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How to use copyrighted content on Youtube?

Has it ever happened that your uploaded video has suddenly been removed from Youtube on the grounds of copyright violation? If the answer is resounding ‘yes’ then you are one of those millions of gullible people who has paid the price for being ignorant over copyright issues. And even if the answer is ‘no’ chances are still high that you will end up paying a price, since ignorance over copyright issue is very high. The ignorance also stems from the fact that most people tend to take copyright issues for granted, eventually leading to their videos being taken off from the Youtube channel.

To avoid this inconvenience, we’ve brought an informative article on how to use copyrighted content on Youtube channel. Hopefully, all of you will consider all the below points next time you upload a video on Youtube.

  • You can use everything and anything that falls in public domain.

Several countries have something called internet public domain, a domain where royalty free creative works are available. Actually every year many videos or other creative works lose their copyright protections owing to various factors and subsequently fall into public domain. This invariably means that people who are interested in using these works (music, clips etc) in their Youtube video are not obliged to take any permission from the actual owners.

Copyright violations in

While this is a good news, but there is one problem. The problem is that there is no legally curated list of ‘public domain works.’  In case if you’re a U.S. resident, then  you can refer Columbia University Libraries and the Copyright Information Center at Cornell University. Both offer pretty good information about which are the works that fall in public domain and the ones that don’t.

  • Ask for permission from the video/music owners.

If anyone wants to use any video/music that does not fall in public domain, then one will obviously have to take permission from the original creator.  Well, there is no rocket science in this, but there is one minor problem. The problem is this that if the original creator is a big music label company or big Hollywood studio, then reaching out such well established players is not easy at all.

This is to say that your emails to such big companies may go completely unanswered.  Not to mention that their copyright fees is pretty hefty. However, there is still some hope. This hope emanates from big companies that are pretty lenient on allowing their content to be reused. One such big company is Microsoft, which owns Xbox games, that allows people to reuse its game footages or screenshots in videos on certain conditions. One of the main conditions being that these footages should not be used for commercial purposes.

Now the trick is to find similar big companies with linnet copyright rules in the field of music and videos. There may exist quite a few if one does a thorough Google search.  We would also recommend to visit the company’s official website and check out their copyright laws.

  • Asking for permission from independent Youtube channel

Here we’d like to touch on how to ask for copyright permission from someone who is running an independent Youtube channel. To begin with, seeking permission from small time Youtube channel is comparatively easy. All you’ve to do is send a message and option for the same is available in the every Youtube channel. Just click on the ‘about’ button and then click on ‘send message’ in the next passage.

If you’ve written a persuasive message or offered pretty good copyright fees, then chances of getting a response is pretty high. But bear in mind that Youtube does not accept email as a proof of copyright permission. Hence it is important that you demand a legalized document from the concerned owner.


  • Derivative work and fair play

If you’re work is derived from the content that has been originally created by someone else, then you’re required to seek copyright permission. Certain countries have tough laws on this front and U.S. is one of them. Even several European countries have very stringent laws on derivative works.


Derivative works may include sequels, spin-offs, adaptations, etc. However, there is no need to seek any copyright permission if your work fulfils the four criteria’s mentioned in the ‘fair play’ rule under the U.S. law. These four criteria’s may vary from country to country, but they are more or less similar. These four criteria’s are as follows:


  1. The work must be transformative, as in it must add whole new meaning to the original work and not look as being merely copied from it.
  2. Borrowing small bits from original content is considered fair, but borrowing large amount of work comes under copyright violation.
  3. Your adapted work should not harm the actual owner’s ability to derive profit from his/her work.
  4. Materials driven from factual work is more likely to be considered as fair, as opposed to work driven from fictional work (supposedly created by someone else).


Conclusion: The huge complications in Copyright violations make it one of the grayest areas, where lines of violations and copyright ownership’s are quite blurred. However, this highly complicated issue can be partly solved if all of us become morally conscious, which would ensure that we don’t deliberately violate someone’s copyright ownership. There is also need to increase huge awareness about copyright issues, since as mentioned above most people still tend to take copyright issues for granted. All these precautions would spare your video being take off from Youtube – an inconvenience that probably no Youtube uploader bring upon oneself.

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