Legality of listening to music on YouTube?

Is it legal to listen to music on Youtube?

Yes, if it's from a musicians own youtube channel or from someone like VEVO (who use paid-for adverts to finance having the artists music up online) then it's fine as either the artist is explicitly giving permission by having it on their official channel, or the company e.g. VEVO is paying for them.

If the music video is uploaded by an individual user, it's different. Some users give credit to the artist and some videos have links for you to buy the song from iTunes and have been allowed to remain on the site for several years in some cases - even prominent artists. However some individual users post songs online and inevitably fall foul of the copyright laws, yet its obviously very difficult to enforce so often they escape notice for some time too.

From a legal standpoint (since you asked about the legality, not the morality), I don't see how it could be legal for YouTube to post a video (even one that - unbeknownst to them - violates copyright law) yet be illegal for any random person to actually view it.

But I am certainly no expert of copyright law. I could be wrong. :shrug:

L&L is right, though. There are more and more bands that put their own stuff on YouTube (or else their record companies do so). So it is certainly not a given that any music on YouTube is there illegally.

I know a few bands who look the other way when a fan posts some of their Japanese bonus tracks on YouTube, though I know some other bands who are pretty on top of getting such songs pulled shortly after they are posted. I don't know that the artist's personal philosophy on YouTube videos enters into the equation for whether it's legal or not, though.

It is legal to watch/listen to any video on YouTube, basically. If a video isn’t legit with copyright law, it’s YouTube’s and the poster’s responsibility, not yours.

Also, YouTube (Google) pays license fees to the major music companies, so even videos with unlicensed music, at least from the major labels, are covered by Google’s blanket licenses. They make up the money by adding advertisements when they detect copyrighted music in videos. So even ‘illegal’ music uploads are typically made legal through this arrangement.

I know this because I posted a video of my sister’s dance performance, and YouTube detected the music she was dancing to, declared that my video contained copyrighted material, and warned me that advertising would be added.

On the legal side, yes, it is the responsibility of the viewer/listener. YouTube was sued by Viacom:

news.viacom.com/news/Pages/youtubelitigation.aspx

Unless an artist gives permission that you can check, don't do it.

Peace,
Ed

[quote="edwest2, post:5, topic:238513"]
On the legal side, yes, it is the responsibility of the viewer/listener. YouTube was sued by Viacom:

news.viacom.com/news/Pages/youtubelitigation.aspx

Unless an artist gives permission that you can check, don't do it.

Peace,
Ed

[/quote]

Could you explain how it's legally the viewer's responsibility? The case you linked to was Viacom suing Youtube, not Youtube's users. I've never heard that viewing an online video was illegal, just that the uploading or hosting of a video might be.

[quote="logic_oriented, post:6, topic:238513"]
Could you explain how it's legally the viewer's responsibility? The case you linked to was Viacom suing Youtube, not Youtube's users. I've never heard that viewing an online video was illegal, just that the uploading or hosting of a video might be.

[/quote]

The user who posted it would certainly be culpable, accounts have been banned. Youtube does not have vicarious responsibility for people who use their website, I'm not an expert though.

A few of my friends had letters from the police after illegally downloading videos, and others for streaming live TV without a licence, I'm not sure about viewing non-live illegally uploaded videos.

[quote="logic_oriented, post:6, topic:238513"]
Could you explain how it's legally the viewer's responsibility? The case you linked to was Viacom suing Youtube, not Youtube's users. I've never heard that viewing an online video was illegal, just that the uploading or hosting of a video might be.

[/quote]

Here it is:

news.cnet.com/8301-13739_3-9936833-46.html

Peace,
Ed

Fascinating, thank you for the link. I won't start worrying about it personally until I see an attempt made to sue a non-downloading or sharing viewer, but it's good to know where things stand.

The whole situation gets more complicated when you throw in Fair Use in the equation among other things:

copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

The fuel that is causing this fire is simply this. When the Copyright laws were conceived, no one anticipated the technology we have today. The Copyright laws are very clear that in order for a copyright holder to hold on to his copyright, he must defend that copyright. If that copyright is not defended, then it becomes public domain. Hence, the push for copyright lawsuits by various companies who desperately wish to prevent their property from entering the public domain and see up-loaders and down-loaders as potential copyright challengers.

There is another aspect to this whole debate, and that is a sudden rash of individuals claiming copyrights on items that have been in the public domain for years (some of which were never copyrighted). I frequent an Old time Radio forum, and this has been a subject of discussion over the past couple years. A company called Radio Spirits has literally been gobbling up old Radio programs with no copyright and claiming that they own the programs (many of which they obtained from collectors and traders and have been in the public domain for years). This has resulted in them trying to force collectors from sharing their collections.

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