t’s no exaggeration to say that YouTube is a big deal. In one month, YouTube attracted over 2 billion users, including 94% of the U.S. population.
In other words, about a third of the world’s population came to YouTube to watch music videos, start DIY projects, and laugh (or cry) at cat videos.
And all of this activity attracts millions of content creators to YouTube, so if you want to get rich making videos – or at least make a nice side income – then you need to understand how YouTube music policy works.
Copyright infringement is an issue that YouTube takes very seriously, and the platform has invested more than $100 million in its complex content ID system to keep us all honest.
In addition to breaking down YouTube music policy, we’ll show you where you can find YouTube’s royalty-free music that won’t cause them to ban your videos or give your hard-earned ad revenue to someone else.
What is music copyright and why is it important?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could use any music you wanted in your videos?
Despite what you may think, copyright laws protect all creators, including you. Without copyright, anyone can download and reuse your video however they want. And, they will do so without giving you credit, asking permission, or paying royalties. YouTube music policy protects you and your original work.
Copyright law is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it protects artists by allowing them to retain ownership and control of their work. But it also means you can’t put Taylor Swift’s latest work on your timeline, no matter how well it fits your vision of the video.
With so many content creators out there, YouTube has struggled to keep up with copyright infringement. Many users have accidentally posted videos with copyrighted material. In fact, the problem is so bad that Viacom sued YouTube for $1 billion in 2007, claiming that YouTube hosted more than 160,000 unauthorized clips from Viacom properties such as MTV and Nickelodeon.
The case spurred YouTube’s investment in content identification and copyright infringement notices. As a content creator who uses other artists’ work (in the form of video music), you need to understand how these copyright policies work and what you can do to protect yourself and your content.
If you don’t have time to read this entire article, this FAQ video from YouTube does a great job of explaining the basics of copyright and what to look for when including music in your videos.
How YouTube’s Content ID System Works
In short, Content ID is a massive database of over 75 million reference files. YouTube uses this information to track and identify copyrighted material. Once Content ID identifies an infringement, it alerts content owners so they can take action.
But Content ID is not omniscient. There is no magical Internet force that can sniff out copyright-infringing videos. The system relies on content creators like you to expand its database, respond to notifications from Content ID, and credit anyone else whose work is included in your video.
Take an example
Let’s say your cousin Jimmy is an amazing ukulele player. He has recorded several songs, and you use one of them in your documentary about your personal struggle to make the perfect yogurt parfait.
Now, Jimmy doesn’t want anyone to use his songs without his permission, so he uploads all his music files to YouTube’s content ID and proves that he is the content creator and owner.
When Jimmy uploads the files, YouTube turns them into a special audio fingerprint in its database. YouTube then scans this fingerprint against all current videos and any future uploads, searching for matches of people using his songs without Jimmy’s permission.
Once you upload your Frosty documentary to YouTube – which includes one of Jimmy’s songs – YouTube’s Content ID system scans the video and finds a match. But instead of immediately deleting your video, the system sends a notification to Jimmy. As the song’s owner, Jimmy has three ways to respond.
- He can block your videos from being viewed.
- And he can monetize your videos by running ads on them and getting the ad revenue they generate.
- He also can track your videos and get useful data such as the number of viewers and the location of those viewers.
Unsurprisingly, most content owners choose to automatically monetize any video that uses their content. This has already resulted in over $2 billion in fees paid for content recognition systems (from over 800 million video claims). And this number only covers the last five years.
How Content Recognition Boost A Win-Win Situation
In this way, the Content Recognition System offers a win-win situation. It allows content owners to earn revenue from their content, while also allowing other users to continue to play their videos. Jimmy can make money from your documentary, and you can broadcast your Academy Award-winning documentary to the world.
Your next question might be, “But what if Jimmy allows me to use his songs?”
Content ID does allow content creators to dispute copyright claims. If you dispute a claim, YouTube will give the content owner 30 days to respond. All advertising revenue generated during those 30 days is held by YouTube, so both you and Jimmy have an incentive to resolve the issue.
And, even if Jimmy is corrupted by the money your video generates and decides to reject your dispute, YouTube allows you to appeal that decision.
Content recognition may seem scary or like it’s out to get you, but YouTube has done a lot to empower its creators. Considering the huge number of video uploads and the complexity of copyright law, it’s the closest thing the platform can offer to a win-win.
However, if you follow these rules (or only license royalty-free music for your videos), you’ll be protected from “content marking” and any copyright claims that may be made against your videos. If you get permission to use the song, it’s 100% secure. That’s one less thing to worry about.
To know more news about YouTube copyright and music policy, please read these blogs.