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Who owns your YouTube videos?
With all the legal ownership and copyright debates that have been going on recently on YouTube, it’s timely to talk about who actually owns the videos we put up on YouTube. Is it you, me, or YouTube itself? ReelSEO’s Grant Cowell did a blog post about this covering these points:
1. YouTubers retain ownership of their videos.
YouTubers who upload their videos on the video-sharing website has full ownership of their videos. However, by uploading their videos on YouTube, they automatically grant YouTube the right to re-publish and monetize on their content.
2. There are circumstances where you may not own your video.
If you get other videographers to film you, you may not actually own the video – depending on the agreement (or lack thereof). If you hire a videographer as a employee, then you, as the business owner, owns your video. Otherwise, if you hire a videographer as a freelancer, then they technically own full credit to the video, unless you had them sign an agreement stating otherwise (this is at least true in US law).
To possess full ownership of the video, you have to get them to sign a kind of work for hire agreement. That’ll give you full ownership of the videos your hired videographer will make.
3. Get legal advice.
Before embarking on creating your video with the help of someone else, it’s advised you do an intellectual property audit first with a lawyer, which involves your video content (music, lyrics, logos, art) as well as the brand you’d like to protect. Once you have that ready then you’ll be able to draft the contracts you need based on your intellectual property assets and business model. It may sound a bit extreme, but depending on how serious you are about what you’re doing on YouTube, getting legal advice may be a good way to go.
In the end it’s up to you to decide how important the whole issue of who owns what really is. If you’re just making simple videos to get exposure, you may not need to really worry about this kind of stuff and it might be more time consuming than it’s worth. If you’re making videos for your company on the other hand, and/or putting a lot of time and effort into trying to get that illusive viral video, and/or making money off your videos, then ensuring you’re the one with the rights to them with leave you in complete control – which is where you want to be!