So you want to start a YouTube channel. Maybe you are sharing your everyday life or how you comb your golden locks. Maybe you want to be an influencer and recording videos is the way to build your personal brand. Whatever your case is, in this blog post, I will share with you 5 legal tips for when starting a YouTube channel.
1. Affiliate Disclosure.
Odds are you know or follow someone who promotes certain products or services through their social media; this is called affiliate marketing. When you start getting attention in such a way that the owner of a product wants to pay you for your posting, you know that your hobby is getting serious.
However, beware of dishonest ads with exaggerated claims or misleading information to get people to click. The Federal Trade Commission could be watching closely. So make sure you disclose your relationship with the brand you are advertising.
2. Business Entity.
Often times people are not sure of choosing a business entity such as an LLC, Corporation, etc. My two cents here are: if your videos or online content are just a hobby –you are not making money yet– you could postpone it until the ball starts running.
In the meantime you could select a DBA and register the trade name you are using for your online presence. Learn more about business entities here.
If you are giving out advice –regarding the law, medicine, accounting, nutrition, health, fitness, beauty even, etc.– you should include disclaimers to make sure people are aware that you are sharing the information for educational purposes only.
Let people know that you are sharing your perspective, experience, and general information and that they should consult with a professional before acting upon the information you are providing. You don’t want to be held liable because someone used X product and died.
It may sound exaggerated, but you never know. Protect yourself!
4. Protect Your Intellectual Property.
When you have 3 viewers and 1 of them is your mom nobody pays attention. But when you go viral, everybody wants to be friends with you. What I mean to say is that people don’t pay attention to protective measures until it is too late, and then things can get very ugly –federal court level ugly. You don’t want that.
So, if you are starting to advertise products or services, if people start recognizing you, or perhaps people are even considering you an influencer, protecting your IP must be on the top of your list. Written contracts and IP registration can go a long way to save your whole business. Learn more about IP here.
5. Respect other people IP too.
IP is a two-way street, protect yours and respect others. You expose yourself to infringement when using copyrighted music, photos, videos, and any other creative work.
To avoid infringement you can: (1) use your own media; (2) ask for permission a.k.a. license from the copyright owner; (3) use creative commons licensed works; or (4) search for royalty-free media on the internet (ex. Unsplash, Flaticon, Pexels).
An open letter for non-legal people who love to preach about fair use: fair use is a defense for infringement, not a free-for-all-do-whatever-you-want license.
In this blog post, we listed 5 legal tips when starting a YouTube page. Feel free to comment below whether you or someone you know, have or are about to start a YouTube channel.
- What’s affiliate marketing? Should I care? Federal Trade Commission.
- Starting a YouTube Channel – 5 Legal Tips and Tricks, Hawthorn Law.