April 19, 2024

How Not to Get Copyrighted on YouTube: A Content Creator's Guide

Another day, another claim. YouTube’s copyright system is complex and at times unpredictable. Today’s guide aims to inform you on how to not get copyrighted on YouTube.

Photo of a typewriter with a paper saying "Copyright Claim" and overlaid text saying "How Not to Get Copyrighted on YouTube"
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

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Written by
Filipe Pessoa

Marketing & Sociology. Gamer and music producer.

Table of contents

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Copyright on YouTube is a huge ongoing discussion. On one hand copyrights are necessary, on the other YouTube’s strikes go beyond what common sense is and are even abused. if you’re trying to learn how to not get copyrighted on YouTube you’re likely not alone - YouTube’s Content ID copyright claims increased 25% in 2023. In this quick guide I will let you know what you should be careful with to avoid copyright strikes and you can leverage fair use for your own content. If you’re a creator making original content and looking into creating YouTube Shorts, TikToks and Instagram Reels from it give Framedrop a try, just be wary of the following:

In Summary: How to Not Get Copyrighted on YouTube

To avoid getting copyrighted on YouTube follow the following tips:

  • Use Only Original Content: Upload videos that you have created yourself or have obtained proper authorization to use.
  • Utilize Copyright Management Tools: Take advantage of YouTube's Copyright Match Tool and Content ID to identify and manage copyrighted material.
  • Respond Promptly to Copyright Claims: Address copyright claims and disputes promptly to avoid strikes against your account.
  • Understand Fair Use and Fair Dealing: Familiarize yourself with the principles of fair use (in the US) or fair dealing (in other countries) to determine if your use of copyrighted material qualifies as an exception.
  • Explore YouTube's Audio Library: Access free music and sound effects from YouTube's Audio Library for safe use in your videos.
  • Obtain Proper Licenses: If you wish to use commercial music in your videos, obtain the necessary licenses or permissions from the copyright holders.
  • Stay Informed: Keep yourself updated on copyright laws and YouTube's policies to be sure to be compliant and protect your channel.

Here’s What the YouTube Copyright Rules Say

Copyright rules can be daunting. Understanding them is important to avoid copyright infringement and to make sure your channel lasts a long time. So, what exactly are these:

The Golden Rule: Only Use What You Own or Have Permission to Use

The cornerstone of YouTube's copyright policy is simple: only upload videos that you've created yourself or have explicit permission to use. This means refraining from using content that belongs to someone else, such as music tracks, snippets of copyrighted programs, or videos created by other users, without proper authorization.

Copyright Exceptions: Know Your Rights

YouTube recognizes certain exceptions to copyright law that allow you to reuse copyrighted material under specific circumstances. The most well-known exception in the US is fair use. What is fair use? It is a legal doctrine that considers factors like the purpose of use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount used, and the impact on the market. Similar concepts exist in other countries, such as fair dealing in Canada, the UK, and Australia, and specific categories in EU countries outlined in Article 17 of the EU Digital Single Market copyright directive. It may seem like an easy shortcut for impressions on YouTube to just copy and paste content but that won’t hold up legally.

International Landscape: Variations in Copyright Laws

While there are some commonalities in copyright exceptions globally, each country has its own set of rules. The Berne Convention provides a framework for reuses in specific categories, but the applicability of copyright exceptions is ultimately decided by courts on a case-by-case basis.

YouTube's Mission and Tools for Creators

YouTube says they are committed to promoting freedom of expression while respecting copyright. To support creators, YouTube provides tools such as the Audio Library for free music and sound effects, Copyright Management Tools for rights holders to manage their content, and features like the Copyright Match Tool and Content ID for identifying and managing copyrighted material.

How Rights Holders Make Copyright Claims

Rights holders can submit copyright notifications through YouTube's DMCA webform, use the Copyright Match Tool to find re-uploads of their content, or utilize Content ID for more complex rights management needs.

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What Happens If You Break the Rules?

Failure to adhere to copyright policies can have serious repercussions, ranging from copyright strikes to account termination. So, what are the consequences for each type of infringement?

Copyright Strikes: Three Strikes and You're Out

When a copyright owner submits a valid Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaint through YouTube's webform, the infringing video is taken down, and a copyright strike is issued to the uploader's account. If a user accumulates three copyright strikes within a 90-day period, their account, along with any associated channels, faces termination.

What this means: Losing your account due to copyright strikes can result in the loss of your entire body of work, subscribers, and potentially your source of income if you're part of the YouTube Partner Program.

Content ID: A Complex Rights Management System

YouTube's Content ID is a sophisticated digital fingerprinting system that allows rights holders to manage their content on the platform. When a video is uploaded, Content ID scans it for matches with copyrighted material in its database. If a match is found, the rights holder can choose to track, monetize, or block the video.

What this means: Content ID offers rights holders a powerful tool to protect their intellectual property. For creators, having their videos flagged by Content ID can lead to demonetization or restrictions on their content's visibility.

Copyright Claims: Webform Submissions and Other Tools

Rights holders can submit copyright notifications through YouTube's DMCA webform or utilize tools like the Copyright Match Tool to identify unauthorized use of their content. Additionally, they can leverage Content ID for more complex rights management needs.

What this means: Copyright claims can result in the removal of infringing content, demonetization, or even legal action against the uploader. It's essential for creators to respond promptly and appropriately to copyright claims to mitigate potential consequences.

Other Consequences: Legal Ramifications and Reputation Damage

Beyond copyright strikes and Content ID matches, copyright infringement can have legal ramifications, including lawsuits and financial penalties. Moreover, repeatedly violating copyright policies can tarnish a creator's reputation within the YouTube community and damage their brand.

What this means: In addition to the immediate consequences imposed by YouTube, copyright infringement can have long-term implications for a creator's career and livelihood.

How NOT to Avoid Copyright Rules

While it's natural to seek ways to use copyrighted material without facing consequences, it's essential to recognize that certain practices, though commonly believed to be effective, can actually lead to copyright issues:

Speeding Up Music

Speeding up copyrighted music is a tactic often used by creators to avoid detection by YouTube's Content ID system. However, this method is not foolproof and can still result in copyright claims and potential strikes against your channel. YouTube's Content ID system is sophisticated and can detect altered versions of copyrighted content, including music that has been sped up. Even minor alterations to the speed or pitch of a song may not be sufficient to evade detection.

Adding Disclaimers

Some creators believe that adding disclaimers such as "I don’t claim rights to this song" or "No copyright infringement intended" will protect them from copyright claims. However, these disclaimers hold little legal weight and do not shield creators from liability. While disclaimers may indicate an awareness of copyright laws, they do not change the fact that the content in question is still being used without permission from the copyright holder.

Using Royalty-Free Music Incorrectly

Many creators turn to royalty-free music as a solution to avoid copyright issues. However, using royalty-free music incorrectly, such as failing to adhere to the licensing terms or misinterpreting what constitutes royalty-free use, can still lead to copyright claims. While royalty-free music allows creators to use the music without paying ongoing royalties, it does not mean that the music can be used without any restrictions. Each royalty-free music track comes with its own set of licensing terms, which must be followed to avoid copyright infringement.

Note: Be sure to take these into consideration if you stream on YouTube as well. The stream and its VOD can still go through the copyright system so make sure you know how to edit a YouTube live stream video.

Final Thoughts - Copyright Mastery Achieved

Stay safe out there fellas, the copyright world is messy. Creators have to be on their “A game” to avoid any potential claims or identifications. Above all, study fair use and use it correctly by adding value to it. A few mistakes and your channel can be gone. The answer to how not to get copyrighted on YouTube lies within your content. And this applies to all short-form content as well, so make your life easier by removing possible copyrighted content from your videos and using Framedrop.ai to transform them to shorts, automatically.

Turn your YouTube videos to Shorts

Reach new audiences and repurpose your content with AI highlights.

Get started now!


What are YouTube copyright rules?

YouTube copyright rules are guidelines and regulations that govern the use of copyrighted material on the platform. Generally, you must have the legal right to use any content you upload to YouTube, whether it's music, videos, images, or other creative works. Violating copyright rules can result in serious consequences, including the removal of your content, strikes against your account, and even legal action from copyright holders. YouTube provides tools like Content ID to help copyright owners manage their content on the platform, which can automatically detect and manage the use of copyrighted material.

How do I avoid copyright on YouTube?

To avoid copyright issues on YouTube, you should confirm that you have the necessary rights or permissions to use any copyrighted material in your videos. Here are some ways to avoid copyright problems:

  • Create your own original content: Use your own videos, images, and music that you have created yourself.
  • Use royalty-free or licensed material: Utilize content from sources that provide licenses or permissions for use, such as Creative Commons or royalty-free music libraries.
  • Obtain permission: If you want to use copyrighted material owned by others, seek explicit permission from the copyright holder.
  • Familiarize yourself with fair use: Understand the concept of fair use, which allows for the limited use of copyrighted material for purposes such as commentary, criticism, parody, or education, without the need for permission.
Why does my youtube short say copyright claim?

If your YouTube short has a copyright claim, it means that YouTube's automated systems or a copyright holder has identified copyrighted material within your video. This could be music, video clips, images, or any other content that is protected by copyright. When a copyright claim is detected, the copyright holder may choose to:

  • Monetize the video by placing ads on it.
  • Track the video's viewership statistics.
  • Mute the audio containing the copyrighted material.
  • Block the video from being viewed in certain countries or altogether.
  • As the creator, you may have limited options depending on the type of claim and the policies of the copyright holder. You can review the details of the claim in your YouTube Studio dashboard and take appropriate action, such as removing the copyrighted material, replacing it with non-copyrighted content, or disputing the claim if you believe it was made in error.
Published at
April 19, 2024
Filipe Pessoa

Having a bachelor's degree in Sociology and currently getting his Masters' in Marketing, Filipe has always followed a customer-centric ethos. In 2021, Filipe was part of one of the 3 European Innovation Academy winning projects - CultureKit - as its CMO. Since joining Framedrop in August 2022, Filipe has worked on a wide array of tasks such as Copywriting, Lead Generation, Influencer Marketing and even dipped his toes in SEO.

When not working, Filipe channels his creativity into music production in his home studio.

Favorite sport: Football ⚽️

Favorite hobby: Gaming 🎮

Favorite musical artist: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard 🎸

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