So you received a copyright claim on your YouTube video 😩 Should you worry about copyright claims? Will the copyright claim affect your video views, watch time, or monetization? And how do you get it fixed?
Don’t panic! Let’s first breakdown what a copyright claim is and figure out why your video received a claim. Then we’ll go over some tips on how to prevent claims on your videos moving forward ✅
- What is a copyright claim?
- Should I worry about copyright claims?
- How to fix a copyright claim
- How to prevent copyright claims
What is a copyright claim on YouTube?
When you upload a video to YouTube that contains someone else’s copyright, your video is at risk of receiving a copyright claim.
The person or company that owns the copyrighted content is most likely using YouTube’s Content ID tool. Content ID allows the copyright owners to protect and manage their copyrighted content on YouTube.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. The owners of the copyrighted content have invested their time and money into making this awesome song or video that you love and want to share with your friends and followers. Because they own it, they can decide what to do if someone uses it in their video.
What happens when my video gets a copyright claim?
If your video receives a copyright claim, you may receive an email from YouTube that looks like this:
[YouTube] A copyright claim was created for content in “Your Video Title”
And you will probably see a notice in your YouTube Studio dashboard alerting you to the copyright claim:
The owner of the copyright can set their Content ID policy to either monetize, block, or track any videos on YouTube where their copyrighted material is detected. This means that when a video is uploaded to YouTube where their copyrighted content is detected, YouTube will apply their preferred policy to the user’s video.
It’s most likely that the copyright owner has decided to monetize your video, meaning that you, as the uploader, can no longer monetize the video yourself. And because you don’t have the permissions or license to use the copyrighted song or video, that’s a pretty fair deal.
Some other copyright owners are a bit more aggressive and block your videos in certain territories (sometimes worldwide) or on certain devices (some record labels might block videos on mobile devices), and in extreme cases, they remove your video completely. That’s known as a takedown notice, which you read more about below.
Assuming you received a “monetize” claim, your video will still be viewable by your followers and your channel is still in perfectly good standing on YouTube.
Is a copyright claim a copyright strike on my channel?
Rest assured that a copyright claim is not a copyright strike on your channel.
Copyright claims just mean that the copyright owner has decided to either monetize, track, or block your video in certain territories. It is not a penalty on your entire YouTube channel.
Copyright strikes, on the other hand, are valid takedown requests from the copyright owner that are filed against your content. This takedown request is an official legal action by the owner. This request results in the video being removed from YouTube completely and a strike being put on your YouTube channel.
YouTube takes these takedown notices very seriously and may make penalties on your channel when you receive multiple copyright strikes. They may require you to go to Copyright School and/or restrict features or monetization on your channel. You can read more about copyright strikes here.
What are music copyright claims?
Music copyright claims are probably the most common type of copyright claims on YouTube. This is because music is so important in making videos come alive and songs appear in almost every video on YouTube (jump ahead to find out how to get copyright safe music for YouTube videos with Thematic 😎).
So let’s break down the specifics of music copyright and how this may affect your videos.
Every song has a least one owner, but more often, multiple owners. First, there are the individuals who wrote the song and control the composition (the people who wrote the lyrics as well as the track itself).
Then there are the people who own the actual recording of the song, the master or sound recording. These people are often either record labels or the artists themselves.
For example: Joe and Emma are great friends and songwriters. They co-write a song called “Triangle.” Emma is also a singer, so she hires a producer and records the song with her own money. In this case, Joe and Emma own the copyrights for this song — Joe and Emma share ownership of the song’s composition and Emma owns the copyright for the master/sound recording of the song. Her producer may have some ownership in the master recording, as well, depending on their arrangement.
Now let’s say Emma signs a record deal and she and Joe write another song called “Square” and the label will release the song (since they paid for the recording, mastering, distribution, and promotion). In this case, Emma and Joe still share ownership of the song’s composition, but the record label most likely has ownership of the master/sound recording.
Or, as another example, Emma may choose to release the song herself through a music distributor like DistroKid, TuneCore, or CD Baby. In this case, the distributor will be an administrator of the sound recording on YouTube. This means they will be in charge of the Content ID and copyright claims for the music. However, they will not take any ownership of the song (this remains with the artist).
So when a song is playing in a video on YouTube, it may receive a music copyright claim for the sound recording. This means that the actual song file was detected in the video. This music copyright claims is usually from the record label or music distributor.
Should I worry about copyright claims?
Now that you understand what a copyright claim is, you know that you should not worry too much if you receive a claim on your video.
When you feature another person’s copyright in your video (without a license or permission to do so), you should expect to receive a copyright claim. It is simply a way for the copyright owner to control how and where their content is being featured.
However, there are a few things to keep in mind when you receive copyright claims. There may be limitations on your video’s monetization or views as a result of a claim. With that in mind, let’s dig in to some of the different ways your videos and channel may be affected by copyright claims.
Does a copyright claim affect my channel?
A copyright claim does not affect your entire YouTube channel. The copyright claim is specific to the video where the copyrighted content was detected.
For example, the video monetization, views, and watch time may be affected as a result of copyright claims.
It does not matter if your video receives one, three, or ten copyright claims. It will not affect your account or remove your channel from YouTube.
Does a copyright claim affect monetization?
Unfortunately, copyright claims do affect your video’s monetization. When your video receives a copyright claim, your video loses the ability to earn you money.
YouTube requires that you own (or have licenses for) all of the content in your videos. So when your video receives a copyright claim, you can no longer monetize that video.
The owner of the copyrighted content may choose to place ads on your video. This means that they will monetize and earn money from your video (instead of you).
Does a copyright claim affect views?
A copyright claim may affect the views of your video.
If you received a claim on your video, the copyright owner has the option to restrict your video from appearing in certain countries, on certain devices, or on certain websites.
For example, the copyright owner may choose to block your video from playing in certain countries or territories. If many of your viewers are located in those blocked countries, you will no longer get views on your video from those places.
Or the copyright owner may prevent your videos from being viewed on websites outside of YouTube. So if you often have your videos featured on blogs or other websites (where your video is embedded), you may lose views on those videos since they are no longer playable on those sites.
Does a copyright claim affect watch time?
A copyright claim may affect the watch time of your channel.
Similar to how a copyright claim may decrease your views, a copyright claim may decrease your channel’s overall watch time.
Since your video may now be unavailable to view in certain territories or on certain websites or devices, your watch time on those videos may decrease as a result of the copyright claim.
Keep in mind that the watch time from videos with copyright claims will still count toward your channel’s overall watch time. A copyright claim may just affect how much watch time each video can generate.
How to fix a copyright claim?
Let’s review the best ways to fix a copyright claim on your YouTube video. You will want to find the section that is most relevant to your specific copyright claim to find the best way to remove the claim from your video.
If none of the sections apply and you simply do not have any permission or right to use the claimed content in your video, you may want to just accept the copyright claim on your video (jump ahead to find out how to prevent music copyright claims on future videos).
You can also delete the copyright claimed video from YouTube entirely. This makes sense if you would like to replace the copyrighted content in your video with content that is fully cleared.
I have a license or permission for the content
If you have a license or permission for the copyrighted content, your best bet is to dispute the claim. You can find a step-by-step on how to do this in our Dispute a Copyright Claim section below.
This type of claim is super frustrating, especially since you’ve done the pre-work and made sure you had the proper permissions to use the content and just want to share your video.
What most likely happened here is the copyright owner has his song or video running in Content ID, finding out where the content is being used on YouTube. The copyright owner doesn’t have a way to tell his licensing company that you specifically have a license to use the content and that your video should not be claimed.
Unfortunately, this results in your video being claimed, and it’s up to you to fix the problem by filing a dispute.
We recommend providing reference to your license agreement in your dispute and contact the company through which you received your license.
If this was done directly with a record label or artist, go ahead and contact them, as well. If all goes according to plan, the claim should be released and monetization on your video will be restored. Any monies earned while the claim was in a “dispute” status will be paid out to you, as well.
Pro Tip: One thing to take note of is that your license may be for ONE video only. So if this is your second video featuring the song or content, your license may not cover this usage.
I received a fake copyright claim
If you receive a copyright claim for content that is not in your video, you should most likely file a dispute to fix the copyright claim on your video.
For example, if you own 100% of the own audio in your video but you receive a copyright claim for a song that does not play or appear in your video, this may be a fake copyright claim. Since the copyrighted content does not appear in your video, it is not correct for the copyright owner to claim your video.
Frustrating? Yes, of course. But solvable. If the copyright claim is completely false, 100% not true, and you can definitely prove it, dispute the claim and explain that the claim was made in error. Your video should not have been claimed. Period.
Pro tip: Before filing a dispute, we recommend double checking your video to make sure no copyrighted material appears. The claim information in your YouTube Studio dashboard will tell you the exact timestamps where the copyrighted content was found. This makes it easy to figure out if the copyright claim is fake or correct.
The video qualifies as Fair Use
Does your video contains a song, but you believe the usage qualifies under Fair Use? That’s a whole other topic which I won’t go into in this post as there’s a lot of grey area. I’ve included below a few great resources I suggest you check out to learn more about Fair Use:
- YouTube’s Guide to Fair Use
- Interactive Fair Use Checklist from The Ohio State University’s Health Sciences Library
- Printable Fair Use Checklist from Columbia University Libraries’ Copyright Advisory Office
Replace or mute the song
If you received an audio copyright claim, YouTube may provide you the option to replace the song in your video. You will have to choose an option from YouTube’s Audio Library and not be able to choose a different song from your computer.
Or, you can mute/remove the song completely. This means that there will be no audio during the section of the claimed content. This is not ideal, but doing this will remove the copyright claim from your video and allow you to monetize your video again (if your channel is eligible for monetization).
How to dispute a copyright claim
YouTube will provide you the option to dispute the Content ID claim directly from your YouTube Studio dashboard.
Once logged in to your YouTube channel, select the Content section from the left side menu.
Locate the video with the copyright claim. In the Restrictions column, you will see a notice that says Copyright Claim. Hover over this text and click See Details.
A pop-up window will open with all of the claim details, including the impact to your channel, the content being claimed, where the content appears in your video, and the person or company that made the claim.
To start your dispute, click on the Select Action link and click Dispute. Then simply follow the prompts to file your copyright claim dispute.
How to Prevent Copyright Claims
Now that you know the ins-and-outs of copyright claims on YouTube, let’s walk you through how to prevent copyright claims on your video moving forward. This will give you and your channel peace of mind so that you don’t have to worry about filing copyright disputes or dealing with loss of monetization for your videos.
“I gave credit in the description!”
I know, I know. I hear and see this a lot, but to be honest, that just doesn’t cut it. You may have the best intentions in the world, but simply giving credit doesn’t allow you to just use the content.
To be able to share copyrighted songs or content in your videos, you will need a license to use it. Not simply some email from the singer of the song saying “yeah, it’s ok! Go ahead and use it” (remember, unless that singer owns the song from top to bottom, from completely owning the song’s composition AND master recording, this “handshake agreement” isn’t enough).
You’ll need permission by means of a license agreed to by EVERYONE who has copyright ownership in the song.
Get a sync license
To use music in your videos copyright-free, you’ll need to secure what’s called a sync license.
A sync license is a contract that details what song you’d like to use in your video, the owners of that song, how you’d like to use the song in your video, and the exchange that takes place for you to be able to use it (are you able to use the song in exchange for a fee? In exchange for promotion?). Here’s a link to a sample sync license for reference.
How to get one of these fancy, sync licenses? Well, if you’re doing it yourself, you’ll have to contact ALL of the copyright owners of the song to arrange the deal. Then each of them will have to agree to the terms, your agreed-to exchange will take place (ie you pay them the fee), and all parties sign the document, including yourself. At that point, and at that point only, will you be able to upload your video featuring that really awesome song in your video without worry.
Now, there are some websites which handle the sync licensing and paperwork for you (phew!). If you license music from a production music library or from a music catalog, the site handles a lot of this paperwork directly. This makes your life a lot easier. You simply find your song, purchase your license, and you’re good to go!
“This whole license process sounds like a lot of work.”
Yeah, I know. It is. I’ve see the painful back-and-forths, the 20 email long thread with managers and artists and labels and publishers, the expensive license fees required by companies, the claims on videos even though you have permission, and… it’s pretty terrible, if we’re all being honest here.
Yes you heard that right – it’s simple, safe, and free to use music in your videos with Thematic!
It’s simple, because we handle all of the sync licensing for you. You don’t have to worry about tracking down and emailing back and forth with the copyright owners. We think you should be spending your time creating and sharing great content, not drowning in paperwork.
It’s safe, because you will not be claimed for using the music. Seriously. With Thematic, your videos remain claim-free and copyright-free so long as you include the provided artist promotion in your video description.
And, it’s free. We don’t believe in charging creators antiquated, expensive rates just to use 45 seconds of a song in their video. You’re getting the word out and helping provide exposure and reach to artists who are looking for just that.
At Thematic we’re excited to provide this tool for creators like yourself.
With Thematic, you get to use a wide selection of songs from the best new music artists. And you no longer have to worry about copyright claims, disputes, or strikes against your videos.
Interested in checking it out? Sign-up for Thematic at: https://hellothematic.com