Tuesday, June 13, 2006


The Billy Bragg fuelled investigation of MySpace's terms and condition has prompted a closer look at the terms on which you get YouTube to host stuff.

It's not a pretty deal:

In its Terms & Conditions, the wildly popular video sharing site YouTube emphasizes that "you retain all of your ownership rights in your User Submissions".

There's quite a large "BUT...", however. Not only does YouTube retain the right to create derivative works, but so do the users, and so too, does YouTube's successor company. Since YouTube has all the hallmarks of a very shortlived business - it's burned through $11.5m of venture investment (Sequoia Capital is the fall guy here) and has no revenue channels - this is more pertinent than may appear.

The license that you grant YouTube is worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable. The simplest way to terminate it is by withdrawing your video. But even this is problematic, as OpenTV's Nathan Freitas wrote recently:

"It is good to know that if you delete a video from YouTube, then the rights you have granted them terminate. However, once they have distributed your video 'in any media format and through any media channel', that’s a little hard to take back, right?"

Of course, since 89% of stuff on YouTube is ripped from old VHS tapes and thrown up by people who, strictly speaking, aren't in a position to waive copyright rights in this way, the whole thing has the makings of a future Jarndyce v Jardyce style court-case to the death. But we wouldn't recommend uploading the cartoon you're hoping will win you an animated short Oscar.