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Copyright & Patents/can I share this downloaded youtube video?


QUESTION: 1. I downloaded a copy of a documentary on near death experiences that was on 6 months ago for my own private watching. Now I discover that the people in charge of youtube have removed it due to copyright reasons. Is it a violation for me to watch this film that I have on my computer hard drive for my own private watching ? I do not want to break the law.

2. I wrote an article 6 months ago that referred to this video documentary and indeed included a link to it on Since it is no longer on and I would like to email my article to someone who needs to read it, I have uploaded this video on my Google drive. Google drive is a very convenient way of letting the person you email the opportunity to watch a long video that you want to share with him. If I do this will it be a violation? Will it be a violation if I want to share this video with 2 persons?

Please reply as soon as possible. I thank you.


ANSWER: Trigan

Several exclusive rights typically attach to the holder of a copyright:

The copyright holder has the exclusive right;
to produce copies or reproductions of the work and to sell those copies (including, typically, electronic copies)
to import or export the work
to create derivative works (works that adapt the original work)
to perform or display the work publicly
to sell or assign these rights to others
to transmit or display by radio or video.

The phrase "exclusive right" means that only the copyright holder is free to exercise these rights and others are prohibited from using the work without the copyright holder's permission.

However, "fair use" is a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work. Under U.S. copyright law, fair use is a doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. Examples of fair use include commentary, search engines, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship. It provides for the legal, unlicensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author's work under a four-factor balancing test.

The fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of a copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Trigan, it would appear that your use is a "fair use" under U.S. law, but you should seek the advice of counsel to confirm this informal opinion.

Good luck with your project and I hope that this helps.

Best regards.

  --Gerald R. Black
    Attorney and Counselor

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you Gerald for your answer and moral support. I could not find a forum in English that deals specifically with Google Drive. So I will post my case to youtube forum and hope their expert will allow me to do this.
Some questions which are puzzling me. People buy DVD recorders to record educational documentaries as well as non-educational films that they watch on TV for their own private watching. Is this a violation? If so, how come these recorders are sold in stores?
If I download a copy of a film on for my own private watching. Is this a violation?


I regret not responding to you sooner.
Your question of sharing the video is difficult to answer without knowing your intent.
If your intent to forward the video, once or twice.  That should not be a problem if you advise those receiving it that it is being sent under the "fair use" exception of the U.S. copyright law, and use of the video is subject to copyright protection.
If your intent of sharing the video is widespread dissemination, this would be a violation of the copyright.
Best regards,
 --Gerald R. Black
   Attorney and Counselor  

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Gerald R. Black


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Registered to practice before the U.S. Patent Office Admitted to Practice Law in Michigan, California, and Ohio

Capital University Law School - JD University of Cincinnati - BSME

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