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April 30, 2021

How To Use News Clips in Your YouTube Videos

You can’t use unlicensed news clips in your video without risking demonetization, copyright strikes, or a legal dispute with the creator. You need to purchase a license for the clip, use a royalty-free clip, or get explicit consent from the creator.

How to Obtain a License for Stock News Clips

If you’re going to be using news clips, it will be best to purchase the clip. But, where do you get them?

Unfortunately, the vast majority of websites that are selling news clips are prohibitively expensive. We’re talking $50 or potentially much more for a single clip. Most YouTubers (even large ones) won’t make that back on an entire video.

That said, old archival news clips can be found royalty-free. Here are a few sites where you can find royalty-free archival footage.

There are also paid stock sites that offer news footage. These will have a much newer news selection.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s no real competition here. Shutterstock has by far the clearest license, best selection, best prices, and easiest UI. But here’s a list of other stock news sites I found as well.

One caveat is that I didn’t reach out to each of the sites above (besides shutterstock) to make sure that their licenses applied to YouTube. Before you buy a clip from one of them, you’ll want to reach out and make sure the license applies to YouTube.

Fair Use

I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. Worse, the correct legal advice when it comes to fair use likely varies depending on which country you reside in. Fair use is complicated.

That said, you’re bound to see a ton of YouTubers out there using any clips they feel like with the plan to scream “Fair Use if issues were to arise.

What is happening is that very few creators are out there trying to aggressively enforce their copyright against extremely poor YouTubers for a few reasons.

Not Worth It to Sue Poor People
  1. The person stealing from them doesn’t have any money. The point of civil lawsuits is usually to make money.
  2. YouTube’s Content ID system is set up where you can simply take the ad revenue from the videos in which creators are stealing from you. Many creators are happy enough with that system.

Most creators tend not to sue every single person who pirates their clip on YouTube. Which gives off the impression that fair use has a broader reach than it actually does. If you’re using clips you did not create for illustrative purposes (rather than to directly criticizing the clip itself), you’re likely outside the bounds of fair use.

Worse, it doesn’t really matter if you did everything right when it comes to fair use. Suppose a creator decides to aggressively enforce their copyright anyway. In that case, it could initiate a YouTube copyright strike or worse (legal action). Even if you win the case by successfully arguing fair use, the damage is already done.

Here’s a fantastic video from Tom Scott going over fair use and the YouTube copyright system better than I ever could. I suggest watching the whole thing if you’re confused about this!

I’d personally avoid the news unless you have licenses and need the clip to make your video work.

Shaun Poore spent a long time wondering if news clips always fell under fair use or if they were under copyright like everything else. They're under copyright like everything else. Which is good to know, because many YouTubers out there don't treat it that way which makes it quite confusing.

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