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Lawyer Answers – Does YouTube Have Ownership of My Content?

August 15, 2023

A client asked me how best to protect their content on the internet. After a little more conversation with them I was able to understand that what they really wanted to know was who owned their content on YouTube after they uploaded it onto the platform. Did YouTube have ownership of their content or did they?

As a content creator myself, I can certainly understand their concerns. You can find my content on most socials and specifically on  YouTube at A. Browne, Esq.  While I knew the answer, I also wanted to show the client where to find those details, so we went directly to the source- YouTube Content Creator Terms and Conditions. The Terms and Conditions are linked here if you would like to take a look at them for yourself. At the date of this posting YouTube these terms had been in effect since January 5, 2022. Always check with the service provider for updates to terms and conditions or seek counsel if you are unsure. This is the point in a meeting where I would offer an entire commentary on the importance of having well written terms and conditions for your own website and also the importance of reading the terms and conditions as you sign up for things, but that wasn’t the question asked here, so I will save that for another day.  In short, the answer is you own the rights to your content and also the responsibilities. YouTube does not retain ownership to your channel content but the long more legal and detailed answer is, while you do own your content you also grant a list of rights to YouTube and to other users of YouTube simply by adding that content on the service. I also asked Bard for an answer. If you didn’t know, Bard is Google’s AI tool similar to ChatGPT. In my mind this makes Bard’s YouTubes cousin since they are both Google products. Bard is still in experiment stage, but does a good job returning information that is direct and to the point.  I’d recommend you check Bard out when you have time but as with any AI tool always check the answers to ensure they are factual.

Bards response to the question does YouTube own my content was something like this:

When you upload content to YouTube, you retain the copyright to your content. However, you also grant YouTube a non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicensable and transferable license to use your content in certain ways. This means that YouTube can:

Reproduce your content on their website and other platforms.

Distribute your content to other users.

Prepare derivative works of your content, such as creating clips or remixes.

Display your content on their website and other platforms.

Perform your content on their website and other platforms.

YouTube can use your content for these purposes in connection with their business, which includes promoting and redistributing part or all of the service.

It is important to note that this license is non-exclusive, which means that you can still use your content in other ways. For example, you can still upload your content to other websites or use it in your own projects. You can also revoke this license at any time by deleting your content from YouTube.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind about copyright and YouTube:

If you use content that belongs to someone else in your video, you may need to obtain their permission first. This is especially important if you are using copyrighted music or footage. That lends itself to my earlier comment on responsibilities.


I think it is very important to note that YouTube makes it clear within the Terms of Service that you are legally responsible for anything you post. The content you upload must be yours alone. That means unless you have permission or some other legal right do not use someone else’s copyrighted material. If you were to be infringing on someone else’s rights with your upload you not YouTube would have to deal with any possible repercussions. 

If you need a copyright attorney or advice on this, feel free to contact my office for assistance. I do hope this helps! And if you have not already head over to my YouTube channel for video content you might enjoy.

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