I would like to create a "Top 10"-style compilation of clips from a sports event that I particularly enjoyed watching some weeks ago.

Since there are literally thousands of content creators on Youtube who publish such highlight reels on a regular basis, without any mention of permission from the broadcasters, I thought I could do it as well.

However, it slipped into my mind that doing so would not necessarily be "fair use" legally speaking as I am neither criticizing nor educating anyone, nor is it for purely "personal" use. On the other hand, such a compilation has a "journalistic" nature, i.e., it shows the best moments from a match, or the worst fails from an event.

Am I committing copyright infringement by uploading a sports compilation on youtube?

If the answer to the above question is "yes", can someone explain to me how those thousands of compilation content creators get away with their videos, even as they're monetizing them?

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately, the "but everyone does that" (BEDT) argument doesn't hold water as evidenced by prosecutions of looters.

Would uploading this video be a copyright infringement?

It would be hard to answer this part of the question without knowing where and from whom the clips had come from.

  • If the clips came from a company like ESPN or a YouTuber that doesn't give you permission to be able to use their clips then yes this might be a copyright infringement.

  • If you use video/clips that are labeled as creative commons then nt it wouldn't be an infringement. YouTube has a feature for this.

a screenshot YouTube's advanced search functions with "Creative Commons" selected

Would my actions be fair use?

First, we'll need to understand what is. Fair use is the ability to use copyright material under certain circumstances without permission. To best determine if using copyright-protected material in your work you should weigh it against the four factors of fair use.

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

  2. The nature of the copyrighted work;

  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole;

  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

More information about fair-use here

Youtube outlines their fair use guidelines here

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    It's important to note that the concept of fair use exists only in United States copyright law. If the OP is in some other country, or another country's law applies to this case (I don't know how to determine that), then the fair use exceptions are irrelevant. Aug 6, 2019 at 20:36
  • @NateEldredge I agree with the conclusion, but I'm not fully convinced of the rationale. I would like to piggyback on the great point that for the most part globally fair use isn't a concept in law, and I'd like to add that how other countries treat fair use also comes down to the relationship between companies(e.g. Youtube) and the government in question. I tried to make my answer two-part, how does YouTube define fair use( which is by using U.S. law) and actual U.S. Law although it might seem redundant to do so I ensure you it's for a good reason. Aug 7, 2019 at 2:15
  • Other countries will most definitively not recognize U.S. fair use laws to govern them since doing so might threaten their sovereignty, but depending on the government in question actual recognizing a site's like YouTube's TOS, the courts in that country might have to use U.S. law because that's what YoutTube asks it's users to agree to before using their products. That why I would say it comes down to the relationship between a country and the companies that operate there rather than if fair use applies. Aug 7, 2019 at 2:28
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    Well... AFAIK such clauses don't force a foreign court to decide a case using US law, but rather they require that the case be tried under US law in US courts. But in a case of copyright infringement, YouTube wouldn't be a party to the case - it'd be the copyright owner versus the unauthorized copier. The copyright owner might never have had anything to do with YouTube or the United States in his life. I don't see how the copier's contract with YouTube can force the owner to bring his case in a particular court or under particular laws. Aug 7, 2019 at 4:01
  • @NateEldredge that's a great point, I guess I didn't think of the situation where YouTube wasn't a party. Aug 7, 2019 at 4:16

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