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YouTube, your tube?

By - July 20, 2006

Apparently not anymore. YouTube altered their Terms and Conditions to claim ownership a broad, sweeping license of all and parts of uploaded content—visual, audio, and all.

“…by submitting the User Submissions to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Website and YouTube’s (and its successor’s) business… in any media formats and through any media channels.”

Will this give leverage the bumper crop of other collaborative community video site blossoming out in that fresh start-up air?

(Wired Music talks more. And, thanks Eric.)

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11 thoughts on “YouTube, your tube?

  1. It’s not really uncommon for sites similar to YouTube to stipulate that they’ll be granted a license on content uploaded; this is usually so they can use the content in whatever ways they want to on the site and in promotion of the site. The only disconcerting parts of this particular license are the “…sublicenseable and transferable…” stipulation and the “…[in connection with] YouTube’s (and its successor’s) business…”, which, as I understand, extends their ability to use the content beyond their site.

  2. Pete Nicely says:

    This is a very normal condition for content sharing sites. I think MySpace even owns the content in your personal messages.

    But I think YouTube’s mistake is having to do it now when the light is bright on them. More on my blog.

  3. aTypical Joe says:

    The key phrase following the one you cite: “The foregoing license granted by you terminates once you remove or delete a User Submission from the YouTube Website.”

    YouTube’s done incredible things. The bear in the woods here is the content cartel and copyright. I’m not so sure the blossoming collaborative community video sites can beat that back the way I just have to hope YouTube – riding its wave of acceptance – might.

  4. numlock says:

    Does the average user care about ownership? Hell no.

    YouTube is a dumping ground for sharing stuff that people forget about the next day, the only people who actually worry about/read the Terms and Conditions aren’t likely to be using YouTube to host their own content anyhow.

  5. Eric Goldman says:

    It’s inaccurate and misleading to characterize this language as YouTube claiming “ownership.” Admittedly, it’s a very broad license. However, under IP laws, there are significant legal differences between ownership and a non-exclusive license. Eric.

  6. M says:

    My bigger question about YouTube and copyright – while the uploader assigns a license by doing so, what if that material is copyrighted? For example, I take a home video of Barry Bonds hitting a home run and then post to YouTube. Technically that is the copyright of Major League Baseball…

  7. Ajju says:

    On the other hand YouTube may not get as much out of this as they may be expecting. There’s no way for them to be sure that the uploader’s claim of ownership of the content is legitimate. Therefore it would be a huge risk for them to actually sell or distribute this content to/via someone in another form.

  8. chase norlin says:

    this issue has been around for almost a decade now. the only reason someone like john has noticed it is because youtube is on so many radars that every aspect of their business is now under the microscope.

    this stipulation in their TOS is critical to their longterm success as it means they “own” the rights to redistribute, thus creating an ever-growing archive of material.

  9. Seems like they*re trying to eat the cake and have it, too: you cannot claim to be protected by te “online service provider safe harbors” of the DMCA and at the same time claiming a “sublicenseable and transferable” license for all uploaded content.
    But maybe we all should re-read the TOS of our web hosters …

  10. Ajju is correct. It seems to me that YouTube is either getting paid for its work, or it’s protecting its legal butt.

    Ajju is correct to point out that, well, how can YouTube verify that the poster/uploader truly “owns” copyright on all material contained in a video?

    I use my own self-created computer music as background in most of my executive and CEO training films, which I upload to YouTube, then post on my own flagship Vaspers blog.

    To say YT vids are just teenage junk, well, that’s what player haters still say about blogs, pods, wifi, vlogs, and text messaging.

  11. Al says:

    YouTube is developing an overall nasty bureaucracy. I spent many hours building-up a list of favourites. I didn’t join because I don’t have the ability to post stuff. Today when I went to look at my favourites, instead of the usual screen I just got a join-up page. My favourites have all gone. All that work just gone. No warning. No niceness. Just a new nasty bureaucracy. They are rapidly developing into a big nasty organisation.