The Internet has opened lots of possibilities for sourcing videos, but also some dangers if we are wanting to obey copyright law. http://www.youtube.com is great resource for sharing your videos, particularly for video-blogging or those quirky party tricks. However, like music sharing programs, it has also been used to distribute videos that do not have the creators permission to be up there. Just because it is on youtube does not mean you can use it as you please. For example, tv episodes are more often than not illegal posts – better to go to the network site if you want to watch it or get the DVD.
Basic principle: With any youtube (or online) video, look for whether or not it has been posted by the creator or distributor. If not, then don’t use it. If yes, then contact them and ask for permission before using it. I think this is why Youtube doesn’t have a download feature – they know people will use Youtube to distribute illegal content, and so try to limit that. (In saying this, youtube has started going along the Vimeo line of indicating that there is some kind of license, and you choose a license when you upload a video now. But it’s still hard to find where this information is)
There are lots of places online that you can get video to use with permission granted – see my earlier post. Really, it’s coming down to a decision as to whether or not you want to submit to the copyright authorities – if this is you, then you are going to be more limited in your video choice. And that’s ok. It has the potential to actually help you be more creative – you’re liberated from having to use the ‘perfect’ video! You may even find an even better video for your purposes that you are free to use and would not have otherwise found. And you get to love your neighbour by using video with permission.