Do I need to Copyright videos uploaded to my YouTube Channel (YouTuber Law Series)?
In most cases, I would say no. There is no need to copyright your YouTube videos before uploading them.
Copyright protects your original YouTube Videos including all artistic, musical and other original elements.
Subject to limited exceptions, Copyright law is there to make sure that no one else can take advantage of and benefit from your original Videos.
Obviously no one can copy your YouTube video. But more importantly, no one can use artistic and original elements from within the Video as well. Like the audio, music, art, graphics, etc…
Now. Please remember two things. ONE Copyright protection is available to both published and unpublished works.
So Videos that you never upload to YouTube or show anyone else, are still under protection of Copyright laws.
and TWO, Copyright protection is available immediately once you’ve created the video. You don’t need to do anything to actually have copyright protection. You don’t need to register the video, you don’t need to publish the video on youtube, and you don’t need to place a copyright notice or symbol to enjoy the protection.
Now don’t get me wrong. There are a few added (and important) benefits to having your work registered. Its just that for most YouTubers who are regularly producing daily or weekly videos, the cost of copyrighting your videos is not justified.
What are the benefits of registering your videos? The main ones have to do with lawsuits. What will happen when you file a lawsuit? This advantages are …
1. Before you can file an infringement suit against someone else who copied your video, you’ll be required to register your video.
2. Subject to certain time limitation, in a lawsuit, the court will assume the validity of your copyright.
3. Subject to certain time limitations, you may be able to get statutory damages and not need to prove actual damages.
Now .. this is pretty important stuff. And copyright registration is pretty cheap at $35. SO why not just register each video.
As you can imagine, the cost can pile up pretty quickly if you v-log daily or weekly. If you’re producing larger productions that require a great deal of time, effort and money then by all means … register your video. It will be the cheapest insurance you buy.
But for most YouTubers who produce very frequent videos, most of which require little production or money, this calculation does not work well.
If you are producing a 15 min video of you playing a game or a daily v-log of what you are doing, the cost may not be justified.
Plus ask yourself .. who is likely to infringe or copy my video? Most uses of your videos will probably be permitted under “fair use” by news organizations or other vloggers who will take snippets of your video.
Since you don’t charge for your YouTube videos, you generally are not concerned about outright theft of your videos.
Is it possible that someone else will start a rival video sharing site and steal your videos in order to gain ad revenue. Yes. And if this happens in China or iNdia, there is little you will be able to do, whether or not you have a copyright registration.
The likelihood of this happening in a western country is relatively low … and if it happens then what..?
If you registered you’re defiantly in a better place but in reality this matter would probably be settled fairly quickly. The laws are just too strong to ever allow anyone in a western country to outright steal your videos.
So … if you’re developing costly and large productions or you’ve got the budget, by all means register each one of your videos. but if you’re one of the many YouTubers who is focused on producing daily or weekly videos that are distributed freely on youtube, save you money. Focus on content. Not on registration.