5 Tips to Avoid Copyright Strikes on YouTube

Copyright strikes can spell disaster for any content creator. Accumulating three of these can render any channel subject to termination. Worse, the user of the terminated channel loses all access to said channel, associated channels, as well as the ability to make a new one.

The good thing is, YouTube does allow copyrighted content if it is considered to be fair use such as news, commentary, or research. Still, uploading videos with copyright-protected material may result in a copyright strike if you aren’t careful.

Here are 5 tips on how to avoid copyright strikes on your YouTube channel.

1. Make Your Content Transformative

Transform the content that you use for your channel. The last thing you want to do is directly copy the source material of what you use. By adding a new expression or meaning to the original, you can provide content that isn’t at risk of a copyright strike.

The most common example of this is a reaction video. Many content creators record themselves reacting to content from other creators, TV shows, movies, and music. You can also do parodies, offer a genuine critique, or provide general commentary of the content you have in mind.

2. Don’t Rely on Disclaimers or Giving Credit

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Leaving a fair use disclaimer or giving credit alone does not make it permissible to use copyrighted content. Fair use is a legal doctrine that says you can only reuse copyright-protected material under certain circumstances without permission. You may feel inclined to think that attribution to the creator relieves you of any culpability. But, transformativeness is the key. Giving credit where it’s due doesn’t bypass this, nor does it give you permission to use others’ work.

Disclaimers won’t protect you from a copyright strike either. Claiming “fair use,” “no infringement intended,” or using the content for “entertainment” or “non-profit use” won’t cut it. YouTube can still choose to flag your video if you outright use someone else’s content.

3. Keep What You Use Short

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Focus on borrowing small snippets of material from an original work. One of the four factors in determining fair use is how much material is used in relation to the copyrighted work. Using short clips is better considered fair use, though keep in mind that the content you use still needs to be transformative. For example, if the content you borrow still lacks new expression, YouTube is less likely to see it as fair use regardless of how little you reference.

On the other hand, if you’re borrowing content to make a new point, it’s more likely to be considered fair use. One great example is a video essay. Content creators in this niche often use several short film clips with the intention of expressing a theme or genre.

4. Use Video/Music Editing Software

Take advantage of editing software to aid your content in being more transformative. Modifying the original work falls under the fair use guidelines. Adding special effects, stickers, or overlays counts as transforming the content beyond its original nature.

The same applies to music as well. Many content creators post remixes of songs created by famous musicians and beatmakers. These all fall within fair use guidelines because they meet the key goal of transforming the original piece.

5. Refer to the YouTube Audio Library

Use the YouTube Audio Library as a source for all your music and sound effects. Music can be a common reason behind many copyright strikes, as YouTube’s Content ID system flags them quickly.

Thankfully, the YouTube Audio Library is a great resource. It’s a channel dedicated to publishing free sounds for content creators to use. They don’t provide any visuals, though it’s a great place to find all kinds of sound effects and music across different genres.

The potential of receiving a copyright strike is enough to intimidate anyone into not uploading content. Knowing the best practices to avoid copyright strikes is key to ensuring the long-term success of your channel.

We hope you enjoyed this blog.

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Frankie Dauphin loves nature, enjoys a good film, and spends his afternoons unwinding with video games.

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