26 Embedding and Linking

When an author is unable to find or create a needed video, image, or other item for their open textbook, they often ask if linking or embedding copyrighted material–for which all rights are reserved–is permitted. As a publisher of open textbooks, BCcampus Open Education has developed recommendations on this issue while taking into account the guiding principles and values behind open educational practices and resources.

Linking text

Linking to a website or deep linking to a web page does not require permission from the copyright holder and is not considered copyright infringement. However, linking to a website that obviously violates copyright law, such as one that hosts pirated music or films, should be avoided.

If an author decides to link to restricted material within their open textbook, it is recommended that descriptive text be used for the link so, if taken out of context, the reader knows exactly to what resource they are being redirected. This method also addresses accessibility requirements for linking.

For more information, see Links in the Accessibility Toolkit – 2nd Edition.

Embedding a video

Embedding–or inline linking–involves adding an embed code to a web source (such as an open textbook) that results an a visual representation–or streaming–of digital content, such as a video, from another web source, such as YouTube or Vimeo. This is a very popular practice because: 1) viewers don’t need to access a second website to watch the video and 2) the embedder doesn’t sacrifice bandwidth because the video data is stored on the original site.

The question for open textbook authors, however, is: Does embedding violate copyright infringement for videos not released with a CC or open licence?

In his blog post, “Is it legal to embed YouTube videos in a blog post?” Kenny Novak answers this question with a summary of YouTube’s terms. He says: “…as long as YouTube’s terms permit it, any YouTube user can embed your content without needing to ask your permission, because you already GAVE them permission simply by uploading your content to YouTube.”

All videos shared on YouTube are assigned to one of two licences.

  • The Standard YouTube licence is added, by default, to all videos uploaded to YouTube and set the conditions described by Novak above.
  • A Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence is also available, but the user must manually make the change from a Standard YouTube licence to the CC BY licence by following these instructions. The CC BY licence lets the video’s copyright holder give users advanced permission to copy, change, redistribute, and retain copies of the video.
For more information, see “YouTube” in the Videos, Audio, and Interactive Media chapter of the Pressbooks Guide.


For authors who wish to embed videos by other creators in their open textbooks, it is recommended that they:

  1. make a best effort to embed openly-licensed or public domain videos
  2. embed videos from video-sharing websites for which:
    • the Terms of Service clearly indicate this action is permitted
    • copyright holders can remove their videos in cases of copyright infringement
  3. provide proper attribution

If an author or publisher decides to embed a restricted video in an open textbook, it is recommended that this information and a link to the original content are clearly indicated out in the attribution statement.


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Self-Publishing Guide Copyright © 2018 by BCcampus is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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