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What is a Youtube standard license? vs. creative commons (attribution). Sharing videos legal?

Posted by Steve Vondran | Feb 03, 2018 | 0 Comments

Youtube Legal Issues – Sharing Links to other peoples videos posted on youtube.  Is it legal?


Say you post a video about a new software product demo.  It gets 100,000 hits and you want to download that video and put it on your website to drive traffic to your website.  Can you do this?  Well, the answer will depend on the youtube standard license (or whether or not the video was set to allow a creative commons license).  This blog analyses section 6 of the youtube terms of service and attempts to shed light on this somewhat confusing topic.

The Standard YouTube License is found in Section 6 of YouTube's Terms of Service.

Here is what the terms of service for youtube says, and this applies to persons who use the youtube service:

6. Your Content and Conduct

  1. As a YouTube account holder you may submit Content to the Service, including videos and user comments. You understand that YouTube does not guarantee any confidentiality with respect to any Content you submit.
  2. 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.
  3. For clarity, you retain all of your ownership rights in your Content. However, by submitting Content to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and YouTube's (and its successors' and affiliates') business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels. 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. The above licenses granted by you in video Content you submit to the Service terminate within a commercially reasonable time after you remove or delete your videos from the Service. You understand and agree, however, that YouTube may retain, but not display, distribute, or perform, server copies of your videos that have been removed or deleted. The above licenses granted by you in user comments you submit are perpetual and irrevocable.
  4. 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.
  5. You further agree that you will not submit to the Service any Content or other material that is contrary to the YouTube Community Guidelines, currently found at, which may be updated from time to time, or contrary to applicable local, national, and international laws and regulations.
  6. YouTube does not endorse any Content submitted to the Service by any user or other licensor, or any opinion, recommendation, or advice expressed therein, and YouTube expressly disclaims any and all liability in connection with Content. YouTube does not permit copyright infringing activities and infringement of intellectual property rights on the Service, and YouTube will remove all Content if properly notified that such Content infringes on another's intellectual property rights. YouTube reserves the right to remove Content without prior notice.

Notice in RED above, that when you post a video you are giving a “user of the service” the right to “distribute” the content (video).  This does not make clear that you can “download” a copy and post it on a separate website, but this appears to give the right to SHARE a video link which directs a viewer back to the source of the original video and it does say you are giving persons a right to “reproduce” the video (which suggests making a copy is permissible but that may be limited to “as permitted through the functionality of the service.”  Might this limit it to sharing on a social media website (like facebook or twitter, or instagram, embedding the video, and copying the video to clipboard, all three which appear to be allowed with the functionality offered by youtube?  I do not see an ability to download a video through the functionality of the service so this in fact may not be allowed unless the video poster allows you to do this (probably need a license for this).  So these are some things to think about.

Creative Commons Licensing of Youtube Videos

Now, whenever I post a video on my popular legal youtube channel, I can set it to either the standard license (noted above), or I can set it to “creative commons license.”  The creative commons license is a unique way to allow people to use your videos under certain circumstances.  For example, you may allow people to use your video however they want as long as they give you ATTRIBUTION.  Or as long as they don't use it COMMERCIALLY.  If you don't know much about this system, you owe it to yourself to watch this very helpful video.  If you set your video to ATTRIBUTION, you will be allowing other users to use your video for their own purposes (even commercial), as long as they provide a credit and link back to your video.

VIDEO:  Click on the image above to watch this important video.  Make sure to SUBSCRIBE to our law channel which now has over 5,000 subscribers and approaching 800,000 video views.  As we like to say “Be Smarter Than Your Friends.”

So it is important to know what the intent is of the person who posted the video before you run off and try to scrape it off youtube, or pull out bits and pieces for use on your blog, or your videos, remixing, or posting them on facebook, instagram or youtube for example.  In some cases, you may have to reach out directly to the owner or producer of the video and get video licensing rights in writing to cover the type of use you are wanting to make of the video. We can help with copyright licensing.

Video Distribution Settings

One other neat feature available to youtubers is the ability to set your videos to only play on monetized channels (vs. playing everywhere).  This help you make more money, but may limit some overall views.  For example, here is what Youtube has to say on this point:

“How to set distribution settings You can choose to make your videos available on all platforms or monetized platforms only. The distribution setting will be found in the video's Metadata Editor. To access the Editor, go to your Video Manager, find the video that needs new settings, and click the Edit button.”

Difference between monetized platforms and all platforms

The following platforms are examples of platforms we consider monetized:

  • YouTube app.
  • YouTube app on TVs including Xbox, Android TV, PlayStation, and Chromecast.
  • accessed from most smartphones.

In addition to monetized platforms mentioned above, “all platforms” include but are not limited to the following:

  • YouTube app pre-installed on iOS 5 and below.
  • YouTube app on Apple TV.
  • YouTube legacy apps on feature phones and TVs.
  • accessed from feature phones.

Contact a Youtube Social Media Lawyer

Failure to have the proper authorizations could lead to a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement.

We can help with youtube strikes, celebrity endorsement, viral video representation, DMCA take down notices, video licensing, MCN channel networks contracts, fair use defense, and other legal issues involving youtube accounts.  Call us at (877) 276-5084.

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


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