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How to avoid a copyright strike on YouTube? A concise YT copyright guide

Youtube has an immense amount of user-generated content, which means that a lot of individuals own the copyright to their stuff on the platform. However, with millions of hours of videos uploaded every day on the streaming platform, protecting these copyrights can become tedious and so YouTube has certain rules and community guidelines in place to help protect these copyrights.

While channels can contend a copyright claim, the video is taken down by Youtube after they receive a “complete and valid legal request” by the copyright owner and the channel’s monetisation is also affected. This can really hamper those that rely on their influence and Youtube advertisement money to keep the engines running. If you received a copyright strike on a live stream, then you won’t be able to live stream again for 90 days.

Moreover, getting three copyright strikes means that all the videos uploaded to your channel will be removed, your channel might get terminated, including any associated channels and you won’t be able to create new channels in the future too.

However, if your channel is in the Youtube partner program, it won’t be disabled immediately following three copyright strikes. You’ll be given a seven day period, during which you can try to counter and resolve the copyright strike. During the courtesy period, your channel will remain live, but you won’t be able to upload new videos.

To avoid copyright claims on YouTube, you must understand the Fair use policy on the platform as well as some other things like Content ID claims and how they differ from copyright claims.

According to Youtube, “Ideas, facts, and processes are not subject to copyright. According to copyright law, to be eligible for copyright protection, a work must be creative, and it must be fixed in a tangible medium. Names and titles are not, by themselves, subject to copyright.”

Also read: How to create a YouTube channel?

What is Fair use on YouTube?

Top 11 tech channels on YouTube that you must check outFair use on Youtube means that the creator of the video has reused short snippets of other’s copyright-protected work without their express permission, which adds new value to the existing work and is not merely blatant copying of content. You can watch this video as an example of Fair use, as suggested by Youtube.

While Fair Use (also known as Fair Dealing in some countries) policy may differ depending on your country, it’s broadly similar, barring a few exceptions. According to Youtube, “works of commentary, criticism, research, teaching, or news reporting might be considered fair use” in USA. However, Fair Use is governed by several factors on Youtube, and four of them are listed below.

  • Nature of content: If the new content, which includes reused copyrighted content, isn’t just a blatant copy of the original but adds value to the entire piece, it will be considered fair use by the courts, though if the same content is being used for commercial use, it’s less likely to be regarded as fair use; non-profit educational videos have a higher chance of being passed as a fair use case. In any case, you can still monetise a commercial video with reused content if it’s fair use.
  • Fact and fiction: Reusing factual work is more likely to be considered fair use than using a work of fiction.
  • Amount reused: If you’re reusing small bits and snippets, it’s more likely to be considered fair use than copying large portions. If the copied content creates the core of the new one, then it might not be considered fair use.
  • Potential harm to the copyright owner: If your reused work can potentially harm the profits of the copyright owners, they’re less likely to be considered fair use.

Copyright Strike vs Content ID claims on YouTube

While copyright strikes emerge when the owner feels you’ve infringed upon their rights, they can alternatively also put a Content ID claim on your video, which — if accepted by Youtube — would mean that all the ad money from that video would go to them.

If a copyright owner files a Content ID claim, then your video won’t be taken down, you won’t get a copyright strike, but your ad money will go to the copyright owner. However, in case a piece of background music has been claimed in your video, there’s a chance you can share the revenue with the copyright owners. You can read more about sharing advertising revenue on Youtube here.

Copyright owners can choose to block their videos in specific regions or worldwide and can also restrict where they appear online. Content ID rights aren’t granted to every channel but those that meet the criteria.

How to resolve a copyright strike?

  • Wait for 90 days so that the copyright strike expires and complete copyright school if it’s your first strike.
  • You can also ask the copyright owner to retract their claim of infringement.
  • You can also submit a counter-notification to Youtube to dispute the claim if you think the video was removed by mistake and it didn’t violate any copyright or can be considered fair use. You can also do the same for a Content ID claim.

Copyright myths debunked: How to avoid getting copyright strikes?

Here are a few myths about copyrights on Youtube that you should know about before uploading a video to avoid copyright strikes against your channel.

Phone Myths Debunked: 11 things you've been re-told that are not true

  • Giving credit to the owner means you can use copyrighted content: No, you can’t. Giving credit to the copyright owner doesn’t give you the right to use their work; you need express permission from them to do that. Even if you’re relying on fair use policy to escape from a copyright violation, it makes sense to secure rights to everything unlicensed in your video before you upload it to avoid getting a copyright strike.
  • Non-profits can reuse and monetise content: Another misconception is that if you’ve declared your channel or organisation as non-profit or tagged the video ‘for entertainment only’ you can reuse and monetise copyright-protected content. While not-profits get more relaxation when analysing fair use, being one doesn’t defend you against copyright strikes.
  • Others are doing it, so can I: Well, you shouldn’t. If some other creator is reusing copyrighted material, it’s likely that they have permissions from the copyright owner. If they don’t, their channel will be subject to a copyright strike, and if you copy them and use copyrighted material in your videos, you might receive a copyright strike too. Always make sure to take permission from the copyright owner before reusing their original work in your videos.
  • Purchased content (CDs, digital media) can be resued: You can’t use music or videos that you’ve purchased either on CD, DVD or digital stores such as iTunes as purchasing such media doesn’t give you the rights to it, which are reserved by the creators. Using such media will most likely lead to copyright violation and eventually, a strike.
  • You own rights to anything recorded: Similar to the case above, you can’t reuse content recorded from radio, TV or in a movie theatre. Even if your video recording has copyrighted content such as music playing in the background, it will be subject to copyright laws.
  • Having a few seconds of copyright-protected content won’t harm: Using even a few seconds of copyright-protected content can result in a copyright strike on your channel. The original creator can also claim your video via Content ID, which would mean that video won’t be monetised for you anymore. While you can argue fair use in such cases, they are settled in court.
  • If you say things like “no copyright infringement was intended” or that you don’t own the content shown in the video and “all credit goes to the original creator”, neither does that protect you against a copyright strike nor will it be construed as fair use.

How to use copyrighted music on YouTube?

To use copyrighted music or any other original content in your Youtube videos, make sure you follow the fair rules policy of Youtube and your local laws and also take permission from the original creator (copyright owner) to use their material in your video.

Also read: YouTube vs YouTube Go: What’s the difference?

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