Youtube can be a great tool for artists to gain recognition. However, it does raise certain issues relating to the artist’s copyright.

State of the law: Copyright ownership of works uploaded onto Youtube

Uploading a video onto Youtube does not transfer the ownership of the work. Uploading a video gives Youtube a licence to reproduce and distribute it royalty-free for use on its website and for promotion of it and its affiliates. It also allows viewers to access the video on Youtube for free. Viewers cannot download or copy any material found on Youtube. However, they can redistribute videos through a process called embedding. Embedded videos can be viewed on Youtube directly from 3rd party websites (they are not copied or removed from Youtube). Anyone who uploads a video can remove their videos from Youtube at any time, which terminates the licences granted to Youtube and viewers within ‘reasonable time’.

Recourses for Infringement

(a) Recourses through Youtube

Youtube provides certain recourses for copyright holders. Video uploaders must either be the copyright owners to the content they upload to the website or have permission to upload the video from the copyright owner. If a video has been uploaded illegally, users can notify Youtube and have the video removed from the website. Youtube also freezes the accounts of people who have uploaded content in violation of copyright 2 or more times. This prohibits them from uploading more videos onto the website.

Youtube does not have any internal recourse against content viewers who illegally copy or download videos. Although videos cannot be copied or downloaded through the service, there are several computer programs that copy and download videos found on Youtube. This makes it relatively easy for people to website to copy or download content from Youtube in breach of copyright.

(b) Legal Recourses

Copyright owners have no legal recourse against Youtube if a 3rd party illegally copies or downloads their work from the Youtube website. However, content owners do have legal recourse against anybody who violates their copyright. In practice, however, legal recourse can be extremely difficult to undertake. Youtube videos can be viewed all over the world, which can make it difficult to find copyright infringers and take action against them. An added complexity is that copyright infringement is governed by laws of the country in which the infringement occurred, which may differ from Canadian laws. Many industrialised have agreed to give similar protection to copyright owners. However, there still may be differences in law that make it difficult and impractical (not to mention expensive) to bring action for copyright infringements in foreign jurisdictions.

For more information, see the terms of use on the Youtube website here:;hl=en