Can someone honestly check out my YouTube channel

YouTube & Co .: What am I allowed to do and what not?

the essentials in brief

  • "Accessories", "private copies", "right to quote" - have you ever heard of it?
  • Here we explain what is okay in online videos under German copyright law and where you can get problems.
  • And if the text and our videos don't answer your questions, we'll be happy to help you via the comments below.

What am I even allowed to upload?

The decisive factor is who made the film or who owns the rights to it. The person then has the copyright to the piece and can exploit the piece in any form. Uploading it to YouTube is also a type of exploitation. If you're not completely sure that this applies to you, you'd better leave it alone. And in practice this usually means: No TV recordings, no films or film parts sucked somewhere, etc. - basically you are only allowed to upload what you have shot yourself.


Can I freely choose the music in films I have made?

The background music used is also relevant in terms of copyright law, because you also have to have the rights to it. So you can't just add your favorite songs to the pictures and then upload them! So you have to take your own music or have permission to do so. Music with a so-called "Creative Commons" license can be a good solution here - more on this here! If you use YouTube, you can add music to the audio track that YouTube has made available to you while editing your video in the editor.


The video is still deactivated so that no unwanted data transfer to YouTube takes place. To activate, please click on the link! This is used to transmit data about the type, scope and purpose of which we cannot provide any information.
View video

Is it a copyright issue if there are posters or other proprietary images in the background of my movie?

As long as these things only appear randomly in the video and are absolutely interchangeable because they have no added value in any form for the video, they are not relevant as an accessory under copyright law. You can find more on the topic at irights.info, among others.


Doesn't it matter who can be seen in my own films?

The right of personality is important for this question - i.e. who is shown in the film and how. Because everyone who appears in such a film should also agree to it - e.g. nobody can be recognizable in the picture without having been asked. It is best to explain to the filmed person where they will be published and get their consent in writing!

There is an exception when people in the pictures are only "accessories", so it is not about them at all, but just happens to be walking past the camera on the street. This can be complicated in detail; You can find more information at irights.info, among others.


The video is still deactivated so that no unwanted data transfer to YouTube takes place. To activate, please click on the link! This is used to transmit data about the type, scope and purpose of which we cannot provide any information.
View video

Which videos can I include / "embed" on the Internet?

The European Court of Justice (ECJ), the highest court in the EU, ruled in October 2014 that video embedding is basically okay. The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) also sees it that way in a judgment of July 9, 2015. But there is the restriction that the video must be legally on YouTube or other platforms that allow integration. The ruling of the European Court of Justice also prohibits the inclusion of an obviously pirated copy and thus disseminating it. And if you don't want your video to be seen anywhere else, you can prohibit embedding for each individual file on YouTube. But be careful: The mere possibility of embedding says nothing about whether you are allowed to do so - just because the code for it is offered on YouTube with the help of the "Embed" button, for example, does not mean that this is also permitted under copyright law.


The video is still deactivated so that no unwanted data transfer to YouTube takes place. To activate, please click on the link! This is used to transmit data about the type, scope and purpose of which we cannot provide any information.
View video

Can even watching a video be illegal?

According to a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), yes, but not across the board. The decision was made on a special constellation: Specifically, it was about a media box that could stream illegal content from stored Internet links onto a television and was specially advertised with this feature. The judgment leads to the conclusion that watching a stream on the computer can also be problematic if (and now comes the but) the user knows that the content clearly violates copyright law. This is of course the case with current movies or free football broadcasts that actually cost money.

If you should accidentally come across a site that offers such streams, this is not a problem - as long as no stream is started. The ECJ declared the mere viewing of such sites to be harmless some time ago.


The video is still deactivated so that no unwanted data transfer to YouTube takes place. To activate, please click on the link! This is used to transmit data about the type, scope and purpose of which we cannot provide any information.
View video

Can I download videos from YouTube or just the audio track?

It depends on who uploaded the film. Because downloading or saving something for yourself is legal as long as the source (i.e. the video) is legally on YouTube. Then that would be the same as recording a song on the radio and thus ok for private purposes. Only that with the "legal" is often difficult to recognize. In the obviously illegal cases, you should definitely leave it (complete movie before the cinema release, etc.). All in all, there is little to fear in practice, as nobody can ask that you, as a private user, do long research. But you should take a look at the terms of use of video platforms. YouTube, for example, prohibits the downloading and recording of the videos unless you have written permission from YouTube. If you violate this, YouTube can block your account.

But beware: The distribution / publication of such a video file would again be absolutely illegal! But if you are only interested in music anyway, you can - from a purely copyright point of view - only save the audio track of the video as mp3 with the help of the appropriate software. But that would also be a violation of YouTube's own rules. Or you can make recordings on online radio stations. Here too, however, the following applies: No publication, just to listen to!


The video is still deactivated so that no unwanted data transfer to YouTube takes place. To activate, please click on the link! This is used to transmit data about the type, scope and purpose of which we cannot provide any information.
View video

Can I upload concert recordings that I have made myself?

No, at concerts it is often not even possible to make a "private copy" for your own purposes, because the organizer can forbid such recordings under domestic law - which most people do. In this respect, even the many cell phones that are held up for recording at concerts usually violate applicable copyright law.


Can I cut excerpts from other videos into my own?

This is only possible in very specific cases, namely when you deal with these scenes in your video. That allows Right to quote, i.e. Section 51 of the Copyright Act (UrhG). But this has very narrow limits:

  • First of all, the film from which the excerpt is being taken must have been released legally. If this is already a pirated copy, a legal quote is out of the question.
  • In addition, your own presentation must also contain your own performance. The stringing together of foreign quotations is not sufficient for this.
  • The most important requirement, however, is the purpose of the quotation. The presentation must have its own statement, which is only substantiated or underpinned by the film excerpt.

Example: You want to tell the world how great you think the acting skills of a particular Hollywood star are in their latest flick. To do this, you take part of the trailer that the film distribution company makes available in the press area of ​​their website, for example, and say something about the scene in your video. That would be okay if the quoted video can be recognized as such and you clearly state the source and name the author. It would not be okay, without the consent of the film company, to simply compose scenes from trailers without comment.

The film excerpt may not only serve to replace or complete your own explanations. So it shouldn't be included in the presentation just because it's so beautiful and you always wanted to show it to others. Also, only as much of the foreign film may be shown as is absolutely necessary to support your own statement.


Craft tips

In self-study programs and webinars at the Landesanstalt für Medien (LfM) you can find out how your clips can be really good. You can find everything in the Medienbox NRW.


(Wi / hamo)