Contact Us Today! (877) 276-5084

Attorney Steve® Blog

Fair Use Disclaimer for Youtube channel

Posted by Steve Vondran | Jul 11, 2017 | 3 Comments

Attorney Steve® Copyright Law Essentials – Building your Youtube Channel LEGALLY!!!

Fair Use Sample Disclaimer for YouTube Videos

VIDEO:  Click on the picture above to watch the video for important tips on using the disclaimer notice.  Make sure to SUBSCRIBE to our channel by clicking on the Red “V” for Victory.  As we like to say, be smarter than your friends!  We are now up over 7,600 susbcribers and ONE MILLION VIDEO VIEWS.


Building your youtube channel is no easy task.  One thing that really helps is being able to use photos, videos,  newspaper headlines and other digital content on your channel so that you can comment on, criticize, analyze, discuss the news and public affairs and the like.  However, taking someone else's photos or videos and using it on your website without permission can lead to legal trouble and claims of copyright infringement that could compel a Plaintiff to file a lawsuit seeking 150k in damages for “willful” infringement.  Of course, these types of legal distractions can cost you time and money to deal with.

That being said, under Copyright law, there is a concept of “fair use” which means under certain circumstances you can use the digital content of a third party (even WITHOUT their permission) if your use of the photo, image, news headline or other content is deemed a “fair use” of the copyrighted work.  The four fair use factors are discussed below.

When you feel the fair use defense applies, it makes sense to post a disclaimer in your video letting any potential copyright holders know your stance and that you believe there is no infringement.  This may prevent someone from sending you a cease and desist letter, or sending a DMCA “take down” letter to youtube, or worse, filing a federal court infringement lawsuit.

Attorney Steve® explains his “Four T's” of Fair Use

Click here to list to the podcast on fair use four T's.

What is “fair use” of a copyrighted work – The Four Part Test?

In order to facilitate the progress of society, certain uses of another person or companies copyrighted works may be lawful (and not infringing).  A “fair use” of copyright depends on a 4 part analysis that courts go through to consider wether or not the use of a copyrighted work is “fair” (and thus lawful) or not a fair use (which becomes an infringement of copyright).  The four part test is simple, yet can be complex, and depends on the 4 factors set forth in section 107 of the federal copyright law in the United States.  This section states:

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—

1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; 2) the nature of the copyrighted work; 3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and 4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors. The Courts can grapple with these four factors, and copyright holders, I guess you could say, are not real happy with the concept that you can just use their work, transform it, or comment on or criticize their works on your youtube channel (which many content creators like to try to monetize for commercial purposes).  Nevertheless, the law allows certain fair uses.  If you are claiming such a right, using a disclaimer at the beginning or end of your videos might put the copyright holder on notice that you did not seek their permission (or need to seek their permission) to use their works because you consider your use to be a legally protected use, such as for comment or criticize, or discussing the news under the first amendment free speech clause of the US Constitution.

Attorney Steve® explains fair use and top tips for YouTube Creators building their channels

VIDEO:  Click on the picture above to watch this video.  Make sure to SUBSCRIBE to our popular legal channel and to get fair use case law updates when they hit.  We are now over 7,600 subscribers and over ONE MILLION video views.

Examples of fair use

Here are a few examples of possible fair use: 1. Using a political picture (ex. picture of president Trump) and commenting on a recent public affair 2.  Using a short clip of music in your youtube video for the purpose of criticizing it 3.  Using a news headline clip from the Wall Street Journal to comment on real estate prices 4.  Using the Microsoft logo briefly to discuss a software issue in the news 5.  Transforming a photo (creating something new) and using it one of your videos. A general rule of thumb is to use only a little piece of a song, or show a brief clip, and to use it for the purposes of comment or criticism.   Some things to steer clear of are trying to commercialize a copyright holder's work, or tarnishing a famous brand.  These can always potentially draw a cease and desist letter or trigger a DMCA take down notice to youtube which may result in copyright strikes that could lead to a shut down of your account. Bonus Materials:  Here is a blog we wrote on the fair use defense.

Sample fair use disclaimer for youtube videos

Here is a free sample of a fair use disclaimer you might want to consider.  This is not legal advice and may not be accurate or updated to current case law so this is just a sample to consider.


The Copyright Laws of the United States recognizes a “fair use” of copyrighted content.  Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act states:

“Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.”

This video and our youtube channel in general may contain certain copyrighted works that were not specifically authorized to be used by the copyright holder(s), but which we believe in good faith are protected by federal law and the fair use doctrine for one or more of the reasons noted above.

If you have any specific concerns about this video or our position on the fair use defense, please contact us at XXX-XXX-XXXX so we can discuss amicably.  Thank you.

Copyright Legal Help

If you need help with a copyright legal issue such as responding to a cease and desist letter or DMCA infringement notices (including bad faith filings), fair use defense, first amendment, Youtube notification / counter-notifications, subpoena response or copyright strike issues, call us at (877) 276-5084.  We are a firm experienced with digital copyright law and in many (non-litigation cases) we can structure a low flat rate legal fee (predictable legal fees). 

About the Author

Steve Vondran

Thank you for viewing our blogs, videos and podcasts. As noted, all information on this website is Attorney Advertising. Decisions to hire an attorney should never be based on advertising alone. Any past results discussed herein do not guarantee or predict any future results. All blogs are written by Steve Vondran, Esq. unless otherwise indicated. Our firm handles a wide variety of intellectual property and entertainment law cases from music and video law, Youtube disputes, DMCA litigation, copyright infringement cases involving software licensing disputes (ex. BSA, SIIA, Siemens, Autodesk, Vero, CNC, VB Conversion and others), torrent internet file-sharing (Strike 3 and Malibu Media), California right of publicity, TV Signal Piracy, and many other types of IP, piracy, technology, and social media disputes. Call us at (877) 276-5084. AZ Bar Lic. #025911 CA. Bar Lic. #232337


Thrifty Infomix Reply

Posted Jul 22, 2019 at 15:20:53

Hi. I just wanted to let you know that the first image on this page is not a working clickable link to the intended video as the image description states. I also wanted to say thank you for the good work you do in the fair use arena as well as sending thanks for the sample disclaimer! It inspired me to create a 30 second video clip that I posted on youtube. I attributed inspiration of the work to you, and put a link to your website in my video description, so people could see where it originates from. I will link to it here so you can see it, and I hope you approve and enjoy it!
Feel free to link to my video clip in your blog if you like to use it for your own use. Thanks!

Steve Vondran Reply

Posted Jul 22, 2019 at 15:22:36

Thank you, I will check the picture and re-set the link. Look forward to watching your video. Thank you for the back link!!


Leave a Comment

Contact us for an initial consultation!

For more information, or to discuss your case or our experience and qualifications please contact us at (877) 276-5084. Please note that our firm does not represent you unless and until a written retainer agreement is signed, and any applicable legal fees are paid. All initial conversations are general in nature. Free consultations are limited to time and availability of counsel and will depend on the type of case you are calling about (no free consultations for other lawyers). All users and potential clients are bound by our Terms of Use Policies. We look forward to working with you!
The Law Offices of Steven C. Vondran, P.C. BBB Business Review