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Finding and Using Videos on Your Web Site

The easiest way to get video for your Web site is to find a video you like on YouTube, link to it from within your site. Your users will be able to play it while looking at your site, yet all the mechanics are handled by YouTube.

Each video on YouTube is accompanied by the HTML tags for including it in your Web page.

To find videos for your site, use YouTube’s Advanced Search.
To find videos for your site, use YouTube’s Advanced Search.

Searching for specific kinds of videos on YouTube may not be easy. Let’s say you want a clip that demonstrates cooking in a wok, just to bring to life the concept of what a wok is for people who may never have seen one.

Searching for “wok” using YouTube advanced search nets you some clips featuring obscenities, but also some that that were more useful.

But let’s say you wanted to show using a wok to cook vegetables on a site for vegetarians so you don’t want any meat involved. Typing in “wok vegetables” doesn’t turn up much.

The problem gets even worse if you want to use video, or music attached to a video, to set a mood. The initial results for “peaceful” include a movie trailer for “Peaceful Warrior” and typography relating to “tragic peaceful death.” The first result for “calm” shows two young men playing a war-themed video game in a tournament. Yikes.

However, none of this means the desired results aren’t out there, just that they are likely to be hard to find. Set yourself broad goals before looking for a specific piece of video and be prepared to look at a lot of stuff, not all of it necessarily wholesome, before finding what you want (or settling for something you deem close enough).

Be careful how you use the clips you download; the person who uploaded the video to YouTube did not agree automatically to your borrowing and re-using it. If you’re downloading video because you want to use it on your site, ask the owner first and abide by the answer you get. If the person got the video from somewhere else, doesn’t own it, and can’t really give you permission to use it, you’re better off not using it on your Web page.

You can link to online video clips from many sources besides YouTube, but those hosts may well frown on your linking to their expensively produced, stored, and served. Be very careful whose online videos you link to from your site, especially if you embed the video clip in your own page.

There are huge copyright issues with video and with YouTube. It’s possible that someday the bands whose work is posted on YouTube (or their record label) will go after YouTube. But it’s pretty unlikely that ordinary people who link to the video from their own Web sites will be involved. However, if your site makes money, or if you have a lot of money that you need to protect, you may want to talk to a lawyer before linking to copyrighted content.

Overall, such legal worries seem to favor using YouTube, which encourages the re-use of their videos, as opposed to other online sources for video.

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