How to Fix a YouTube Copyright Claim: The Ultimate Guide

Learn how to fix a YouTube copyright claim, how to prevent copyright claims and strikes, and find out what to do when you get a copyright claim.

Written By Audrey Marshall

On October 9, 2023

So you received a copyright claim on your YouTube video 😩 You may be asking questions like: Should you worry about copyright claims? Will the copyright claim affect your video views, watch time, or monetization? And how do you fix a copyright claim?

Don’t panic! Let’s first breakdown what a copyright claim is and figure out why your video received a claim (or received a copyright strike). Then we’ll go over some tips on how to fix a YouTube copyright claim, and how to prevent copyright claims on your videos moving forward ✅

Use our quick-link guide to jump right to the section you want to explore:

  1. What is a copyright claim?
  2. Should I worry about copyright claims?
  3. How to fix a copyright claim
  4. How to prevent copyright claims
What is a YouTube Copyright Claim and How to Fix a Copyright Claim - Your Ultimate Guide

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 Content ID. Content ID is a tool provided by YouTube that allows the copyright holders to protect and manage their copyrighted content across 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.

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”

YouTube: A copyright claim was created for content

And you will probably see a notice in your YouTube Studio dashboard with the copyright claim information and details:

YouTube Copyright Claim Summary and Status

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.

The most common scenario is that the copyright owner has decided to monetize your video, meaning that you, as the video uploader, can no longer monetize the video yourself. And because you don’t have the permissions or license to use the copyrighted song or content, that’s a pretty fair deal.

Some other copyright owners are a bit more aggressive and may decide to block your videos in certain territories (sometimes worldwide) or on certain devices (some record labels might block videos on mobile devices). Or in extreme cases, the copyright owners may remove your video completely with a takedown notice (or copyright strike), which you will 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.

💡 Did you know? Sites like YouTube are required to provide copyright owners with copyright removal tools (like takedowns) in order to comply with copyright law.

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 a copyright strike. They may require you to go to Copyright School and/or restrict features or monetization on your channel.

💡 Did you know? If you receive three copyright strikes, your channel and videos may be removed entirely from YouTube (and you could be prevented from creating new YouTube channels). You can read more about copyright strikes here.

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.

Music Rights on YouTube - Music Video - Sound Recording - Composition

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.

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.

A copyright claim does not affect your entire YouTube channel or your channel’s status in the YouTube algorithm. 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.

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 advertising on your video. This means that they will monetize and earn advertising revenue from your video (instead of you) when the ads are shown.

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.

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.

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.

How to fix a copyright claim when you have a license or permission for the content

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 submitting a copyright claim 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.

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. You may have been a victim of Content ID abuse and 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.

How to fix a copyright claim when it 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:

How to fix a copyright claim by replacing or muting 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).

YouTube will provide you the option to submit a copyright dispute to 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.

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.

Is it copyright infringement if you give credit?

To be able to use copyrighted songs or content in YouTube 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).

💡 Did you know? 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 holders 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!

Free Music for YouTube Videos & Social Media • No Copyright

It’s simple, because Thematic handles 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 (sometimes also called copyright holders). 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.

Looking for more creator tools and resources? Visit Thematic’s Creator Toolkit for additional resources on creating content – including starting a YouTube channel, thumbnail and channel art templates, best practices, and of course, great royalty free songs to use in your videos for free with Thematic.

Audrey Marshall, Thematic Co-Founder & COO

This post on How to Fix Copyright Claims: The Ultimate Guide is brought to you by Thematic Co-Founder & COO Audrey Marshall

With a background in entertainment PR (via Chapman University), Audrey has led digital strategy for music artists, content creators, and brands. From brand campaigns for Macy’s, American Cancer Society, and the L’Oréal luxe family of brands, to music-driven influencer marketing campaigns for Interscope Records, Warner Music, AWAL, and Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas (featuring creators such as Lexy Panterra, Blogilates, Mandy Jiroux, Matt Steffanina, and Seán Garnier), she in an expert in navigating the influencer marketing space. Audrey has also developed and managed some of the leading beauty, lifestyle, and dance channels on YouTube.

Certified across the board with YouTube, Audrey has a specific focus on digital rights management for music assets, running multiple SRAV-enabled CMS. She is passionate about working with other builders in the space for a more transparent digital rights ecosystem.

At Thematic, Audrey leads the product team and oversees operations. She has driven partnerships with leading talent and music companies, including Songtrust, Kobalt/AWAL, Select Management, BBTV, ipsy, and Black Box, and has helped the platform grow to a thriving community of 800k+ content creators who have posted 1.5M+ videos using the platform, driving 45B+ music streams and $95M+ in earned media value for independent music artists.

Get free music for YouTube videos ✌️

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