Can I Use YouTube Videos In My Online Course?

YouTube is a veritable cornucopia of informative and educational content, with much of it having the added bonus of being entertaining at the same time. It’s no wonder, then, that many people are looking to use YouTube videos in their online courses, but is that allowed?

As always, the answer to this question will be dramatically different depending on the circumstances in which you are using a YouTube video. There is no rule in YouTube’s terms of use that specifically prohibits the use of YouTube videos in online courses… but there are rules that indirectly make it impossible to do so.

We’re going to get into this, so make yourself a beverage and get comfortable.

Online Courses?

Online courses. They are a great way to impart knowledge and generate some extra revenue. If you are already sharing your wisdom on YouTube, putting together an online course is a natural extension of that, and one that can be very lucrative.

That being said, putting together an online course can be a lot of work, so it will make things a lot easier if you can use some of the content you have already created.

According to Mordor Intelligence, the online courses industry was worth $6,845 million last year.

Using My Own YouTube Videos In Online Courses

There is absolutely no conflict here. You own the copyright on any videos you upload to YouTube, and you are permitted to download your own videos from the site without breaking any of YouTube’s terms, so you can still use your YouTube videos even if you have lost the original files and the only copy exists on YouTube.

If you have the original files, however, YouTube needn’t be a factor at all. You own the rights to the content and you have the files already. In this case, it has nothing to do with YouTube.

Can I Use YouTube Videos On My Website? 2

Should I Use My YouTube Videos In Online Courses?

So, we’ve established that you can use your YouTube videos, but the next question is should you use them? We can certainly recommend leveraging your existing content to make life a little easier, but you need to consider what you’re putting in your online course.

If your course is just a collection of your existing YouTube content, it will severely reduce the potential revenue your course can generate since users can head over to your YouTube channel and watch it for free. You could take the relevant videos down from your channel, but then they would no longer be generating YouTube revenue for you. Every case is different, of course, but we’re willing to bet that if you’re considering turning your YouTube videos into an online course, they were doing pretty well on your channel.

Using Other People’s YouTube Videos In Online Courses

Here’s where things get a little trickier. Firstly, if you don’t have the permission of the YouTuber whose content it is, there is no way to use that content without breaking a YouTube policy or, more importantly, a law.

YouTube does not permit you to download YouTube videos unless it is through the YouTube app as part of YouTube Premium’s offline watching feature. While it is possible to download YouTube videos using third-party apps, this would be a violation of the terms of use and could see you suspended or banned from the platform if caught. This means that the only way to use the videos without breaking YouTube’s terms is to have the original video files from somewhere. The most obvious place, of course, being from the original creator… which will be hard to do if you do not have their permission to use the video files.

If you decide to go ahead and download the video files regardless—or if you were able to obtain those video files through some other means—and you use the content in your online course without the explicit permission of the creator, you could find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit.

The best-case scenario if you do this and the original creator notices is that they put in a copyright violation against you with the service that is hosting your online course and that course gets taken down. However, as we mentioned above, online courses are very lucrative, and if the original creator suspects you have made a good amount of money from their content, they may decide to pursue you for their share.

Realistically speaking, this shouldn’t be a concern. While there is a lot of money to be made in online courses, the vast majority of course creators will not be making the kind of money that warrants legal action. It simply wouldn’t be worth the legal expenses. But they probably would get your course taken down, putting an end to any earning potential, and they might even make the matter public, dragging your reputation down. This can be a serious problem if you are a successful YouTuber with a brand to look after.

Public Domain YouTube Channels for Free Footage

Linking to YouTube Videos

What we have discussed so far is concerned with including the YouTube content itself in your course, but what about linking from your course to other videos? This is a perfectly acceptable way to incorporate YouTube content since you are only linking to it. It is then up to YouTube and the creator what they do with that incoming traffic. If the video is publicly available, the creator can’t complain about people watching it. And, if it is not publicly available, the incoming traffic will simply be told that the content is unavailable.

Final Thoughts

Online courses represent a great way to share your wisdom while getting paid for the privilege. They are a form of passive income since you make the course once and it will continue to generate revenue as long as it has relevant and valuable information for potential students to learn.

Using your existing YouTube content is a good way to lighten the workload, but be wary of putting too much of your YouTube content into your course, as it will just leave students wondering why they didn’t just go to your YouTube channel and save some money.

Top 5 Tools To Get You Started on YouTube

Very quickly before you go here are 5 amazing tools I have used every day to grow my YouTube channel from 0 to 30K subscribers in the last 12 months that I could not live without.

1. VidIQ helps boost my views and get found in search

I almost exclusively switched to VidIQ from a rival in 2020.

Within 12 months I tripled the size of my channel and very quickly learnt the power of thumbnails, click through rate and proper search optimization. Best of all, they are FREE!

2. Adobe Creative Suite helps me craft amazing looking thumbnails and eye-catching videos

I have been making youtube videos on and off since 2013.

When I first started I threw things together in Window Movie Maker, cringed at how it looked but thought “that’s the best I can do so it’ll have to do”.

Big mistake!

I soon realized the move time you put into your editing and the more engaging your thumbnails are the more views you will get and the more people will trust you enough to subscribe.

That is why I took the plunge and invested in my editing and design process with Adobe Creative Suite. They offer a WIDE range of tools to help make amazing videos, simple to use tools for overlays, graphics, one click tools to fix your audio and the very powerful Photoshop graphics program to make eye-catching thumbnails.

Best of all you can get a free trial for 30 days on their website, a discount if you are a student and if you are a regular human being it starts from as little as £9 per month if you want to commit to a plan.

3. helps people read my videos

You can’t always listen to a video.

Maybe you’re on a bus, a train or sat in a living room with a 5 year old singing baby shark on loop… for HOURS. Or, you are trying to make as little noise as possible while your new born is FINALLY sleeping.

This is where Rev can help you or your audience consume your content on the go, in silence or in a language not native to the video. can help you translate your videos, transcribe your videos, add subtitles and even convert those subtitles into other languages – all from just $1.50 per minute.

A GREAT way to find an audience and keep them hooked no matter where they are watching your content.

4. PlaceIT can help you STAND OUT on YouTube

I SUCK at making anything flashy or arty.

I have every intention in the world to make something that looks cool but im about as artistic as a dropped ice-cream cone on the web windy day.

That is why I could not live on YouTube without someone like PlaceIT. They offer custom YouTube Banners, Avatars, YouTube Video Intros and YouTube End Screen Templates that are easy to edit with simple click, upload wizard to help you make amazing professional graphics in minutes.

Best of all, some of their templates are FREE! or you can pay a small fee if you want to go for their slightly more premium designs (pst – I always used the free ones).

5. StoryBlocks helps me add amazing video b-roll cutaways

I mainly make tutorials and talking head videos.

And in this modern world this can be a little boring if you don’t see something funky every once in a while.

I try with overlays, jump cuts and being funny but my secret weapon is b-roll overlay content.

I can talk about skydiving, food, money, kids, cats – ANYTHING I WANT – with a quick search on the StoryBlocks website I can find a great looking clip to overlay on my videos, keeping them entertained and watching for longer.

They have a wide library of videos, graphics, images and even a video maker tool and it wont break the bank with plans starting from as little as £8.25 ($9) per month.