Past work on cooperative communications has indicated substantial improvement in channel reliability through cooperative transmission strategies. To exploit this benefit for video transmission, we propose to jointly allocate bits among video coding, channel coding and cooperation to optimize the decoded video quality. Recognizing that not all source bits are equal, we further propose to protect the more important bits through user cooperation. We simulate and compare four modes of video transmission that differ in their error protection strategy (equal vs. layered, with vs. without cooperation). Our simulation uses the H.263+ video codec and the RCPC channel code over quasi-static Rayleigh fading channels. We show that cooperation can provide significant improvement over no-cooperation when the average channel SNR is in the low to medium range, and that layered cooperation can extend this benefit to the entire range of channel quality.