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Copyright Policies Made Easy For All Budding Youtubers

Question: Can you name me a website where you can stream videos to watch online?

Unless you had been living under the rocks, you probably would have guessed it. That’s right, it’s Youtube.

Youtube is a video-sharing website where you can share videos of your hobbies and skills to the wider community. Personally , I like to share recordings of my piano covers to Youtube. This seemingly innocent act of sharing my hobby online, to my horror, is “theoretically” against the law.

Initially, I could not understand what was wrong. My music scores were bought online legally and my videos were featuring my own piano playing for me to share with my friends and the wider community. Yet, Youtube told me that my video contains copyrighted content and the claimant had laid claims on my video because of copyright issues.

This incident had motivated me to read up on Youtube’s copyright policies ( it was extremely dry and boring ) and I found out that this copyright law applies to all sorts of video you upload onlineparticularly if your video contains music.

Fortunately, Youtube has put in place certain policies that address this issue ( this is why I am still able to publish my piano recordings on Youtube ) and in this article, I will simplify these policies so you can also understand the rules of the game and play by the rules.

Unless you are intending to shoot a silent movie, you ought to know this crucial Youtube policy inside out.

First off,

What Is Copyright?

According to Wikipedia, a copyright is a legal right created by the law of a country that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights for its use and distribution. “

In simple terms as outlined by youtube policy, any work that is made creatively and fixed in a tangible medium (such as video files or mp3 files ) is subjected to the copyright law. Which means to say, only the creator or the owner of the work has the right to produce the work. No one else is allowed to reproduce the work without the creator’s permission ( there is an exception to this rule which I will touch on later) .

So in my earlier case of recording my piano playing, the MUSIC itself is not created by me. Even though I had BOUGHT the music score and practiced it with my own effort, I am theoretically still not allowed to post the recording online. Why? It’s because I am not the creator of the work and just because I had bought the scores with my own money does not grant me the rights to publish the music recordings online.

By the way, it is also good to know that IDEAS, FACTS , PROCESS, TITLES AND NAMES are not subjected to copyright.


Question: But I Had Given Credits To The Creator In My Description! Is That Not Enough?

I’m sorry to say, that is not enough. It does not even matter what you put in the description.

Even if you had placed this sentence ““no copyright infringement is intended” , it is still not counted and you can still be flagged for copyright infringement.

I would like to show you, what will happen if you are being flagged for copyright infringement by the claimant – the person who owns the copyright to the music you produce.

Basically, either of this 2 outcomes can occur.

First, for serious infringement, Youtube can take down your video and gives you a strike. If you are being striked off too often, Youtube WILL terminate your account. Audio books commonly fall under this category. If you try to upload an audio book without the permission of the creator, there is a high chance that Youtube will take down your video and give you a strike.

Another outcome is more lenient. Rather than a complete take down, you will be notified by Youtube that the claimant had laid claims on the copyrighted content in the video – i.e. the music , and ads will appear on your video ( as shown in the image below ).



Its feels somewhat unfair but well, that’s just the way it works. This claiming issue will kick in as long as copyrighted material is used.

It is also useful for me to point out at this point that you can check the individual music policies under the create tab in your creator studio in youtube. Just simply search for the music which you are intending to use and they will tell you what rights you are given.

In most situation, the claimant will allow you to use the music in exchange for ads to be placed in your video. However, there are also instances where they do not allow anyone to reproduce the music online.



On the other hand, it is worth noting that not all music or works are copyrighted. In fact, there are only 4 instances where copyright will not take place:

  1. When you incorporate the principle of fair use into your videos
  2. If you are using public domain material
  3. If you are using works that are given the creative commons license
  4. You are using royalty free music


3 Instances where Copyright Will Not Take Place

Fair Use

So, what is fair use? According to Youtube’s Policy, Fair use is a legal doctrine that says you can reuse copyright-protected material under certain circumstances without getting permission from the copyright owner. “

Generally, if the work is of a commentary nature, teaching, research , news reporting , critique, it can be considered as fair use. However, this is a grey area because different countries had different laws on the principle of fair use.

You may need to consult legal advice for this portion.

You may also check out what Youtube had to say about fair use in this link here.

Public Domain Material

Another way to avoid being flagged for copyright is to use public domain material. Public domain materials are works that had lost its copyright protection and therefore making them free for everyone to use.

Yes, copyright has an expiry date, it is usually 50 to 100 years after the death of the creator. This is probably why it is okay to play classical music such as Mozart or Beethoven.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons, or CC , are license granted by the creator for others to use his work freely. We can identify whether a work was granted the CC license by their logo – CC.

Royalty Free Music

Royalty Free Music are music that are allowed to be used commercially for free. Some creators will require you to put a link back to their site for the use of their music but generally, most do not require it.

By the way, Youtube creator studio also has a library of royalty free music/sound effects. They can be found under the audio library within the Create’s tab.



Another way is to simply google : ” royalty free music ”


You are now aware of the basics of copyright policies and are ready to publish your next video with confidence that you will be playing by the rules to avoid being flagged unnecessarily.

Have fun creating more videos and feel free to check out my youtube channel while you are at it.

You can also read more regarding other Youtube policies at the youtube’s copyright center for more in depth coverage of this subject matter.




*Watch my online piano tutorial videos to learn how to play piano without reading a single music note. If you are interested, grab a copy of my personal tips on piano playing and hand coordination and I will see you there.

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