“The video was taken down due to copyright infringement”. This is a phrase we have heard any number of times about a video that is no longer available on YouTube.
What does it usually mean? Why do videos get taken down? If I read a book on BookTube, will the video get taken down?
You read that right. BookTube is the unofficial name for YouTube channels that discuss everything bookish.
BookTubers upload videos about their favorite books, favorite authors, characters, reading habits, and anything related to books. Book clubs like Bookmarked have channels that discuss books monthly.
BookTube is now so popular that publishing houses have even taken notice of it and they use it when considering what marketing strategies they will use for their books.
Coming up with something creative takes up a lot of time, energy, and even money. Original work is often like a child to the creator and they naturally feel very protective of it as a lot of work has gone into producing it.
Often, creators don’t mind sharing their work for no pay, as long as they get credit for it. However, many people intend to make money or make a living out of their creations and therefore they protect it as one would protect a house or a car. It is their intellectual property.
This applies to films, songs, and written materials like books. This is where copyright comes in.
What Is Copyright?
Copyright is a collection of rights automatically owned by a person who originally creates an original work, for instance, a song, movie, book, or even software.
The rights include the right to distribute the work, make copies, reproduce it, derive other works from it, and make money from it. Copyright law exists to encourage creators to produce work by ensuring that their work is protected from theft and that they can make money from it.
It encourages creativity and makes available these creative works to the general public. For a piece of work to be protected by copyright, it has to be:
Creative: It must be innovative.
Original: It must belong to the person. It cannot have been copied from somewhere else.
Fixed: It must be affixed to some medium of expression. It should be available for viewership and should have the ability to be reproduced.
If you came here finding an answer to whether you can make videos from published books, you have come to the right place.
So, Can I Make YouTube Videos from Books?
Published books are copyrighted material, and so you are bound by the very grey areas of law. By the strict black and white wording, blindly reading a book on camera – no. But if you get permission from the owner to make an audio/video version of the work, then – yes!
So really the question should be: to what extent can I use this book in my channel without breaking the YouTube copyright regulations?
Remember that original work is important to the creator and you have to respect their intellectual property rights.
Still it is sometimes possible to use copyrighted material without infringing on the owners’ rights. Before we get into this, we should understand a few concepts about copyright.
Simply put, fair use is a set of exceptions to copyright restrictions. It’s like an open backdoor into a locked room.
These exceptions allow people to use copyrighted material without attracting the ire of copyright police. The fair use lines are, however, blurred, and sometimes it takes a judge to define whether a particular case is a fair use or a violation of copyrights.
To be on the safe side, if possible, get a lawyer to look at your content if you can. Note that the information given here does not constitute legal advice.
Some common guidelines usually given when considering whether something is fair use are:
What You Are Doing With the Content
If you are going to change the content substantially, you may fall into the fair use category. For example, parodies can get away with using copyrighted material, because they change the original content by ridiculing it.
Sometimes parodies even generate more views for the original content. Mashups of songs involve combining different songs in a creative way to make up a relatively new song, so they can also fall under fair use as they significantly change the original versions.
Criticisms or reviews of books or movies can also be fair use provided the critic uses very short clips of what they are reviewing.
The same goes for giving a video or book tutorial with commentaries. However, it all still boils down to creators. They can still complain to YouTube if they feel that their rights have been infringed on. If you aren’t so sure, ask a lawyer.
The Nature of the Content
Non-fictional or factual material is more frequently allowable under fair use than fictional, original material.
How much of the Original Material you are Using
You should use just enough of the material to make your point. Too much would be a violation.
Still, according to YouTube, sometimes even a small amount of the original work can be considered a violation if it constitutes the very core of the work.
For example, if you wrote a work of fiction based on a powerful evil ring that must be destroyed, you would be using the central theme of JRR Tolkien’s entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, even if your story is completely different.
Will it Substitute the Original?
If your work will lead to reduced sales or views of the original material it will definitely be considered as an infringement and will not be protected under fair use.
As mentioned earlier, fair use is complicated. Videos that have complied with fair use can still get reported for infringement and the uploader usually has to defend their work. They have to be really sure of their case.
Some myths about fair use exist and it is important not to get taken in by them in order to avoid an infringement claim.
It’s not Infringement if I Give Credit
Crediting the original creator does not protect you from copyright violation. This cannot be your only claim to your video’s eligibility.
Still, even if your work falls under fair use and is not an infringement, it’s always good to credit the original creator.
It’s Alright if I Use Less Than 30 Seconds of Copyrighted Material
There is no specific amount of duration of content used given for something to fall under fair use. As mentioned earlier, it just has to be reasonable.
It’s Not Fair use if I’m making money out of it
As long as your content falls under fair use, you can still make money out of it.
It’s Fair Use If It’s Only For Entertainment or For Non-Profit
This does not automatically give you fair use status. A court will look at each situation before deciding, always with the interests of the content owner in mind.
If your content reduces the creator’s target audience it won’t matter whether or not you intend to profit from it. Out it will go.
Adding My Original Material to Someone Else’s Copyrighted Work Makes It Fair Use
Adding some original material of your own to someone else’s work does not automatically make it fair use. This is because it still may not substantially change the original, and may in fact make it look worse, hence affecting the creator’s target market or reputation.
I can Decide Fair Use for Myself
Fair use has many grey areas, so it would be risky to push your boundaries as this may get you into trouble with YouTube.
In certain cases, however, when copyright owners demand for videos to be taken down, YouTube protects the content creator under fair use guidelines, for the purposes of encouraging creativity and educating on fair use. This video is an example of such a case.
So, Can I Use Books on my YouTube Channel?
When YouTube was formed, it was originally meant to be a content sharing platform. For years, users uploaded videos containing both original content and content owned by third parties.
Although this attracted a lot of backlash from creators, it took quite some time for YouTube to develop its copyright policy. In the meantime, many people became famous for videos that contained third party content.
One example is Alex Day, who would post videos of himself reading large chunks of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight books and making funny and sometimes derisive comments about them.
A blatant copyright violation.
His videos eventually got taken down once the platform’s copyright policies came into effect. These policies changed how people uploaded content about books as they could no longer read out texts without violating the policy. Even if they credited the authors.
However, some channels have managed to maintain their success. KidTimeStoryTime and Brightly Stories are two such examples.
Their success is due to the fact that they have collaborated with the copyright owners when producing their content. Both channels do read-along of books on their videos but with consent and in collaboration with publishers or authors of the books they feature.
It then becomes a win-win situation.
The channel can make money from the content they use, and the copyright owners benefit through the marketing of their books.
What Happens If I’m Accused of Copyright Infringement?
One of two things can happen if you violate someone’s copyright. These are discussed in the lines to follow.
Content ID Claim
Companies that own copyrights like music and film production companies issue Content ID for all the material they produce. This enables them to quickly identify their content on YouTube. YouTube has a system that scans every video uploaded against an existing database submitted by copyright owners.
If a match is found, YouTube will automatically file a copyright claim for the original content owner. If it was a mistake on your part, you can appeal on those grounds to YouTube. Still, the final verdict will lie with the copyright holder.
If they insist and can prove you have infringed their copyright, you will have to take down the video, or have it taken down by YouTube.
Some content ID claims will only prevent material from being available in some parts of the YouTube community, or may allow it to remain on the platform but insist on directing any revenue earned by the video to the copyright owner rather than the uploader.
Sometimes the phrase “included copyrighted content” will be displayed with the video to track the video but not actually block it. It also does not negatively affect your YouTube status.
You’ll know of a claim against you in the copyright notice section of your channel’s video manager. In some cases, you get notified via email.
This happens when a copyright owner notifies YouTube of a copyright violation with legal consequences. If the complaint satisfies all legal requirements, YouTube takes down the video.
The video will display the phrase “Video taken down: copyright strike”. If you get three copyright strikes, you get a lifetime ban from YouTube. Yikes. Worse, even after that, you would not be able to recover your videos.
Once you get a copyright strike, YouTube requires you to take a short course and do a quiz on copyright regulations to refresh your memory. Something else to note is that a strike doesn’t last forever.
It usually lapses after six months, and once that happens your slate is clean. Still, you don’t want to have a reputation as a copyright violator. Lastly, you can still negotiate with the copyright owner to keep your video up with certain conditions, such as limiting viewership in certain regions.
Always keep in mind that the YouTube algorithm is very good at finding copyright violations, including something as simple as background music.
Although you can licence music much easier with companies like LickD who have a wide library of tracks to use – check out their site.
So even if the original owner doesn’t notice it, YouTube definitely will.
To have good standing in the YouTube community, make sure you avoid getting caught on the wrong side of this law. It’s usually fairly easy to get permission from a content owner to use their content if you ask nicely and can prove that your use of their content will not in any way hinder the distribution of their work.
So go ahead and make those books, but be careful, and remember, when in doubt, ask a lawyer.