Infringing on a copyright — whether it’s someone doing it to you or you doing it to 

someone else — brings consequences. YouTube takes the breach seriously and will 

take down the infringing video if it’s found to be guilty of violating copyright. 

Worse yet, it also penalizes the offender with a strike. And just like in baseball, if 

you take three strikes, you’re out. 

YouTube gives both you and your channel the boot if it gets to this point.

To ensure that it doesn’t happen to you, follow this advice:

Remember Who Owns the Copyright

It’s  fairly  simple: If  you created the  video, the copyright  belongs to you; if you 

upload content created by someone else, the copyright belongs to that person and 

you need permission to use it.

As  soon  as the  work is created,  so is the copyright.  And since 1992, there’s  no 

longer a renewal process. Copyright lives with the creator — and even lives on for a 

period after the death of the creator.

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Attribution Does Not Absolve A Copyright Violation

Let’s say you repost someone else’s video as your own. You already know that’s 

stealing and blatant infringement. 

But let’s say you repost someone else’s video, or a good portion of that video, and 

you add a line saying, “Created by ___” and insert their name.

Is it still a breach? Yes. And it can earn you a strike and get the video blocked.

Basically, the law says that if you use someone else’s work in your video without 

that person’s permission, it doesn’t make it less of an offense just because you give

the person credit. 

You’re still in violation because attributing the creator doesn’t absolve you if don’t 

get permission.

Of course, there is “fair use,” something that only applies in certain countries. We’ll 

talk a bit about that in a moment. 

Two Methods of Discovery

The first method is if someone notices that you’ve posted their content on your 

channel, they can notify YouTube and ask them to take action. This is a takedown 

notice, and it is a legal process, so don’t lodge one of these yourself unless you are 

absolutely certain you’re in the right. 

The second method is Content ID Match, a system YouTube uses to automatically 

match content that violates copyright against the millions of videos uploaded every 

month to the site. 

For  Content  ID to work properly,  copyright owners have to  upload so-called 

reference files — original versions of their work that prove they own the rights.

Normally, record labels, movie studios, or TV stations go through this process for 

all the work they publish, so individual artists don’t have to worry about it. 

Every  new video  uploaded to  YouTube is checked  against this huge library  of 

reference files, and if there is a match, YouTube automatically files a copyright claim 

for the owner of the work.

It doesn’t matter if your aim is to make money from the videos you post or not. The 

rules are still applied the same way. 

How to Get Permission to Use Copyrighted Material

While fair use is complicated (more on this in a moment) permission is not. 

It’s often entirely possible to get permission to use someone else’s copyrighted 

material. 

How? 

By asking.

A nicely written note explaining how you will use the content is often enough for a 

rights holder to grant permission.

Sometimes the permission comes with the restriction that you cannot monetize 

the material. If so, you’ll have to decide if you still want to use it or not.

And marketers, here’s a big bonus: If you ask a fellow marketer (regardless of your 

niche)  if you can  use his or her  material in your own  video because you love  it, 

because it’s spot on, because it’s the greatest thing you’ve seen all month, etc… 

…it’s entirely possible you might make a new ally / friend / partner in your niche. 

It’s flattering to be told that something you created is so wonderful, someone else 

wants to incorporate it into their own project. Many a friendship and even business 

relationship has started this way.

Fair Use Is Complicated

Many misconceptions exist surrounding fair use. One of the most popular is that 

you  can use  anything you  want as long as  you don’t go beyond  a certain time 

constraint or amount.

But it’s much more complicated than that. 

In certain editorial situations, you can use copyrighted material without permission. 

And to avoid trouble, it’s best to fully understand these situations before proceeding.

Here a few generally acceptable uses to consider:

  • Criticism and reviews: Reviewing a movie or some form of music makes

            it perfectly acceptable to use copyrighted material without permission. For

example, you might use a short clip of the work you critique.

  • Parody:  If you’re  poking fun at  something, it can  be acceptable to

                use content without first gaining permission.

  • Commentary: This one is broader and more general and depends on how

you use the material. If it’s used just enough (and no more) to illustrate your point,

it’s generally  acceptable. For example,  gamers on YouTube often record themselves

playing a new video game and offer funny observations.

This is, within limits, fair use. 

These are general guidelines and most definitely NOT legal advice.

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3 Strikes = A Lifetime YouTube Ban

You don’t want this on your record, nor do you want to lose your videos, all of your 

video views, comments and so forth.

Obviously, it’s best to avoid strikes altogether. 

There are Two Types of YouTube Strikes:

  • Community Guideline Strikes: These can result from a variety of reasons, 

            ranging  from uploading  objectionable content  to having a misleading 

            thumbnail or caption.

  • Copyright  Strike: If  someone lodges  a complaint that  you stole their 

            material, or you get a Content ID claim lodged against you, either can be 

            turned  into a strike  if you don’t appeal  and win that appeal.  Or another 

             option is to remove the video, to prevent the strike from occurring.

Things You Should Know:

  • Every  strike means  you go back to  school. With every  strike, YouTube 

            requires that you take an online course in ‘copyright school’ and then take 

              a quiz to be sure you understand copyright regulations.

  • Strikes  don’t last  forever. As long  as you don’t have  three strikes, the 

            strikes you do have will eventually disappear – usually after six months. 

  • If found  guilty, your  fate rests with  the lawful copyright  holder. That 

            person  can decide  if your video  should be removed,  flagged in certain 

            regions or even monetized. Yes, that’s right: Even though your video may 

           contain only a small portion of the person’s material, that person is entitled 

            to all monetization proceeds. S/he can even put ads on your video if you 

            haven’t already added monetization.

To Appeal, or Not to Appeal

If you get a copyright strike from YouTube, but you’re certain you’re in the right, 

then go ahead and appeal the strike.

But,  if you’re  not sure whether you can win (You know  you did something you 

should not have done) then it might be better to wait it out until the strike expires. 

Once you appeal a strike, your personal information goes to the person who claims 

to own the copyright. They can then possibly (highly unlikely, but possibly) sue you 

for copyright infringement. 

If the situation gets to this level, try to work out an agreement directly with the 

copyright holder, and ask them to file an appeal with YouTube on your behalf. You’ve 

got nothing to lose by apologizing and asking for their help.

Last Thoughts:

Don’t use other people’s stuff on YouTube unless you’re certain it’s safe to do so. 

YouTube is amazing at detecting content that has already been posted to the site. 

When in doubt, ask for permission.

If you are certain you are in the right, then appeal and get the matter properly 

cleared up.