Q.  I am a media specialist at a high school where we have several teachers who would like to show YouTube™ and Google™ videos in the classes. We are trying to find out the copyright laws in regards to using these types of resources.

A.  The use of both the “YouTube™” and “Google™” video sites are governed by user license agreements.  Licenses are contracts that supersede copyright laws and privileges.  At the bottom of the home pages for both sites, you will find in small print the words “Terms of Use.”  If you click on on this link, you will be brought to the license/contract language governing what the user is allowed to do and restricted from doing when using videos found on “YouTube™” and “Google™.”

In both cases, they make it known that if the images, logos, videos, artwork, text or other content is the creation and property of “YouTube™ or Google™”, the license requires that you obtain prior permission when using the materials for anything other than personal use.  Content that is contributed by users is protected by Copyright Law and that is stated in both licenses.  Since the licenses basically state that the contributed works are under Copyright protection, then Fair Use, special exemptions under the law and  privileges found in the various Copyright Guidelines and in Distance Learning (The TEACH Act ) would still apply.

In the case of contributed materials to these sites, linking to the specific materials would appear to be permissible, as well as live presentations in class, as per Section 110(1) of the Copyright Law, granting educators the right to display and perform copyrighted materials for the purpose of “Face-to-Face” instruction.  However, when it comes to a use that would require downloading the videos, archiving them for later use, or incorporating them into a distance learning course or other presentation, it appears, from the license statements, that owners of the content need to be contacted, unless the owners of that content have stated in their submission that end users have the right to download or retransmit the materials.  In the case of “YouTube™”, if the individual video doesn’t have a download button on the page that hosts the individual video, then, according to the “YouTube™”, Terms of Use Agreement, it would not be permissible to download or copy that video.

It is important to become familiar with the “Terms of Use” for both sites and to understand the privileges and limitations stated therein.