Youtube videos can’t go viral when a user chooses the wrong license!

This is an ironic example I came across today on Youtube. If you make videos yourself, don’t let this happen to you.

Quite simply, someone got legitimately upset, when the advertised price of the Baltimore Sun was $2.12 but a particular store was charging $3.12 instead.

Armed with a video camera, the person walked into the store and confronted the staff about it. He said that the video would be put “all over Youtube and that it would go viral”. After the initial shock, the staff proceeded to do something quite surprising (watch the video to see for yourself).

Now, as of the time of this writing, the video only has 58 views. That’s not very viral, is it?

Watch the video and read my explanation below as to why the initial standard Youtube license chosen for this video was incorrect.

There is something that is not understood by people who shoot videos and want them to go viral. There are two different licenses that each Youtuber can choose to release their video under as follows:

Standard License (reuse NOT allowed) :

While fair use laws still exist, this is a much more restrictive license.  It basically means that the video uploaded may be accessed through Youtube and it cannot be incorporated into other mediums (like in someone else’s video, tv program, etc) in its entirety.  For instance in this blog, I can embed the video, but the person still has to go use the Youtube service to watch it. If Youtube decides to remove the video, or the person deletes their channel, or get if they get suspended, the video is lost forever.

In addition, some parts of this particular video, the camera was held “sideways”.  Someone else might want to edit the video and fix that. According to the standard license, the moment you import that video into your movie maker software and start making changes and subsequently re-distribute it, you’ve violated the standard license agreement.

Ever see a television program where they reference a video, but they don’t play the entire thing? Some of the time it is simply because the video on Youtube has a “standard license”, so all they can do is use little pieces under fair use laws to reference the video. Do everyone a favor and use Creative Commons License, it makes a world of difference!


Creative Commons License (reuse allowed):

You retain your copyright and other users get to reuse your work subject to the terms of the license.  Which basically means that the video can be incorporated in part, or in WHOLE, as part of another work (like someone’s own video, TV program, etc).

If you want something to go viral, I highly suggest you release it under the Creative Commons License.  You will have a lot more people interested in using your video and helping it spread.  Not everyone wants to link back to your Youtube channel. Some people want to redistribute the video their own way, by broadcast, by adding it to a DVD compilation for example, etc.


To encourage your video to go viral,  select “Creative commons license” when you upload it.

Content creators would love to use your creative commons video to help you spread the word. Give them that opportunity.

Notice: This work is licensed under a BY-NC-SA. Permalink: Youtube videos can’t go viral when a user chooses the wrong license!

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