Wikipedia:External links/YouTube

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Proposed policy regarding semi-automatic removal of YouTube (and other high-copyvio content aggregator) links:


Linking to copyright infringing material: Wikipedia (or anyone else in the United States) may not knowingly link to content which is reasonably knowable to be infringing copyright. Many content-aggregator websites, such as YouTube and Google Video have significant amounts of copyright-infringing material, but also have material which may be valuable as an external link within a Wikipedia article. Videos are in particular problematic, as they are less likely to be particularly relevant to a given article, and, as of the end of 2006[1], are more likely to be infringing copyright.

Usefulness of external links to video content: Video is not, in general, a preferred method for illustrating a concept or documenting something, as it is less accessible to internet users with older computers or slower connections. There are many cases where video could be usefully replaced with photographs, diagrams, or text. However, there are cases where video is the best way to illustrate an article or concept. Examples would include illustration of motions in articles about mechanics or machinery, video of dance choreography, and various sorts of journalistic video for historic events or repeated phenomena. In many cases, video is a primary source, in which case its value and reliability is obvious. Video which is not a primary source is often much less appropriate for linking.

The YouTube link-deletion project: Various users have started an unnamed short term project for the purpose of removing links to YouTube videos which may be infringing copyright, irrelevant to the article in which it appears, or otherwise not useful to Wikipedia. This project has been semi-automated, using tools (such as WP:AWB) to find YouTube links automatically, but with each participant having to manually decide whether or not to remove any given link. The project appears to lack any record-keeping of which links have been previously removed, and the absence of clear guidelines meant that there was some variation in the standards for removal of YouTube links.

Replacing YouTube links: Most link removals are uncontested, and the removed links are not replaced, but somewhere between 1% and 10% of links are replaced, often with discussion of why the link was valuable/not copyvio/etc. That discussion sometimes occurs on the article talk page, and sometimes occurs on the user talk page of the editor who removed the link. Very occasionally these discussions become incivil and/or edit wars erupt over the legitimacy of the link.


Some significant amount of video content constitutes primary source material, and in many cases is not readily replaceable by corresponding photographs or text. Such material should not be embedded into Wikipedia, but should be linked to from relevant articles. Video content which is secondary source material or analysis is likely to be unreliable in terms of accuracy and readily replaceable by photographs or text. The exception would be if a respected organization or a well known expert officially used such a site to disseminate their videos.

YouTube, in its Terms of Service,[2] forbids its members to upload copyright-infringing material, and requires its members to have authorization from the copyright holder to upload content.[3] However, many members violate these Terms of Service and these sites have typically practiced a "wait until asked" mentality. However most infringing content is obviously infringing - content owned by most broadcast television networks, motion picture studios, music recording companies, and educational institutions, is not authorized to appear on YouTube. Most such material is obvious by brief inspection.

Based on the success rate of the YouTube link-deletion project, it is reasonable to assume that, absent any evidence to the contrary, there is a good chance any given link to YouTube (or Google Video) has some sort of defect making it eligible for deletion.

Wikipedia article talk pages exist to allow discussions over the inclusion or exclusion of particular content, not limited to links.[4] Disputes over POV, relevancy, sources, grammar, and many other subjects are properly discussed on article talk pages in an effort to achieve consensus over the contents of articles. Any deletion of contentious material without discussion in an edit summary or on an article talk page is strongly frowned upon, and is considered vandalism by many users.[5]


  1. Links to video content on YouTube or Google Video (or other, similar content aggregators) are allowed, provided the material linked to is not obviously infringing copyright, is relevant to the article, and is a primary source or a reliable and irreplaceable secondary source. This is the same policy as for any other external link.
    1. Obviously infringing material includes any material identifiably produced by any television network, any major motion picture studio, or any major record company, unless the producer has a publicly announced policy allowing free distribution, or the material is easily verifiable as being in the public domain (pre-1923, produced by the U.S. government, etc.).
    2. Obviously infringing material also includes any material which has a part which is an obvious copyright infringement (such as a home video with a well-known pop song dubbed over).
    3. Material produced by obviously non-commercial producers appearing on YouTube (or similar) is not obviously infringing, unless there is other evidence of copyright infringement. However, such material should be given scrutiny to make sure it's relevant to the article. The onus on demonstrating that the material is safe lays with the editor who (re)inserts the link.
  2. YouTube links may be deleted if the reviewing editor believes that the video at the link is infringing copyright, or is not a reliable source or is not relevant to the article, just as with any other external link. The edit summary should state the reason for the removal. Where a justification for keeping a link has been made on an article talk page editors reviewing links should address these before taking any action.
  3. YouTube links may be deleted using semiautomatic or automatic tools, for the sake of civility subject to the following self imposed restrictions:
    1. Links which have, in the same line, an HTML comment stating that the link is justified on the article's talk page, may not be removed without the person removing the link justifying the removal on the talk page.
    2. Semi-automated or automated removal of YouTube (or other HCVCA) links should include an edit summary which points to this essay page to help the editors of the page understand why it was removed.
    3. Links with an HTML comment, but no accompanying justification in the talk page, may be removed.
    4. Links whose use has been justified on the talk page may not be removed using automated tools. Rather the reviewing editor should only make manual removals after addressing the justification on the talk page. Subject to a single warning, the removal of such links by automated tools would be grounds for access priviledges for these tools to be removed. Such removals may be reverted on sight.


  1. ^ There is apparently negotiations between the content aggregators and various Big Media content providers to license a lot of content, but these agreements have not yet been announced.
  2. ^ YouTube - Broadcast Yourself
  3. ^ From the ToS, section 5: In connection with User Submissions, you affirm, represent, and/or warrant that: (i) you own or have the necessary licenses, rights, consents, and permissions to use and authorize YouTube to use all patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright or other proprietary rights in and to any and all User Submissions to enable inclusion and use of the User Submissions in the manner contemplated by the Website and these Terms of Service;
  4. ^ WP:TALK: The purpose of a talk page is to help to improve the contents of the article in question. Questions, challenges, excised text (due to truly egregious confusion or bias, for example), arguments relevant to changing the text, and commentary on the main page are all fair play.
  5. ^ WP:ES: "An edit summary is even more important if you delete any text; otherwise, people may question your motives for the edit."