YouTube introduces Creative Commons option for uploaders, remixers


YouTube + Creative Commons = awesome. Starting tomorrow at 9am Pacific time, YouTube will offer the option to license videos with the Creative Commons CC-By-3.0 license, and will introduce new remixing options in YouTube's cloud-based video editor.

At launch, YouTube reps told me over the phone earlier today, only the one license option will be available (as opposed to, say, a choice from multiple license classes which include options to disallow commercial re-use). The thinking, they said, is to start simple. M multiple license classes might be overwhelmingly complex for casual users for whom this may be a first introduction to Creative Commons, the logic goes. The folks at Youtube behind the project consulted with people at Creative Commons. Not sure I agree, but it's a step in a good direction, and I applaud that.

From leaked YouTube announcement, which will go live in the AM:

Now, look no further than the Creative Commons library accessible through YouTube Video Editor to make this happen. Creative Commons provides a simple way to grant and use copyright permissions to creative works. You can now access an ever-expanding library of Creative Commons videos to edit and incorporate into your own projects. To find a video, just search in the YouTube search bar or from within the YouTube Video Editor. We're working with organizations like C-SPAN,, Voice of America, Al Jazeera and others, so that over 10,000 Creative Commons videos are available for your creative use.

To get started, visit and select the CC tab:


Any video you create using Creative Commons content will automatically show the source videos' titles underneath the video player:


As part of the Creative Commons launch on YouTube, you'll also be able to mark any or all of your videos with the Creative Commons CC BY license that lets others share and remix your work, so long as they give you credit. To mark your video with the Creative Commons license, select 'Creative Commons Attribution license' on the upload page or on the Video Description page:


* YouTube didn't intend the news to go live today; users spotted something wonky when someone made a mistake on the stealth part, and news leaked out early. I have never heard of this blog, but the reminder of "internal dogfood" as a Silicon Valley term was amusing, and revealing.


  1. Now, if they’ll just adjust the terms of service so you can legally download a video.

  2. Youtube is smart to avoid the commercial use banning clauses since many would argue that any ads indicate commercial use.

    Anti-Commercial use clauses also violate the spirit of open-source and free-software, which are not supposed to discriminate based on endeavor.

    I’m just disappointed that Share-Alike was not included.

    1. I completely disagree about non-commercial works “going against the sprite” of open source. I spend many many months on each of my remix videos and when one goes viral I don’t want a bunch of bottom feeders, spammers and scammers leeching a profit off it (especially when I offer it for free and make no money off it myself). it happens every time. Make no mistake the vipers of capitalism coma’running as soon as they smell something going viral. They take it and re-upload it, put ads all over it, put it behind a pay-wall or use it to promote their ad-driven channel/site, their scam or their “brand”. I have seen it all and its disgusting which is why I really appreciate the non-commercial option. So please cut the happy-free-market-fantasy-world nonsense talk.

      1. I’m sorry but the Free Software Foundation and OSI, who are two bodies generally considered to be the founders of Free Software and Open Source Software and opensource definitions, disagree with you.

        Discriminating against commercial use is discriminating against fields of endeavors regardless of bottom feeder status. This lack of discrimination is inherent to opensource and free software, one must be free to leverage the product, unhindered in all uses other than distribution. Distribution must be with attribution and in some cases with the same license, these are usually the only restrictions placed on FLOSS (free/libre open source software). By making your work non-free, by limiting its commercial use, the FLOSS community cannot include or distribute your work safely.

        What if I am in Africa and I’m trying to give away your music to people but I can’t afford to bear the duplication costs myself, I must ask for reimbursement, that is commercial use. But your short sightedness would’ve banned me from doing so.

        What if I am teaching at a private technical college in the 3rd world and I want to leverage your work? I can’t, its commercial use. Where as I can show anyone how the linux kernel works, regardless if they pay me or not for this service, just as how I can teach them music or literature using free works available online. Those who release their content under permissive licenses that allow anyone to use it as helping the world, those who make proprietary hobby only works are just hobbling their own acceptance.

        My youtube complaint would be that by not allowing share-alike they are destroying my ability to promote an open society by arm twisting others to ensure that everyone shares the same freedom I am giving away.

        1. I think there are several points of interest here.

          First there are key differences between software and a finished remix video or finished piece of music. When I create a video remix by transforming fragments of Hollywood movies or tv shows I rely on fair use and not cc licensing to do that – this also means that anyone else can then take my finished remix video and transform it further turning it into something new again by relying on the fair use of my work. People do this all the time, and I love when they do. So since transformative works are already allowed under fair use (or fair dealing) the creative commons option allowing derivative works is less important (but I still use it as a way to encouragement people to transform my work further). Also note that fair use even allows for commercial use of those derivative works by others.

          Second, many tangentially or in-direct commercial uses of my videos are already legal under the fair use doctrine already (as in curriculum of private universities or the posting on ad-driven blogs etc) so my approval is not required regardless of the non-commercial licenses I use. I also of course allow for some directly commercial uses by others (who are not looking to personally profit) – all people have to do is ask.

          The button line is that the non-commercial option ends up being very useful because it gives me some small amount of leverage to discourage or challenge people trying to leech off my videos in non-derivative, non-critical and non-educational ways. While fair use (or fair dealing) still allows for many of the tangentially commercial uses you mention.

  3. I wonder how they plan to handle ad revenue sharing for remixed videos. Will the original owners share be diluted so the remixer can get paid too?

  4. Apparently you’re not allowed to offer it under anything but Standard YouTube License (whatever that is) if somebody has an illegitimate copyright claim on it.

    I tried to switch my Downfall parody about the Downfall parodies being removed over to the CC-BY license (I put CC0 in the description, but it’s better than nothing), but the option was greyed out. Might have to finally fight these bastards.

    1. “Apparently you’re not allowed to offer it under anything but Standard YouTube License (whatever that is) if somebody has an illegitimate copyright claim on it.”

      No, it’s more insidious. Apparently if you have ever received ANY copyright complaint against ANY video on your account (what YouTube classes an account which is not in “good standing”) you cannot license ANY of your other content as CC. I have one strike against my account, therefore can’t label anything CC. Looks like I might be able regain good standing if I take “Copyright School,” although I just answered all of the answers “correct” and my account status is still not in “good standing.”

      Oh well… Looks like it’s time for me to get a new YouTube account and upload all my content again, then.

  5. Hey, thanks for the mention!

    We’re pretty excited to see what results from YouTube’s Creative Commons and Video Editor features too. Of course, videos created in the Editor will be interesting by their own rights. But we’re also morbidly curious about the catch-ups, like, as bondad pointed out, revenue sharing, and, as I mentioned in my article, potential abuse of the system.

    John (

  6. I think it’s ridiculous that YouTube offers only one CC license, specifically one that permits others to make commercial use of your work. The whole purpose of CC is to provide a very simple framework for a spectrum of “some rights reserved” licenses. IMO, YouTube’s approach defeats the purpose of CC. Flickr’s CC integration is a good example of what YouTube could have done.

    1. CC has too many options and is WAY too confusing for the casual user. One option means people might actually use it.

      1. The “one option” is not an option for people who would like offer anyone the opportunity to remix or share their work but also want to reserve the right to make money from their work.

  7. I think only offering the CC-BY license is a brilliant choice, and I hope they keep it that way.

    The “Non-Commercial” clause is nonsensical and completely contrary to the spirit of CC. The whole idea of CC is to usher in a new economy of independent art, movies, and music. Restricting it to hobby use makes it worthless (and forces artist to continue to rely on corporations to make a living). If you’re willing to offer your art to the public good, why would you be offended by independent artists making a living?

    Yet so many people on Flickr choose the non-commercial option because it “sounds right”, without really thinking about it (“commercial” = “bad”?). YouTube doesn’t need to offer it to novice users.

    YouTube did the right thing picking this license. Most users who use CC are novices who just want to open up their work, and YouTube should encourage maximum freedom. If someone really, really cares to limit their work in strangely specific ways, they’re free to do so in the description field! They don’t need help from YouTube. The point of this option is to promote real freedom, and they are doing it exactly right.

  8. “The “Non-Commercial” clause is nonsensical and completely contrary to the spirit of CC. The whole idea of CC is to usher in a new economy of independent art, movies, and music.”

    I disagree. The promise of CC is rather to tear down commercial culture and replace it with common goods, accessible to all and not just those who can pay. The non-commercial clause is essential. Independent art, movies and music can thrive non-commercially.

  9. I’m waiting for the share-alike clause to be enabled. Already have to allow commercial because Youtube is a commercial entity. But there is a lot of share-alike material out there that we can’t use yet because it doesn’t quite fit into either of the existing licenses.

  10. “What if I am in Africa and I’m trying to give away your music to people but I can’t afford to bear the duplication costs myself, I must ask for reimbursement, that is commercial use.”

    Why assume that? If your use only breaks even, short and long term, then it is non-commercial as I see it. If that is technically not non-commercial according to this or that definition then I hereby dub such use non-commercial-ish and call for a CC license that allows that. I thereby avoid your counterexamples without falling into an extreme any-greedy-commercial-exploiter-endevours-welcome view.

  11. I made a short movie of my grand daughter dancing to music playing in the background, it is my own work, but the Creative Commons Attribution license is greyed out. I would like to know why?

    Second, how does making your videos CC help, does it give protection to the owner of the video?

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