As the video-hosting website, YouTube, gained popularity over the years, the question of who owned the content that was being uploaded by users was brought into question, and further, the site’s rights in relation to the usage of those intellectual properties. In order to more readily answer these questions, and the arising complications alongside them over the years, YouTube has included the answers in their Terms of Service (YouTube, 2010), underneath ‘your content and conduct’.

The content and conduct section of YouTube’s terms of service can be further split into succinct parts, the first which outlines the user’s responsibility to the confidentiality of their content, and all materials used therein (subsection A and B, depicted in figure 1), any and all rights YouTube has to the content you have posted on their site (subsection C, depicted in figure 2), and finally, your agreement that by posting the content, that you have the legal right to all materials used in the content (subsection D, E, and F). For the purpose of this post, we will only be reviewing subsections A, B and C.

Figure 1
Figure 1: Section 6, Subsection A and B of YouTube’s ‘Terms of Service’, YouTube,

Addressing section 6 of YouTube’s terms of service part by part, the first two subsections outline two pieces of key information; Firstly, that YouTube does not guarantee the confidentiality of the content you upload to their site, and secondly, that you, the user, hold sole responsibility for the content you upload. It also states that through the submission of this content, that you confirm that you have full legal rights in the use of that content.

Figure 2: Section 6, Subsection C of YouTube's Terms of Services, YouTube,
Figure 2: Section 6, Subsection C of YouTube’s Terms of Services, YouTube,

The next subsection, subsection C, clarifies and outlines your rights to the content you have submitted, answering for many the specifics of who owns the content you have submitted to their site. Explicitly, the section starts with the clarification that you, the user, retain all rights to content you have uploaded. However, the section doesn’t end there, as an Article on The Guardian titled ‘Who owns the content you upload online?’ (Osborne, H, Mohamed, J. 2012) explains “… When you leave YouTube it retains the right to keep copies of your content on its servers.” In effect, what this subsection outlines is that YouTube reserves all the same rights as the creator, short of turning over rights to the intellectual property to them. (ReelSEO. 2011) It also, thereon, gives the right to other users to utilize, and view, the content you have created so long as their use obeys YouTube’s guidelines.

This ultimately means that the content, and the rights to that content, belong to the creator, with YouTube maintaining only the legal right to use the content so long as it is in relation to the company, or its affiliates.

So with the knowledge of your rights’ to the content you create on YouTube, the question of how YouTube helps you manage your content comes into play. With their video managing service, the site facilitates their users in the creation of video contents, provided they have access to a suitable camera. The sidebar present when you enter this service (depicted in figure 3) also helps the user to navigate their options, with an array of instructional videos present on the site to help you make the most of their video manager (YouTube Help, 2015).

Figure 3: YouTube's creator studio sidebar, YouTube,
Figure 3: YouTube’s creator studio sidebar, YouTube,

Through the video management service, users are able to give a definition to the video, give it relevant tags of what the video is about, set in advance when a video is going to come out, as well as edit and/or add effects to the content they wish to upload.

Despite any complications in regards to ownership of content, the control over your content that you maintain, as well as the assistance in video editing and management, with the advice offered on the site itself, has ultimately made YouTube a highly popular choice for many when it comes to video mediums.


Osborne, H, Mohamed, J. 2012. Who owns the content you upload online?. [ONLINE] The Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 26 July 15].

ReelSEO. 2011. YouTube Ownership, Copyrights, Licensing – Who Owns Your YouTube Video?. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 July 15].

YouTube. 2010. Terms of Service. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 July 15].

YouTube. 2006. YouTube Video Manager. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 26 July 15].

YouTube Help. 2015. Add special effects to your YouTube videos . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 25 July 15].