/ How to Copyright a Video on YouTube

How to Copyright a Video on YouTube

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Lokesh Pal

December 8, 2023


0min read

How to Copyright a Video on YouTube

YouTube is a vast platform where a number of creators share their content worldwide with viewers.

Understanding the process of copyrighting a video on YouTube is important for content creators to protect their content.

Copyrighting your video ensures that you have legal protection against unauthorised use, distribution, or reproduction.

This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to copyright a video on YouTube.

From understanding copyright basics and requirements to exploring the process of registering your copyright, we’ll cover essential steps and considerations.

By following these guidelines, individuals can take proactive measures to protect their creative work and have the assurance that their video is legally protected under copyright law.

Understanding Video Copyright: When is Your Video Copyrighted?

Video copyright protection is granted as soon as you create and fix your work in a tangible form that is perceptible either directly or with the help of a device, according to the U.S. Copyright Office.

It doesn’t require any official registration or specific action on your part.

Even when your video is in preview mode or viewed through the viewfinder, it doesn’t hold copyright protection.

However, as soon as you start recording or streaming it on a platform that captures your video, it becomes copyrighted material.

Videos stored on various platforms, such as hard drives, SD cards, or YouTube, are all equally protected by copyright.

Registering your video with the copyright office is not necessary to enjoy the benefits of copyright law.

While issuing a copyright notice in your video is advisable, it is not mandatory to secure copyright protection.

By understanding the automatic nature of copyright and its inherent protection, you can ensure your video is safeguarded under copyright law.

The Benefits of Registering Your Copyright: Protection and Legal Options

Registering your copyright offers several advantages, particularly when it comes to taking legal action against infringers.

Without registration, claiming damages from copyright infringement can be challenging and costly, requiring substantial evidence of actual damages.

By registering your copyright, you gain the option to seek statutory damages.

In such cases, the court determines damages within a range of $750 to $30,000.

If it can be proven that the infringer was aware of the copyright violation, the potential statutory damages may increase to $150,000.

However, if the infringer can demonstrate a lack of awareness, the damages may be reduced to $200.

Notably, if you haven’t registered your copyright, statutory damages are not available.

Furthermore, copyright registration provides proof of your legal protection and streamlines the process of determining the lawful position of your work.

Registering your creative work empowers you with stronger legal options and ensures that you can pursue appropriate compensation for copyright infringement.

A Guide to Copyrighting a Video in the U.S.

To copyright your video in the United States, follow these couple of steps:

  1. Register online with the Electronic Copyright Office (eCO) by visiting their website.
  2. Fill out the electronic form provided to you.
  3. Submit a copy of your video with the application. This can be done either by uploading it or sending a CD by mail.
  4. Pay a $35 processing fee.

Completing these steps ensures that you have taken the necessary measures to protect your video’s copyright.

After submission, you can resume your activities while awaiting a response.

The registration process typically takes between one to seven months, with an average duration of four months.

In cases requiring additional correspondence, the waiting period may extend up to seven months.

By copyrighting your video, you establish a legal record of ownership, providing essential protection for your creative work.

Strategies for Copyright Protection: Securing Your Creative Works

Navigating copyrights can be challenging, but with some helpful tips, you can better protect your live streams and respect others’ intellectual property.

Consider the following advice:

  1. Register your copyright online in the U.S.: Opt for the faster and more cost-effective option of online copyright registration.
  2. Disregard the “poor man’s copyright” myth: Mailing yourself a video does not serve as a valid form of copyright registration. Proper registration is essential.
  3. Familiarise yourself with fair use: Understand fair use guidelines to avoid unnecessary copyright strikes, both as a content creator and when using others’ work.
  4. Differentiate between ideas and copyrights: Ideas and facts cannot be copyrighted. Ensure you understand what aspects of a work are protected.
  5. Explore the public domain: Learn about works that are free to use due to their public domain status, which may provide opportunities for your projects.
  6. Understand rights and licenses: Just as you can sell rights to your work, you can also purchase rights and licenses from original copyright owners to use their content legally.
  7. Explore Creative Commons licenses: Familiarise yourself with Creative Commons licenses to understand how to use protected content or license your own work.
  8. Keep documentation: Maintain records and documentation related to your work and its development to establish proof of your creative process.
  9. Avoid assumptions: Don’t make assumptions about the legal status of creative works found online. Similarly, protect your own work and address any infringements promptly.

By following these tips, you can navigate copyright regulations and protect yourself, your creations, and respect the rights of others in the digital landscape.

How to Add Copyright to the Video?

Adding a copyright notice to your video helps indicate your ownership and copyright protection.

Here’s how you can add a copyright notice to your video:

  1. Create a text overlay: Use video editing software or online video editors to add a text layer to your video.
  2. Choose the appropriate placement:
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    Decide where you want the copyright notice to appear on the screen. Typically, it is placed at the bottom corner or in a non-intrusive area.
  3. Input the copyright symbol: Insert the copyright symbol (©), followed by the year of creation and your name or your company’s name. For example: “© 2023 Your Name.”
  4. Customise the appearance: Adjust the font, size, color, and style of the copyright notice to suit your video’s aesthetic.
  5. Duration: Ensure that the copyright notice remains visible for the entire duration of your video or during relevant sections where your work is displayed.
  6. Preview and finalise: Review the video with the copyright notice overlay to ensure it appears as desired. Make any necessary adjustments before exporting or publishing the final version.

Remember that adding a copyright notice does not provide legal protection on its own.

Copyright protection is automatically granted upon the creation of your work.

However, displaying a copyright notice can serve as a visual reminder of your copyright ownership and deter potential infringements.

How to Copyright a YouTube Channel?

Copyrighting a YouTube channel as a whole is not possible since copyright protection applies to individual creative works within the channel, such as videos, music, artwork, or scripts.

However, you can take steps to protect your original content and establish ownership within your YouTube channel. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Produce unique and original videos, music, or other creative works that are eligible for copyright protection.
  2. Familiarise yourself with copyright laws in your jurisdiction to know your rights and obligations as a content creator.
  3. Display copyright notices: Add copyright notices to your videos, descriptions, or channel banner. Include the copyright symbol (©), the year of creation, and your name or your company’s name.
  4. Use watermarks: Add a visible watermark to your videos with your channel’s logo or name to signify ownership.
  5. License your content: Consider using Creative Commons licenses to specify the permissions granted to others for using your content, or explore licensing options for commercial use.
  6. Keep records: Maintain documentation and records of your creative works, including dates of creation, drafts, and any relevant agreements or licenses.
  7. Enforce your rights: Monitor your channel for potential infringements, and take appropriate action, such as submitting takedown requests or seeking legal advice when necessary.

Conclusion: How to Copyright a Video on YouTube

Understanding how to copyright a video on YouTube is essential for content creators and copyright holders to protect their original works.

By following the legal requirements and utilising the available tools, content owners can establish their rights and mitigate potential copyright claims.

Registering the original creative work with the appropriate authorities provides evidence of copyright protection and strengthens the position of the original owner in case of disputes.

Infringements can be addressed through the issuance of a copyright takedown notice, enabling content owners to protect their material from unauthorised use.

Moreover, it’s crucial for content creators to respect copyright rules and obtain proper permissions when using others’ material.

Failing to do so can result in legal consequences and damage to one’s reputation.

Overall, being proactive in legal protection, understanding the legal landscape, and adhering to ethical practices ensures a fair and respectful environment for online content, safeguarding the rights of both content creators and copyright holders.


How do I copyright a video on YouTube?

To copyright a video on YouTube, you don’t need to take any specific actions. Copyright protection is automatically granted upon creating the video. However, registering your copyright with the appropriate authorities can provide additional legal evidence and benefits.

Can I copyright my entire YouTube channel?

Copyright video protection applies to individual creative works within your YouTube channel, such as videos, music, or artwork. You cannot copyright the entire channel itself.

Do I need to display a copyright notice on my YouTube videos?

While not mandatory, displaying a copyright statement on your videos can serve as a visual reminder of your ownership and potentially deter infringements.

It typically includes the copyright symbol (©), the year of creation, and your name or company’s name.

Are YouTube videos copyrighted?

Yes, YouTube videos are generally protected by copyright as soon as they are created and fixed in a tangible form.

The creators of the videos hold the copyright unless they have transferred those rights to someone else.

What is the relationship between copyright and YouTube videos?

Copyright applies to the original videos uploaded on YouTube. This means that the creators have exclusive rights to control the use, distribution, and reproduction of their videos.

Others need explicit permission to use or copy the content unless a legal exception like fair use applies.

Can I use copyrighted material in my YouTube videos?

Using licensed material in YouTube videos without proper authorisation or a valid legal basis, such as fair use, may infringe on the rights of the copyright holder.

It is important to respect video copyright laws and obtain appropriate licenses or permissions when using others’ content.

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