5 Things for Educators to Know About Copyright Before Posting on Youtube

Making Youtube videos can be a fun and easy way to incorporate new media into a virtual classroom and provide an alternative to live lectures. That being said there are a few copyright concerns to keep in mind before you post. Youtube is a public online space that anyone can access, so the guidelines for copyright compliance are different than if you were in a traditional classroom setting. Read through this post and the recommended resources before you get started. Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, it is just some information and resources I’ve come across in my research on this topic.

  1. Youtube WILL take your video down if you use copyrighted content that does not belong to you! Youtube uses software, such as the Copyright Match Tool and Content ID, to detect when content is shared by someone who is not the creator. If your video if flagged by these tools it may be taken down instantly. The process to get a video re-posted is complicated and your account may even be suspended. So, be very careful if you want your videos to stay online!
  2. Youtube does recognize research and teaching as conditions for Fair Use, but only on a case-by-case basis after your video has been flagged. It is best not to use copyrighted content in your videos but if you absolutely MUST, there are some ways you can set yourself up well for a Fair Use case. First, be sure to tag your video with metadata that make it clear this is an educational video. Second, when you make your channel be sure to brand yourself as an educator. For example, if your channel is called something like “Professor Smith’s Political Science Classroom” that is a pretty solid indicator that your channel is educational in nature. Third, only use what is absolutely necessary to your lesson. Don’t post a whole video clip if you are only analyzing 5 seconds of it. Even if you follow all this advice your video may still be taken down so save yourself the trouble and try not to use copyrighted material. If you want to learn more about Fair Use, visit our Library Guide on the subject.
  3. You can easily find images, music, and video clips that have a creative commons license. It is no fun to make a video with no music or images. Fortunately, you can find many of these with a Creative Commons license. A Creative Commons license is when a creator has given permission for their content to be used freely by anyone. One of the best places to find creative commons content are CreativeCommons.org but Youtube even has some creative commons content of their own in the Youtube Audio Library. Be sure to consult these resources before using copyrighted content.
  4. You can give your content a Creative Commons License using the setting on Youtube. If you are open to others using a remixing your content without getting flagged for copyright infringement, you can change your terms of service to allow for this. All Youtube videos are automatically given the standard Youtube License but if you go to the Terms of Service in your account setting this can be changed to a Creative Commons License. That being said, only videos that contain 100% original content can be given this license on the platform. Read the Youtube Terms of Service to learn more.
  5. Are you still not sure if you are violating copyright with your videos? Youtube has a Copyright Troubleshooting feature! Youtube provides a lot of great resources for creators and this one is pretty cool. If you need  more clarification on what is and is not a violation of copyright you can use this Copyright Troubleshooter tool that will take you through a series of multiple choice questions that get to the heart of your issues and provide an answer.

In summary, Youtube is a great place to put your content if you want it to be easily accessible but it is important to respect copyright in the process. For more information you can consult these resources:

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