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Since so many other people have uploaded music to YouTube, can’t I do that legally too?


I really appreciate YouTube where I can listen to old songs that I haven’t
heard in maybe 50 years or more and also people’s comments on them. I’d like to
reciprocate and upload the odd, old hit record from a past era, but when I
start, I get warnings about copyright laws and being sued, etc. If that’s the
case, then how do so many people continue to upload their old records? Is it
highly illegal?

In this excerpt from
Answercast #73
, I look at the problems in uploading copyrighted material to

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Copyrights on YouTube

Unfortunately, in general, yes, it is.

There’s a lot of music on YouTube. Some of it is actually uploaded by the
copyright holders. You’ll find a lot of current music is actually being
distributed or being made available on YouTube along with music videos as a way
of promoting the current artist’s work.

Older music gets a little bit “iffier.” Some record labels have done deals
with YouTube that allow people to upload their music – and you’ll find that
after the music has been uploaded and the videos made available, that there are
also links to actually go out and purchase that music from some of the online
music stores.

Those rarely benefit you, the uploader, and they’re all about the copyright
being respected and legitimized by allowing the copyright holder to actually
make a little bit of money of your upload.

What can be uploaded

Unfortunately, it’s very difficult for you to know when something is and is
not legal to upload.

Generally, if you’re not sure, it’s probably illegal. You should try and
check (if you can) to see if the record label has any kind of a deal with
YouTube or has any kind of an online statement. But in general, those are
difficult to find and to be honest, I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

So, yes, enjoy what’s up there. Occasionally, you’ll find things that get
taken down by YouTube on request of the copyright holder specifically because
it was illegally uploaded.

You can try uploading something. It is possible that you would get
a take down notice – or that, in the worst case, your YouTube account could get

It’s rare that somebody gets sued, but I can’t rule that out as a
possibility, particularly if you end up uploading a lot.

Best to follow the rules

This is an area where I really recommend people tread very carefully.

Just because there’s a lot of music up there doesn’t mean that it’s all
legal! It just may mean that YouTube hasn’t gotten around to catching it yet;
or that the copyright holders haven’t gotten around to catching it yet.

It may mean that deals have been struck with YouTube to allow it, but it
doesn’t mean that you can upload anything you want.

It’s unfortunate. I think there’s a lot of possibility here. I think it
would be great if there were some more commonly available ways of doing what
you want to do in a legal fashion. I just don’t know what those are.

Internet copyrights

Copyright and the internet is a long and ongoing problem that is still in
many ways trying to get figured out.

So I would err on the side of safety and not upload the songs that you’re
not sure about. But continue to enjoy the ones that you find on YouTube for as
long as they happen to be there.

Do this

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2 comments on “Since so many other people have uploaded music to YouTube, can’t I do that legally too?”

  1. I’m still trying to figure out the difference between sharing music and videos on YouTube vs. sharing an actual CD or DVD with my friends. When I was growing up it was almost a ritual for people to share their 78s and 45s around the neighborhood (vinyl records for those too young to remember.) There wasn’t so much as a whimper from the artist or record company.

    Is it because technology has made it easier to share with thousands or millions of people that artists feel they are getting ripped off? Or is it just old fashioned greed? If I buy a music video and pass it around to my friends, am I held to the same legal standards as someone who posts that same video on YouTube? If I loan my MP3 player to my spouse are we violating the law because we each should have purchased our own copy of the songs?

    So what’s next? Will the feds create a new law enforcement branch to go city to city kicking down doors to see if family members are sharing music? Maybe other industries can take a page out of the RIAA playbook. If I get a ride in my friend’s car and he has Michelin tires on it, maybe Michelin can sue me for not buying my own set of tires. Or if I borrow a friend’s book, maybe the author and publisher can sue me because I didn’t buy my own copy.

    The difference is that when you were sharing an actual CD or DVD you didn’t make a copy of it. There was just a single CD or DVD making the rounds. What technology has enabled is the ability to can copy things trivially, thus “sharing” is now more accurately “giving a copy”. If you still have a copy after sharing it with someone then that’s the fundamental difference. The process of uploading to a site like YouTube makes a copy of whatever it is you’ve uploaded.

  2. Here’s someting that might clear things up.

    First of all, if you want to do things like posts music/videos that are not yours, it’s always a good thing to allow ads to tun on all your uploaded original videos as well as others.

    You can also allow ‘monetization’ to share the wealth of promotion ny ad revenues, as I understand it though I’m not so clear on that.

    When you allow this Google search finds matches for the copyrighted works and places links to pay sites for them. They aren’t always 100% right and you ought to help them out in that case to further your own.

    Sometimes you just cannot use the source. In some cases You Tube will block the disputed parts, cut the audio in question or even place a notice that the file is not available in your area due to copyright claims (even YOU cannot view it)! This would also apply to private videos.

    How to clear up or maintain a clean record?

    Look in your channel’s settings… in that information you will find your standings, three sections with light icons to tell you if you meet the good standings needed as a member. They are all green if you are okay. If not, you will be told what is potentially wrong and can find how to clear the problem up.

    You can expect to be warned first, even if that warning also involves actions against you.

    Flagrant violations such as multiple infringement, illegal materials or violations of the terms of service that merit immediate takedown will be noted. If you were a spammer or put pornography up you wouldn’t expect a warning, you might well be terminated right there without recourse.

    You have a right to find out perhaps what happened and defend yourself, expecially if your account was hijacked and then you might get it back but a new channel might be better if you can return, just like any hacked EMAIL account.

    FAQs are available in You Tuve Help, Terms of Service and Google Terms of Service (as owner of You Tube, Google accounts are used to access You Tube and utimately Google’s terms are superior in all matters).


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