To say that YouTube revolutionized the video marketplace is an understatement. This opened the doors for those looking to present content to a vast audience, as well as the monetization of said content as a source of income. But like any good thing, there are unsuspecting traps and pitfalls associated with uploading content on YouTube that jeopardizes the content creator; the worst of them being the recipient of a copyright strike. At its heart, receiving a copyright strike says that the content is not the property of the one presenting it, but actually the property of another person or company.

One might think a content creator would know not to “steal” another’s video and present it as their own — but that isn’t always the case. What occurs is when copyright material is embedded into one’s own video without explicit permission having been granted (for example, falling under “fair use”).

As an example, making a video discussing a movie is perfectly acceptable, but what wouldn’t be is showing clips of the movie because that is another’s copyright material. The same applies for showing images or playing an audio file, music or a video clip of another YouTuber’s channel (DMCA copyright law makes the creator of a video the owner of the copyright, with YouTube allowed certain liberties for accepting the upload). So being aware of a copyright infringement is extremely important because of the negative ramifications that can happen.

Now let’s say someone has filed a copyright claim against a person’s channel. YouTube investigates the claim for validity. If the powers-that-be agree, the video in question comes down and a copyright strike goes against the person’s YouTube channel. YouTube provided these details to the channel’s owner through email, mobile/computer notifications and channel settings. This includes the removed content as well as how it affects the channel and more.

Upon receiving the copyright strike, the owner of the channel has the option to either accept it or file a content notice. But the first thing to do is find out what exactly is going on — by signing in to the YouTube Studio, clicking “Content” from the left menu, filter for “Copyright claims” and then hovering over this and clicking “See Details” in the “Restrictions” column.

So for one week, the channel can’t upload videos, livestreams or stories. There are a number of things you can’t do, including:

  • Create custom thumbnails or Community posts create
  • Edit or add collaborators to playlists
  • Add or remove playlists from the watch page
  • Can’t show a trailer during a Premier
  • Can’t send viewings from a live stream to a Premier or vice versa

At the end of the week, all privileges return but the strike remains on the channel for 90 days. However, as part of the process, the channel owner must complete the courses of YouTube’s Copyright School. So as in baseball, the first strike is bad but not fatal. Now since receiving a copyright strike is definitely not a good thing, a counterclaim might be effective. This might work if the content in question falls under “fair use” or if the person who filed the copyright claim will retract it.

Three strikes and you’re out

Getting a second strike within that 90-day window “kills” the ability for posting content for 2 weeks (90 days now in effect until this strike goes away). And to continue the baseball analogy, “three strikes — you’re out!” Receiving a third copyright strike brings with its termination of the person’s account, and so all channels associated with the account. All the videos get a clean slate.

Additionally, the person does not have the option of creating a new account for continuing their YouTube “life.” But those who are part of YouTube’s Partner Program are eligible for a courtesy period lasting 7 days, during which time the channel remains active while a counterclaim can be put in place. A ruling in favor or a retracted claim provides relief for the channel.

So, how do you counter a copyright strike? One can just accept it and let it run its course. Or one can dispute it with YouTube or try and make amends with the one who initiated the strike. More valid and worthwhile though would be to avoid having it happen in the first place. So never assume that using any material that is not of one’s own creation is “fair use”. Content can be acquired for use through legal means — as an example, licensing the use of music. Research any and all content other than one’s own that is being considered for use — when in doubt, don’t is a good first step.

Take a breath, step back and consider whether there’s a need for using content that one didn’t create. And if the use seems warranted, check and then double-check before incorporating the content with one’s own.