Rhodri Marsden: Cyberclinic

Is it illegal to post my music videos online?


Q. Am I breaking the law by sharing my own collection of music videos with other visitors to the YouTube website?

A. The short answer to this question is yes, but over the last couple of weeks the longer answer has become more intriguing. YouTube has become an indispensable resource for committed time-wasters, with the 100 million videos watched every day accounting for 60 per cent of all videos watched online. Generous estimates put the value of YouTube at around $1.5bn (£1bn), but it's also estimated that 90 per cent of its content violates copyright laws. And with an upper limit of 10 minutes on the length of uploaded videos, it's the music business that's bearing the brunt. Indeed, Steve Chen, founder of YouTube, recently stated that he envisages the site hosting every music video ever created within 18 months.

However, two weeks ago it was reported that Universal, one of the four major record labels, was preparing to file a lawsuit against YouTube, and bloggers began glumly predicting the imminent demise of the service. Then, in a move which surprised many, the rival Warner Music Group responded by giving YouTube carte blanche to host its video material, and permission for any Warner material to be used in home-made productions. The upshot of this is that if you want to upload a clip of yourself miming to a Mariah Carey song, Universal won't be happy. But do the same to a James Blunt song, and Warner will, theoretically, be right behind you.

The current situation neatly encapsulates the argument surrounding copyright and the internet. Universal believes that it is owed "tens of millions of dollars" in royalties by YouTube, while Warner thinks that the potential exposure for its artists more than makes up for any royalty losses. In this week's inbox most readers have weighed in on the side of YouTube, for three main reasons.

Firstly, it's far from straightforward to download the clips, so often you just watch them online. Secondly, the video quality is so inferior to DVD that, for readers like Rachael Bateson, YouTube merely provides a fuzzy reminder to go out and buy a version not compromised by pixellated visuals and stuttering playback. Thirdly, many of the clips on YouTube can't be found anywhere else. "You could wait 1,000 years for MTV to play Derek Jarman's video for Marc Almond's "Tenderness is a Weakness," points out Al Scott, "but I - along with 1,021 other people - have watched it on YouTube." As Martin Urlwin point outs, "It's a business decision, and whether or not it's a good one, it's Universal's to make."

Whether they end up regretting that decision remains to be seen.

Diagnosis required

Next week's question comes from Ronan Hartley:

"My dad thinks that I'm addicted to the internet. But does such a condition actually exist? Do any other readers worry about the amount of time they spend online?" Any comments, and new questions for the Cyberclinic, should be e-mailed to cyberclinic@independent.co.uk.

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

EBD Teacher in Shropshire

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: EBD Teacher - ShropshireWe are current...

Teaching Assistant (complex needs)

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We are currently looking for teachi...

Business Analyst/ Project Manager - Financial Services

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client in the Financial...

Year 3 Teacher - Winsford

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Year 3 Teachers needed in Winsford We ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits