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How YouTube's Copyright Policies Work?

Nathan Rosenberg
Nathan Rosenberg
Content Writer at Spikerz
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Published -  
May 7, 2024
How YouTube's Copyright Policies Work?

YouTube copyright infringement happens when a user uploads, shares, or broadcasts content that violates the intellectual property rights of others. This can include using copyrighted music, videos, and even short clips without permission. 

Such actions can lead to legal consequences. Not to mention penalties from YouTube itself, such as demonetization or channel removal.

YouTube Copyright Dos and Don'ts

Knowing YouTube copyright policies is crucial for content creators. It's critical to ensure that all content, whether video footage, images, or music, is created initially, purchased from a stock site, or properly licensed. Without these measures, creators risk receiving a copyright claim or strike, which can have severe consequences. 

Music Copyright Best Practices

Here's what you need to know after YouTube's music copyright policy: 


  1. Use Original Compositions: Creating original music is one of the most foolproof ways to avoid copyright issues. This gives you full control over your content's audio elements.
  2. Collaborate with Independent Artists: Partnering with independent musicians who grant their music rights can also be a win-win strategy. The artist gains exposure while you get unique music for your videos.
  3. Check YouTube's Audio Library: YouTube offers a collection of music and sound effects that content creators can use for free. These tracks can be used without worrying about copyright infringement.
  4. Document Permissions: If you've gotten permission to use someone else's music, keep a record of the agreement. Written documentation can be crucial if you must prove your right to use the track later.
  5. Read Licensing Agreements Carefully: Whether purchasing royalty-free music or acquiring a license, ensure you fully understand the terms. Some licenses have restrictions, such as not using the music commercially.


  1. Avoid "Copyright-Free" Claims Without Verification: Just because a song is labeled as "copyright-free" on YouTube or another platform doesn't mean it actually is. Always verify the credentials of the uploader and the legitimacy of the claim.
  2. Don't Use Covers Without Permission: Even if you perform a cover of a song, the original composer holds the copyright. You'll still need permission or a license to legally use the cover in your content.
  3. Avoid Sampling: Using a "sample" from a copyrighted song without permission is also a violation. The law does not provide a minimum length for a clip to be considered copyrightable, so any sampling should be done with explicit permission.
  4. Don't Misuse 'Creative Commons': While Creative Commons licenses give more leniency for use, they also come with their own set of rules, like attribution or non-commercial use, which must be followed strictly.
  5. Steer Clear of Public Performances: Even if you have purchased a song legally, it doesn't mean you have the right to use it as a background track in a public setting in your video without additional permission.

Footage Copyright Best Practices

Avoid the messy complications of the copyright battle by taking note of the following do's and don'ts related to video use:


  1. Utilize Stock Footage: Buying stock footage from reputable sources like Getty Images or Shutterstock ensures you have legal rights to use the content. Read and understand the license terms, as they can vary.
  2. Create Your Own Footage: One of the safest routes is to shoot your own video. This guarantees that you own the copyright and can freely use it as you see fit.
  3. Use Public Domain Clips: Some video clips are in the public domain and free to use. Some websites offer a range of options, but ensure you check the copyright status before using them.
  4. Get Written Permissions: If you want to use someone else's footage, get written permission from the copyright holder. This legal document can prove your right to use the content.


  1. Avoid Unlicensed Popular Clips: Incorporating even a short scene from a famous movie without permission is a recipe for a copyright claim. 
  2. Don't Assume Fair Use: Like with music, assuming a clip falls under "fair use" is risky. Fair use is not a right but a legal defense, and it's decided on a case-by-case basis.
  3. Beware of 'Free to Use' Claims: Sometimes footage is labeled as "free to use," but this might not always be reliable. Always check the source and any attached conditions.
  4. Don't Overlook Creative Commons Licenses: Clips with a Creative Commons license are more lenient in usage but still come with conditions like attribution, which you must strictly follow.
  5. Avoid Using Footage from Unverified Platforms: Stick to trusted platforms for sourcing your footage. Relying on unverified platforms could put you at risk of using copyrighted material.

How Not to Get Copyrighted on YouTube: Licensing Options

The safest way to avoid copyright infringement is through proper licensing. This means obtaining explicit permission from the copyright holder, which usually involves paying a fee and may include other stipulations like crediting the original creator.

Fair Use on YouTube

Fair use is a legal policy that permits limited use of copyrighted material without permission for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, and education. However, fair use is a complex area of law, and what constitutes it can vary from case to case.

Licensed Use

Licensed use involves obtaining permission from the copyright owner to use their material. This usually involves a legal contract and often a fee. Once licensed, you can use the material under the conditions specified in the agreement.

Creative Commons Use

Creative Commons is a public copyright license that enables the free distribution of copyrighted work. You can use CC-licensed material if you follow the license conditions, which are usually much more lenient.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons is another platform to find free-to-use images, videos, and music. These are usually under a Creative Commons license or in the public domain.

Public Domain

Public domain refers to works not subject to copyright and are freely available for use by anyone. These can be works for which copyright has expired or was never established.

Stay Away from the Lifetime Ban

If you receive a copyright claim or strike, the first step is to assess the claim's validity. You can remove the content or obtain a proper license if it's valid. If you believe it's an error, you can file a dispute.

The effects of repeated copyright infringements on YouTube can be severe. It includes the possibility of a lifetime ban from the platform. A lifetime ban is particularly damaging as it terminates your existing channel and prohibits you from creating any new channels in the future. 

With this in mind, we developed Spikerz, our social media security app. Spikerz is an invaluable resource for YouTube content creators looking to safeguard their channel's "copyright health." The app scans your content for potential copyright infringements before uploading as a preventive measure. 

Spikerz's algorithm meticulously analyzes video and audio components, flagging any copyrighted material that could pose a risk. This proactive feature allows you to make necessary adjustments before your content goes live. Because of this, it mitigates the chances of encountering copyright issues.

Beyond its diagnostic capabilities, Spikerz also offers actionable advice to address any copyright concerns it identifies. This notification is helpful, especially for new creators who might not be well-versed in the intricacies of copyright law. Having a tool that detects and advises on compliance can be a game-changer.

Best of all, our app is easy to use. You need to sync it once initially; it will work continuously in the background. This feature makes it work automatically every time you upload YouTube content. 

Short Notes

Understanding YouTube copyright infringement is vital for content creators to navigate the digital landscape successfully. Violating intellectual property rights can have severe consequences, including legal actions and penalties from YouTube.

Consider using our app as a valuable tool. It scans your content for potential copyright infringements, provides proactive advice, and ensures compliance with copyright laws. Spikerz can act as a preventive measure, warning you about potential copyright strikes before you upload content.

Ready to protect your content and channel? Try Spikerz today and ensure your YouTube journey stays copyright-safe.


What Is a YouTube Copyright Claim?

The copyright owner makes A YouTube copyright claim, usually through YouTube's automated Content ID system. This is less severe than a copyright strike and typically results in the video being demonetized.

Spikerz can help you dispute false claims by providing a detailed analysis of your content, thus allowing you to understand whether you have a strong case for dispute.

What Is a YouTube Copyright Strike?

A YouTube copyright strike is a legal complaint made by the copyright owner. It's more serious than a claim and can result in your video being removed and even lead to the termination of your channel after multiple offenses.

Spikerz can act as a preventive measure, warning you about potential strikes before you upload content reducing the risk of serious repercussions.

What should I do if I receive a YouTube copyright strike?

If the strike is valid, consider removing the infringing content or obtaining the necessary licenses. Additionally, ensure you understand the conditions of the copyright strike and take steps to prevent future violations. Remember that multiple copyright strikes can lead to the termination of your channel.