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Youtube, videos, and copyrights

  1. Nov 25, 2009 #1

    From a legal perspective, can someone put a link about a youtube video which is a short clip from a movie and/or program and then publish it online? For example: If someone wants to put on a facebook status, twitter..etc a link about a 2min clip from a TV series or a documentary program.

    Some people just say "oh man, just do it". I personally try to obey the law as much as possible, and when I don't like it I retreat to areas that is legal and I'm comfortable with. As I think if we don't like laws we should try strongly to change them, instead of breaking them, and till the process is complete we may try to obey and/or "coexist" with them.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 25, 2009 #2

    In case you are still unsure ....

    http://fewtech.net/posters/images/10-Just%20Do%20It.jpg [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  4. Nov 25, 2009 #3
    If you live in America I would strongly advise getting permission, in writing, from whoever created the video. With the economy the way it is, everyone is looking for a quick buck and will sue over pretty much anything.
  5. Nov 25, 2009 #4
    In the US copyright infringement is a civil issue, not a criminal issue (unless you are running a piracy operation), so you will not be approached or contacted by law enforcement. It is the responsibility of the copyright holder to police this sort of thing and send cease and desist letters to anyone violating their copyright. The persons these will be sent to are the host of the material (such as youtube) and the person who uploaded the content. Although you could theoretically be held accountable the likelihood that the copyright holder will bother to contact you is virtually nill and all you have to do is say that you were unaware that the material was uploaded without permission or that the copyright holder had an issue with this.

    So if you were to get in trouble the copyright holder would first have to contact you or the owner of the site where the material was linked with a request to cease and desist and then you and/or the site owner would have to ignore that request. THEN if the copyright holder is sufficiently butt hurt about it they may attempt to subpoena you to appear in court where there will likely only be a judgment against you with a court order to cease and desist (no fines or jail time). THEN you would have to ignore that to actually get in any real trouble. Of course the associated court costs are probably much too high for any copyright holder to track down and sue every person who linked to their material so they are only going to go after the person who uploaded it or hosted it.
  6. Nov 25, 2009 #5
    Turnips don't bleed. If you have nothing for someone to win from you in a law suit there is little reason for them to sue you unless you are seriously injuring their business in which case they may find it worth it just to get you to stop.
  7. Nov 25, 2009 #6


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    If you do not have permission from the copyright holder, no, don't use it. If it's the "official" youtube clip put up by the copyright holder (i.e., the production studio), then you can link back to youtube, since that is where it was put for sharing. This gets a bit tricky on youtube, since lots of people do post content in violation of copyright, though every so often, they go through and remove massive quantities of content in violation (probably because YouTube gets the cease and desist order being the deep pocketed company making money off that content and worth suing for infringement).
  8. Nov 25, 2009 #7


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    Except when they think too many "little guys" are doing it and decide you're the one they're going to make an example out of to deter others from doing it.

    But, the question wasn't "Will I get away with it," but what the law technically says from someone who wants to obey the law not get away with breaking it.
  9. Nov 25, 2009 #8
    As a general rule, you are entitled only to fair use per US copyright law. I think in most legal judgments two minutes of uninterrupted copyrighted video probably significantly exceeds fair use. You would be unlikely to get in trouble though; most likely, youtube would just pull the video.

    If you are posting it in ~<30 second intervals for some purpose, it could probably be defended as fair use.
  10. Nov 25, 2009 #9
    But OP is not talking about uploading the content. He provided two examples of linking youtube videos. I don't think embedding videos to different sites is equivalent to uploading.
  11. Nov 25, 2009 #10
    No, it is not. The copyright holder could ask you to remove it, but they would probably rather just go right to the source and report it to youtube. A lot of the time, they do not bother, either because they have an agreement with youtube to get some revenue or because they think it creates good publicity.
  12. Nov 25, 2009 #11
    I was really only referring to the idea that they will sue you to get money. Getting money is not the motivation.

    But "Will I get away with it" really is the point. Since its a civil issue one can be sued regardless "what the law technically says". Fair use or not it doesn't matter. The question comes down to "If I feel that I have the right to do this how likely is it that someone will sue me for it?" Sometimes the answer is that you are technically breaking the law but are highly unlikely to be sued. And sometimes the answer is that you are technically fully within your rights but can expect you may very well be sued.
  13. Nov 26, 2009 #12
    I would be careful about embedding youtube videos that may be copyrighted. I'm pretty sure you'll have a swat team outside your door within minutes.
  14. Nov 26, 2009 #13
    In his scenario, he's providing a link, not hosting the content directly.
  15. Nov 26, 2009 #14
    Are you sure they wont just nuke his house with a ATG Maverick missile ? :devil:
  16. Nov 27, 2009 #15
    Thanks for all of who who helped and offered insights

    Yeah actually the question is about linking to these videos, and to what degree it's legal.

    It's not about being afraid of what the government would do or about getting into trouble more than that I want to be consistent with myself about how I try to obey the law. I strongly support public domains and free information. But in this complicated legal systems, and with some people chose not to give certain rights they have over their own work, sometimes obtaining information and spreading information is difficult. Or perhaps this is the response from within our social system about how to deal with information overload ;)
  17. Nov 28, 2009 #16
    I think someone who is trying to obey the law uncertain of how to do so is a good indication that the existing laws have outlived their purpose.
  18. Nov 28, 2009 #17


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    As others said, this is a civil issue, and I'll bet any amount of money that either 1) the copyright holder would appreciate the publicity, or 2) they'll go after the people who post entire movies online, totally ignoring any two-minute clips.

    As for whether it's technically within the law to post a two-minute clip, two minutes is probably short enough to be considered fair use unless it's a crucial portion of the film (maybe the climax, or an award-winning scene) that dissuades people from viewing the entire film.
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