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If I were to make an iOS app that whichs primary function is to play specific 3rd party YouTube videos, is that okay to do without asking for their permission? Or do I need to have a legal agreement with each publisher?

  • Please keep in mind that you won't get legal advice here. Depending of the nature and scope of your application you may be better off consulting a lawyer. – nohillside Jun 7 '14 at 10:27
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There is a setting in youtube called public.

That means anyone can view it, including downloading or from other apps ect.

If the owner wants to prevent that he/she can do that in youtube settings.

As long your app is not breaking the youtube T&Cs and you are fine.

Consider following: many websites contain link to youtube and many even allow embedding the videos, so it is up to the owner to allow or not.

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