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Are YouTube Videos Public Domain?

There is a huge library of content available on YouTube today. Being one of the most popular media-sharing platforms on the Internet, YouTube is a massive hit.

And with loads of videos being uploaded daily, a lot of legal securities are put in place.

So, with that being said, do YouTube videos really classify as public domain?

Are YouTube Videos Public Domain?

The simple answer is no, YouTube videos are not public domain. Most of the time, uploaded content by users online tends to be protected by copyright laws.

But this always depends if the video’s creator decides that their content is public domain. Usually, new videos come with YouTube’s Standard License.

It’s common knowledge that most of the videos on YouTube are user-generated. This means that most of the platform’s content is provided by its users.

With this in mind, it’s common to assume that these videos are public domain. But it’s not truth, YouTube protect its creators by protecting the content they upload, so it’s normal for people to misinterpret what “public domain” means.

To help you clarify it, we will explain the definition of public domain below. Let’s get down to it.

What Are Public Domain Videos?

Public domain means that a particular content or media is free to distribute. Videos that fall under the public domain are not protected by relevant laws such as copyright and patents. Essentially, public-domain videos can easily be shared and used for any purpose without any penalty.

Public Domain Videos

Making a video fall under the public domain is possible under several parameters. For example, when the creator has decided for the video to be in the public domain. Another situation is when rights to the video have been waived.

There are more intricate legal terms to explain how a YouTube video is included in the public domain. However, to simplify things, YouTube is still working on making the process of identifying public domain videos smoother. So, it’s likely that extra research is needed to sort out which videos are public domain.

Types Of YouTube Video Licenses

YouTube Standard License

The default licensing option that YouTube offers to its creators is the Standard License. In this license, the uploader consents that YouTube holds the rights to broadcast the content.

The Standard License also protects creators by giving them exclusive rights to their content. This means sharing and distributing the video without the uploader’s consent is prohibited.

YouTube Standard License

With the millions of videos uploaded on YouTube, realistically, the Standard License’s protection is not invincible. Every now and then, some videos get through copyright protection. But sometimes, it depends on several factors, such as the influence of the uploader and the YouTube channel’s overall standing.

Creative Commons License

Another license option that YouTubers can choose is the Creative Commons License. In this setup, YouTube videos are 100% free and can easily be shared and distributed.

Going into further detail, the CC BY license, to be exact, is the acceptable option for YouTube. Videos under this license can be reproduced and modified even for commercial purposes. Essentially making the video public domain.


To sum it up, YouTube videos are not entirely public domain. A lot of laws such as copyright and licenses are put in place to protect users on the platform. The content becomes public domain when the owner explicitly decides to make it free to use.

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Author : Kelsey

Hey! I'm Kelsey, I have been working in marketing for a few years now, but I always had a passion for social media and creating content. After growing my personal following, I was able to start branding myself as an influencer and work with brands on their marketing campaigns. It’s been great getting to know other people with similar passions and connecting with them.

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