How does YouTube stop copyright materials from being uploaded on YouTube? (Comprehensive)

With YouTube exploding all over the globe, YouTube copyright has become a very important topic. When I create corporate videos, documentaries or explainer videos, we often purchase rights to the stock footage, music and even voice overs on behalf of our clients. It could be devastating if one of our clients uploaded a video and they received a copyright claim because the footage didn’t have the required rights.

Content creators upload over 300 hours of footage every single minute. As more people jump on to the YouTube content creator bandwagon, a lot of us have been asking this very same question:

“How does YouTube stop Copyright materials from being uploaded on YouTube?”

Let’s see what Copyright means…

Copyright Policy is the right given to content creators to help them from being exploited when other people use their work. It’s a legal light by law that gives the owner of the copyrighted work the rights of exclusive use and distribution.

YouTube Copyright claim for music and video:

When a content creator uploads a video onto YouTube, the system creates a content ID. The video is compared to all the other videos uploaded in the YouTube database on many different criteria. In case there is a match to a content owner’s work, YouTube simply notifies the uploader and the owner. It’s now up to the content owner to take appropriate action.

The Copyright owner is met with the following choices:

  1. Request for a takedown of the video.
  2. Monetize the video.
  3. Allow the content uploader to use the work by giving due credit in the description or as fair use.
  4. Withdraw the copyright claim.

The uploader also has a couple of choices.

  1. The video uploader can dispute Content ID claim if he/she believes that the claim is false.
  2. The uploader can also submit a claim to the material.


The real deal! What is Fair Use?

Fair Use or Fair Dealing is a policy that allows content creators to use audio and video works without owning copyrights.

In a nutshell “NO, you cannot reupload someone’s video and call it free use or simply add an introduction or outro to someone else’s video and call it fair use!”

Fair use policy changes slightly from country to country, so there’s no law written in stone. Most disputes are heard on a case to case basis depending on the following guidelines.

  1. Is the use of the work transformative? Was the footage used to create something with a completely new meaning, creativity or new point of view? Also if the use was non-commercial, it is more likely to come under fair use. EX: You used a meme to express a certain emotion regarding a statement you made.
  2. What is the nature of the original work? Is the footage based on fact or fiction? Footage based on fact could be considered to be more fair use.
  3. What quantity or rather percentage of the copyrighted footage is used compared to the total duration of your video? If you have used small bits of footage, it is more likely to be considered as fair use rather than re-uploading an entire video or converting a text article word for word into a video.
  4. What is the effect of the use on the copyrighted content? Was this proprietary information that was confidential and not to be published? Did it cause losses in sales, like releasing a movie before it hit the theatres?  It’s based on criteria of the content owner being able to make or not make a profit as an effect of the work being used.

Fair Use Policy Vs Copyright Law

If you must know, a copyright claim is a law, meanwhile, fair use is only a policy. So if a copyright claim is made, fair use can’t be used as an excuse or rather doesn’t really help.

The rights of the footage are always held with the copyright owner. One must procure permission and rights to use the work in written or electronic form. The copyright owner has the right to take legal action if their work is used without written permission. And if the content uploader doesn’t adhere to the takedown policy or revenue sharing policy they can be sued for damages and losses.

So, legally speaking, just because YouTube accepts a video it doesn’t mean that the owner of the footage has relinquished rights to their work to the uploader.

Depending on the type of footage and the way it is used, a copyright owner has the right to file a case in a court of law against any unauthorised uses of their work.

But what happens practically in a case of a copyright violation? Going to court and legal fees are high. More often than not the violators of the copyright law are teenagers or kids and it’s going to be difficult to recover any money from them. Typically, a copyright owner uses the YouTube platform to report any violations, they provide enough proof and either ask for a takedown or to monetize the content.

How does Copyright really work on YouTube?

It all starts when you upload a video on to the YouTube platform. During the process, YouTube internally checks the audio and video footage to a database of all it’s other copyrighted videos and creates a content ID. If the footage matches any of the copyrighted videos, YouTube sends a notification to the copyright owner and the uploader. In some cases, the video is not allowed to be published and the uploader is awarded a copyright strike,

How do I get permission for uploading YouTube videos containing copyright content?

A common problem is how do I get permission to use a song in my video?

1. Purpose and Description of the footage to be copied.

Firstly you need to make a brief write-up (a maximum of 4 lines) on how the song or footage is going to be used in your work. Where is it going to be published? And what is the duration of the footage you intend to copy and want to procure rights to?

2. Contact the Publisher.

When it comes to songs, you need to procure permissions from all the publishers who own rights to the piece of music so that you may use it. To find a music publisher you can use do a search on ASCAP, BMI and SESAC.

3. Wright to the copyright owner to procure copyright permissions.

Typically, I send a simple email on my letterhead contacting the publisher and copyright owner, humbly asking them for permission to use their work since it will add a lot of value to my production and also to the intended viewers.

Here is the Sample Request Letter to Procure Rights for YouTube Videos that I use.

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