How to Avoid a Copyright Claim on YouTube

How to avoid a
Videos are becoming one of the most important things you can do in marketing and social media. That being said there are things you need to consider when making a video. The major one is not violating the copyright laws. Violating the law will include use of video, music and other images. Here is a primer on what you need to remember when making a video.

I am going to focus on music but this will include video and photos as well. How do you avoid a claim:

Selecting Music

There are several ways to select music. If you are using a Mac they have built in music that is royalty free to use. It can be included in any video you create without worry of a copyright claim. Also, if you upload the basic video to YouTube they have a library of music that is free to use as well. If you want something more unique you can go to either Pond5 or Shutter Stock and buy music to use. I have bought from Pond5 and they have a great selection at any price range. These two services will allow you to use it in your video after you pay the initial cost. On the don’t use, is use your favorite Beatles song in the video. Getting rights to popular music is very expensive for small business and not worth the effort. On top of that you will negotiate rates based on how many people will see the video. It’s often more trouble than it’s worth.

The same is for video/pictures. Use common sense and anything you didn’t buy or shoot yourself don’t use!

Just because you used royalty free music doesn’t mean you won’t get hit with a copyright claim. This has happened to me a few times. YouTube uses a content identification system that scans the videos. If it matches whats in the database it will be flagged. YouTube will send you a notice and you can accept or dispute the claim. Don’t panic if you received a claim against you, if you followed the rules above then you will be fine. Here is an overview of the process:

YouTube notifies you about the claim
The notification will include the company that is making the claim
You have an option of accepting the claim or disputing
If you dispute the claim you will select the option of “I have the rights to use this information” In the comments section say where you received the music from (i.e. apple royalty free, Pond5 or else.)
Usually a day or two after the claim will be released.
Its frustrating to do these claims. One time I uploaded 4 videos with Apple Royalty free music and a company claimed it was one of their clients. I disputed it on YouTube and also reached out to them. I furnished the URL of the videos to the company and they released them. Some companies will be great and do that and others will not contact you and let the YouTube process play out.

If you follow these steps you shouldn’t get a strike against your YouTube account. I won’t say you won’t get one but its is a lot less likely. If after you dispute the claim the next step of the copyright holder is a lawsuit. Few progress to this level. If you are in the wrong admit it and either take your video down or replace the music.

If you are found guilty of a copyright offense you will have a strike against you. On YouTube you must go to the Copyright online class. Also the copyright holder can put ads on your video or have it removed for certain countries or entirely. So play it safe when working with copyrighted material.


Tim is the founder of Element33. A social media agency specializing in education, management and strategy for small businesses. He comes from a traditional marketing agency but has embraced all things digital. He considers himself a marketing nerd and believes that all marketing is tied together. This means no matter what silo you are in, social, email, seach, etc, changes in one will affect the other!

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