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BROWSE MUSIC

What Every Creator Should Know About Video Licensing

Every content creator’s time is limited. There are just never enough hours in a week to brainstorm, film, and edit all the videos that you want to make. That’s true for everyone, whether you see content as a fun hobby, a side hustle, or a freelance business.

So it makes sense why so many content creators are in the market for ways to speed up the production process. Because the more videos you can make, the more client work you can handle, or the more YouTube subscribers you can attract to your channel.

Well, video licensing is a pretty big way to save yourself time and effort. I know it might seem a little counterintuitive at first glance. I mean, if you enjoy video production, do you really need to license someone else’s content?

The truth is that video licensing — if used correctly — can help you streamline your video workflow. In other words, it can be a resource that lets you spend more time working on the types of projects you enjoy most.

And who doesn’t want to spend more time doing what they love?

What Exactly Is Video Licensing?

Video licensing is exactly what it sounds like — it’s the legal process of paying to license video content for any other project.

You might want to grab stock footage to use as an establishing shot, or to introduce a location in a travel vlog. Maybe you want placeholder content in a larger project or a freelance job.

Regardless of the project, stock video is an easy, relatively affordable way to get high-quality video content. And the only way to access that is by purchasing a license.

Copyright laws (and the general concept of intellectual property) exist to protect creatives. So licensing videos works just like finding images, fonts, music, or sound effects. If you are using something that someone else created, you’ll need to license it. 

Video licensing is just the process of filling out and paying for a license, usually from a stock video website or even a content creator’s online marketplace. 

Why Should I License Video Content?

Remember that earlier comment about being able to streamline your production process?

Think about things like b roll footage. Or very particular (and maybe a little bit unusual) requests for commercial or client projects. Sure, you could go out and shoot that stuff yourself...but if you could license video to meet those needs, you could save yourself time shooting and editing.  

Content creators upload 720,000 hours of videos to YouTube every single day in 2020. That’s 500 hours of content going live every minute, and we’re only talking about YouTube. You’ll find even more video content on other sites out there.

There’s never been more stock footage available to license, and the quality of that footage might very well be higher than what you could get out of your own gear. In that sense, licensing video could also be a way to boost production value without having to invest in a new camera or lens.

Can’t I Just Use Videos For Free?

The short answer is “Not unless you want to be sued for $100,000.”

And since I assume going to court isn’t something you want, let’s spend a minute talking through the long answer to this question.

I mentioned copyright law earlier, but you really can’t understate its importance for creators. Sure, it might seem like a nuisance when you have a video claimed/taken down because of a song you used. But those same rules protect your content too.

Not every case of copyright infringement will cost you tens of thousands of dollars. In some cases, you’ll just receive a copyright claim or strike and have that video taken down (or monetized by whoever filed the claim against you). 

But video content is policed by YouTube’s Content ID and similar systems. Companies are cracking down on copyright infringement, so make sure you are legally entitled to any content you include in your video projects.

Oh, and for the record, it is possible to find some free video. But it’s extremely limited, which means the quality can be hit-or-miss and it can be difficult to find.

Video only enters the public domain (a.k.a. “becomes free for everyone”) in one of two ways: If the creator posts it online and forfeits their copyright to it, or if the video was created by a government office, since that technically means the public has access to that content.

But if you want video content that’s well-made, edited, and looks like it’s something you would want to use in your net project, you will almost certainly have to pay for video licensing.

How Do I Find Videos To License?

Most creators have at least a little familiarity with licensing things. That might be ambient background music, transition sound effects, any variant of those things. Unless you are one of those people who are good at everything you touch, you’ve probably licensed something for a previous project.

The point is, paying for the rights to use someone else’s work is a very normal part of creating content in 2020. Royalty free music is a tool that makes filmmaking easier, so it only makes sense that you could use high-quality stock footage the same way.

And royalty free marketplaces understand that. These companies invest in the media files you need to make your work as good as it can be. Even sites like Vimeo (traditionally a hosting platform used mostly by professionals, agencies, and freelancers) offers stock video options now.

Video licensing is a tool that any content creator can use. From replacing b roll footage to adding more depth with establishing shots, stock video can add depth, emotion, and value to any project that you work on.

And now that you know how to use it, think about how licensed video could have an impact on your next video. Like those dream locations you can’t visit, or the specific shots you can’t get.

Well, now you can.

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