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Is Online Streaming of Video Legal?

Updated April 04, 2017

A video can be streamed online legally by the person who owns the material, without any copyright infringements. The video content cannot violate laws that govern decency or privacy. No pornographic, nude or sexual acts should be streamed, and no personal privacy rights should be jeopardised.

Legal Video Content

The legal owner of the video has a right to steam the video online, as long as no other laws are violated. Video content that is copyrighted may not be used without the legal owner's permission. Limited use may be acceptable for private viewing with no commercial gain.

Fair Use Doctrine

The "fair use" doctrine allows copyrighted material marketed publicly and in the public interest to be used for personal use. Limited peer-to-peer sharing may be permissible in isolated situations. Video content that is in the public domain may be streamed legally without permission because it is public content.

Illegal Video Content

A legal owner does not have a legal right to stream video content that is a clear violation of human decency and privacy laws. No pornographic, deviant or explicit sexual activity can legally be streamed to the public at large. No video content that includes illegal acts such as child abuse, drug use or statutory rape should be streamed.

Right to Privacy Laws

A legal owner who streams video online can face other legal concerns. A person can not videotape anyone illegally where a private person would have an expectation of privacy, such as in the bathroom or an intimate situation. Right-to-privacy laws apply to video streaming.

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About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Victoria McGrath has been writing law-related articles since 2004. She specializes in intellectual property, copyright and trademark law. She earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Arizona, College of Law. McGrath pursued both her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Fine Arts at University of California, Los Angeles, in film and television production. Her work has been published in the Daily Bruin and La Gente Newsmagazine.