What YouTube can do for you… (Chapter 13)

Posted on July 12, 2011


At the end of Chapter 13, Lon Safko writes something that makes me think the two of us have a very similar writing style and sense of humor.  “Video sharing is a great way to get your company and product names out there.  Look at other people’s videos and descriptions, and plagiarize (just kidding!).  Be inspired by their style and content (Safko, page 255).”  Foremost, I appreciate the humor, but I’m also interested in how often people plagiarize or use copyrighted material on YouTube.

Safko discusses copyrights on music during earlier chapters about podcasting.  He goes to great lengths to warn people about using copyrighted material.  Safko recommends using original songs or finding pod-safe songs.   The discussion about avoiding copyrighted materials while vlogging or video sharing does not seem to be such a heavy topic in The Social Media Bible.  Perhaps, this is simply because Safko assumes that we will all apply everything about podcasting to vlogging.  If it is not ok to use a copyrighted song for an audio cast, then you certainly can’t use it on a video.  It doesn’t take long, though, to find videos using copyrighted songs all over YouTube.  Does anyone care what people do on YouTube?

According to Nick Bilton of the New York Times, YouTube sends people to “school” for copyright infringement.  In the past, users would be suspended from the Google site if they broke copyright rules three times.  Bilton wrote that Google felt this was sometimes unfair.  Now, if YouTube users are caught breaking copyright rules, they make you attend YouTube’s Copyright School.  The “class” involves a four-and-a-half minute video followed by a few multiple-choice questions.  (see entire article at http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/14/youtube-sentences-copyright-offenders-to-school)  YouTube really sticks it to them, wouldn’t you agree?

According to the YouTube website, this is their policy if you upload copyrighted material:

Anytime YouTube becomes aware that a video or any part of a video on our site infringes the copyrights of a third party, we will take it down from the site as required by law. If you believe that a video on the site infringes your copyright, please send us a copyright notice and we’ll take it down. If you believe we’ve removed a video that you uploaded in error and that you are the copyright owner or have permission, you can file a counter notice and let us know. Accounts determined to be repeat infringers may be subject to termination. Users with suspended or terminated accounts are prohibited from creating new accounts or accessing YouTube’s community features.  (http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?answer=83756&hl=en-US)

Although one could argue whether or not YouTube really takes copyright infringement seriously, there is no reason to put your business or organization at risk of a lawsuit.  YouTube’s best advice was when they were describing how to avoid using something with a copyright.  “The way to ensure that your video doesn’t infringe someone else’s copyright is to use your skills and imagination to create something completely original (http://www.youtube.com/t/howto_copyright).”  It is probably tempting to use a well-known song during a vlog or podcast, but taking the time to create or find something original and copyright-free is part of creating a professional project.