Types of videos that you never thought would fall under the fair use doctrine!

As a creator, you have probably come across several videos where the content of a video is questionable – Is it copyright infringement or is it covered by fair use? We gathered the types of videos you think are copyright infringement but surprisingly, they aren’t! Let’s check them out!

Background music:
speakerYou probably have seen plenty of videos where music has been accidentally captured in the background and wondered, is this legal? Well yes it is! As long as the video is put in a certain context that differs from the original and that the amount of the used content is regulated. To have a better idea, let’s have a look at a famous case, the “dancing baby”.

In 2007, Lenz, a mother of a toddler, uploaded a 30 seconds video where the toddler is dancing to the hit song “Let’s go crazy” by Prince. What happened next is that Universal Music Publishing Group filed a suit against Lenz. Luckily for the mother, the court identified the video as being covered by fair use. (Click here to see full video)

Note that you have to take care if you want to use a song that is copyright protected, since, without the authorization of the content owner, it can be easily identified as copyright infringement. Therefore you might consider looking at websites that provide free to use tunes if you want to set music as background sound.


Scenes and clips:
You are good to go if you want to use scenes or clips for reference; it just depends on how it is framed and on the amount you’re using! What we mean is, if you need a scene, or a clip from a movie, to get your point across, then that’s fine. However, if you want to upload a whole episode or movie, then this is seen as copyright infringement. For this reason, it is very important to make sure that your content has value added by using the clip and that you are using just the right amount of the clip.


masksWhy are there still so many parodies on YouTube? They must be illegal! The answer is no, they’re not. It’s in the nature of parodies to be inspired by original content and to make it ridiculous and for this reason parodies are largely accepted on YouTube. Though, if you are producing these types of videos, just use as much of the original content as necessary. We would still recommend you ask for permission of the content owner if you are producing these types of videos to protect yourself fully from any trouble.

Overdubbing very common in the YouTube world. You can spot overdubbing in many different types of content; it varies from big blockbusters, to music video clips, to anime, to cartoons – it’s everywhere. Overdubbing is generally considered to fall under the fair use doctrine since it is very creative and transformative. So if your content falls under this category, don’t worry, keep up the great work!

Video games and tutorials with commentary:
joypadThese types of videos usually fall into a grey area. So they are niether considered to be a copyright infringement or to come under the fair use doctrine. However, these videos have been widely accepted in the YouTube world, since they help in sales. Therefore, you shouldn’t have any issues but if you are not sure, consulting a lawyer is always the best solution.


Performing copyrighted music:
headphonesYou will have seen many videos, where a musician or artist perform songs from other artists. Most of the time, the original artists do not mind if you cover one of their songs, since it is a sort of free promotion for them, as long as you are not taking views or sales. Generally, these types of videos are considered to be fair use, since they tend to be very transformative, and have a personal touch of creativity.


tracksMashups are very current on YouTube and the term mashup itself refers to independent videos on the internet that have been put together in a compilation to create one video. One of the most recurrent video mashup compilations are “fail or win videos” or “Best of videos”. If this type of video falls under the fair use doctrine is questionable, since on one hand, putting together videos is considered as being very transformative, and on the other hand, the content taken from various videos are themselves very creative. Even though YouTube has provided a way to monetize these types of videos, it is always recommended to consult a lawyer for clarity.

This was our list of types of videos that you would have never thought they would fall under fair use, and if you want to know more about copyright on YouTube, CLICK HERE!