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