Social Media TOS Tuesday: Could Your Holiday Video Jeopardize Your #highered School’s YouTube Channel?

December 10th, 2013 Karine Joly 3 Comments

‘Tis the season of cookies, egg nog and holiday video cards in higher education!

Holiday card videos almost always include some music, so it’s the perfect time to remind you about an important point in YouTube TOS.

So let’s get started with this Social Media TOS Tuesday.

YouTube Takes Copyrights VERY Seriously

YouTube will honor any valid DMCA take-down requests – after all, it’s the law.

They also have implemented a program called Content ID, that allows copyrights holders to upload their content to YouTube copyrighted materials library. As soon as a video is uploaded on YouTube, it is scanned against the content of this library. If there is a match, the video is automatically flagged – and the person who uploaded it to YouTube is notified to provide some explanations.

Case Study: The University at Buffalo

Catherine DonnellyAt the University at Buffalo, Catherine Donnelly, Assistant Director for Web Services, manages a YouTube channel for the Undergraduate Admissions team.

The channel showcases information about the school but also tells student stories, faculty research and promotes events. There have been a few instances where content that was approved for posting actually triggered “flags” as violating some aspect of the YouTube Terms of service. Each copyright violation identified after a valid request for removal will earn a strike against a channel. When you have three strikes they will terminate your account and delete all video content as well as prohibit you from having another.

If you pay attention to your content, explains Catherine, you can take steps to have a strike removed. It can expire after six months without another violation as long as you review their copyright guidelines. A flag can also be removed if you can successfully refute the claim against the video. You have to understand that deleting the video will not delete a strike.

There have been two instances since 2007 where the UB channel received a flag from YouTube. The first was a video produced for a public event. The featured department requested it be shared. Immediately it was flagged for a music copyright violation. The classical music used under the interviews triggered a flag that it was the same as music owned by the British Philharmonic Orchestra. Catherine fought the violation and had the strike removed.

There was another instance where Catherine was asked to feature a student produced video. In the middle of the piece was a snippet of disputed content. While the file was not flagged as a copyright violation, it received an orange flag because the section was banned in another country. After discussion with the team requesting the video, they opted to remove it. It was not clear in the TOS how that kind of violation would count against us in the future.

A 100% Sure Way to Avoid Copyright Strikes on Your YouTube School Channel


Due to these issues, when Catherine Donnelly creates video or if she is unsure about some of the content, she always upload the video to another channel first for review purposes.

If and when all content is deemed OK, it can be migrated to the official channel. “I believe strongly that I am accountable for protecting the university channel and for paying attention to any instances where we might receive a strike,” she explains.

She also collects royalty free music for use in future productions and is always clear with content providers about how the need to attribute the pieces they produce. If they cannot explain where the music comes from, she won’t accept the video for the school’s channel. The risk of losing the branded YouTube Channel is too large to not pay attention to these details.

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