Limited Study Finds College YouTubers Aren't So Copyright Savvy

Research based on a small sample of college students indicates they're not up to speed on copyright law. A study from American University in Washington, D.C. found that students weren't always intentionally flouting copyright law when they uploaded clips on platforms like YouTube. They simply didn't know the law.

The study polled 51 graduate and undergraduate uploaders. Among them, 90 percent who uploaded copyrighted material didn't get permission, and of those, 74 percent believed that it was fair for copyright owners to expect payment. For whatever reason, many of the students felt "they should not have to."

More than half combined their own videography with copyrighted music; 20 percent with material from a TV show or movie. Nearly 80 percent believed fair use doctrine allowed them to use copyrighted material, but not one student could define it. (Fair use allows limited use of copyrighted material for academic or review purposes; and for citation under specific constraints.) The majority of students surveyed said their use of copyrighted material provided free advertising for the original creation.