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YouTube & Copyright

Until recently, I knew very little about how YouTube deals with copyright violators. Sure…I’d heard stories from friends & colleagues, but I’d never actually dealt with it firsthand. Now I have! 

For those who aren’t aware, I’m a long-time YouTuber. I set up my first channel back in January of 2010 & currently administrate a total of five. Even with 5 channels, I’d never had occasion to post work I didn’t own, or have permission to use. A few weeks back, I decided to try something new.….a playlist series called “Play Along”. The videos consist of me playing drums to a prerecorded song. Not exactly a revolutionary concept! ;) You’ll find countless examples this type of thing already on YouTube. But….it was new for me & it sounded like fun! 

My original intent was to post each video without the play-along song. That would have avoided the whole copyright quagmire, but it also had an unintended consequence. It made the finished product much less interesting! After some deliberation, I decided to roll the dice. If nothing else, it could serve as a learning experience. 

When I formatted my video, I used an mp3 iTunes version of the audio (song). Typically, mp3s of this type contain tagging which allows the track to be detected on platforms like YouTube. I uploaded my project & classified it as an “unlisted” video. This is standard practice for me. Once I view the upload & verify that it’s intact, I change the classification to “public”. It was late, so I put that final review off till the next morning. 

By the time I logged back on the next day….

  • The legal owner had already detected my use of his song
  • Reported the violation to YouTube
  • Decided what options to offer me
  • Tagged & set up my video for AD monetization

Keep in mind, at this point, my video was still classified as “unlisted”. I hadn’t even checked the upload yet! It seems the wheels of progress turn quickly when there’s revenue at stake! :glare: Fortunately for me, this was the outcome I had hoped for.  Most of those 2nd hand stories I mentioned earlier had described a similar process. Below is a copy of the actual notice that YouTube/Google attached to my video…..

Your video has been blocked in some countries.

Copyrighted content was found in your video.

Because of the claimant's policy, this video can't be played in some countries.


·         Video blocked in 1 country 

·         Unavailable on some devices 


·         Monetized by claimant 

If you agree with these conditions, you don't have to do anything. 
Learn More

Copyright details





·         Look Away (Album Version) - The Ozark Mountain Daredevils

·         Sound recording

·         0:02 - 3:29 play match

·         UMG

·         Blocked in some countries 

·        Remove Song

·        File a Dispute


Additional details about original version of the notice:

  • When you hover over the Video blocked in 1 country” statement, it tells you which country…in this case - Germany.
  • When you hover over the “Monetized by claimant” statement, this notice appears – You can use the copyrighted content in your video, but ads might appear on your video.”
  • As you can see, the poster is given 3 basic choices:

1.    Do nothing, indicating that you agree with the arrangements already negotiated.

2.    Remove the copyrighted song

3.    File a dispute over the ownership of contested material, in this case the play-along audio track.


Clicking on the “Learn More” link took me to a page containing this statement –

“Am I in trouble?

·         In most cases, getting a Content ID claim isn’t a bad thing for your YouTube channel. It just means, “Hey, we found some material in your video that’s owned by someone else.”

·         It’s up to copyright owners to decide whether or not others can reuse their original material. In many cases, copyright owners allow the use of their content in YouTube videos in exchange for putting ads on those videos.”


In the spirit of full disclosure, that page also contains information pertaining to other potential outcomes. Occasionally, the owner of rights can strongly object. In some of those cases, your standing as a YouTube member can be affected….both negatively & permanently.

So, the bottom line seems to be this….doing what I did is a bit of a crap-shoot! There is a chance it could affect your standing on YouTube and more. BUT….the majority of the time, you’ll probably get an outcome similar to what I got here. For me it was win-win. They’re allowing me to use the audio and I gained first-hand knowledge of YouTube’s procedures for handling breach of copyright.

When I changed the video classification to “public”, I added this statement in the liner notes……

***The ADs you see here are not mine. The registered owner of "Look Away" chose to allow use of their audio content in exchange for placing ads in my video. Since I had no commercial aspirations for this project anyway, I thought that arrangement was more than fair!

For anyone interested, here’s the video that brought about this learning experience - https://youtu.be/VRdqL_UCQz0

Tom Hoffman

Songstuff member profile






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This is handy info! Great post! I've had a few copyright hits myself which only resulted in advertisements being placed on the videos. Actually the notification you received sounds much more intimidating than any of the ones I've seen thus far. Basically all I've really received is the "matched third party content" notification. This was followed by the notification that advertisements will appear on these videos, and it gave me the option to dispute it- As it did for you.  I also feel like the ads are a fair trade off. It doesn't bug me much. All people have to do is click the little x and the ads disappear. 

I do always make sure to put disclaimers on my videos if I'm using copyrighted material stating very clearly that I'm not attempting to profit from it. I don't know if this means anything legally speaking. I just feel like it looks a little less guilty that way. I know there are some basic protections in place if you state that you're using something for artistic purposes only. But I couldn't tell you specifically what those protections are. As for footage, I try to only use footage I've recorded myself or found on a "royalty free" website. But I did get nailed with the third party content from a piece of footage I found on the "stock footage" website. I found that a little odd considering the footage had all these disclaimers about being free to use for creative non-commercial material. 

You're right that it really does seem like a crap shoot. I don't have the patience or time to read the mountain of legalese associated with the topic... I just sort of follow the crowd on Youtube who for the most part perform cover songs of copyrighted work without any real repercussions. But playing the actual track off of an album is another story. I can see how that might create a bigger snag due to the band wanting their material to be paid for instead of freely streamed on Youtube. Although again- That sort of thing is done all over youtube!!! Seems like they might just randomly select people to make an example of? Maybe the ones who don't put any information on their vids crediting the original creator or explaining their intent in using it get in more trouble? Seems like that would be the logical answer... Although logic doesn't always apply when it comes to laws/red tape. ;-\

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Much appreciated Dave! :specool:

I had a little time Thursday evening, so I shot some trial clips for the next series video. For this one, I went with "Roadhouse Blues" by The Doors. YouTube's response to this one was slightly different, so I figured I'd list it here....as a supplement to the original article.

Preliminary info:

  • This particular audio track was taken from a Doors CD that I own & was added into the video as a wav-form file. Unlike the first video, it was not an iTunes mp3.
  • I wasn't sure if the change in format would make it more difficult for YouTube to detect as copyrighted material, so I changed a few things to make detection easier. I listed the song title in the title of my video upload, added it to my assortment of video tags & made reference to it in the details section below my video. I made no attempt to hide my use of the song. Honestly, I would have been hesitant to make the video "public" had they not laid claim to the material. Fortunately, that wasn't an issue.
  • Within 10 minutes of upload completion, my new video had been tagged (Matched third party content) & I had received an email from YouTube explaining circumstances of the specific claim. As of this moment, they are not running ADs in the video, it has not been excluded for play in other countries & has not been excluded from play on any devices. Since that's subject to change, I placed an ownership disclaimer in my video details section (same one I used for my 1st video). I've copy/pasted the contents of that email below.

Hi Tom Hoffman,

A copyright owner using Content ID claimed some material in your video.

This is just a heads up
Don’t worry. You’re not in trouble and your account standing is not affected by this.

There are either ads running on your video, with the revenue going to the copyright owner, or the copyright owner is receiving stats about your video’s views.

  • Video title: Play Along #2 - "Roadhouse Blues"
  • Copyrighted song: Roadhouse Blues
  • Claimed by: WMG

What's next?
If there are no problems, you don’t need to take any action. You don't need to delete your video.

If something went wrong and the copyright owner or our system made a mistake, we have a dispute process. Only use it if you’re confident you have the rights to use all the content in your video.

- The YouTube Team

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Well that's a new one on me! :blush: 

One of the last vids I shot for this series ("Too Many Hands") was just claimed by the owner of rights.

What's strange is that it took 15+ months for this to occur. :blink:

Bizarre :excl:

Rather than monetize the video, they chose to block its' play in a single country. Guess which one? Yep, they blocked it in the U.S.

Shame too, since that's probably the best one in the series.


At least no one can accuse me of not going the extra mile. Back when I posted it, I remember thinking it was strange that no one laid claim to it right away. Days passed & still no claim from YouTube. So, I took it upon myself to contact then folks at YouTube...essentially reporting myself for use of copyrighted material.

Still no response.

As a last resort, I added a paragraph to the video description explaining the circumstances & specifying that I'd attempted to be proactive about my use of the material.

Fifteen+ months passed, then today...someone laid claim to it. Go figure! Lol 

Chalk it up to yet another learning experience!

Since it was a bit unusual, figured I'd share the circumstances here.



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So I'm a bit confused. Is Too Many Hands a cover by the Eagles? Interesting because when I checked things out, there's a video of a guy cranking that song and playing the guitar along with it. Would you suppose it just hasn't been "caught" yet?

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Honestly Randy, your guess is as good as mine ^_^ But if the guy's simply playing along with the track in the background, that's entirely possible.

Every other cover I put up was claimed almost immediately...this was the odd one out, which is why I figured details were worth sharing.



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As if the whole YouTube-copyright thing wasn't confusing enough already, here's another exception to the rule.

Within days of my original posting of the vid, this site had spun off a clone. I knew about it and frankly didn't care because they gave me a plug, credited me for the vid & made a point of referring interested parties to my channel "DrumStuffTH".

The thing is, their version remains visible & unclaimed & is still playable in the U.S. market :rolleyes: 

Go figure!

No doubt, at some point in the future, their version will be discovered and suffer the same fate as mine.

For anyone interested, here's the link -  


BTW Please forgive their choice of labels. "Amazing Drumming" is a wee bit of an overstatement ;)

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