How To Copy Protect YouTube Video

Can YouTube Videos Be Copy Protected?

Yes. But it is not easy by any means. To understand the problem with Copy protecting YouTube video see YouTube Limitations below. When you understand those limitations, then you can read the YouTube Copy Protection Solution further below and hopefully appreciate why it has to be done that way.

YouTube Limitations

First and foremost is the limitation of how YouTube videos can be played on web pages. For example YouTube will not allow direct embedding of their videos in a HTML5 video player. In fact to display YouTube videos the only permissible way is by displaying the video link in an iFrame, and as the iFrame is provided by YouTube there is no way to edit or change any attributes of their embedded video player. Consequently, you cannot:

  • Add any form of copy protection to the YouTube page that displays the video.
  • Prevent ads from being played on a YouTube video.
  • Remove the link to copy the YouTube video link.
  • Remove the link for "Watch on YouTube".
  • Remove the right-click menu for COPY of the YouTube video.

However you can add an overlay to prevent mouse contact on the iFrame window. However that does have a major limitation in that the video controls will be disabled as well. But won’t be a problem if you set the iFrame player to autoplay, which will enable your visitor to start the video automatically as soon as it reloads and to replay, they can simply reload the page.

If you think that is too limiting for your purpose, then forget trying to protect YouTube videos and instead upload your video to your own website or a cheap/free hosting service so that you can use a HTML5 video player that you can edit and have some control over.

YouTube Copy Protection Solution

If you are content with the limitation of applying an overlay, then the news does get better. By displaying your iFrame on a web page delivered by the ArtistScope Site Protection Software (ASPS), your video and everything else on that page can be most securely protected from all copy including download, save and screen recording, and it will be protected on Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone and iPad devices!

ASPS is a server filter that can be installed to any Linux or Windows web server to deliver encrypted web pages to the ArtisBrowser, which is a specially designed web browser to decrypt those pages and display them in copy protected mode. All other web browsers, which are in all cases useless for any copy protection project, cannot even get the encrypted version of the web page and even packet sniffers are useless for intercepting anything that can give away the direct links to YouTube.

Adding A Protective Overlay Over YouTube Videos

Anyone with CSS experience can add a DIV overlay to cover the iFrame with another DIV. We do provide a demo of how effective that can be and do provide support to ASPS clients for doing so, however site owners using CMS like WordPress, Moodle, etc need to realise that the CSS needed for the web page will need to be added to a suitable CMS plugin for video player. However if one can create static web pages in their CMS then a custom template will certainly be possible. Otherwise a custom YouTube media player plugin will soon be available for WordPress for ASPS clients only.

Limitations in Copy Protecting YouTube Video With An Overlay

As you can see by visiting the demo link below (requires ArtisBrowser) that all video controls are disabled including download, fullscreen and right-click menus on YouTube and unfortunately... start, pause and stop. Leaving the only means of starting the video is by autoplay as the page loads. The video cannot be stopped and sound can only be varied from the desktop. Of course, to replay the video all you need to do is reload the page.

Online Demonstration Of YouTube Video With A Protective Overlay

As proof of concept we made a demo that displays on a normal WordPress web page. The ArtisBrowser will be required to access this copy protected demo.

Author: William Kent
Date: 11th July 2021

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