It's been a busy 2009 and we're excited to be back in 2010 to work on all the cool features we have planned for the YouTube APIs in the coming months.
Opening up our API has led to some really cool and fun commercial applications, far beyond what anyone here at YouTube could ever have imagined. Tens of thousands of developers have created great apps and websites that not only entertain and delight users in creative ways but give our content partners more choice and reach in distributing their videos. For example, we recently announced YouTube Direct, an open-source video uploading platform that is built entirely on top of the YouTube APIs and is available to any commercial website that wants to solicit video submissions from their users.
We thought it would be a good idea to start the year by revisiting a subject that many of you have had questions about since the APIs were born: the API Terms of Service.
Launched back in 2007, the YouTube APIs provide access to some of YouTube's core features (uploading, searching and playing videos, organizing playlists, etc.) for your websites and apps. Before using the API, we ask that you do one thing: carefully read through our Terms of Service (TOS). Here are a few things contained in our TOS that you should be aware of.
- Videos belong to their owners - YouTube is a hosting platform. The videos themselves belong to the content owner (anyone from a major studio to a mother recording her son's graduation). In all cases, the content owner decides how and where their YouTube videos are distributed. Sometimes, video owners don't want others to profit from their work, or sometimes they may want to restrict where their videos are shown. While you may disagree with this decision, we need to respect the content owners' wishes.
- Standard YouTube video player is key - Consistency in terms of quick video loads and playbacks is a hallmark of the YouTube experience. We therefore ask that you don't enable videos for download, modify a video in any way, or enable playback through means other than other official embeddable players.
- Don't serve or strip ads from the video - Serving your own ads against a video without sharing revenue with the content creator, or YouTube, is against the TOS. So is using technology that strips out the ads we're serving on videos. Doing this deprives the uploader from legitimate earnings from his or her work. If you want to learn more about monetizing your YouTube apps, check out our API monetization guide.
- It's ok to charge customers to access your application - Creating a subscription, or a one-time access/download fee to use your website or app is fine. But if you do, make it clear that it's you who's charging for access to the video, not YouTube. If you don't make this clear, you're very likely violating the TOS.
Occasionally, we update our TOS to make things even clearer, or to evolve as new features become available on the Web. But rest assured that the core guidelines in our TOS related to advertising, downloading videos, and using an official player have been there since the TOS's inception.
Our hope is that this post can serve as a reference point to clear up any confusions you might have surrounding our TOS. We're always looking to do more to make the API better for our developers and we are eager to hear your ideas and feedback. If you haven't already, do drop by our YouTube APIs Developer Forum and get in touch with us.
Posted by Kuan Yong, YouTube APIs and Tools Team