Streaming Video Copyright - Copyright and Internet Use
Any kind of video material can be made into a streaming video. This might tempt some to use video footage which
does not belong to them.Video which is not in the public domain, however, is subject to copyright, which means that
written permission must be obtained before it can be used by a third party.
A streaming video which consists of someone talking to the camcorder is referred to as user created content or
UCC and can be used by the creator in any way he or she wishes. A fair proportion of streaming video on websites
like YouTube is UCC and are sometimes referred to as 'video blogs'.
UCC can also include footage of objects, scenes or animals, but does not necessarily extend to people. Before
you can use video or still images of people you must obtain a written release authorization to display those images
in a public forum like a video stream.
A release authorization is required anytime a person can be recognized. Crowd scenes are usually exempt because
it is hard to pick out individuals from a large group of people. If you focus on an individual in the crowd,
though, play it safe and try to get a release authorization before using that footage as part of a streaming
The Internet is no different from any other media when it comes to copyright. The creator of any content whether
that is video, images, sound or written material, holds the copyright unless he or she specifically releases the
work to the public domain.
Copyright gives the creator or the owner, where copyright has been transferred, control over how that material
can be used. If anyone wants to use copyrighted material they must get written permission from the copyright
How long does copyright last? There is some variation from country to country, but generally speaking it will
remain in effect for at least 50 years after creation. Written works are protected for the lifetime of the author
plus 70 years, but photographs and sound recordings are only protected for 50 years after the date of
What does all this mean for the video streaming.
- Be careful of your sources.
- Do not assume you can use someone else's work just because 'everyone else is using it'.
- Above all, do not assume that other video streaming material is up for grabs. Just because it has a
transient feel does not mean that UCC can be used without permission.
Of course, this is a two way street in as much that any streaming video that you create and post on a public
forum like Google Video or YouTube or your own web site belongs to you, the creator. You hold copyright to that
material, and that means you can decide when and where that video content can be used.
So what do you do if you find that someone has copied your streaming video and is using it against your wishes?
Do not worry about having to prove copyright as in most countries it is automatically assigned to the creator of
any work, although it may be prudent to mark all streaming video and any other material with a copyright symbol or
The hard part comes when enforcing your rights as copyright holder. The first step is to get in touch with the
offending party and explain your policies for using your video. If they do not comply, you can threaten them with a
legal action, but unless you are prepared to back up your threat with action the matter will most likely end in
stalemate. You could contact their Internet Service Provider and register a complaint, but if the ISP does not do
anything that will probably be the end of the road.
The best way to avoid others copying your streaming video, is not to post it on the internet in the first