Understanding Youtube’s new License Option (Updated 062111, check end of post)

As you have noticed, or maybe not, Youtube has added the “License” option to videos you upload, or have uploaded, to Youtube. They added the “Creative Commons Attribution License (reuse allowed)” which paired with the “Standard Youtube License” as you can see below:

So what does this mean? Well, if you are familiar with the Creative Commons License, it allows anyone to share their work and “legally” allow other people to use their work without having to ask permission from the owner of the work. However, there are different types of Creative Commons Licenses, but I’ll particularly tackle the one Youtube is providing at the moment which the CC-Attribution License.

What a CC-Attribution (or CC-BY in even shorter term) allows is that anyone can SHARE THE VIDEO (you can upload it to your own account, or to another website, or to your own website) and REMIX the video with other content (use it in mashups or other kinds of things, I think you already know this anyways). You might ask, “Hey that’s nice, but there’s a catch… what is it?” Well, the catch is, you NEED TO ATTRIBUTE WHO THE OWNER/SOURCE WAS. Yep, you need to explicitly tell who that content was from. If you don’t basically you are not legally following the license given to you.

“Wait, so you mean I can use and remix his content for anything as long as I credit him?” — YES

“So can I use it for COMMERCIAL USE, where I can profit from it?” — YES, the license does not say that you can’t

“Are you serious about that last part?” — YES

“Really serious?” — YES, if you doubt me, you can check the page all about the license here: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

So what’s the difference between this License and the standard Youtube license? Well, in a standard Youtube License, you declare that you are the owner of the work or has been licensed that you can upload/distribute the video. Basically, you are either a) the copyright owner of the work, or b) the owner of the work has allowed you to upload it to Youtube, and that a) other people CAN’T USE/REMIX your work without your permission. Meanwhile, in the CC-BY license, the video you will upload can be used by other people without even asking you, and that they can upload it or sell it as long as they credit it to you.

So what does CC-BY License does not allow? Well, you can’t assign a CC-BY license to any work that contains copyrighted material that YOU DO NOT OWN. Why? Because once you issue a work a CC-BY license they will have to attribute that work to you (and it’s just wrong to claim ownership of something that’s not yours, right?). What if it only contains parts of the video that has copyrighted content and mostly CC-BY content? No. You still can’t assign a CC-BY license to the video, even if it is mostly yours or mostly CC-BY content. The only way around this is to a) remove content that is copyrighted, or b) NOT upload it at all.

“Wait, so you mean, if a remix CC-BY video and mash it up with my and other people’s CC-BY content I can upload it with a CC-BY license?” — YES, and make sure you credit the people you took content from

“What if a take an already remix content with CC-BY license that has been upload by another person?” — You should still credit the sources that other person has credited, and credit the person who remixed the video.

“What if he just re-uploaded the video?” — Then just credit the people who has their content in that video. You don’t need to credit who re-uploaded the video because he did not add anything to it. He just merely “distributed” it.

Ok, I hope you guys understood the concept well, now. So as my last words, ONLY USE CC-BY AS LONG AS THERE IS NO CONTENT THAT IS NOT COPYRIGHTED.

*** When I say “Copyrighted works” I mean works that are not created by you, works not licensed with CC-BY, and not public domain works (no ownership).

UPDATE: If you do make remixes of videos, do I upload it with Standard Youtube License, or do I need to set a CC-BY License as well o my remix? — Well, either of the two is fine it’s just that if you re-assign it with a CC-BY, other people can use YOUR REMIX for another work, meanwhile if you set it with a Standard Youtube License, you are then saying that you don’t want other people to use your remix. But, that doesn’t mean they can’t go ahead and use the sources you had (CC-BY content you used from other people), reather, they can go to the CC-BY sources you used and use it themselves.

UPDATE: So, I can switch from Standard to CC-BY license by going into the video’s details. What if I re-assign a CC-BY video I have to Standard Youtube License, does that mean I revoke the CC-BY License that I have given people to my work that they might have already used in their own work? — NO, it just means from that point you switched it to the standard license, you started disallowing NEW CC-BY usage of your work, and thus old works done BEFORE you did the toggle still remains to be covered by the previous license you assigned that you basically granted them at the time. (also check above update)

UPDATE: So, what if argue that I have never actually set my content to a CC-BY license and someone has used my content already. Can I claim that he didn’t get the CC-BY license in the first place because I’ll pretend I never set it to CC-BY? — That’s just evil. Be kind. Also, Youtube can check if you did or did not toggle the license option. I’m pretty sure Youtube has seen this ahead of time. Although, Youtube is not legally responsible for anything, they can only provide the fact that you did or did not toggle that license option.

UPDATE: If I upload my remix and credit the owner of the CC-BY content I used, does that mean I basically now own his work? — NO, any work you did is yours such as remixing and adding your own content, however, the content you used form other people still remains as their own and you are just licensed to use it.

UPDATE: What does it take for the owner to revoke the CC-BY license he has given to me? — Well, if he thinks you are completely misusing his content and using it for wrong things, he can revoke the license at anytime he wants to, as he sees fit. However, if you think what you did is reasonable enough, you’ll have to argue that with the owner. (oh and in no way am I can be a legal consultant at this, contact your legal consult, I just merely know and understand the license, that is)

UPDATE (June 21, 2011): What about fair use? If I use copyrighted content that can fall under fair use, can I assign a CC-BY License to my remix (or use it with CC-BY License content)? — That’s a gray area that I don’t want to go deep or answer to. We can’t really be very sure if you are really falling fair use, so I’d say that NO for this one. Just NO, don’t use copyrighted stuff.

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