I did some research and I can't really work out if it is okay or not to host videos from 3rd party websites.

Because embedding YouTube video is okay, but embedding another videos which you don't have any rights as well as YouTube video does not seem to be legal.

As example, there are hundreds of videos posted online and hundreds of websites showing full movies etc. But is it legal to actually have the video embedded which was not uploaded by yourself on your own website? If not, how come there are so many websites doing so?

1 Answer 1


It depends on what you mean by "host". If you copy material from website A to website B, that would be copyright infringement when done without permission. However, you can post the URL to a website (not effective if it's behind a paywall, for example Netflix): a URL is not copyright-protected (it's a "fact", not an expression). Nevertheless, the website that actually holds the movie may have terms of service that limit what you can do with their content, so you'd have to comply with those terms for any content originating from such a site.

There are myriad thousands of illegally-uploaded and distributed videos. The primary explanation for that is the contempt or ignorance that people have regarding the law. For instance, it is widely believed that you can upload material if it's for your use of that of friends, or if you don't make any money off of it, or it's not currently available online elsewhere, or if paying costs too much, or thousands of other excuses – none of which makes copyright infringement legal. The other factor is that there are 10 billion web pages, and it is impossible to effectively play enforcement whack-a-mole with infringers. In addition, actual enforcement can be a challenge if the website is in a non-cooperative jurisdiction.

  • Thanks @user6726 for this explanation. So if I were to post the embedded code on my website, that would be considered as the "fact", not an expression as you stated? As example, someone uploaded the video on another website and made it publicly accessible, so the person responsible for this illegal act would be the one who actually uploaded and not the one sharing it? Aug 1, 2017 at 16:52
  • I'm not sure what exactly the "embedded code" refers to: I was speaking of the URL that you would type in, e.g. law.stackexchange.com/a/21655. Definitely not the long chunk of code that is called up when you hit the "share" button. There is no law against / liability for pointing to an infringing website. The uploader would be liable, as well as the ISP providing the material, with standard DMCA protection for an innocent host.
    – user6726
    Aug 1, 2017 at 17:04

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