Is it against any legal law or YouTube TOS themselves to embed videos (which are available for embedding obviously) for streaming on your website and put them behind a paywall, e.g. give access only through membership subscription?

If that is allowed, is it to allow to go one step further and embed the stream into an own player, like https://plyr.io/ ?

Note, which might be important: the player does not change anything about the YouTube advertisements in the video and I do not plan to play my own ads on the videos or to imply that the embedded videos are mine or similar).

  • What prevents people from watching the original, non-paywalled videos, in the first place? Even if they're unlisted they can just share the links.
    – JAB
    Jun 13, 2018 at 2:04
  • I see a lot of talk about paywalls and such. I see what's in the agreement. How many times have you heard content creators talk about exclusive videos that people will get if they support them through patreon? Early access? I don't see an exception for patreon, and that's one of the perks that patreon advertises: Early access. So take it for what it is.
    – metamech
    Jun 27, 2021 at 10:30

2 Answers 2


You may not use embedded YouTube videos behind a paywall. That is prohibited by YouTube in section 4 of the YouTube terms of service:

D. You agree not to use the Service for any of the following commercial uses unless you obtain YouTube's prior written approval:

  • the sale of access to the Service;

Youtube does make exceptions for using the embedded player on advertising supported sites, but there is no exception for paywalls.

You may not use a third party player for YouTube videos. This is also from section 4 of their terms of service:

A. You agree not to distribute in any medium any part of the Service or the Content without YouTube's prior written authorization, unless YouTube makes available the means for such distribution through functionality offered by the Service (such as the Embeddable Player).
B. You agree not to alter or modify any part of the Service.
C. You agree not to access Content through any technology or means other than the video playback pages of the Service itself, the Embeddable Player, or other explicitly authorized means YouTube may designate.
F. If you use the Embeddable Player on your website, you may not modify, build upon, or block any portion or functionality of the Embeddable Player, including but not limited to links back to the YouTube website.

Streaming the video through another player would violate the prohibitions on making the videos available other than the ways provided by YouTube or the prohibitions on modifying their embedded player.

I'd suggest looking at using another video service such as Vimeo. They have relatively inexpensive packages that can be used with commercial service.

  • Does prohibiting in the TOS make it illegal? Just curious.
    – jkd
    Jun 13, 2018 at 3:29
  • @jkd N, because a company cannot write laws. But prohibiting will make you lose a very expensive lawsuit, which is also undesirable.
    – Thomas
    Jun 13, 2018 at 7:14
  • 2
    The most likely result from violating the terms of service would be termination of the service. There is also the possibility that you could be sued. Jun 13, 2018 at 10:49
  • Vimeo or any other platform doesn't fit my needs. I want to use content that's most of the time available only on YT. Basically I want to just organize the videos differently, but I want to get paid for that. Guess it's just not happening then. Jun 14, 2018 at 10:48

You want to get paid for curation. I understand and would like the same ability. But the YouTube Terms of Service Agreement specifically prevents this as stated under Section 4, Paragraph D....

4. General Use of the Service—Permissions and Restrictions D. You agree not to use the Service for any of the following commercial uses unless you obtain YouTube's prior written approval: the sale of access to the Service;

Otherwise you would see hundreds if not thousands of paid sites curating YouTube videos on various topics and sub topics - basically charging for their curation.

But there is nothing stopping you from doing this on YouTube itself. We have a large YouTube Channel that contains a mix of our original videos, videos we distribute under license from other producers, and publicly available YouTube videos. We curate all of these by topic.

I have seen a paywall site with a page that contains curated YouTube videos. I don't believe the site owners understand that they are in violation of YouTube's Terms of Service. All other videos on their website are original to the website owners. They offer the YouTube curated video page as a perk to subscribers as this page is not available in front of their paywall. That's a great tactic: encourage subscription because, in addition to your own licensed content, you offer a large volume of curated publicly available content. Unfortunately, as we see, it's illegal.

  • Illegal might be a bit strong depending on location, definitely against Terms of Service.
    – deep64blue
    Jul 21, 2020 at 12:50

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