If you are a creator who monetizes your content, you are most likely familiar with Intellectual Property claims (or DMCA Claims) and how they can affect your channel.

IP claims against your channels can have serious implications. Videos with a copyright claim are taken down, and if you receive three, your account will be deleted and you won’t be allowed to create another. They usually come from one of two categories: music or media. Either you have used a copyrighted piece of music or referenced another type of copyrighted material (movie, podcast, ect.) outside of fair use.

Fortunately, fair use is fairly broad and content creators have a lot of room to reference or parody copyrighted material. Knowing how far one can go, though, is where most people get into trouble. Again fortunately for content creators, there are lots of resources available to ensure every video you make is copyright legal and not going to leave you with a permanent strike on your channel.

Checking Your Music

YouTube makes checking your music simple through their music policy app. At youtube.com/music_policies you can search a huge database of popular songs to see if they allow use and monetization or not (hint: a lot more do than expected). Copyright law also dictates anything released before 1923 is in the public domain, so use of anything pre-1923 including all classical music is 100 percent free reign, a great resource for filmmakers.

Referencing and Parodying

Once past the music, determining what kind of video you’re making dictates how you must approach fair use. The two of the most popular types of videos on YouTube, commentary and parody, can be easily vetted for fair use legality with some yes/no quizzes. For news commentary, Donaldson+Callif, a prominent fair use law firm, has a simple three step system of verifying if something falls into fair use.

The material is covered if:
1. You’re making a point in your news report that you want to illustrate.
2. You only use as much material as is reasonably necessary
3. Your viewers will understand the connection right away.

Parodies on the other hand can have extensive use of original material or visually similar material without being directly referential.

Given it’s not 100 percent free reign, though, some tests must be passed:
1. Is it transformative rather than merely derivative?
2. Does it impact the market of the original?


If your video’s music is cleared and the content passes the appropriate test above you should be safe from having your video flagged, but if for some reason it does garner a strike, have patience. With the right appeal to YouTube, you have a chance of getting your video back and continuing monetization.

If the content passes the appropriate tests, you should be safe.

If you have received a strike against a video you know to falls under fair use simply go to your Video Manager page, click Copyright Notices in the lefthand bar and find the video you wish to dispute. Once there click “I believe this copyright claim is not valid,” and follow the steps. You will get to a page where you can enter an explanation.

It’s best to use language close to fair use law. For example: “This video is fair use under U.S. copyright law because it is noncommercial and transformative in nature, uses no more of the original than necessary, and has no negative effect on the market for the original work.” This will most often return your video to its normal state almost immediately, and if you’ve followed fair use, it will stay up for good.

Keep in mind YouTube and its policies change often, but fair use doesn’t, so if you stick close to the rules you should be free and clear to keep making quality YouTube content! For more information, resources and breakdowns of specific kinds of videos and their relation to fair use, visit the sites below and keep hitting record!


Get YouTuber.