Youtube and You

What is Youtube?

Youtube is a video sharing website that was created by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim in 2005. The domain name “” was registered on Febuary 14th, 2005 and the first video, entitled “Me at the zoo”, which features Karim standing in front of an elephant at the zoo, was uploaded to the site on April 23, 2005.

As a website saw rapid growth in 2006. On July 16, 2006 a survey of the website’s traffic revealed that 100 million videos were being viewed daily, and that approximately 65 000 videos were being viewed over a 24 hour period. This growth, which at the time was outpacing Myspace, attracted Google’s interest, and on October 9 2006 this interest lead Google to purchase Youtube for 1.65 billion dollars in stock. The purchase of the site was subject to Youtube first signing separate agreements with Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, and CBS Corp. to avoid copyright infringement suits. The site continued to grow after Google’s purchase, and in 2007 in was estimated that Youtube’s bandwidth use was equal to the amount used by the entire internet in 2000.

Once the sale to Google was complete Youtube announced that they were moving to an advertising based revenue system, although the extent to which Youtube if profitable is a much debated topic. Google does not release the specifics for the total cost to run Youtube nor the amount of ad revenue it generates, but market analysts believe that the site most likely runs at a deficit.

Despite it’s murky profitability the site has continued to grow to monstrous proportions and has hit unpresented milestones. Youtube is now the 2nd most used search engine on the internet (second only to Google) and it’s search engine logs more searches than Yahoo, Bing,, and AOL combined while the site receives 800 million to 1 billion unique views per month. According to Youtube’s own statistics page approximately 6 billion hours of video are watched each month, and 100 hours of video are uploaded to Youtube every minute. That means that 16 years worth of content is being uploaded every day!

Interacting with Youtube

Youtube, at it’s core, is a website dedicated to the act of watching videos. The user can find videos in a number of different ways. The first, and perhaps the most obvious, is by using the search. Entering a search parameter will return a list of videos which best match the search criteria.

Youtube also curates content for it’s users. For example, if a user were to go to the Youtube homepage content which is currently trending in their region will be shown, in this case Canada, as well as what is trending in other popular categories such as Gaming, Music, Sports, and Movies.

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Content curation changes drastically when you log in to your Youtube account. But first, how do you get a Youtube account? Good news! You most likely already have one! Youtube, as mentioned, is owned by Google, so when you sign up for a Google account you automatically have access to Google services like Gmail, Calendar, and Drive. Youtube is another one of those services. When you are logged into your Google account and you access the Youtube main page you will be presented with a list of videos to watch from content creators which you subscribe to (assuming you have already subscribed to content channels) along with recommended videos which Youtube thinks you would like based on your previous searches and video which you have viewed.
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In order to interact with the site fully the user is required to create a Youtube channel. This is the equivalent of a separate Youtube account that is still linked to your Google account. The main advantage for using the Channel system is that the user can retain a certain amount of anonymity while navigating the site. The user name that you choose for your channel is what will appear when you upload a video or comment on someone else’s video, thus creating a degree of separation between your activity on Youtube and your Google account. Other features which become available are: uploading and publishing videos, the ability to make a playlist of several different videos, commenting and adding to the often intelligent discourse in the comments section of a video, and access to optimization tools for uploaded videos such as Youtube Analytics.

When you have selected a video to watch, you are taken to the video’s individual Youtube page.

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On this page there are several key features which provide more information about what you are watching as well as different ways to interact with the content. Information about the video is located under the About tab. Here you will also find out which Category the video was uploaded under and the License which applies to it. Annotations, or Tags, which are entered when you upload a video are not visible on this page, and you can only find them by looking at the source code of the web page.

You are also given the option to Subscribe to the content provider as well as liking or disliking video. Users also have the ability to share the video they are watching to people through Social Networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, leaving a comment at the bottom of the page, and flagging it for removal.

Upload a Video

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To upload a video, simply click on the Upload button found at the top right hand side of the screen. Once you select which video to upload you are taken to a screen which allows you modify the Title, Description, and Annotations for your video. It is important to modify these aspects of the Video’s metadata because it is from these fields that Youtube draws it’s search data from. Specific annotations and a descriptive title will make it easier for people to find your content.

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The user also has the option to edit Advanced settings such as whether or not to allow comments, the category to which the video belongs, and selecting which License and Rights Ownership agreement the video will exist under.

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When the user is happy with the status of the metadata of their video upload, and after the video is finished uploading, they simply click Publish and their video is live and viewable on the site.

Community Guidelines and the Google Privacy Policy

As mentioned before any user with a Google account can flag a video for inappropriate content. What is considered inappropriate is outlined in the Youtube Community Guidelines. Examples of community guidelines are: do not show drug abuse, animal abuse, bombing making, etc. Do not post videos with graphic and gratuitous violence. Only upload videos that you have made or you have been authorized to use. Do not post videos that contain hate speech, and do not use misleading tags and descriptive titles in order to increase the amount of the views your video gets.

It should also be noted that everyone who signs up for a Google account has agreed to the terms of the Google Privacy Policy, which explains to users what information Google collects and why and how that information is used. This includes collecting all data that the user gives Google, such as names and phone numbers, location information, and information they obtain when the user uses one of Google’s services (including Youtube). This information is used to update and improve services, create new services, to give the user tailored content, and to direct advertising at users which reflects their tastes.


Terms and Conditions

To create a YouTube account, the user must first agree to the websites Terms and Conditions, which are licensed under the Google Privacy Policy. The contract states that YouTube will retain copyright of the site, logos and services. In agreeing to the Terms and Conditions, users agree to license their content to YouTube while still retaining ownership rights. Users agree that all content they upload is clear of any copyright infringement or belonging to the uploaders themselves. YouTube has created a series of systems and steps to protect themselves from taking legal action against users failing to uphold the copyright policy.

Copyright Policy

YouTube’s policy against copyright includes user account de-activation in the instances that the user repeatedly is found guilty of infringement. For general accounts, YouTube uses a claims system in which third parties can report incidences of copyright infringement. YouTube does not mediate over ownership rights and maintains its status as a service provider by refraining from activating copyright claims. All claims against copyright come from the general population and YouTube facilitates the removal of content under dispute as well as communication between the accuser and accused. For individual user, smaller institutions or companies without the manpower to monitor content, YouTube has provided two copyright options.

Content ID

Copyright holders choosing to upload content can apply for a Content ID account, which is an automated monitoring system provided by YouTube to match uploaded content with registered copyright content. If a video matches one under Content ID, the owner of the video can issue a takedown or institute one of the optional policies only available through Content ID. Policies include the option to profit via advertisements, blocking of the sound or film entirely, or tracking the progression and reach of the additional posting. Content ID requires account holders to provide evidence of exclusive rights to all content they provide their channel. Application is subject to approval by YouTube.

Creative Commons

The Creative Commons copyright license provides the content user to grant public access to their work while retaining a system of attribution. Videos marked with a CC BY license will automatically source the content creator when uploaded to other user channels. If a user maintains a Content ID account they cannot use a CC BY license, otherwise anyone can apply this license provided they are the copyright owners of the content.

Account Standing

User accounts are maintained under a ‘three-strike’ rule, which includes any digressions from the restrictions listed in the Community Guidelines or Copyright Policy. Content flagged for strike under Copyright Policy have the option to wait 6 months until the strike expires or they request a retraction by the person claiming the infringement. Strikes affect a users ability to fully patronize the services of YouTube including the application of the CC BY license and uploading videos running longer than 15 minutes. After three strikes, the user account can be optioned for termination.

Claiming Copyright Infringement

In order to claim copyright infringement, the claimant should be the owner of the copyright or an agent for the owner. It is reminded in the notification page on YouTube that to instigate a claim is to engage in a legal process and that any misuse of this service may result in the claimants account termination. In addition to the copyright complaint form the website provides, YouTube also accepts free-form notifications via e-mail, fax or phone with the claimant providing their contact information and a statement regarding the integrity of their claim. Users flagged for infringement can issue a counter notification against any claims they feel are wrongly made against them. This issuance is a legal procedure and carries the same warning as the original claimant.

Copyright Verification Program

CVP provides institutions and companies the option to search for infringing material as well as issue multiple removal requests. An application for the CV program must be completed and applicants must confirm they hold total copyright over the material they are flagging.

Fair Use

Fair Use is a legal doctrine allowing some levels of copyright-protected materials to be re-used in certain circumstances with the necessity of receiving permission. Fair Use principles are different in every country, YouTube ascribes to the doctrine under United States Law. Fair Use is determined by a judge and is upheld in legal proceedings pertaining to copyright infringement claims. There are four basic factors of Fair Use:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes.

  2. The nature of the copyrighted work

  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole

  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

There are several myths that relate to the notion of copyright and Fair Use practices, the most utilized is self-disclaimers against copyright infringement. A user gains no protection when disclosing lack of ownership or listing copyright holders, the fact that a copyrighted video was illegally uploaded remains, despite one’s best intentions. Additionally, videos labeled for the purposes of entertainment or non-profit are also subject to copyright infringement, as is any content manipulated with original material.


Institution #1: The Getty

The Getty is an example of a museum that uses YouTube to showcase elements of their collection and engage new followers and audiences.  Rather than using their channel to give their viewers virtual tours of their collections, the Getty uses their videos to highlight elements of their collection while giving their subscribers information about art making techniques and art conservation processes.

Their informative videos are divided into ten sections: ‘Making Art’, ‘For Kids’, ‘Art Conservation’, ‘Antiquities’, ‘Drawings’, ‘Manuscripts’, ‘Paintings’, ‘Photographs’, ‘Sculpture & Decorative Arts’, and ‘Animals in Art.’  In the ‘Making Art’ section, for example, the Getty has a series of “how to” videos for various art techniques: making Greek vases, carving marble, making manuscripts, gem carving, etc.  These videos are roughly three to eight minutes in length and give viewers background information about these historical processes. For example, “Making Greek Vases” uses voice over narration in conjunction with moving images to show how Ancient Greeks refined clay and molded it into pottery. Underneath the video there is a paragraph of written text, which gives viewers more information about pottery makers in Ancient Greece. This video also includes two still images of Ancient Greek pottery from the Getty’s collection. By giving their subscribers information about the historical processes involved in making certain artworks, the Getty tries to engage their audience and inspire more interest in the pieces. Photographic ‘snippets’ of the pottery are also used to entice subscribers to come see more of their collection at the museum.

In addition to providing subscribers background information about their collections (including some of their manuscripts, drawings, paintings, etc.) the museum posts videos about their various conservation projects.  In this way, the museum invites their members “behind the scenes” so they feel involved with the museum’s activities.

Aside from their informative videos, the Getty uses their main video to lead subscribers to their site. Here, they are invited to download digital images of their collection for free.  As with all YouTube videos, Getty videos can also be shared through other social media sites (such as Facebook and Twitter) to gain more exposure.

Every Getty video is stamped with the J. Paul Getty logo and contains the copyright symbol underneath.  If a video only contains the copyright stamp of the Getty, it can be assumed that employees of the museum itself created all footage in the video.  If the Getty uses footage from other sources, they obtain a license to use that footage and they credit the original source at the end.  For example, in the “Carving Marble with Traditional Tools” video, the credits read, “Original Footage from “La Sculpture: Techniques de la Taille”, Copyright 1980, Neyrac Films.” They also credit the music, “Courtesy of Moby Gratis” and narrator, “Gilham D. Eriickson.”

If the Getty works with any collaborators, the museum will acknowledge their involvement too. For example, in a video about Mummy preservation, they use animation to illustrate the mummification process and so they credit “Dynamic Diagrams” at the end.

Since the Getty is an anthropological museum, containing collections from Ancient Greece, Rome, etc. the artists of their collections have been dead for longer than fifty years, the number of years needed for their copyright term to be over. As a result, the museum has the right to reproduce and distribute images of their artwork. Any contemporary objects they do have are not featured in their YouTube videos as the artist still owns the copyright for their work.

Institution #2: The Toronto International Film Festival

A more local example of an institution actively using YouTube is TIFF.

TIFF (aka Toronto International Film Festival) is one of the most important and respected film institutions in the world, dedicated to presenting the best of international and Canadian cinema to film lovers.

For those of you who don’t already know, TIFF started out as a ten-day film festival back in 1976, and is now permanently settled downtown Toronto at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Since the opening of the Lightbox in 2010, TIFF has grown to become a community and global leader, offering programming all year round.

A few things I noticed right away about TIFF’s YouTube page is that it is updated regularly, and prominently displays links to their website, a weekly TIFF alert newsletter, and other social media platforms. It also has 24,051 subscribers and 19,709,840 views (when I last checked).

TIFF is home to a substantial moving image collection and archive. However, they do not make their collection or archival materials accessible online. Instead, TIFF uses YouTube as a means to highlight projects in order to engage followers and attract new audiences to come visit their collection.

Essentially, YouTube is used as a tool for promotion.

The most obvious example of this might be the movie trailers available for watching on TIFF’s YouTube channel. TIFF uploads trailers for promoting new releases and film screenings playing at TIFF Bell Lightbox to bring audiences to the theatre and promote ticket sales.

In this way, YouTube acts as a significant platform for TIFF because it allows them the opportunity to support and disseminate Canadian and independent cinema, which is typically underrepresented at other major theatres that are more geared toward the Hollywood blockbuster industry.

Another way TIFF uses YouTube to promote their collection is by posting videos that showcase current and upcoming exhibitions, guests and events, workshops, programmes, series and retrospectives happening at the Lightbox. This connects audiences in a discussion about film. Plus, each video typically has a link where you can buy tickets to the event or show.

The “What’s New at TIFF” playlist, for example, consists of videos of filmmaker interviews, guest lecturers, and a “behind-the-scene” look at exhibitions. This lets viewers to watch previews for upcoming events and find footage for events they might have missed.

If we click on the link to open the “TIFF Kids digiPlaySpace Trailer 2014” video, we can see how TIFF is using video footage to promote their current digiPlaySpace exhibition at the Lightbox. This video presents artists and creators of the current exhibit as they discuss some key works. It is specifically targeted at parents to encourage them to physically bring their children to the Lightbox in an attempt to involve new audiences. Also, the clip highlights objects from TIFF’s collection that the public might not typically associate with a film institution.

Potential Copyright Issues

The statement “Standard YouTube License” follows all of TIFF’s uploaded videos. This means that they have agreed to license their content to YouTube while still retaining ownership rights. By doing this they acknowledge that all content they upload is clear of any copyright infringement or otherwise belongs to TIFF. In addition, all of their trailers and material not belonging to them include end credits that specify who owns the content.

This screenshot is an example of the official trailer for the retrospective “Spirited Away: The Films of Studio Ghibli” that consisted of 18 films screened at the TIFF Bell Lightbox from December 13 2013 to January 3 2014:


Centre for Media and Social Impact

Creative Commons

Digital Media Law

The J. Paul Getty Trust, “About the J. Paul Getty Museum.” Accessed April 8, 2014.

YouTube Terms of Service


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