When it comes to YouTube, do you own your videos, or does the platform?
A creator’s right to their original creative work is protected by US copyright law. This means that they have the exclusive right to reproduce, make derivative works and sell their work.
However, there are some exceptions. For example, you may give up some of these rights when you upload videos to a platform that does not belong to you, such as YouTube. This doesn’t mean that you’ve lost all ownership rights, but you must compromise on a few things to use it.
So, what does this mean? Does YouTube own the videos that you upload on their platform? Well, yes and no.
YouTube Videos: Who owns them?
Even though YouTube copyrights your videos when you upload them, it does not give you exclusive ownership. Content on YouTube is only protected by copyright, which is a very different type of protection.
According to their Terms of Service:
“You retain all of your ownership rights in your Content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours. However, we do require you to grant certain rights to YouTube and other users of the Service, as described below.
By providing Content to the Service, you grant to YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sublicensable license to use that Content (including to reproduce, distribute, modify, display, and perform it) for the purpose of operating, promoting, and improving the Service.
You also grant each other user of the Service a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to access your Content through the Service, and to use that Content (including to reproduce, distribute, modify, display, and perform it) only as enabled by a feature of the Service.”
Basically, in exchange for that copyright, you give them a non-exclusive license to reproduce, keep and distribute your video. At the same time, you are also allowing them to use your video in any way they choose.
When you upload a video to YouTube, you allow others to download it for their own use, as well. Unless you opt-out of this setting, you’re allowing users to use your videos in the same way YouTube can.
YouTube keeps copies of all your uploaded content on its servers indefinitely. Yes, even after you delete it. You should also keep in mind that their terms and agreements are subject to change, and by using their services, you consent to accepting these changes without prior notice.
To put it simply, you own your videos, but you give YouTube the power to use them however they want.
What should you avoid uploading to YouTube?
As with any platform, the content you upload should only be material that you have either created or that you have the rights to use. Be careful with the ideas you share, the artwork or graphics you include, and even any music that might be playing in the background.
Posting your own copyrighted or trademarked material is fine. However, if you’ve invented something or have a unique idea and have not yet received a patent, avoid uploading any videos about those. Remember that, in the case of infringement, in order to file a lawsuit, you must be a registered copyright holder.
In general, we recommend using YouTube only as a way to video blog, promote your products or services, educate or advertise. For any exclusive content, it’s advised to post it on your own website.
If You Need a Consulting Regarding Ownership Rights of Your YouTube Videos, Sanchelima & Associates Can Help
Sanchelima & Associates, P.A. is one of the leading intellectual property law firms in South Florida. With over 40 years of experience, we have represented the IP interests of a wide array of businesses in the US and abroad, including Fortune 500 companies. Whether you need a consultation or prosecution of a patent, trademark, or copyright, we can protect your business’s interests.
Contact us to book your consultation!