How to Copyright a Video: What you need to know.

When it comes to video production, copyright has become top of mind for both creators and consumers of content. As a creator or broadcaster, knowing what you’re allowed to do with other people’s content is crucial.

By the same token, protecting your work and understanding what you can say no to is equally important. To that end, you'll want to know how to copyright a video. So here, we’ll go over the basics you need to know to keep your work protected.

What is Copyright?

Put simply, copyright is just that: the right to copy (or “reproduce”) a creative work. That could be a song, a poem, a novel, or a video. The copyright holder is the only person (or entity) who has that right, and generally, that’s the creator – you.

Copyright protection means others cannot reproduce your creative work for any purpose without your permission, which you are allowed to ask for compensation for.

Do I Need to Copyright My Videos?

The good news is this: you don’t have to “copyright” a creative work for it to be protected. Creative works are protected immediately upon creation. According to the United States Copyright Office, videos are protected as soon as they’re “fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.” You don’t have to publish a video for it to be protected under copyright law. As soon as it’s streamed or recorded, it’s fixed.

Why It's Important to Register a Copyright

It’s true that any creative work is protected under the law at the moment of creation. However, to bring an infringement suit, you’ll have to register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright office. In essence, registration is how you actually protect yourself.

Registering a copyright is simple. Go to the U.S. Copyright Office online portal and fill out the necessary forms. You’ll provide a copy of the video, either electronically or by mailing physical media. Registration costs $35 each time, but you can register up to 10 works in one application by choosing “group of unpublished works.” This is handy for saving a little money if you have a lot of videos to register.

Pro Tip: You may have heard of a thing called the “poor man’s copyright.” Essentially, the idea is to mail a copy of a work to yourself and never open it. People hope to rely on the postmark as proof of creation date, but this method is not considered valid in court, and there’s no provision for it in copyright law. So skip this trick.

How to Copyright Strike a Video

If your video (or a piece of your video) has been posted to YouTube without your permission, you can issue a takedown request, also known as a copyright strike. The easiest and best way to do this is to fill out Google’s takedown request form.

Again, it’s best to register your copyrights as soon as possible, so if this comes up, you have solid proof of your creation.

Keep Creating

Copyright law is a pretty daunting subject if you dive into it, but the reality is creators are well protected, and it’s not that hard to make sure you’re good to go. All you really have to do is keep creating and registering your copyrights with the U.S. Copyright Office. Most (not all) countries in the world have agreements in place to honor foreign copyrights, so you don’t need to try to register everywhere.

Once your current videos are all registered, and you’re ready to step up to a new level with your own streaming platform, go ahead and reach out to MAZ, and we’ll make the process easy – so you can get back to creating and streaming amazing content.