Lately, I've been thinking that uploading a YouTube video of a proof that was shown in class would help me with understanding it better. Before doing so, I would like to have a better understanding of if this counts as plagiarism - The lecture notes are only shared on a private website of the course (and to students only), and uploading myself describing the proof seems like a grey area. Any thoughts on that?

Furthermore, what about the idea of me re-writing the proof in my own words, but still maintaining the same thread of thought? so for example, I'd share my own perspective on a lemma, but would still show it and prove it?

Finally, what if I do upload a YouTube video but base it on some online source and not my professor's notes? This seems like the best option as I view it.

Regardless, I would appreciate your opinion!

1 Answer 1


It isn't plagiarism unless you say or imply that the ideas are yours. Even then, those ideas are probably well known in general if they were in a textbook.

But what you suggest is probably a "derived work" and copyright law may apply to it. You can ask the professor for guidance on this. They might approve of it. But in any case, it is copyright that you need to be concerned with here, plagiarism not so much.

The same applies to other copyrighted works, such as things you find online.

  • 2
    I think it is quite likely that copyright doesn't come into play at all. What is protected by copyright is not the idea of the proof, but the professor's specific presentation of it. It's totally fine to present the same proof in a different way. (And even then, it seems beyond unlikely that a busy professor would care about a grey-area copyright issue with a student making a video about a proof that happens to be in one of their textbooks...) Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 18:39
  • @TomvanderZanden, one of the rights granted to copyright holders is typically control over derived works. It might not be the professor that cares but the publisher of the textbook. See, for example, legalzoom.com/articles/…
    – Buffy
    Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 18:51
  • It's not a derivative work if it does not contain any (significant) elements of the original work that are copyrighted. The proof itself (likely) isn't copyrighted, only the specific presentation of it is. Commented Aug 20, 2022 at 0:33
  • May be worth also considering this related answer discussing the copyright provisions of the US Code (though author may be in a different jurisdiction).
    – Ben
    Commented Aug 20, 2022 at 5:01

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