Over 1.9 billion people visit YouTube each month.
Combined, all of these users watch one billion hours of video. As such, we don’t need to tell you how important video marketing can be for your brand or business.
But with all of those videos online, how do you avoid copyright infringement?
Copyright infringement can lead to serious consequences, including, but not limited to, very expensive legal action taken against you for using the content.
You may wish to use other people’s content in order to comment on it or parody it. This can be acceptable, but only if you follow very strict guidelines.
In this post, we’ll talk about how you can create great YouTube (or post on another platform) content without getting yourself into legal trouble.
Read on for more information.
1. Don’t Assume Something is Public Domain
Many people wrongly assume that anything put online is public domain. This isn’t the case at all, and public domain laws can actually be relatively complex.
Additionally, just because something is old, don’t assume that’s public domain either. Instead, if the video is incredibly old, research who may still own the rights to it before deciding to publish parts, or all of it, on your channel.
If something isn’t incredibly old, it’s likely that it doesn’t fall within the realm of public domain. Someone somewhere holds the copyright to these clips, and you can get into a world of legal trouble for using it.
Remember, just because it’s posted online doesn’t mean it’s fair game.
This is also the case if you see a video that is posted illegally. Just because someone else has done it doesn’t mean you should go ahead and do the same thing. If the company who owns the clips decides to take action, you may end up being part of it.
2. When In Doubt, Ask
If you’re not sure if you can use someone’s clip, you can always ask them. While you may feel nervous or intimidated, remember that the worst they can do is say no. And if they say no, it saves you from further trouble down the road.
If you want to take music or video from another YouTube channel, there is likely a place where you can contact the creator. This may be the person directly, or it may steer you toward their management. You can then communicate what you wish to use and how you wish to use it.
Once the person, or their management, give you permission, you’re then free to use the clips to your heart’s content.
Remember, if the individual or their management has told you that you cannot use the clip, do not attempt to use it anyway. You’ve already made them aware of your intent to use it by initiating contact. Using it after the fact can get you into serious legal issues, so it is best to avoid it.
3. Type Up a Contract If You Get Permission
Did the individual or their management grant you permission to use the clips? Fantastic! If that’s the case, create a simple contract that both parties can sign to ensure that you’re protected.
This way, they cannot say in the future that they were unaware that you were using the clip. In that case, especially if the confirmation was only verbal, it is your word against theirs in a court of law. Often, bigger content creators will have a lot more money, so they can afford to pursue these cases if they wish.
However, if you can prove that they gave you permission with a signed contract, there isn’t anything they can do to stop you from using it.
4. Understand Fair Use or Fair Dealing Exemptions
If you watch commentary channels on YouTube, you’ve probably seen at least one person state that their clips are used on the basis of “Fair Use” laws. In some cases, this is correct, but others, they may mark this without a full understanding of what Fair Use or Fair Dealing means.
Fair Use is synonymous with Fair Dealing in Canadian law. This means that there are certain circumstances in which you can use copyright clips without legal repercussions. In Canda, these include satire, parody, education, news reporting, review, research, and private study.
Depending on how you use the clips, you’ll need to include certain information within the video itself for it to fall under Fair Dealing. You can read more about it here and what you need to cite to stay on the right side of the law.
Parody and satire, however, are allowed. Most often, this would include remaking the video as a parody without showing the original clips. For music, this may include using the copyrighted tune of the song, but then creating your own lyrics as a spoof of the original song.
In fact, Weird Al Yankovic created an entire career off of spoofing other artists and transposing their music to his accordion.
5. Assume Music Isn’t Free to Use
If you like a song that’s been playing on the radio or on television, don’t assume you can use it just because you like it. Instead, you should assume that you can’t use it unless you’ve reached some agreement with the artist.
If the artist of the song is someone you can reach out to, you can discuss with them the terms of using their song in your video. This may include an exchange of money or credit for the use of their song. This could be more than you can afford, so keep that in mind and have alternatives in case you can’t get the songs you want.
Nowadays, there are many artists that allow you to use their songs royalty free. In some cases, this means you can use their song without any credit at all. In others, you may need to credit them, but otherwise, you’re free to use the song.
Still, other artists may require you pay them a one-time fee to play the song on your video. Once you’ve paid that, you’re free to use it for as long as you wish.
If your videos attract a large volume of views, you may owe the artist another payment once it has reached a certain amount of views. Keep this in mind when buying music from an artist.
6. Be Careful Filming in Public
Stores, films, theme parks, restaurants, gyms, and other venues will often play copyrighted music during business hours. This can be a problem for vloggers, or people who wish to use a clip of themselves in a specific location.
Because of this, you’ll need to be aware of what’s going on around you when you film. Many people get around this by showing what they wish to show in the clip but edit the sound out. If you’re just doing visual content, such as showing a product or outfit, you can cut and paste later and remove the background noise in your editing phase.
If you wish to have the sound on when you’re filming, try and ensure you’re not somewhere that is playing copyrighted music. Many online platforms, especially YouTube, have detectors that can tell if there is music playing that you do not own.
When this happens, they can ask you to remove the video or edit it. They may also notify the owner of the video, and they can then earn the money from your video since you’re using their copyrighted material.
The copyright holder can also file a copyright claim against you, which removes your video from YouTube unless you edit and re-upload it. They may use this service as a way to warn you that they will pursue legal action against you if you do not edit your video without their copyrighted material.
Avoid Copyright Infringement at All Costs
Copyright infringement is serious business, and not something most copyright holders take lightly. Therefore, it is important that you take this article into account before you begin making a video.
You should also be aware that laws may differ in different parts of the world when it comes to copyright infringement. As such, where you are located or where you filmed the video could be taken into account rather than the fact that you are Canadian.
If you’re interested in having a professional video produced for your business that is a complete original, contact us today. We can give you a quote for the special project you have in mind to help take your business to the next level.