- It is always best to first get in contact with the YouTube channel owner and request that they caption the video themselves. Note that if you find YouTube videos that should legally be captioned but are not, you can report them to YouTube.
- Make sure you only transcribe or caption public YouTube videos! Captioning unlisted videos is dangerous territory, since they were never intended for public access.
- Don't assume that just because your use is non-profit, it's fair! The question is not whether your organization is non-profit, but whether you are limiting the profit of the copyright holder.
- Giving credit to the copyright owner, or using a disclaimer, does not make it fair use!
Legal Exemption for Captioning Educational Content
If you are an educator, you're in luck! According to Section 107 of American copyright law, there is a legal exemption from copyright infringement for teaching. This means that if you're using a public YouTube video for teaching, you can legally add captions to it!
Precautions to Take Before Captioning Videos You Don't Own
So, Is It Legal or Not?
Given the four factors above, as well as the legal exemption for teaching, we believe that fair use provides legal protection for captioning YouTube videos that you do not own. Captions make any video transformative, accessible, and educational; further, they do not have any adverse impact on the original work, nor do they detract from the owner's earning potential.
Note that captioning videos is a gray area in copyright law. This article is intended for informational purposes and should not be treated as legal advice. Read Third Party Captioning and Copyright by Blake E. Reid for a complete analysis of how copyright law impacts third party captioning, and consider watching the video at the bottom of this post for examples of how video content is examined under fair use. We have added an interactive transcript to the video for accessibility purposes.
Celebrating an excellent session with some interpretive dance! #gfcmsu #eLearning2015 http://t.co/pIgk4UBXlW
#MadeInNotability Check out the #GFCMSU Stories from the Sandbox presented at ITC #eLearning2015 http://t.co/7sInWfKcOS
The writing is on the wall--the Sandbox whiteboard walls provide increased interaction. #eLearning2015 http://t.co/aCss7sO34V
Students are sometimes resistant to change. Need to provide assurance they will learn the content. #elearning2015 http://t.co/Wk9mb3n4Z1
Stories from the Sandbox #eLearning2015 starts in 5minutes! #gfcmsu http://t.co/X5hoNnuLjO
Getting ready to share stories from the Sandbox! #eLearning2015 #gfcmsu http://t.co/kf3MJAR0HS
Innovation is a habit. It's a way of thinking that you practice. #eLearning2015 ~Richard Edwards http://t.co/ydzunG7mXI
Lively debate on outsourcing at #eLearning2015 http://t.co/6mfqHr0Wca
Interesting #eLearning2015 Like ideas of tearing down some of the walls & bridging the innovation adoption gap http://t.co/BfgLXwI97D