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socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
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Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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I recently decided to start a website (still under

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I recently decided to start a website (still under development) with the objective of inspiring others. My model is similar to that of www.worldstarhiphop.com, without all the negativity. The focus will be on aggregating positive, and inspiring content, across the web to share with others in hopes of providing inspiration.
While generally researching online video aggregation, I noticed that depending on certain variables, a site that aggregates video content (and places it on the site), may result in copyright infringement violations. Thus, I wanted to reach out to someone knowledgeable in IP law to ask a few questions for clarity.
My questions are as follows:
Can I legally have a site, that aggregates video content across the web, and run ads on the site to generate revenue?
- www.Worldstarhiphop.com has been doing this since 2003
- If not, how is it that Worldstarhiphop.com conducts business?
- Here is a note from their terms of service: "WSHH is for your general information, entertainment and non-commercial use only. The website is subject to change without notice."
- It says "non-commercial" use, but they run multiple ads for revenue generation. Does this mean there is a way to do this? Can I do the same?
- http://www.worldstarhiphop.com/videos/terms.php
Possible options IF the aforementioned isn't feasible:
- If I can't legally have a video aggregation site, and collect ad revenue from ads placed on pages with videos I don't own, would I be able to remove the ads (across the entire site) and rather collect revenue from those that pay me directly to list their directly owned content (e.g. conference video, public speaker, etc.)?
- Would this be considered "Fair Use"?
- If I can't collect ad/content (paid video postings) revenue at all, and I choose to conduct the site without generating revenue at first, if I chose to create my own custom content/videos in the future, could I then use the platform to start generating revenue with ONLY my custom content?
- If I choose to not collect any revenue from the site AT ALL (under any case), and another opportunity presents itself, outside of directly using the website (e.g. create another site/idea - and leverage this sites user base to drive traffic to the new site, tell my own personal story for speaking engagements (marketing to the audience on this site, etc.). Would that be a conflict of interest, and thus deem this site for "commercial use" and open to copyright infringement?
At the end of the day, I really just want to inspire others, but to be able to generate revenue doing something I love would be nice. So whether I make money or not, I just want to make sure I continue this project without worry of lawsuits.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I also read online that embedding a video from youtube on your website, doesn't lend itself to copyright infringement. Because the person that uploads the video to youtube agrees (through their terms of agree) that it can be shared (see quote below). Is this true?"YouTube Video Permission and RightsThe youTube TOS states the following -You also hereby grant each user of the Service a non-exclusive license to access your Content through the Service, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such Content as permitted through the functionality of the Service and under these Terms of Service. ~~ [youTube TOS part 6C]This clearly states that the owner of the video grants you a limited license to embed the video simply by leaving the embed option on (which is part of the functionality of the youTube Service).However, there is another wrinkle to this youTube copyright infringement issue - what if the uploader of the youTube video does not own the rights to the video?"Reference:
https://turbofuture.com/internet/Embed-YouTube-Videos---Copyright-Infringement
Expert:  socrateaser replied 8 months ago.

Hello,

The key to avoiding infringement claims is to provide links to other websites, rather than to embed the video into your own website. You can provide a short description of the linked material. Google and Yahoo, by example, will provide the first paragraph of news article text, and then a "read more" link to the news organization that is producing the actual news article.

A "thumbnail" (small picture of the video) can also be utilized. But, not a full-size copy.

Also, your website must be configured as an aggregator, in the same manner as a search engine, because it is the "search engine" quality that creates what is known as a "transformative work." And a transformative work, is by definition, new, and not subject to the copyright of any previous owner.

The classic example here is an artist who takes numerous illustrations and photos from commercial advertisements, and then collects them into a montage with the intent to express a different idea about the materialistic nature of society. That's a transformative work. Whereas, the same montage, if intended for use by a competing business to show that its products are superior to those in the montage, would be copyright infringement.

Consequently, intent matters.

Note: Just because a work may be transformative does not automatically protect you from being sued for infringement. Only a U.S. District Court can adjudge the transformative nature of a work of art. And, until that judgment occurs, you can spend a load of money trying to defend yourself. The better course of action is always to try to obtain a license from the organizations whose works you choose to utilize.

If you won't or can't do this, then you may want to consider purchasing insurance. There are also some volunteer lawyers for the arts organizations that may help if you are actually threatened or sued.

You will have to weigh the benefits vs. risks, because there's no perfect means of protecting yourself. And, sometimes, you will just make an error, and find yourself up against a particularly hostile opponent.

I hope I've answered your question. Please let me know if you require further clarification. And, please provide a positive feedback rating for my answer (click 3, 4 or 5 stars) -- otherwise, I receive nothing for my efforts in your behalf.

Thanks again for using Justanswer!

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thanks. Did you see my comment about embedding, and the terms of service from you tube? Does that make a difference?I absolutely need to embed the video for my site model - like workdstarhiphop.com.Is there specific content that doesn't present an issue when embedded? Like news clips, etc.?
Expert:  socrateaser replied 8 months ago.

If there are terms of service at the website, that's like a "caution sign." You're being told what the website is willing to tolerate, and where you may find yourself in the "danger zone."

Certain classes of use are considered "fair use" under the U.S. Copyright Act (Section 107): "criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright."

Keeping your efforts within the scope of the above will provide some reduced risk. Again, however, there is no perfect solution. Unfortunately, short of hiring a full-time intellectual property lawyer to review everything you do -- or, alternatively, producing all of your own work so that you're not copying anyone, there is always a risk.

Think about how Google runs its search engine. It doesn't differentiate between things that may be subject to fair use or other copyright law doctrines. It treats everything as fair game and counts on the aggregation qualities of the search engine as a tool intended to permit searching the work of others to protect Google from liability for infringement. And, this has worked, because Google has won all of the lawsuits that have tried to undermine the search engine.

But, understand, too, that Google has been sued numerous times. Which is why I cannot give you a bulletproof solution (also, because I'm not your lawyer, I can only provide general legal education -- not specific legal advice).

If you absolutely need to embed video, then you will need a license from those organizations whose work you will embed. If you don't have a license, then you're near certain to be sued by someone.

You are comparing yourself to www.worldstarhiphop.com. That site accepts submissions of videos. Presumably, if someone submits a video, then they are the owner and are consenting to its use. So, I think that your example website may be different than your intended use.

That's about as far as I can go in this forum. If you need more specificity, then I can send you a premium services offer, and we can take this offline. Please let me know if you're interested.

And if not, then I hope I've answered your question. Please let me know if you require further clarification. And, please provide a positive feedback rating for my answer (click 3, 4 or 5 stars) -- otherwise, I receive nothing for my efforts in your behalf.

Thanks again for using Justanswer!

Expert:  socrateaser replied 8 months ago.

Hello again,

I see that you have reviewed my answer, but that you have not provided a rating. Do you need any further clarification concerning my answer, or is everything satisfactory?

If you need further clarification, concerning this matter, please feel free to ask. If not, I would greatly appreciate a positive feedback rating for my answer (click 3, 4 or 5 stars) – otherwise, I receive nothing for my efforts in your behalf.
Thanks again for using Justanswer!

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Just read it fully, thanks.My site will accept submissions as well, but worldstarhphop.com also simply posts videos (I believe based on some of the content I've seen on the site).What would be the fee for premium services?
Expert:  socrateaser replied 8 months ago.

I can't negotiate price or terms in this forum. All I can do is send you the offer, and if we can't come to terms, then you don't have to hire me. This is all separate and apart from Justanswer, LLC which is not a law firm.

I'll send the offer, you can accept the offer, or accept my answer. I take no offense, whatever you choose.

Expert:  socrateaser replied 8 months ago.

So, do you have any other follow-up questions, or are we good to go?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Hi,
"Certain classes of use are considered "fair use" under the U.S. Copyright Act (Section 107): "criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright."Can you please elaborate more on this? The site will enable commenting for discussion, and it is also a news site, since the primary focus is to share content (sometimes news clips, etc.) as inspiration for others. Would that make this approach fall into the category of "fair use"?If not, how could make this model align with "fair use"? Would it help if I don't serve ads/collect revenue? I really just want to share inspiring content with others.
Expert:  socrateaser replied 8 months ago.

News is almost always protected as fair use, as long as you're not copying someone else's articles or videos and embedding them into your website without permission. That is, if you're providing news that includes someone else's copyrighted material, then that's fair use (e.g., Star Wars VIII is being released and you're showing part of the trailer in your video, to emphasize your news article). But, if you're embedding the entire Star Wars trailer into your website without permission, then that's copyright infringement. Similarly, if you are criticizing/editorializing about the movie, and you show scenes that are related to your criticism, then that's fair use. But, if you simply provide 10 minutes of the film at your website with a tag line, "Hey, here's the first 10 minutes of Star Wars VIII," then that's copyright infringement. If you're teaching film production and showing scenes from Star Wars and other films to discuss a particular cinematic effect, then that's fair use. But, if you're just providing the same scene for your audience's viewing pleasure, with the tagline of, "This is so cool" (arguably an editorial comment), then that's in the gray area, because it's hard to tell if your goal is an editorial or to trumpet the fact that you've got an early release of the film.

Inspirational teaching is fair use, but it depends on precisely what you're to teach, how much material you use, whether or not your goal is commercial or educational (e.g., teaching people how to get rich flipping houses, in a 3:00AM infomercial is probably not true education -- because, among other things, it's usually a scam).

I think that "covers the waterfront."

I hope I've answered your question. Please let me know if you require further clarification. And, please provide a positive feedback rating for my answer (click 3, 4 or 5 stars) -- otherwise, I receive nothing for my efforts in your behalf.

Thanks again for using Justanswer!

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thanks for the comprehensive feedback. It looks like I have issues to sort out.
Expert:  socrateaser replied 8 months ago.

You're welcome, and thanks for using Justanswer!

Expert:  socrateaser replied 8 months ago.

Hello again,

For some reason this Q&A session is sticking in my queue, and I cannot remove it. I'm adding this post to see if this will work. Sorry for any inconvenience.

I hope I've answered your question. Please let me know if you require further clarification. And, please provide a positive feedback rating for my answer (click 3, 4 or 5 stars) -- otherwise, I receive nothing for my efforts in your behalf.

Thanks again for using Justanswer!

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