Should you upload your institution videos to YouTube?

August 22nd, 2006 Karine Joly 9 Comments

In a previous post, I told you why you should watch YouTube closely:

“Basically, anybody who registers can upload a video and share it with friends (or strangers) without worrying about bandwidth issues and any other streaming-related technicalities.

What this also means is that anybody (read student, alum, parent, faculty or staff member) can shoot a video with a web cam, digital camera or even a cell phone camera before uploading it to YouTube and share it with the world (read prospective students, parents, alums and… journalists)

The end of the controlled institutional message…. with the power of streaming video.”

While you should monitor what’s up there, you might want to think about using YouTube to spread your institutional messages as well.

Some institutions – like Allegheny College – are already doing it. So, should you?

That’s a question more and more have been asking (it actually got asked this morning on the uwebd listserv – which prompted me to do a bit of research).

With more than 100 million videos viewed monthly per day, YouTube can get you some eye balls. If NBC has noticed the power of the video sharing website, it probably means it is a distribution channel you shouldn’t ignore.

I don’t mean that you should just make your online videos available on YouTube (anyway, Google Video is also a player in the online video sharing world).

You should definitely host your online videos elsewhere as they can be removed from YouTube without prior notice (oh, so you want to see our latest online video… oops, it’s not there anymore ;-)

You also need to make sure you get proper (written) releases from the people on the video and the people who shot them to comply with YouTube’s Terms of Use (and avoid lawsuits, which is always a good idea)

You need to be ready (read: have your VP, President, trustees as well as faculty, parents, etc. ready) to see some creative (and not always positive) remakes — mashup — of your videos.

You should also be ok with the fact that YouTube might sell advertising before or after your online videos without compensating you.

I’ve heard and read recently that it isn’t a good idea to use YouTube because they own whatever you upload. Well, that’s not exactly true. You keep the copyright of your videos, but you grant them “a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform” your videos.

How do I know? Well, I took the time to read their boring legalese Terms of Use, and here is the part about rights:

“For clarity, you retain all of your ownership rights in your User Submissions. However, by submitting the User Submissions to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Website and YouTube’s (and its successor’s) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the YouTube Website (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels. You also hereby grant each user of the YouTube Website a non-exclusive license to access your User Submissions through the Website, and to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display and perform such User Submissions as permitted through the functionality of the Website and under these Terms of Service. The foregoing license granted by you terminates once you remove or delete a User Submission from the YouTube Website.”

As you know, I’m neither a lawyer nor a legal expert (so you should talk to one), but here is the way I understand this:

You can still use your videos the way you want, but YouTube get a license to do almost anything with them.

Any lawyers or law professors in the room?
Please correct me if I’m wrong.

9 Responses

  1. Morgan says:

    Kerine wrote: “You also need to make sure you get proper (written) releases from the people on the video and the people who shot them”

    You should have that anyhow :)

    Also prolly should mention that, as someone pointed out on the mailing list, YouTube’s rights to your stuff end if you remove it.

    Personally, I don’t understand the general fear of the ToS much. If the cost to use the service is that they get to borrow your material while it’s there, then develop material with that consequence in mind. Geez.. not like people are paying for the exposure otherwise.

  2. NJIT has a YouTube space that just started the past week. We don’t see it as serving the same purposes as video we host in iTunes or stream. For instance, YouTube visitors expect a mix of polished and unpolished video, running times are shorter.

  3. Karine Joly says:


    Wow, NJIT YouTube page looks great! I didn’t know you could change colors (at first, I thought it was a MySpace page ;-). That’s really a great touch. Are you going to promote it in any specific ways?


    About the release, what I meant (and thanks for pointing this out) is that it might be a good idea to include something specific to YouTube (or any other online video sharing websites) in the traditional release – especially because the uploaded videos can be creatively edited. I might be fine with the idea of being featured in an institutional video, but not in its online spoof.

    What I don’t get re: removing videos ends YouTube’s rights is what happened to the parts that were already used by other users? Do they have to remove them?

    Any thoughts?

    BTW, my is name is kArine, not kErine ;-)

  4. Ken – Great job on the NJIT YouTube site. Nice hacking of the colors, too.

    We’re taking a less official approach to sharing university-created video on social networking sites. Our lone video guy, Tom Shipley, has posted several of UMR’s stuff on YouTube under his name. He’s also on Google Video, MySpace (perhaps the oldest person on MySpace) and Current TV, which is an amazing site that universities should consider from a media relations standpoint.


  5. Morgan says:

    I am the worst with names… prolly why I’m in the dark cave with computers and away from all the people.

    Other users don’t have legal permission to use your material anyhow. I imagine a lawyerly letter to YouTube reporting the abuse would get the video pulled lickety-split. Then again, I guess they could claim fair use or parody, depending. I suppose it’s risky anyway you look at it, but possibly a necessary risk.

  6. Morgan says:

    Just came across this and thought that it was pretty relevant advice coming from a big name in viral marketing (Alex Bogusky):

    Viral marketing could easily morph into a customer-complaint channel. Advertisers who go viral, Bogusky concedes, “will just have to be brave enough to realize that they can’t have it all under their control anymore. Those days are over.”

    Pretty short and sweet. Just as with most business propositions, it seems that risk is necessary if you want to reap the gains of the new medium.

  7. Ken Zirkel says:

    I wouldn’t post official University material on YouTube … but I wouldn’t mind if somebody, um, anonymously posts offbeat material that just happened to make my institution look hip, cool, and interesting. And yes, I might help facilitate that.

  8. I don’t know that the NJIT YouTube videos are “official” yet. The few I posted so far are actually available online already on our website (well buried however) so I did what anyone with a mind to might have done with them.

    We are still thinking online about this and know that we will use “official” venues (like our iTunes U setting later this fall) for video, but I can’t see how we can ignore YouTube, Google MySpace and the rest.

  9. anonymouse says:

    From what I understand about the copyright issue with YouTube that you mention (“You can still use your videos the way you want, but YouTube get a license to do almost anything with them.”) is that it’s just a clarification that allows YouTube to work with the videos as they need to in order to run their business. Once you pull a video off of YouTube, you also pull YouTube’s right to use that video.

    In other words, I wouldn’t be overly concerned about it.

Got a question or comment?