How to Avoid Copyright Claims on YouTube: Tips and Best Practices

Youtube on a phone
  • YouTube’s copyright policies require users to post original content or obtain necessary permissions. 
  • In order to avoid a YouTube copyright claim, use uncopyrighted music and videos or original content.
  • If you receive a copyright claim, allow the owner to monetize your video with ads or alter your video.
  • Copyright claims and strikes have different consequences. A claim may affect views and monetization. Strikes can lead to video takedowns.

With over 15 million individual content creators, YouTube is one of the most popular forms of social media today. Their video-sharing ability is used for everything from video game playthroughs to educational TedTalks.

a person watching on Youtube

However, even the most casual user may at one time or another encounter YouTube copyright claim issues. So, what happens if you get a copyright claim on YouTube? A copyright claim is best avoided in order to maintain views and revenue on your videos.

If you are wondering ‘Do copyright claims affect views’ and ‘What is a copyright claim on YouTube,’ you’ll probably want to know exactly what they are and how to avoid them.

Copyright Basics

What is a copyright claim? Copyright is a legal protection of original work. The copyright claim meaning refers to a situation where the copyright owner has exclusive rights to decide how their work is used and is protected by law.

Types of copyrighted work can range from books, songs, videos, pictures, architectural designs and more. Copyrighted works exist in the business world as well as in terms of software applications and code. If the work is in material form, it can be registered for copyright. If you don’t register your work, you won’t be able to seek a claim for copyright infringement.

Copyright owners have multiple rights. They have the right to control reproductions, prepare derivative works, distribute copies for sale, and display their work in public performances and digital audio recordings. In order for someone who has not originated the work to use it, they must have permission.

YouTube’s Copyright Policies

YouTube employs the Content ID program, which creates a digital footprint for every copyrighted piece of material on its site. This program is constantly scanning videos for any possible infringements. This means that the music and videos you upload must either be original pieces you created or ones you have copyright permission for from the creator. Permission can be difficult to obtain because you need permission on every level.

For example, if you had permission from an artist to use their original song, you would need to obtain permission from every other person who also had their hands in the process of creating the creative material. Did you get permission from the producer? The composer? The production company? If you didn’t, you would still be at risk of a copyright claim.

copyright claim concept

Copyright Claim vs. Strike

Some copyright claims can be resolved fairly easily. If you are looking at a copyright claim vs. strike, there may be restrictions to viewing areas, or you may lose the ability to monetize your video.

A YouTube copyright strike is much more serious in that it can involve a takedown request (meaning you must remove your video from the site). If you have three strikes within a 90-day period, YouTube can take down all of your content and prevent you from uploading anything new.

So, what does copyright claim mean on YouTube? Copyright strike vs claim is an important distinction to consider if you are evaluating the consequences of copyright claims on YouTube.

A strike will have a long-term impact on your channel. Your video can be removed, your live streaming abilities will be halted, and you won’t be able to make money off your video. If you are dealing with a copyright claim only, the effect can be minimal, particularly if you do not intend to profit from your videos at present.

Consequences of Copyright Claims on YouTube

When considering ‘what is a copyright claim on YouTube,’ there is some information you need to know. YouTube does hold money in a neutral account while the dispute is underway. So, if you choose to fight the claim or strike and you are in the right, you can have the money funneled back to your account. Strikes last 90 days and expire automatically after that (as long as there aren’t any further infractions).

What is copyright claim on YouTube going to mean for profitability? A YouTube video copyright claim is most often resolved by the owner monetizing your video. In this way, it’s a benefit to them because their song or video is getting more traffic on YouTube, and they are still making money on it.

Of course, if you were hoping to make money on it, this may not be satisfactory to you. This is why it’s important to use free music and videos that you can use without risking a content claim.

How to Avoid Copyright Claims on YouTube

You are probably wondering how to not get a copyright claim on YouTube. First of all, it is always best to take the necessary steps to avoid a claim rather than trying to dispute one. Disputes can be lengthy and complicated, and if you are trying to prove fair use, decisions can be subjective.

Best Practices for Avoiding Copyright Claims

So, how to not get copyrighted on YouTube with music? If you choose to move forward with copyrighted materials, make sure you obtain the necessary permissions to use the artist’s work.

You can contact the artist or their record label for permissions, but make sure you have the OK from everyone involved with the process and that you have it in written form. Depending upon the popularity of the artist’s work, it can be very challenging to reach them. Thankfully, they employ representatives through the record label for this purpose.

Tips For Using Copyrighted Material on YouTube

When you upload your video, YouTube allows you to scan your video to check for any copyright violations. Content ID will check your work against all copyrighted work and alert you of any problems.

If you are not uploading 100% original content, take advantage of this handy feature to check your video before it’s out on the internet. This simple method of prevention can save you countless headaches and a significant amount of money.

If YouTube finds a copyright issue, you can trim your video or replace the audio. If you are talking over the music, this could be complicated, as YouTube does not have a feature to mute only music and not speech.

legal document

Resources for Finding Free and Legal Content

YouTube offers an extensive collection of free, uncopyrighted music which you can use for your videos.

If you don’t find the perfect piece to accompany your video, there are plenty of other options available. Some of your options include Epidemic Sound, Take Tones, Slip Stream,  and Upp Beat.

Each of these platforms offers music that will help protect you from copyright claims as well as provide you with high-quality music options. Some may ask for credit, while others require a payment or subscription fee.

You can usually get a free trial so you can choose what works best for you. Afterward, you can either subscribe or simply use one of YouTube’s sounds.

What to Do if You Receive a Copyright Claim on YouTube

What does copyright claim mean for views and monetization? If you get a copyright claim YouTube, you have to decide how you’re going to respond to it and minimize the consequences. Responding and taking action to rectify a claim is paramount.

Here’s what to do in such a scenario:

How to Respond to a Copyright Claim

First, you’ll need to decide if the copyright claim is valid or not. If it is valid, there is a good chance the owner will decide to monetize your video and leverage your content to increase traffic and funds to their own channel.

They may also decide to sit back and watch how much traffic you get before they decide to take action. Or, they may decide to block some of the countries in which your video can be seen.

Options for Disputing a Copyright Claim

In the case of a YouTube copyright claim, the platform does provide you with options to dispute it. If it is original content or you have permission, YouTube has easy-to-follow prompts from your page.

Go to the ‘Restrictions’ column, click on ‘Copyright claim,’ and then ‘See details’. From here, you can ‘Select action’ and ‘Dispute’ the claim. Be aware that giving credit for the usage is not sufficient. You have to have clear written permission, and it needs to be for each video in which you are using it.

Consequences of Ignoring a Copyright Claim

What happens when you get a copyright claim on YouTube, and you do not want to forfeit any of your profits?

Now, you have a decision to make. You can voluntarily take your video down or revise it without the copyrighted content. This may mean making lengthy revisions to your video and possibly having to start over. But it’s important to address the complaint and make the necessary adjustments.

Can a copyright claim turn into a strike? It sure can. If you ignore the situation, it could escalate into a more troublesome one, and that’s not a chance you want to take.

Examples of Copyright Infringement Cases on YouTube

If you queried ‘Copyright claim YouTube,’ you might learn of some particularly high profile cases. Katy Perry earned billions of views on YouTube for Dark Horse. However, Marcus Gray claimed she had stolen directly from his song, ‘Joyful Noise.’ In the end, he was awarded $2.78 million.

Michelle Phan is known for her creative transformations using make-up. She’s also known for a YouTube video copyright claim involving Ultra Records’ DJs (particularly Kaskade). Phan struck back, stating that she had reached out and gotten permission from the label’s representative to use the music in the background of her videos. Eventually, both sides settled out of court.

Finally, you might’ve heard about the case between YouTube and Viacom, in which Viacom claimed YouTube had hosted Viacom television shows on their site. Viacom played dirty in the case and hired outside companies to upload their own shows in an attempt to win the case. This made it impossible to know if YouTube was causing the infringement or a third party. Therefore, the case was overturned in YouTube’s favor.

Lessons Learned

Whether the end result is an expensive verdict or a loss of authenticity or trust, it rarely goes unnoticed or unpunished. So, always make sure you have the proper licenses and use YouTube’s checks which they have in place to protect you as well as artists. You’ll be glad you did!

The most important thing to remember is that you should always respect other people’s work. Artistic work has value.


In case of a copyright claim on YouTube, don’t panic. It is a common mistake that has happened to countless others.

So, what happens if you copyright, and does copyright claim affect views? You should be aware that the owner can and likely will take money out of your pockets. They may also affect where and how your material is viewed.

Now that you know how to not get a copyright claim on YouTube, apply that knowledge. Use a copyright-free source for music. If you are able to be transformative and not derivative in your work or critique, you can avoid claims in this way as well. Also, always scan your video before uploading it to avoid claims. In regards to copyright claim vs. strike, you will need to take some additional steps if you receive a strike. Copyright claims are always taken seriously. Even Katy Perry is not immune to prosecution!

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