As of last Friday we are happy to say that we have completed the work on all the grants we have put in up until now. Given the positive responses to our work thus far, we are excited to apply for another longer term grant to continue our educational effort. Before we put in our grant for long term work however, the ZCG has requested that we host one final discussion on the topic of what license our videos are released under on YouTube.
On YouTube you have 2 main license options for releasing content, the ‘Standard License’ and the ‘Creative Commons License.’ In our initial discussions with ZCG and ZF, where we hammered out some official rules guiding our relationship, our team thought that Creative Commons would not be a problem and we were enthusiastic about using it. However, this turned out to be premature as we realized that going the CC route would present some serious obstacles. In this post, we will outline why we have gone with the Standard License so far, and why we would likely need to go with it in the future as well.
First, to give a bit more background to the community on our legal arrangement with ZF (which is for all intents and purposes the same as our governing arrangement with ZCG since they are under the ZF). Before we released our videos, we hashed out a few key concerns with ZCG/ZF that were brought up when we initially proposed distributing our own videos and starting the Zcash Media channel. Our agreement with ZF mainly boils down to: 1) we will not run ads on our videos without ZF’s written consent, 2) if we re-brand the channel to talk about some different crypto project or something unrelated to Zcash, then ZF has the right to obtain ownership of our channels and footage, 3) if we do something that jeopardizes ZF’s non-profit status, then ZF has the right to obtain ownership of our channels and footage, and 4) a boiler-plate trademark agreement.
Although we were able to come to a happy arrangement on all the major concerns that were brought up (thanks @Alex_ZF for all the back and forth!), we had to table the discussion about licensing until now. The reason for that was because after investigating whether we could release our videos using Creative Commons (this is a departure from our industry’s standard), we learned that since we licensed the music in our videos from music library companies (specifically Epidemic Sound and Marmoset Music) and we are not the copyright owners of the music, we could not release our videos as Creative Commons. Therefore, we decided to go for the release of our videos using the Standard License in order to be able to release our videos on time and on budget, as well as to “test in prod” whether the Standard License presented any problems.
Now that we’ve released our videos and had further time to analyze the outcome, we list here the reasons why we think using the Standard License continues to be the best way forward for us. First, using licensed music is the most cost-effective and quickest way to be able to use the high-quality music we desire to match the high production value of our videos. The ability to make cinema-quality videos about Zcash is one of our main motivating factors and is also in keeping with what makes our approach unique compared to other crypto content. In addition, part of the Zcash brand is its uncompromising approach to engineering quality, and we think it makes sense for its educational material to be of the highest quality as well. Unfortunately, the music available to us that could be used if we were to release our videos under a Creative Commons license is not nearly of the quality that we hope to use in our videos going forward. In addition, buying the copyright from the musicians or paying a musician to write music that could be released using Creative Commons would be prohibitively expensive. This is due to the fact that musicians writing for film/commercials/digital content rely on their ability to license their music in parallel to different projects (like ours) to make up their income. In this way, projects like ours can obtain the rights to use high quality music in our videos cheaply and easily, and musicians can be compensated for each time their music gets used.
Given the rationale above for not using Creative Commons to release our videos (allows us to continue easily and cost-effectively using high quality music for our videos), we want to make sure that the Standard License is not preventing anything that we would like to see. Our main concern is to allow permission-less use of our videos for re-broadcasting and derivative works. In other words, we’d like to make sure anyone can show our videos or use them to make their own derivative works without our permission. The good news is that the YouTube Standard License gives the right for anyone to re-broadcast and make derivative works from our videos. The “Standard License” is contained within the YouTube Terms of Service. Specifically, if you scroll down to “Your Content and Conduct” section, you will see the following:
“Rights you Grant
You retain ownership rights in your Content. However, we do require you to grant certain rights to YouTube and other users of the Service, as described below.
License to YouTube
By providing Content to the Service, you grant to YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sub-licensable and transferable license to use that Content (including to reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works, display and perform it) in connection with the Service and YouTube’s (and its successors’ and Affiliates’) business, including for the purpose of promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service.
License to Other Users
You also grant each other user of the Service a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to access your Content through the Service, and to use that Content, including to reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works, display, and perform it, only as enabled by a feature of the Service (such as video playback or embeds). For clarity, this license does not grant any rights or permissions for a user to make use of your Content independent of the Service.”
The YouTube Terms of Service state that by uploading content to YouTube, people may reproduce, display, perform, prepare derivative works, etc. using our videos. Therefore, the Standard License can allow us to use licensed music in our videos (whereas Creative Commons would allow people to strip the music from our videos and use it in completely unrelated videos), while also allowing others to re-broadcast the video (show the YouTube video to anyone they want) and make derivative works (take the video and use it for their own video; for instance, a fan reaction video). We have already seen the re-broadcast and derivative works rights in action as @artkor was able to take and dub the videos in Russian and post those dubbed videos on his own channel, all without our permission or any flags getting raised. We think this is a great data point to show that the Standard License actually allows shareability-by-default. However, to reduce our reliance on YouTube, in case they for some reason change their license, we also have been posting everything on Odysee, which also allows the community to re-broadcast our videos or make derivative works.
Another major factor why using non-Creative Commons licenses (like the YouTube Standard License) is ok for shareability/reusability is something called Fair Use. Fair Use allows for the use of copyrighted works in certain circumstances such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. For instance, you’ll notice in our Future Money video, that we used some news clips from the 2008 financial crisis. We did not have to get permission to use those since we were using them in our educational video to build on them and help explain the motivation for a decentralized money system. Therefore, even though the YouTube Standard License already explicitly gives others the right to make derivative works from the video you post, this is really enabled due to Fair Use - not just because of YouTube. Fair Use should allow most use cases for allowing others to use our work in their own work.
Nonetheless, to try to simplify everything, we put in the following note about reuse in the description of all three of our released videos:
“Creator Note: This video (including segments of it) is free to use by anyone for non-commercial purposes as long as: i) original source of the video is cited, ii) derivative works do not take segments out of context to change the meaning of the original video, and (iii) the music in the video is not extracted and used on a stand-alone basis or in an unrelated video.”
For point (i), we wanted to make sure that the people potentially using our videos cite us in order to help grow awareness around our channel, and also in the case of news stories, to make sure anyone who comes across a news story that features our video is directed to our videos so they can see the primary material for themselves. We already saw with the Dobbertin reveal how helpful it is to make sure our videos are cited when something newsworthy may be featured in them. Also, the six standard Creative Commons licenses all require attribution, so we felt requiring others to cite our work was reasonable. For point (ii), we also wanted to make sure that it was clear people could not take our videos and edit them in such a way to change the meaning of what was said. For instance, we would flag a video that we see is taking snippets of our videos and fudging them together to misrepresent our interviewees in any way. Lastly, for point (iii) we wanted to make sure that people did not take the music out of our videos and use it on a standalone basis or in a different video - this is so we protect the copyright of the musicians.
In summary, we think releasing the videos as we have been allows for the best of both worlds: we can continue to easily use licensed music which is important for the quality of our videos and our own motivations as filmmakers, and we can also have very strong shareability for others to freely use our videos. To the best of our ability and our lawyer’s ability, we believe the YouTube Standard License allows for the types of reuse we hope for. In addition, as part of ZF’s support for ZCG, ZF’s lawyers have provided educational information limited to the usage of the YouTube Standard License and Fair Use (not including the use of our Creator Note) that is in line with the information we outlined above.
For our next steps, as we listen and participate in the discussion brought up by this post, we will also continue to assemble our next grant for the creation of follow-up videos. This is our main focus right now as we would like to be able to start putting out more videos on a consistent basis to grow our YouTube following and give ourselves the best chance at inspiring and informing as many people as possible about Zcash and the future it is building. We look forward to hearing from the community what they think about what we have presented in this post, and what people think about our next grant proposal once we post that as well.