longer, which may enhance your search engine rankings.

In fact, many blog sites and online writing sites including HubPages, provide you with an easy way to embed youTube video links and have the content appear right there on your blog entry or article.

What are the copyright laws surrounding youTube videos?

Is it copyright infringement to include an embedded youTube video link in your online article? Do you need to get permission? Whom do you get permission from - youTube, the uploader, the content creator?

And most importantly, will embedding youTube videos get you in trouble with Google AdSense?


YouTube Videos and Copyright Infringement

Is linking to a youTube video copyright infringement?

Providing a regular link to a youTube video, like so, is clearly not infringing on any copyright laws on my part because the video does not appear on my site. Similarly, I can post links to any web page without asking permission from the owners.

If I provided a regular link to a likely infringing youTube video (i.e. a video that is placed on youTube without the content owner's consent), then the issue becomes murkier because the infringing video should not have been on youTube in the first place and posting a link to it can be viewed as a form of "distribution", which is a copyright violation.

YouTube itself is well shielded because it is against their policy to host infringing videos, and once reported, all infringing videos will be removed.

This is similar to HubPages and text. HubPages is also shielded against their members publishing copied or plagiarised content because they will remove the infringing content as soon as a valid copyright (DMCA) report is filed.

Is linking to a youTube video copyright infringement?
Is linking to a youTube video copyright infringement?

Embedded YouTube Videos

The issue of copyright infringement becomes murkier when I include an embedded youTube video link, for example in a HubPages video capsule. Now, the youTube video appears on my online article, blog, or website, in contrast to the previous case, where it only appears as a link.

Am I infringing copyright laws now?

Some people argue that it is not infringing upon any copyright laws because you are only including a link - an embedded link - but still just a link. If anybody is libel, they reason, it should be youTube who is hosting the content, or the person who uploaded the content onto youTube. Since you did not do either of those things, you clearly are not doing anything wrong.

This reasoning, however, is problematic. It is problematic because now the embedded video is appearing right on your online article or website. This is similar to embedding a picture or image that belongs to someone else.

In the case of a picture or image, you must first get permission from the owner of the image, unless the image is public domain. You should also attribute all images back to their original site (i.e. site you got the image from) and content creator/owner.

Having an embedded youTube video on your online article or website is exactly like having an embedded image - thus permission must also be given from the owner of the youTube video.

In the case of a picture or image, you must first get permission from the owner of the image, unless the image is public domain.
In the case of a picture or image, you must first get permission from the owner of the image, unless the image is public domain. | Source

YouTube Video Permission and Rights

When I first published this article, I took a hard stance against embedding youTube videos without first contacting the owner.

However, Ian pointed out very nicely in the comments section below that I was in error. And indeed I was!

The youTube TOS states the following -

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. ~~ [youTube TOS part 6C]

Many thanks to Ian for this very useful information.

This clearly states that the owner of the video grants you a limited license to embed the video simply by leaving the embed option on (which is part of the functionality of the youTube Service).

However, there is another wrinkle to this youTube copyright infringement issue - what if the uploader of the youTube video does not own the rights to the video?

In this case, it is an infringing youTube video. There are many such videos on youTube, usually movies, t.v. shows, and music videos.

It is clearly against copyright laws to embed an infringing youTube video in your article, blog, or website. Such a video is not even legal on youTube.

However, you may reason that it is not probable for anyone to come after you in this case because they would probably go after the uploader of the youTube video first. This is probably true, but you would still know that it is stolen content, and if you have a God, He would know too.

Therefore, do not embed infringing youTube videos into your online articles.

Infringing youTube video - You would still know that it is stolen content, and if you have a God, He would know too.
Infringing youTube video - You would still know that it is stolen content, and if you have a God, He would know too. | Source

Do you think you should get owner consent before including a youTube video?

  • Yes.
  • No.
  • Don't know, don't care.
See results without voting

Are Embedded YouTube Videos Against Google AdSense Policies?

Enough about God, what about Google - can embedding a youTube video jeapordize your Google AdSense account?

Yes, if it is an infringing youTube video. Copyright infringement is against Google AdSense Program Policies. The owner can file a copyright or DMCA report against you for showing his video without his permission. If that happens, your Google AdSense account will likely get banned.

There will also be cases where it is not clear whether a youTube video is an infringing video. In this case, I agree with many of the comments below which state that it is better to err on the side of safety and not embed or link to these videos. If a DMCA report should be filed against your website, you will likely lose your Google AdSense account even if you were unaware of the infringing status of the video.

Just because a video exists on youTube does not mean that it is public domain. Just because an image exists on Flickr does not mean that it is public domain.

Part 6C of youTube's TOS grants you a limited license to use the video only in so far as it is permitted through the functionality of the 'youTube' Service and under these 'youTube' Terms of Service.

The owner of the video still owns the rights to the video, as is clearly stated in youTube's policies.

If the owner has turned off the embedding option, then you cannot otherwise duplicate the video and show it on your site. Similarly, the limited license does not grant permission to modify, extend, shorten, or publish screen shots of the video.

Do you think you should get owner consent before including a youTube video?
Do you think you should get owner consent before including a youTube video? | Source

Don't Shoot the Messenger

Note - I am not a representative of Google and I do not have a vested interest in this matter.

I was merely curious about this issue, and decided to do some research into it. I had some problems finding a good, straight answer, and that is why I decided to publish my findings in this hub.

This hub reports what I discovered from reading various online Forums as well as from reading the program policies of youTube and Google AdSense.

I did not speak to anyone from these organizations, so what I present here is only based on what I have read and what I have deduced from my own research.

If you have a different opinion or think that I am mistaken, please let me know so that I can update the hub with more accurate information that can be of use to other online writers. Thank you.

Don't Shoot the Messenger
Don't Shoot the Messenger | Source


omegawebau 7 months ago from NSW, Australia

I strongly suggest not to embed youtube video to your website, instead what can be done is; you can share the link of the video with a small text which says courtesy (website name).

localguy8 11 months ago

I video open mics at local bars on town where local musicians sings and plays covers and original music. I then post them on youtube and then I get a deletion and warning about copy right, I don't even make a cent from them and how do I know which songs these companies don't want you to sing and post? I am not even copying and or part of the original except these musicians playing covers.

Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 17 months ago from Germany

Thank you very much for this very useful and informative hub. I will delete the you tube videos that I have embedded to my blog. It is better safe than sorry because I will never know if those videos are legally uploaded. I think I have to produce my own videos. Thank you again. Voted this up and useful.

Dave 3 years ago

What would happen in this scenario?

A performer embeds a youtube video that was uploaded by someone else, but the content of that video is of themselves performing. So who is the rightful owner? the person who shot the video? or the artist in the video who was unaware they were being filmed?

Then, what if the performer wanted to embed that video of themselves on another website to promote themselves and make money from it? Would that be classed as making a profit from a youtube video thats not theirs? or would that be seen as making money from the art, and not the video?

blong206b profile image

blong206b 3 years ago from Virginia Beach

I'm a content provider on YouTube (Dance Lessons), and leave the embed option on. It helps me when people use the videos and also makes me feel like i've contributed to the Arts.

Thanks for writing the hub, I got something out of it.

albi107 3 years ago

I have a strange case:

A video is uploaded on an official channel, they have enabled the embed code, but the same company is requesting the embed video to be removed from my site.

OanaBoteanu 3 years ago

Great advice, great hub. However, so much to learn about this topic. I want to include some youtube videos with workouts and I can only assume I shouldn't as the videos I want to include are uploads of dvd videos - so I believe the person uploading has no rights over the videos. So many rights and rules, I wish they made it more simple, but the web is not a simple place.

Thanks again for this hub and very insightful comment discussion :)

Scottie Futch profile image

Scottie Futch 3 years ago from North Carolina

I've only just started with Hubpages. I'm mostly testing the waters here. I chose to embed Youtube videos, but so far I have only chosen to embed them directly from AMC's official Youtube channel. If it's infringement then they are infringing on their own property. :)

With that being said this is a solid hub and a font of information! Good job.

Jimmu 3 years ago

YES! Youtube ToS s. 6C! That is all I needed to read. Great article by the way.

TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

TIMETRAVELER2 4 years ago

YouTube, Google Videos and other such sites could simplify this issue by simply requiring video owners to clearly and visibly state (with some sort of code) that it's legal for others to use their videos . This would save a lot of time and effort and would put the responsibility clearly on the shoulders of the people who place their videos online. This code would protect other users if a question of copyright infringement comes up and the DMCA filing would be made against the individual who placed the video online.

meditations7 profile image

meditations7 4 years ago from Australia

If you want it public and allow sharing well that's your choice there are options in your account to turn sharing off, so I see no reason why this is a user issue but a publishers one.

anonymous 4 years ago

Very informative. I am a new hubber, I got EXACTLY what I was looking for. Well, you may agree or disagree from the conclusion part, but the overall information is classy.

Thanks shibashake.

Greekgeek profile image

Greekgeek 4 years ago from California

Basically, try and determine whether a YouTube video was posted by the copyright owner. It's usually fairly obvious.

If the copyright owner left the embedding option on, then they HAVE given permission for it to be embedded (or else they need to read terms of service more carefully, and that's not your fault).

If someone else uploaded a clip, then...well, you're accessory to the crime.

Exception: Do you know the Four Factors of Fair Use? Look it up on Stanford Law School's website; they have a great rundown. A limited excerpt for purposes of critique/commentary, which doesn't compete with the original or lessen its marketability, is probably fair use. So a 3-minute clip of a 3-hour movie in a review which will probably promote viewings or sales of that movie is almost certainly Fair Use. Uploading the whole blinking movie so people can watch it without renting it? NOT critique/commentary, NOT a limited excerpt, DEFINITELY competing with the original, so NOT fair use.

Learning basic copyright law and copyright can solve a lot of these fuzzy dilemmas. It doesn't work 100% of the time in the new digital frontier, but if you understand copyright's basic principles -- especially fair use -- and why they're there, you will find that usually there's a way to adapt/apply them that makes sense and is fair to all parties concerned.

Me 4 years ago

I would argue that most of the UK pop chart acts infringe because their bass lines and tunes are often recognizable tunes that have been released before. Sometimes it's two or three previous song bits 'welded' together. This is obviously worse than someone uploading a video by a band without the record companies permission and makes no claim as to have written the song themselves. Also DJS get one license and that allows them to play whatever the hell they want, talk over it, cut the track short or play it at the wrong speed. So maybe the answer is a VJ license that YouTube buys and that allows all registered users to embed any video at all from YouTube. Presently even though the embed share code is given right next to the video, certain videos give a message that it must be played through YouTubes site. So you have to click the link to the video on your embedded screen and view the video on You Yube. And then read that moronic graffiti underneath it where primates attempt to communicate how good or how bad it is. The comments underneath the videos are the worse kind of violation since they usually defame the artist and Google do little to police that problem.

DanP 4 years ago

Posting UTube links may be more serious than just using your AdSense account.

I've seen a small note on a site one time- that said that because of UTube video copyright infringements, the site was closed down.... and to go to a different site instead. Pretty serious stuff. That's why I'm doing a search right now to try to figure this out.


Tams R profile image

Tams R 4 years ago from Missouri

Your article is very informative. It covers what I was seeking and could not find a clear answer for. Generally though, it seems no one will honestly know until someone wages a giant lawsuit on a website for embedding a video that was not properly disabled from sharing and the judge rules on an answer. Even then, we're going to be waiting for an appeal.

That being said, I've searched high and low for an answer and yours is the best I've found. While I believe I could make a humorous website based off the videos, I will have to weigh on the side of caution. If I need a video that badly, I will either make it myself or send the owner an email and wait impatiently for an answer. Arg!

healthywholefoods profile image

healthywholefoods 4 years ago

I figured that is what youtube is for. I mean, If you don't want people to see your video, then you wouldn't put the video on youtube. So obviously you want the public to see it.

By placing a youtube video on your website, your just making it more public. If some one uploads a video from someone else without permission, that is a different story. Chances of knowing that are slim.

Steve Geoffrion 4 years ago

I would think that Vevo videos that are on YouTube would be OK to post on your own site because they certainly would have cleared any copyright issues. So that assurance along with the YouTube TOS should cover it. Does anybody agree or disagree?

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 4 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

I haven't got the slightest idea of how to make a video, SweetiePie, or how it could be put on youtube if I were able to put one together. If I could, I, too, would prefer to use my own video.

SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 4 years ago from Southern California, USA

I find it easier to only embed my own videos. I see purpose of others embedding videos, but the reason I only embed my own is because I like control over what is on my hub. My videos are by no means high tech or glossy, but at least they are my own.

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 4 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

I think youtube bears the responsibility for the use of any video that they make available to the public, not the ultimate user. I have no doubt that youtube lawyers have put some kind of language in its rules attempting to dodge this responsibility, but if I were a lawyer I would not want to try to defend it.

shibashake profile image

shibashake 4 years ago Author

"If a video owner chooses to put his video on youtube without restricting or disabling its use, the owning knowingly puts his video "out there" for public use."

Not all videos are posted by the legal owner.

Ultimately, most people are concerned about this issue because they do not want to risk losing their Google AdSense account.

William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 4 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

I have no idea regarding the law in using youtube videos -- it's been difficult enough learning how to embed the videos in my hubs. But I don't think the thousands of "hubbers" who use youtube videos on HubPages can be expected to be part-time Philadelphia lawyers. If youtube makes these videos available and tells you how you can embed them, I think that amounts to permission to use them. Youtube can disable any video it does not want us to use. For that matter, HubPages can eliminate the youtube feature if it wishes. If a video owner chooses to put his video on youtube without restricting or disabling its use, the owning knowingly puts his video "out there" for public use. That's my opinion.

Mairi 5 years ago

OK..SOO I am really late on this...but I saw this page on youtube

Since youtube gives you permission and the tools to embed videos, then its not illegal right?

Mike 5 years ago

Woah I didn't even know this!

Thanks for the warning

Tri Pudjo profile image

Tri Pudjo 5 years ago from Jakarta, Singapore

Gee people, I am a newbie in adsense - I just published my 1st ever adsense site and got banned right on.

I was wondering, how can this be - I am not a pro blackhatter and I don't even know any blackhat tricks, and all.

I was wondering and cursing - how is this possible?

Now - I supposedly got the answer!!

Yes, I have embedded "lots" of video's in my sites .. that musta been the reason. So, now - my account has been banned, and I am getting efforts to get another one.

In the meantime - I will make this a rule: When playing with adsense - NO videos on the site, even your own!

Thanks - this is a very useful article.

Good Luck Adsense-Players.


jag 5 years ago

if embedding is illegal why they offer APIs? and there are so many sites living on APIs

ryder88 5 years ago

I been hard at research regarding this topic. I am very glad and happy that i found this discussion regarding embedding a video from You tube. There are a lot video on Youtube that can really enhanced a web site or blog. Thanks for the clear discussion on the topic.I'm following the earlier advice Just to be safe before i embed any video from youtube to enhanced my blog i should ask first the owner of the video.

This information is really very helpful to all especially for aspiring blogger and writers. Thank you very much for this information.

twodawgs 5 years ago

Thank you for this very useful information. I had sent a message to the support team asking this very question.

Crystal 5 years ago

I am so glad I found this page! Thank you for writing this. I just ran into this issue and had a YouTube video embedded in a blog post which was removed for copyright. I wasn't sure what to do so you're a life saver! I've decided to just link back to YouTube from now on. :) Thanks again for a great article!

Helmer Richard 5 years ago

The idea is that my application uses YouTube API which returns videos directly from youtube, so i'm not able to delete a certain video, unless it's removed first from youtube. There are plenty of websites that do the same thing. Should i be worried?

shibashake profile image

shibashake 5 years ago Author

"I am planning to put a report button, that will redirect the user to youtube's video reporting system"

That is a good solution. It would also be good to get an alert-cc when this happens.

Helmer Richard 5 years ago

I have read your posts and understood that it is ilegal to embed youtube videos that we're uploaded by users who do not own them.

Now my question is this: HOW DO I KNOW IF A VIDEO WAS UPLOADED ILLEGALY? (Technically, i don't and according to the site's terms, it is youtube's responsibility to remove it.)

I own a website that has over 30,000 youtube embeded videos. I don't know which videos we're uploaded by their owner. I am planning to put a report button, that will redirect the user to youtube's video reporting sistem, in order to get it off youtube.

shibashake profile image

shibashake 5 years ago Author

Hello Shelley,

It is my understanding that if the embedded option is enabled, then the video can be embedded in other sites, but only in ways that are "permitted through the functionality of the Service.", where Service = youTube service.

I.e., the video cannot be edited in any way nor can we use screenshots from the video. We may only use the embedding option in the way that is outlined by youTube.

There has also been discussion about infringing videos. Personally, I would not embed any video that I think may be an infringing video. Aside from the usual moral issues, it may also affect our Google AdSense account, and possibly our search rankings.

Shelley 5 years ago

I stumbled across this blog while looking at copyright of YouTube videos to be used in a public place

And referring to Ian's comment that said "So, the uploader has granted each user of the Service a license to reproduce, distribute, display and perform a video as permitted through the functionality of the Service. That's, obviously, embedding"

Would I be right in saying that I can use YouTube videos in a public performance if the creator of the video has enabled embedding of that certain video, or did I miss something?

Russ 5 years ago

So the bottom line is - embedding infringing videos is illegal.

But, what if you ask whoever posted the youtube video if they have permission to upload it, and they tell you they do have permission, but they actually don't? Could you still be charged with distributing infringing material, or would you be safe?

Furthermore, on the youtube upload page youtube clearly states -

"By clicking "Upload Video", you are representing that this video does not violate YouTube's Terms of Service and that you own all copyrights in this video or have authorisation to upload it."

This being the case, ALL videos ALREADY have a guarantee of non-infringing use from the uploader. So, wouldn't asking the uploader whether or not they have permission to post the video on youtube be superflous?

Does this mean we can embed carefree? Thoughts?

karenfreemansmith profile image

karenfreemansmith 5 years ago from Oregon

Thanks so much, I've been wondering about whether YouTube videos were "legal" to embed or not for over a year with no clear answer. Many thanks to you and Ian both for a clear answer on this.

Nick Malizia profile image

Nick Malizia 6 years ago from USA

This is one of the absolutely most relevant topics for the blogger or web publisher in general. Thanks for addressing it. I hope more people read this.

shibashake profile image

shibashake 6 years ago Author

It is only illegal if you embed an infringing video.

kabir 6 years ago

Hi So using Embeded code is not illegal ?

Kenneth 6 years ago

Yesterday (my birthday) I received the following email from blogger in reference to a Tom Petty video on youtube that I had linked to:

Blogger has been notified, according to the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), that certain content in your blog is alleged to infringe upon the copyrights of others. As a result, we have reset the post(s) to "draft" status. (If we did not do so, we would be subject to a claim of copyright infringement, regardless of its merits. The URL(s) of the allegedly infringing post(s) may be found at the end of this message.) This means your post - and any images, links or other content - is not gone. You may edit the post to remove the offending content and republish, at which point the post in question will be visible to your readers again.

A bit of background: the DMCA is a United States copyright law that provides guidelines for online service provider liability in case of copyright infringement. If you believe you have the rights to post the content at issue here, you can file a counter-claim. For more information on our DMCA policy, including how to file a counter-claim, please see

The notice that we received, with any personally identifying information removed, will be posted online by a service called Chilling Effects at We do this in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). You can search for the DMCA notice associated with the removal of your content by going to the Chilling Effects search page at, and entering in the URL of the blog post that was removed. If it is brought to our attention that you have republished the post without removing the content/link in question, then we will delete your post and count it as a violation on your account. Repeated violations to our Terms of Service may result in further remedial action taken against your Blogger account including deleting your blog and/or terminating your account. If you have legal questions about this notification, you should retain your own legal counsel.


The Blogger Team

After being briefly furious (and I'm not sure why other than embarrassment), I searched and immediately found this discussion and it contains such great logic that I couldn't wait to file a counter-notification and present what I had learned. I followed their links to the example and quickly found that a thoughtful rebuttal isn't the next step. If I had the energy I might pursue the principle, but I'm too old, tired, and poor to risk how far an objection could potentially go, and over something so ultimately ridiculous (Tom Petty.) But I'm glad that this information was available. Thank you!

Nick Malizia profile image

Nick Malizia 6 years ago from USA

You rule, Shiba. As my pg. info says this topic worries the crap outta me. But I hate the idea that so many people are using this as content and those playing it safe are missing out.

You and Ian seemed to have it right. But it's still intimidating... sigh ha ha ha

Kyle246 profile image

Kyle246 6 years ago from United States

Thank you so much shibashake and Ian. I was so confused with all this stuff on my website. I couldn't even find the info on google until i came across this. THANK YOU SO MUCH :)

shibashake profile image

shibashake 6 years ago Author

As outlined above, it seems that a video can be embedded if -

1. It is a youTube video AND

2. It is not an infringing video AND

3. It has its embedded option turned on in youTube

But it must be embedded using the embed option provided by youTube. Furthermore the video cannot be modified or operated on in any way except by tools/functions provided by youTube.

lalit bassi 6 years ago

hey can i post a yoga video on my website without the permission.....?

Ian 6 years ago

You're welcome! Always glad to help fellow web entrepreneurs! When I first came to this article it was because I didn't know for sure either. So, your article pushed me to search deeper.

Anyway, there are many other video sources on the internet, and almost every one of those sources allow embedding on some occasions. I'd still recommend reading their TOS and see what exactly is said about embedding. Because it still remains a tricky question, you're demonstrating the content anyway.

And yes, your God knows.

shibashake profile image

shibashake 6 years ago Author

Thanks Ian - you are absolutely right and I was gravely mistaken.

I have included this new information in the article. Thanks for making some great points and backing it up with hard facts.

Ian 6 years ago

As I said, I'm not a lawyer, but here it goes.

from YouTube TOS:

(6.B.)You shall be solely responsible for your own Content and the consequences of submitting and publishing your Content on the Service. You affirm, represent, and warrant that you own or have the necessary licenses, rights, consents, and permissions to publish Content you submit; and you license to YouTube all patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright or other proprietary rights in and to such Content for publication on the Service pursuant to these Terms of Service.

If an uploader has uploaded a video, he has accepted these TOS, so you can assume that he has obtained rights to do so.


(part of 6.C.) 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.

So, the uploader has granted each user of the Service a license to reproduce, distribute, display and perform a video as permitted through the functionality of the Service. That's, obviously, embedding.

And to further enforce copyrights:

(6.D.)You further agree that Content you submit to the Service will not contain third party copyrighted material, or material that is subject to other third party proprietary rights, unless you have permission from the rightful owner of the material or you are otherwise legally entitled to post the material and to grant YouTube all of the license rights granted herein.

I mean, you can embed legally any YouTube video on your site that has this option embedded, because you have a license to do so, YouTube TOS states that. And you can not bet held liable for any copyrights infringements even if the video itself is illegal, as that's a breach of YouTube TOS and you're not responsible for that. In my opinion, if someone would sue you for having something embedded in your site from YouTube, you'd win the process.

Though, I'm not a lawyer, that process would probably be quite expensive, and if you were involved in a DMCA lawsuit, you'd probably loose your adsense account anyway. After winning you'd probably get it back. :D

Here are the TOS:

Ian 6 years ago

Hi, Shibashake, I understand your position, still there's one thing I'd like to tell you regarding this issue and my opinion on it.

You keep saying this: "As discussed above, some people feel that leaving the embedding option on makes the video public domain." Of course it doesn't! To make something public domain the owner have to release it in public domain by expressing it explicitly. So, embedded videos obviously are owned by people who hold the copyrights of this video.

BUT! You *can* use a copyrighted (even All rights reserved) material on your website if you have a permission to do so. Either you've bought a license to do so, or the copyright holder has given you his permission to do so in any other way. Now, the question really is - Whether it is a permission to embed a video if the copyright holder has knowingly enabled embedding? It seems like a permission to me...

Of course, it's not in public domain, you can't build upon it, you can't use it as your own, you have to attribute the creator, you can't copy it and distribute it further. But by using the embedding option it's not even possible to do any of these things.

Besides, what is a permission? If you call the copyright holder and ask him and he verbally gives you a permission, does that count? Or if you send an e-mail, but 5 years pass and you've both deleted them. How can you prove that you actually *have* a permission to use it? In my opinion the embed option is a clearer permission to use the material on a website than an e-mail.

BUT! If the uploader isn't the copyright holder of any part of his video it's a different question. In my opinion, you can't be held liable of any copyrights infringement, as there *shouldn't* be any videos on YouTube that infringe copyrights, as that is against their TOS. So, if there's a video on YouTube you can assume that the uploader has obtained rights to post it on YouTube. More, if such a video has "embed" option enabled, it *should* mean that the uploader has obtained rights to distribute the material for free.

In reality though, big companies won't ask you your opinion, and if a DMCA report is filed your adsense account will be endangered. So, I wouldn't embed a YouTube video on my site that seems like a copyright infringement - if the uploader, obviously, doesn't have any rights to post the material on YouTube.

That's my take on this issue, I'm not a lawyer though.

peacefulparadox 6 years ago

Very interesting. So to be safe, I do not embedded videos that I believe contains copyrighted material.

Actually, linking to copyright materials might be gray area too. Wikipedia says "The law is currently unsettled with regard to websites that contain links to infringing material; however, there have been a few lower-court decisions which have ruled against linking in some narrowly prescribed circumstances. One is when the owner of a website has already been issued an injunction against posting infringing material on their website and then links to the same material in an attempt to circumvent the injunction. ... But There have been no cases in the US where a website owner has been found liable for linking to copyrighted material outside of the above narrow circumstances." (source

I copied this text from Wikipedia, but that is okay because Wikipedia text is covered under "Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License". However, even if it had not been, I claim "fair use". And even so, you and hubpages would be shielded due to the DMCA safe harbor provision. Just like it was the DMCA safe harbor provision that protected YouTube from Viacom copyright suit. Federal judge just ruled in favor of YouTube this week in June 2010.

shibashake profile image

shibashake 6 years ago Author

Hello Sandalwood,

Thanks for the link on how to embed videos. As discussed above, some people feel that leaving the embedding option on makes the video public domain. However, I have observed that people may leave the embedding option on to allow some (approved) sites to show the video, but not others.

Here is a link from the youTube site that directly addresses the copyright issue -

It says ...

"The rights to any screen shots or footage of third party content on our site are not ours to grant. You would need to follow up with the individual content owners regarding the rights to this footage. You may want to try emailing the user through your YouTube account."

Sandalwood 6 years ago from London, Ontario, Canada

Shibashake, hope you are still watching.

Great thread and you make a good case for it being

illegal, but I was hoping there might be a true legal based opinion from a lawyer or someone legally qualified to pass an opinion.

But meanwhile, I just found on the You Tube Help page the actual instructions on how to do it so from that I am assuming that they do condone it. This is the URL:


shibashake profile image

shibashake 6 years ago Author

Hi Dolores,

Personally, I think it is clear in the TOS that permission is required. However, if you look at the poll in the article you will see that my view is in the minority :)

LOL - yeah I am more of a blather and picture person as well.

SherwinJTB profile image

SherwinJTB 6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

This is very tiresome to have to learn about all the different rules laid out by Google. However, I can understand the caution required when sharing videos that do not belong to you while proving no additional value to viewers.

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

shiba, you've got me worried. I sure don't want to break any rules, but thought the whole youtube thing was sort of free for all. Lately, I have not been including a lot of videos because many of my hubs are already so full up with other stuff, pictures and me blathering on and on that a video just seems like too much.

shibashake profile image

shibashake 6 years ago Author

I believe it is a special thing they have going with HubPages.

Keith 6 years ago

Thanks for the tips..

i just noticed.. you have 5 google ads displayed...? i thought it can only be 3? how is that?

dave 6 years ago

too many embedded videos means it's killing load time, meaning it's not worth while for them to sport your crappy blog. Most people have no clue what a nightmare it can be, trying to open a page full of embedded videos + inefficiently made imagery + pages and pages of blather..

tip.. limit your frontpage aggregation to like the 5 most recent, so people can actually visit your site without crashing their browser. Embedded videos FTL.

shibashake profile image

shibashake 7 years ago Author

Hello TMinut -

I think it is mostly a personal comfort thing.

For me, I would want to get permission first. There is usually a Send Message option on a user's youTube profile page. Often, users will also include their web address. Based on all that I have read, this is the safest route to take.

However, I am clearly in the minority.

Most of the time, there isn't going to be any issues with embedded links. However, I have seen some cases where the copyright owner asked for the videos to be removed. Negative videos will frequently have a higher likelihood of that happening.

I have also read some articles of people complaining that their AdSense application got rejected because their website contained too many embedded videos - but that is only conjecture on their part.

Just do what you are most comfortable with.

TMinut 7 years ago

Great, now i still don't know what to do. I wanted to put a video on a blog because it's something to do with what happened because of this song. I found a particular video of it that I'd like to use but there's no way to contact the person that I can find. AND THEN, if I'm reading what you said right, it's not this person's song anyway, it's on a CD so ... well I just don't know. This youtube person made the video but not the song.

shibashake profile image

shibashake 7 years ago Author

Yeah, most people do not agree with my interpretation of youTube video usage. Since so many people use it, it is probably 'legal' by popular vote :)

cosette 7 years ago

oh noes. i use YouTube videos a lot, since people say it is ok and since there is a YouTube capsule. maybe the capsules are just for our own (HP user-made) videos. thanks for bringing this up! nicely written article...

uakoko profile image

uakoko 7 years ago

This is a great Hub. I have only written one Hub so far and I was worrying about this very same thing. I really like to be legal! So, thank you very much and thanks for all that research! WOW!

Richard Stephen 7 years ago

Thanks for the well-researched and thought out hub. I've avoided embedding videos in my hubs because of my uncertainty over this issue. Unfortunately, I still have not gotten a definitive opinion one way or the other.

shibashake profile image

shibashake 7 years ago Author

"If it's there strictly to enhance your content, to make your site more dynamic and it's not public domain then it's probably going to be copyright infringement."

You said it very well here. I believe that the same applies with videos.

I also agree with your search engine analysis. In that case, it is advantageous to the search engine to be able to show a thumbnail of the images and for the copyright holder to have a representation of their content in the search results.

Still though, isn't including a youTube video in a hub usually a way to "enhance your content, to make your site more dynamic"? This is a technique that many people use to get visitors to stay longer on their pages, get a higher rank, and attract more advertising clicks. Therefore, isn't this copyright infringement?

As for turning on and off the embedded link, what if I just want to share the video with certain sites and not with others?

I feel that just because I put an image out there, so that everyone can link to it does not mean that I have made it public domain. I also do not generally like including a digital watermark on my images because I feel that it detracts from the image - but that does not mean that I have made it public domain either. If there was a similar 'embedded link' on images, I may leave it on to share it with sites that have asked for my permission, but that still does not make it public domain.

If I can tell/ask someone to take down a piece of content, then technically they are infringing on my copyright - that is why I have the right to tell/ask them to take it down.

Btw. thank you for this interesting discussion. As I said in the hub though, I do not have any personal stake in youTube videos so please do not take any of this personally. :)

petsnakes profile image

petsnakes 7 years ago from United States

No, I'm saying that in the case of a video hosting site, with an embed code that the publisher can turn off or on at will, they by not removing that link are giving people permission to reuse the videos in their entirety.

I brought up the ruling in regards to the pictures not to say that using pictures and then linking to them somehow avoids copyright infringement, but to show that it can be looked at either way. It depends on the function of the picture on your site. If it's there strictly to enhance your content, to make your site more dynamic and it's not public domain then it's probably going to be copyright infringement. On the other hand if you're a search engine and the image is there as a result of indexing data it's not very likely to be considered copyright infringement. Unless you're told/asked to take it down.

shibashake profile image

shibashake 7 years ago Author

Hmmm, so you are saying that if I include a link to an image, and that image shows up on my pages, that is not copyright infringement?

petsnakes profile image

petsnakes 7 years ago from United States

I disagree with you. The way I interpret and understand the law and the policies is that you are liable for copyright infringement if you knowingly embed a youtube video (or other uploaded video) that is itself a violation of copyright. For instance a video with a popular song soundtrack that the original uploader did not get permission to a) use and b) distribute. In that case if a "reasonable person" could be expected to know the video was violating a copyright when they embedded it they are liable for infringement.

Otherwise a youtube video is nothing more than a link to another location and if a simple link can be considered copyright infringement we're all in big trouble. In the case of Perfect10 v. Google Inc the 9th district court found in favor of Google saying that linking via HTML code (they were suing Google because thumbnail images were coming up in Google image search) is NOT a copyright infringement. In fact in case after case courts have come down in favor of that position. It takes more than simply linking to another source to be infringement on anyone's copyright.

shibashake profile image

shibashake 7 years ago Author

Iphi, Jen, and Rose, thank you for dropping by. I know this is not the most pleasant of messages to read.

Please note that most people, including hubbers probably disagree with my conclusions on this issue :)

Rose Kolowinski profile image

Rose Kolowinski 7 years ago

Thank you for the excellent information. It certainly opened up my eyes and I removed all my YouTube videos until I can check into it further. Better to be safe than sorry!

Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 7 years ago from Delaware

Thanks again for the excellent information.


Iphigenia 7 years ago

Hmm - food for thought - I use them a lot here on HP ........ damn .... this needs some more consideration.

shibashake profile image

shibashake 7 years ago Author

Hi Nancy, thanks for the info.

Yeah I think that is the way to make your youTube videos public domain - by specifically saying that they are and giving instructions on how to attribute them back to you if there are any.

Btw - sorry about not getting back to you. I am going to check out the link you gave me, but just got distracted with this and that. :)

Nancy's Niche profile image

Nancy's Niche 7 years ago from USA

I noticed some YouTube’s give permission right on their profile or narrative...Good info and thanks...

shibashake profile image

shibashake 7 years ago Author

lol MM - its better to know though - I think. I read some forum threads where Adsense accounts were rejected or banned because the website in question mainly just contained infringing youTube videos.

I think in general if you are using home-made videos - nobody is going to care much :) - since as you pointed out the owner can always just disable the link. However using music videos, movie clips and such I would be more careful about.

"How easy/difficult have you found it to be to obtain permission from YouTube authors?" - I don't know. Truth be told, I only used a small number of videos so I just removed them. They were probably infringing anyway so the uploader likely did not have rights to them.

I suppose given how pervasive it is - there not much danger of sanctions - but it is never a sure thing. If you get unlucky, someone could file a DMCA.

Just reporting what I have found. Please don't shoot the messenger :)

Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

Dang. I wish I hadn't read this hub:-). From general practice and what I see as the "norm" here on HP, most hubbers seem to use embedded YouTube videos and if there is an issue, the links come up as disabled by owner's request. So it's sort of -- if the owner has a problem they take the action.

Question for you, Shibashake: How easy/difficult have you found it to be to obtain permission from YouTube authors?

Thanks! MM

shibashake profile image

shibashake 7 years ago Author

Hi Wandererh - Yeah I thought so as well - until I started looking into this in greater detail. :)

Whitney - Yeah I also like that backlink option, so I think it still makes sense to put in youTube videos, but I also think that it is better to get permission from the owner first. You bring up a good point that people can turn off the embed option - however infringing videos are still infringing copyright laws whether they have the embed option on or not. As for home videos - I don't know - it doesn't take much to ask for permission so I would just do that. In "Permission to use videos" - youTube clearly states that we should followup with the content owner so I am inclined to go with that.

Thanks for dropping by Tom -

"better safe than sorry" - I'm that way too :) Based on all the forum threads I have read, youTube videos are copyrighted and not public domain.

Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States

I tend to take a "better safe than sorry" approach to this, but I had assumed that the embedded video capsule made it ok. I'm taking a second look at my own policy. Thanks, Shibashake.

Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia

It's good to use YouTube videos, as you get that backlink if enough people click and watch the video. It shows up on the video page on YouTube. But, it does make since as to having permission to use it. I'd love to disable embed option, but I use my own videos on some hubs.

But most people who don't want you to use their video, disable the link to embed the video elsewhere. People can also sometimes click the video to go to the video's page on YouTube. If they don't want you to use the video, what's the point in offering and making the embed option the default?

wandererh profile image

wandererh 7 years ago from Singapore

Copyright infringement is an issue here at Hubpages. I had thought that it is probably part of the terms of YouTude that their videos can be embedded since a lot of people are doing it on HubPages. Seems that it is not so.

Good hub. :)

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