Youtube is one of the most popular online platforms for creating and sharing content, whether it be locally or globally. With so much flexibility around what you can do and share with others, there needs to be certain rules in place to ensure people can take full credit for their creative works. 

This is where copyright comes in. 

Under copyright law, you cannot use someone’s else’s original work without their permission or without a valid licence to do so. Their expression of their ideas or creative works is known as their Intellectual Property, and in Australia, the protection of IP is taken very seriously. 

So, when on a platform like Youtube, it can be easy to accidentally infringe copyright in someone else’s work – this could include the use of someone else’s music or images in your video. 

In this article, we’ll go through what copyright is, how Youtube content creators can avoid infringing copyright and what you can do if someone steals your work – read on to learn more. 

What Is Copyright?

Copyright is a legal right in Australia around ownership of Intellectual Property (this is basically intangible property, such as logos, images, photographs, mottos or even scents!). 

So, copyright protects the expression of ideas in some material form. In other words, your expression of creative works is protected by copyright laws, so no one can use it without your permission. 

That work becomes yours to own (legally!) and is acquired automatically, so you don’t actually need to register it for your ownership to be legally recognised and protected. 

I’m A Youtube Content Creator – What Should I Know About Copyright?

Since copyright applies automatically, it can be easy to accidentally infringe copyright. For example, Youtube content creators may use a song in their video which they don’t realise is actually copyrighted – this would be copyright infringement!

The main thing to know is that copyright automatically applies as soon as the owner of the work expresses it in some tangible or fixed form. This is extremely broad, so it’s always best to play it safe and check if you can legally use that IP as part of your work (for example, you may have an IP Licence, which we’ll cover in more detail later). 

How Can I Avoid Copyright Infringement?

Unfortunately, even if you didn’t know that the material you used was protected by copyright, you’d still be liable for copyright infringement. So, it’s always best to be safe and try to avoid any risk of copyright infringement from the outset. 

You should always check with the owner of the material to obtain permission. Otherwise, you can also set up an IP Licence Agreement, which allows you to use the IP. The Agreement may specify that you need to pay the owner certain fees to use their IP as part of your content. 

Fair Dealing Exceptions

There are some instances where you can use copyrighted material. These are known as fair dealing exceptions

More specifically, it specifies that copyrighted material can be used for the following purposes:

  • Criticism and review
  • Satire or parody
  • News
  • Legal advice
  • Research and study 

However, there are further requirements for each category – learn more about fair dealing exceptions and how they can apply to your Youtube channel. 

It’s also worth noting that there is a difference between fair use and fair dealing exceptions. Fair dealing is an Australian legal concept, whereas fair use is more commonly used in the US. 

Fair use laws means you don’t necessarily look at the 5 excepted categories. Rather, you look at:

  • Why the material is being used
  • The nature o the work
  • The effect of using the material 

How Can I Protect My Intellectual Property On Youtube?

There are many ways you can protect your intellectual property as a business in Australia. However, if you’re creating content on Youtube, your reach and exposure to viewers is much larger – in other words, you’re looking at a global scale. 

So, how can you ensure your IP is protected globally?

While copyright automatically applies to your creative works expressed in some material form, there are ways you can have additional security over your content. One of these is by registering a trade mark. 

Trademarking your IP means that you register it with IP Australia, so no one else can use your trademarked IP. This is enforceable under the Trade Marks Act 1995

How To Trademark A Youtube Channel Name

With so many channels on Youtube, it can be difficult to find a name that is unique and competitive. 

A great way to ensure no one uses your channel name is to register a trade mark. 

To do this, you’d need to complete an application process with IP Australia – at Sprintlaw, we offer a Trademark Registration Package to guide you through this process. 

Is My Australian Trade Mark Valid Internationally?

While Youtube is known to reach a global audience, unfortunately, the IP protection that you register in Australia may not always apply across borders. 

Put simply, a registered trade mark in Australia will not necessarily be valid internationally. Instead, you’d need to go through a separate process to Register an International Trade Mark. 

This usually involves an application through the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). From here, a lawyer will usually select the Madrid Protocol countries where you want your IP to be registered and protected. 

What Does A Copyright Claim Mean On Youtube?

Usually, if you upload a video on Youtube and it contains media that is protected under copyright laws (so it is copyrighted), then this is a copyright claim. 

When this happens, the consequences usually depend on what the copyright owner prefers. Some owners might decide to monetise your video, so you can’t do this yourself. This would be the case where you have no licence to use the IP. 

In other cases, the copyright owner might block your content entirely. 

Sometimes, you may receive a copyright strike. This means the copyright owner has requested that you remove your content with their IP in it, so Youtube would take it down. 

If you feel that you have had a copyright claim made against you unfairly, you can dispute the claim in the email that Youtube sends you. 

Essentially, as a Youtube content creator, it’s important to understand how copyright claims work and how you can avoid landing yourself in this situation in the first place. 

Someone Stole My Content – What Do I Do?

If you  think someone has stolen your content on Youtube, or used your copyrighted material without permission or a licence, you can report this straight to Youtube. 

Once they’ve verified that there has been unauthorised use of your copyrighted content, they can take action to have it taken down or removed from Youtube. 

What Is Youtube Copyright Free Music?

Like we mentioned before, different types of content can be protected from unauthorised use under copyright laws – this includes music. 

It’s common for content creators to include music in their videos, however, it’s important not to use copyrighted music without some licence. 

So, most content creators opt for copyright free music to avoid any copyright infringement or breaches of IP law. 

Can Intellectual Property Be Licensed?

While intellectual property can be registered and protected under laws, it can also be licensed. This means the copyright owner grants legal permission for another party to use that IP, subject to the terms set out in an IP Licence Agreement between them. 

The copyright owner may agree to do this for certain fees or royalties. 

Generally, an IP Licence should cover the following terms:

  • Territory
  • Exclusivity
  • Term
  • Revocability
  • Transferability
  • Payments
  • Purpose/Scope

Key Takeaways

If you’re creating and uploading content on Youtube, one of your first considerations should be how you can best protect your Intellectual Property. 

After all, your IP is extremely valuable to your branding and your channel. The last thing you want is people using your own IP against you, especially in a competitive industry. 

If you need help around how you can protect your intellectual property in Australia, or you have any questions about copyright claims on Youtube, contact our expert IP lawyers today. 

If you would like a consultation on your options going forward, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or for a free, no-obligations chat.

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