Social media guide – what is allowed on youtube?

More than a billion hours of videos are watched on Youtube every day. What is liked is shared with friends. But is it allowed at all?

Publishing your own film on YouTube is a dream for many - But what do you need to keep in mind?

Music videos, comedy numbers and the recording of computer games – that’s what twelve to 19-year-olds prefer to watch on YouTube, according to a study by the Medienpadagogischer Forschungsverbund Sudwest (Media Education Research Association Southwest). Very few users upload movies themselves, 90 percent mainly watch and share their favorite videos with others. What is allowed and what is not? An overview:

Is the sharing of Youtube videos legally harmless?

Basically yes. This is how the European Court of Justice ruled in October 2014. Although the judges point out that sharing or embedding a video should not open up a new audience. However, as long as a film is on a public platform like Youtube, it is basically freely accessible to all Internet users and can therefore be shared without hesitation.

"If I share and link a video in this way, it is permitted and I am not responsible, even if the video was posted illegally," also confirms Mandy Risch-Kerst, a lawyer with a doctorate from the Berlin-based law firm Event Lawyers and a specialist in IT law and industrial property protection. "It has been recognized that a Youtube user cannot tell whether the video has been released by the rights holder or not. That’s why the ECJ ruled that the one who shares commits copyright infringement only if he makes the video available to a completely new audience."

Nevertheless, if you find material on the platform that is clearly illegal, such as blockbusters filmed on the big screen, you should keep your hands off it to be on the safe side and not distribute such videos any further.

What do I have to consider when I upload a movie to Youtube myself?

"Your own videos with your own content are basically unobjectionable under copyright law," says Risch-Kerst. Anyone who uses their smartphone to capture vacation memories of impressive landscapes, for example, or to present their own home, or even to step in front of the camera themselves, becomes an author by law, i.e. the "creator of a work", and can exploit their self-shot material in any way they wish or even publish it on platforms such as YouTube.

If other people are to be seen in the film, they must give their prior consent for this to happen. According to the law concerning copyright in works of fine arts and photography, KUG for short, the right to one’s own image applies in Germany. This means that, in principle, everyone can decide for themselves whether they want to be photographed or filmed, and what happens to the material afterwards. In the case of minors, the parent or guardian must also be asked for permission to publish the material.

However, a verbal consent or even implied consent is sufficient. If you announce before an event that you are going to shoot and publish a video, you can assume that all the people filmed agree to it, unless they explicitly object.

And if I want to use foreign material in my film for Youtube?

As long as the video is intended exclusively for private use, you may also cut film sequences, parts of a TV show, graphics, a piece of a music video or other material you did not shoot yourself into your own film. However, if the film is to be published on Youtube or another platform, permission must first be requested from all rights holders, and this permission must also be granted.

Mandy Risch-Kerst warns against hoping that no one will notice one’s own copyright infringements: "The risk of being discovered is very high, since there are now resourceful developers who, together with authors and lawyers, have developed so-called web crawlers and use them to search the entire Internet for copyright infringements."Warnings, lawsuits or even criminal prosecutions are associated with considerable costs. "It is better to seek advice when in doubt and obtain the consent of the rights holders."

The exception to this rule is the right of quotation, which is defined in section 51 of the Copyright Act. Accordingly, it is possible, for example, even without the consent of the film company, to include a scene from a television film in your own video, in order to prove the special editing technique or camera work of the film. Nevertheless, the quoted video must be clearly marked as such and the source and author must be named.

What is Creative Commons and what do I have to consider??

Creative Commons is an organization that offers licensing agreements for the release of legally protected content. This allows authors to determine for themselves whether and in what way their work may be used by others.

If a work is CC-licensed, you are allowed to use it without asking for extra permission first. The standardized license gives users legal certainty if they want to use, for example, images, footage or music from others. At the same time, copyright remains intact, so only certain uses are allowed. Which exactly, can usually be seen from the name of the individual CC licenses:

BY: The name must be mentioned below or next to the work.

ND (no derivatives): The work may be used only as is and may not be edited.

NC (non-commercial): Whoever uses the work may not earn any income with it.

SA (share alike): Under the stated conditions, the work may be shared with pleasure.

Important to know: A licensor can also only grant the rights that he himself has. This means, for example, that a photographer can release rights to their image, but not their subject. If people are in a photo, they have to give their consent.

Who violates the CC license conditions, because he does not name the author of a used music, for example, commits a copyright violation and can be admonished. That’s why it’s important to follow the licensor’s guidelines.

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