YouTube Copyright: What Every Creator Needs to Know

 YouTube Copyright: What Every Creator Needs to Know


YouTube has been around for decades, and while it has evolved and changed quite a bit, one thing has remained constant throughout its journey — copyright rules. Anyone can upload to YouTube, but no one is allowed to infringe copyright.

In many countries, when an individual creates an original work and preserves it in tangible material, they automatically own the copyright associated with that work. As the copyright owner, he has the exclusive right to use the work in question. And most of the time, only the copyright holder may give others permission to use that work.

And although many already know YouTube’s copyright rules and uncompromising stance when it comes to violating them, some creators on the platform still try to game the rules or think they shouldn’t apply to them. Even worse, some are exploiting loopholes and abusing the copyright system. 

Let’s dive into the world of YouTube copyright, how it works, why it’s important, and the consequences of infringing it.

Copyright on YouTube

So, you have decided to start your career as a YouTube content creator. What now? You’re working on your first video, and you have copyright questions. Well, if you upload a video that you produced and it only contains content that you created yourself, then the copyright of that video belongs to you.

You cannot steal someone else’s content and re-upload it as your own or include it in your own video without express permission. This includes music, movies, shows, other people’s video content, and anything you don’t create or own. YouTube is pretty strict about this, and you will be punished if you plagiarize someone else’s work.

According to YouTube’s copyright rules, your first strike will result in a copyright strike, and if you receive three strikes, you will be banned from the platform and your channel will be deleted.

Of course, this does not mean that you cannot use copyrighted content at all. It simply means that if you want to use content you don’t own the rights to, there are things you need to do first.

You must have permission from the original creator to include it, or you must adhere to the fair use rules. For something to fall within fair use, you must prove that you are using the copyrighted content to make a comment, review, critique, or use it to make a parody.

Fair use is a legal principle that states that copyrighted material may be reused in certain circumstances without permission from the copyright owner.

It is generally accepted that for something to be classified as fair use, your comment and criticism must outweigh and add to the other content you use. So, as you sit there watching, barely uttering a word, what you’re doing can hardly be called fair use.

Whether something falls within the bounds of fair use is determined on a case-by-case basis, and many people take advantage of YouTube’s strict system to report copyright infringement when it doesn’t exist. YouTube is still having a hard time sorting out real complaints from fake ones, thanks to the many people who have taken advantage of its strict copyright policy to outpace other creators in their field.

What types of works are subject to copyright?

  • Audiovisual works, such as TV shows, movies, and online videos.
  • Audio clips and musical compositions.
  • Written works, such as lectures, articles, books, and musical compositions.
  • Visual works, such as paintings, posters, and advertisements.
  • Video games and computer applications.
  • Dramatic works, such as plays and musicals
Ideas, facts and processes are not subject to copyright. According to copyright law, a work must be created and contained in tangible material to be eligible for copyright protection. The names and addresses themselves are not subject to copyright.

The intention does not matter

When it comes to copyright on YouTube, your intent won’t save you from getting infringed. If you break the rules without taking the appropriate steps, you will face the consequences. 

Attribution is not enough

What is attribution? Well, attribution is that you explicitly say in your video that “This content comes from [the original author]” or include that information in the video description box, video title, or pin comment.

Yes, you may have attributed the content to its original creator, but no, that is not enough to protect you from copyright infringement.

For content that is not your own, you must obtain permission from its creator to use it and/or provide ample feedback on the footage so that it falls within fair use. Just saying you used someone else’s work does not absolve you, even if you had the best of intentions, such as wanting to praise or criticize the original creator.

As a content creator, you can make money on YouTube. It allows you to monetize your videos by just checking a couple of boxes. First, you must have at least 1,000 subscribers. And second, you must have accumulated at least 4,000 watch hours over the past 12 months. After that, you are free to turn on monetization and monetize your content.

However, if you violate copyright rules and misuse someone else’s content, it doesn’t matter whether you monetized that video or not. Some creators are under the illusion that if they don’t invest in stolen content, YouTube won’t care that they’re violating copyright. this is not true.

Copyright Infringement on YouTube: Disclosure and Consequences
So what happens if you violate copyrighted content? Let’s examine the possible consequences.

Get an alert

There are two types of strikes on YouTube: copyright strikes and Community Guidelines strikes.

You can get a Community Guidelines violation for many reasons. For example, if you use the wrong type of thumbnail for your video, ie if it is misleading and does not reflect what is actually shown in the video. To avoid being caught in breach of our Community Guidelines, it’s best to familiarize yourself with YouTube’s Community Guidelines.

A copyright strike comes your way if you use copyrighted material in your video. As indicated, it can be music, videos, photos, or anything that you do not have the right to use or do not have permission to use.

Although you can file a counter-notice of copyright infringement and try to fix the problem, be careful not to stir it up too much. As explained earlier, getting three copyright strikes means losing your channel and all your videos and getting banned from the platform.

Takedown notice

If a copyright owner discovers their content is being used by someone else in a video without permission, the copyright owner can submit a complaint to YouTube.

If YouTube then determines that it is a valid complaint, it can remove your video. Apart from removing the video, YouTube also grants you a copyright strike.

Match the content identifier

What is a content identifier? It is an automatic system that YouTube uses to match content that is deemed to be infringing copyright. Since thousands of videos are uploaded to YouTube every hour, the content identifier is very useful in checking millions of videos and making sure there are no copyright violations.

For the content identifier to work, copyright holders must upload reference files or, in other words, original copies of their work, so that it is easy to verify that they own the rights.

When you upload reference files as the copyright owner, YouTube uses the content identifier system to check all newly uploaded videos and determine if anyone has plagiarized your work. And if there is a match, YouTube automatically submits a copyright claim in your name. 

Three copyright strikes and you’re in, so be careful

There are several things you can do to avoid copyright infringement. For example, you can use the YouTube Audio Library, which contains royalty-free ringtones that you can use in your videos. There are also plenty of sites online that allow you to download copyright-free music for free.

And if you are caught using copyrighted material, make sure you have permission to do so. Otherwise, you are in for a huge gamble. There are plenty of resources you can turn to instead of copyright infringement, because doing so has consequences, and you will lose your channel and all your videos, along with being banned from YouTube completely. This is not worth the risk.