15 YouTube Copyright Tips for Content Creators & Marketers

15 YouTube Copyright Tips for Content Creators & Marketers

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I interview two cyber-lawyers about Google’s recent announcement, introducing more tools on YouTube that make it easier to flag copyright violations.  I also asked them what they would recommend for video content creators in terms of protecting their own copyrighted assets on YouTube, and what guidelines other users can follow in using “fair use” rights content.

Last week, Google announced on it’s Public Policy Blog four changes to their existing copyright policy which they say they’ll be implementing over the next several months. The important one for video creators and video rights holders: YouTube now promises to act on reliable copyright take-down requests within 24 hours; and at the same time, improve on their “counter-notice” tools for filing appeals.

Viacom Files Appeal to Overturn YouTube Copyright Ruling

Google’s announcement comes right on the heels of the appeals court filing by US entertainment giant Viacom, to overturn a judge’s June 2010 decision to toss out its $1 billion copyright lawsuit against YouTube. Viacom attorneys argued in a filing that US District Court Judge Louis Stanton was wrong to rule that YouTube was protected by provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA).

Viacom’s argument has been that Google’s YouTube video-sharing website failed to take steps to halt what it knew was unauthorized posting of copyrighted material. The appeal argues forcefully that YouTube should be held responsible for infringing videos on its site — even if Viacom didn’t identify the particular web-site addresses of the copyrighted videos.

Viacom is not without it’s own sympathizers and supporters. According to the Associated Press:

“Publishers, broadcasters and movie studios contend they would have made far more money from online advertising and licensing during the past year if not for rampant copyright abuses. Google frequently is a focal point of the copyright complaints because its search engine serves as the springboard for so much Internet traffic.”

YouTube’s Copyright Protection Tools – Are They Good Enough?

Attorney David Michail, metlawgroup

I spoke with attorney David Michail out in Los Angeles, who views Google’s announcement as an ethical step in the right direction, akin to offering an olive branch to content owners. However, he added that the problem of copyright infringement could be much better handled if Google lent the copyright tools on YouTube out to other user generated content publishers.

“It would work out much better for Google to make it’s (copyright) tools available for free, so that other User Generated Content publishers can implement best practices on their own terms and at negligible cost. If this happens, every-one’s interests would be served.” he says.

For more information about YouTube’s existing copyright protection tools, check out YouTube’s Content ID help section. You can also watch the video below for an overview.

YouTube’s Copyright Problem Doesn’t Have a Technical Solution

The glaring problem that I still see despite Google’s efforts is that they aren’t doing nearly enough to build awareness and build educational programs around understanding copyright law. Sure, YouTube’s does have it’s own Copyright Tips area along with an automated Copyright Infringement Notification service, and they do have an excellent YouTube help section featuring a copyright infringement notifications. So why not have a YouTube educational video series around copyright, which people could much more easily follow?

I asked this question to Google, and they declined to comment other than to say that, “We generally try to steer clear of proactive legal advice.”

“Proactive legal advice?” You mean even an educational video series could simply be treated as educating people like they do with their own text pages in the YouTube help section that already talks about this subject?? (I wonder if even YouTube themselves consider video to be more dangerous than text.)

As much as I’m in favor of Google’s announcing plans for copyright improvements to YouTube, I do find it problematic they then refuse to even comment to the media on that very same announcement. I’m respectful of the situation, which a company that has a $1 billion lawsuit against them for massive copyright infringement plays it extremely carefully with their choice of words on legal issues to the media. However, Google appears to have a difficult time with distinguishing between actual legal advice, and helping people with access to the legal information they need. (And, is already out there.) I believe that YouTube would be a truly great place to educate people about copyright law, utilizing video. However Google appears to think associating themselves with any educational video series on copyright would create a business risk, that’s not worth passing on as a benefit to their audience.

15 YouTube Copyrighting Tips For Content Creators

That’s why I decided to be proactive and do my own podcast show YouTube copyrighting tips with web video legal expert and regular guest of ReelSEO, attorney Daliah Saper. If you want to get right to the meat, here’s an overview of those tips we get into on the show:

  1. Understand what a copyright is
  2. Know your own copyright rights!
  3. Sell your rights
  4. Buy rights
  5. Register your work with the U.S. Copyright office
  6. Know who owns what
  7. Contracts
  8. Don’t steal – ask permission
  9. Don’t steal by accident, either!
  10. Know the consequences (damages
  11. Understand what’s “Fair Use”
  12. Read YouTube’s Terms of Use
  13. Know YouTube’s take down process
  14. Make friends with an attorney

Disclaimer: the following information should NOT be treated as legal advice. We recommend you to contact an attorney for such!

About Our Legal Experts

David Michail serves as the chief strategist and managing principal of metlawgroup, a premier AV®-Rated Media, Entertainment and Technology transactional law practice in Los Angeles, California. He is frequently retained as “consulting counsel” by several Entertainment law firms in Los Angeles, and represents both emerging market and Fortune 1000 clients in various IT and entertainment related projects.  His practice niche includes a unique combination of New Media, Advertising and Marketing Law, Entertainment, Technology and Internet, Corporate, M&A and Business transactions.

Daliah Saper is the principal attorney for Saper Law Offices in Chicago, specializing in intellectual property law, media and entertainment law, litigation, and business affairs. She is recognized as a leading Media and Entertainment lawyer by Chambers and Partners, is on the faculty of the Practicing Law Institute, and has been selected by Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society to be a member of Harvard’s new Online Media Legal Network (OMLN).  Daliah is also an adjunct professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, teaching a Sports and Entertainment law course.


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