I have a question regarding “Fair Use” in Youtube videos that are monetized through Google Adsense. In particular, is one allowed to cite academic publications (books, articles, etc.) and refer to their contents in an Adsense-monetized video on Youtube? Let me give two possible scenarios to illustrate:

(A) I create a Youtube video about, for instance, a particular language. I want to analyze it and I use a theoretical approach developed in the published writings by Smith (1980, 1991, …) [author invented for the purpose of being explicit]. These works are standard in the field of linguistics and are cited all the time - a big subset of the field adopts the approach of these works. The works are referred to in the Youtube video and cited as references in the description.

(B) There is a book on the history and culture of people X by John Doe (e.g. 1990). I want to discuss how culture X celebrates Christmas. I look up when Christmas comes up in the book and what traditions it involves. I then discuss these traditions in the Youtube video. The book (Doe 1990) is mentioned in the video and cited in the description.

Now, (A) and (B) are scenarios that are completely standard and are practiced all the time in academic writing. My question is, whether (A) and (B) are in anyway problematic if used in a monetized Youtube video.

N.B. In both cases, no identical text of the original publications would be reproduced in the videos. Everything would be heavily paraphrased (again, as standardly done in academic writing). Also, in both scenarios very minor parts of the publications would be referred to, content-wise. Everyone seems to do this on Youtube, but I wanted to check the legality of the matter.

Thank you!

  • "whether (A) and (B) are in anyway problematic if used in a monetized Youtube video" - These scenarios have nothing to do with copyright; whether YouTube allows them will depend on YouTube's policies for monetized videos. For example, it is well known that YouTube uses a content identification system, and if that system thinks for any reason that you have taken some portion of content from a partner ("fair use" is not considered by the system), it will probably affect the money you receive.
    – Brandin
    Dec 5, 2017 at 7:37
  • Thanks! The videos I have in mind would either discuss novel material within existing theoretical approaches (scenario A), or little-known/obscure cultural practices, so both should be new contributions in some sense, which will hopefully pass Youtube's 'filters'. But do let me know if I misunderstood this somehow.
    – RKM_10
    Dec 7, 2017 at 20:18

1 Answer 1


Based on the description, it does not appear that there are any problems of copyright infringement. You are free to (indeed expected to) provide citations of factual and theoretical sources; you are free to use the ideas and facts reported or expressed in those works. The title of a book, year of publication, authors name and all the other things that go into a citation are not creative elements, so are not protected by copyright. Addressing example (A) in particular, you are entitled to use all of the the language data provided, as long as they are not creative literary texts (this would be a concern for a work on syntax that is based on texts, if the texts are still in copyright – this potentially includes elicited texts).

Although the words of the source publications can be reproduced because they are not, individually, protected, the arrangement of the words, e.g. in a grammatical paradigm, can be. In that case, the issue is whether the particular presentation is "creative" and novel to the source author, or is it a purely mechanical product directly reflecting the facts (or, reflects a long-standing tradition used by all authors on the topic).

Needless to say, direct copying of book pages is potentially infringing, though a small amount of copying can be defended under "fair use".

  • Thanks for your reply! I suspected that this is OK. I wasn't sure at first because monetization is involved. This means that monetizing videos that involve the citations of the publications I mentioned doesn't change anything really?
    – RKM_10
    Dec 7, 2017 at 20:12

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .