When making videos for YouTube, what media can I include without getting sued or breaking the terms of YouTube?

What are the differences when being a YouTube partner?

Take for example the gaming web show IGN Daily Fix. They include images, audio, and video of games into their own videos. Do they pay a fee to every single video game producer, to a general organisation, or can they just include anything they want for free under fair use?

PS: I don't know if this is the best forum for this question, but I don't really know where else I could ask.

1 Answer 1


Preface: I am not a lawyer. These comments aer based on my personal experience navigating copyright law.

The general rule of thumb is that you can only use media that you have created.

If you have not created the media, it's best practice to get or buy permission to use it, and get that permission in writing as a release form.

That being said, something like IGN daily fix could likely get away with demo-ing games under fair use as part of a review or demonstration. There's also the fair use exemption for something "newsworthy". There's a little bit of leeway when you shoot the video of the game yourself rather than capturing the output from the console. There you start to get into derivative work.

Personally, I would get releases for everything. In the case of IGN, I'm sure they can go to EA, and EA is more than happy to provide amterials for their use. You can do the same. Ask for a press kit that includes video clips. Those are licensed for that type of use.

If you don't have a license, here's what you risk. Let's say Google wants to buy your videos and feature them for something. Their lawyer is going to ask for chain of title documentation. This is signed, verifiable contractual agreements that say you have permission for everything. Sign a release form for you own voiceover jsut to please the lawyers. People will sue Google because they've got deep pockets. The lawyers need to mitigate that risk by making sure every i is dotted and every t is crossed. Are you willing to potentially lose a deal because you didn't get permission to use a clip? I've made the decision NOT to risk that...but that's me.

As many people as I know who are under-the-radar enough to get away with a lot, I know enough people who've been "made an example of" that I don't want to play with that lit match.

I'd recommend a.) talking to an attorney and b.) asking permission for everything. You'd be surprised who says yes to the latter.

  • Thank you for your answer. I understand that you have to put the ask a lawyer disclaimer etc, however that's currently too expensive for me / I'm not informed enough yet. So say my friend is a musician and he lets me use his song for my video, what forms do I need him to sign such that I can prove to YouTube/Google that I have the right to use his music? Any link to an example document would be appreciated! Also, if I use royalty-free music (e.g. from incompetech.com/m/c/royalty-free), is it enough to just put a link to the site where I got it / that states the licensing terms?
    – Ben
    Apr 5, 2012 at 20:06
  • Becoming informed while not being able to afford a lawyer: Mark Litwak's "Contracts for the Film and Television Industry". Find it used at www.half.com. Visit filmcontracts.net & read their terms of use. Royalty-free music is tricky. Royalty-free means you don't pay a per-use fee: it's a flat fee and you have the right to use it under the conditions of the use agreement. incompetech.com/m/c/royalty-free/faq.html explains this guy's license. Pay close attention to attribution, it changes depending on how you license the work. One is free, one is paid. Also check out creative commons.
    – dwwilson66
    Apr 7, 2012 at 12:57
  • attorneys: spread the word out to EVERYONE that you need an attorney to look at contracts in exchange for producer credit. Film contracts are just contracts; entertainment law speciality not needed. Modify an existing contract/release to suit your needs, then have that attorney give it a looksee to make sure you didn't shoot yourself in the foot. You'll likely find a friend who knows a lawyer who'd be ~tickled~ to get a screen credit for ten minutes of his time. Know any law professors who need a contract to discuss in a class? Volunteer yours and sit in. DIY means thinking way outside the box
    – dwwilson66
    Apr 7, 2012 at 13:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.