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Using YouTube videos for teaching

Chris JHolland2 February 2017

I was recently asked to clarify the copyright considerations when reusing videos from YouTube for teaching. There are a number of issues to examine:

  • Anyone can upload a YouTube video, but does that person own the copyright? We can’t assume they do and we should consider this.
  • Maybe the person who posted the video does own the copyright, but have they included any other copyright protected works (music, recent artworks etc.). Does it look as though it is infringing?
  • Many YouTube videos have a Creative Commons licence attached which allows reuse in many contexts. So once we have clambered over the initial hurdle of copyright ownership, any videos with a CC licence are potentially reusable for teaching purposes as long as we adhere to the licence terms.
  • YouTube has its  own detailed terms of service which appear to restrict the user to “personal, non-commercial” use. On the face of it this clashes with the rights granted by CC licences.
  • On the other hand YouTube clearly recognises that copyright is owned by the author of the video, so perhaps we can assume that the CC licence chosen by the author  overrides the general YouTube terms of service?

Replication Studies

Chris JHolland12 November 2015

In some branches of Science replication studies are common practice. Recently I received a query about possible copyright implications. What happens in general is that the results of an experimental study are published and other researchers seek to test the validity of the results by replicating the study as closely as possible.   How about copyright issues?

There is no copyright in the underlying ideas or the methods used in a study although there is copyright in a paper expressing the ideas and describing the methods. There may be a fine line. The replication study may need to quote extensively from the previous paper, for example, raising copyright questions. 

There must be an expectation on the part of academic researchers that others will want to replicate their studies. If it is necessary to reproduce work which is protected, then this may be covered by the Quotation exception – one of the recently introduced “fair dealing” exceptions in UK copyright legislation .  In case of doubt it will probably be straight-forward to request permission.

There is no intrinsic copyright issue in “re-staging” the experiment, but what if the study itself involves the use of works protected by copyright ? Think of a psycholology study which measures the subjects emotional reactions to a series of videos.

What if the videos were originally “borrowed” from YouTube without any copyright checks? That may create a serious problem for researchers wishing to replicate the study as closely as possible. This is an actual example described in the Guardian which underlines the importance of an awareness of copyright issues in research.