Ever heard of a fair use disclaimer? If you plan to share someone else’s work online, you should first find out if you’re protected under “fair use” copyright law. If you are, then be sure to include a fair use disclaimer somewhere in your content.

Whenever you use someone else’s videos, photos, or digital content without their permission, it can lead to all kinds of legal embarrassments and claims of copyright infringement.

Therefore, before you take someone else’s content and use it for your website, blog, video or social media site, there are some common disclaimer rules you should know about first to avoid legal anxieties that can cost you time and money down the line.

First, what is a fair use disclaimer?

By legal definition, a fair use disclaimer is a doctrine used in the United States that allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the owner of the rights.

In simple terms, it lets people know that you’re using copyrighted material that doesn’t belong to you. Fair use simply states that you can use copyright material without seeking the right to do so—but within limitations. You can view a fair use disclaimer on YouTube here.

When should you use a disclaimer?

Use a fair use disclaimer when you use copyrighted material to report, teach, criticize, parody or comment without the original creator’s permission.

Most fair use falls into these three categories: Criticism, commentary and parody.

So let’s say you are commenting on a recent political event that involves Donald Trump. You want to use a photo of him for political satire or commentary, you can use in “fair use” to prevent someone from sending you a cease and desist letter, or sending you a DMCA “takedown” order. Other examples of using fair use in your videos can include when you use a short clip of copyrighted music to critique or praise it.

Therefore, as long as you’re using copyrighted material, such as photos, video clips, music, etc., you can claim “fair use.” Just be sure it’s for the purpose of criticism, commentary or parody. As a rule of thumb, use only short clips of video or music and make it a habit to draft a disclaimer for your video content.

Why should you use a disclaimer?

You’ll see disclaimers used more frequently on websites and in blogs. However, they are rarely seen in videos, especially on sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitch. However, without a disclaimer, you can face serious legal troubles. Any sharing of information and data on the web should have a disclaimer, whether it is in video or text. A disclaimer is a legal statement that outlines rights, liabilities and risks that may be expected when a user reads or views website content.

There are five legal issues applicable to video disclaimers. You can get a thorough understanding and better breakdown of those disclaimers on the following site for further reading:


As a creator, you will want to familiarize yourself with the basic legal issues addressed by disclaimers. This is especially important when you’re deciding on which one works best for your video and content. The frequently used disclaimers focus on professional liability, general liability, content control, fair use and use at your own risk. Each one addresses different issues.

How you intend to use the copyrighted work is important because the law and courts favor uses that aren’t designed to make money off the source. (source: https://www.termsfeed.com/blog/fair-use-disclaimer)

Here’s an example of a fair use–copyright disclaimer from a YouTube video:

Fair use disclaimer example on a YouTube video

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