I like to think of myself as a rule follower, so I was mortified last week when YouTube sent me to Copyright School.
What? Me? Getting a “strike” against my account for uploading material that belonged to someone else without their permission? And now I was a step closer to losing my YouTube account that I’d spent years building up? Panic!!!
Let me back up a bit.
I occasionally upload something that I don’t own. Every once in a while something hilarious happens on TV, and I stick ten seconds of it on YouTube. Like, when a set piece hits somebody’s head during a live show, or a news reporter stands in the middle of the street to report on a story and almost gets hit by a car. That sort of thing. It’s like when I go 75mph on a 65mph stretch of highway: I know that the authorities probably don’t care, but that if they do pull me over I was in the wrong. And I take that risk. (I also never try to monetize those videos, because I didn’t create them; I’m putting them up so that people can get a laugh, not so that I can make money off of them.)
Oddly enough, those three or four videos never get any notice from the YouTube police. Ever. (And if they ever do, I won’t argue.) The videos that usually cause me problems are the ones containing music: Either music that I’ve purchased specifically to use online, or music that’s just playing in the background in some public place (I’ll be covering some good YouTube music options in a separate post tomorrow).
But the video that caused the problem last week was a one-minute clip from The Dr. Oz Show. I’d helped organize a set visit and interview with Dr. Oz for a group of bloggers a few years ago, and as part of that process an employee of the show had sent me a clip of the show and asked me to upload it to YouTube.
But in the three years since, that employee had left the show and they’d started cracking down on unauthorized use of the show’s video, and they didn’t realize that they’d authorized me to use it. They’d filed a copyright infringement notification against my video and YouTube had removed it.
I tried to access my YouTube account, both on my computer and on my phone, but anything I tried to get to redirected me here: YouTube’s Copyright School. I had to watch a short video about copyright and answer some multiple-choice questions about copyright infringement.
I now had access to my account, but also a “strike’ against me. The strike would expire in six months (phew) but if I got three strikes at any one time, my account would be deleted!!!
I didn’t want to take that chance. I tracked down someone else at the Dr. Oz show who was very helpful, and the show retracted the copyright claim, which removed the strike. As soon as the strike was removed, I deleted the video, as I’d agreed to do.
Clearly I was not in the wrong here, but I was naïve. People can come and go pretty quickly from TV jobs, and I shouldn’t have counted on new employees at the show knowing what former employees had requested of me. I shudder to think what could have happened to my account if the show had asked me to upload three or more videos, and then had filed claims against all of them!
So, if I’m in the same position again, where a TV show or movie asks me to upload their content to my YouTube channel, I won’t make this same mistake. First, I will ask if there is a clip already on their website or their own YouTube channel that I can embed instead (while I’d rather have the views on my own channel, I don’t want to go through the trouble of a copyright claim again).
If they do not have a clip online that I can use, I will ask them for clear written permission from the legal department of the production company, so that if a claim is filed against the video, I can submit a counter notification.
Working with shows and celebrities can be fun, but they will most likely forget about you five minutes after you do what they want you to do to promote their project, so you have to take some simple steps to protect yourself. You can learn more about YouTube and copyright here.