There’s nothing worse than making a great video and not being able to find great music to go with it. Ok… maybe there is something worse: spending time, energy, and money creating a killer video, only for the owner of the music copyright to get all the revenue, mute your video, or block your creation entirely! So now I bet you want to know how to not get copyrighted on YouTube and avoid copyright claims?
In this article, you’ll learn:
- How music copyright works on YouTube
- What happens when you infringe copyright on YouTube
- The ways YouTubers try to avoid copyright (badly)
- How to not get copyrighted on YouTube the right way
- How to use Lickd to make your next video soundtrack a success
YouTube’s own copyright policies: how music copyright works on YouTube
Music copyright is likely the biggest cause of YouTube copyright claims. But there’s something you need to understand first. YouTube is not the one deciding to put a copyright claim on your video. YouTube simply upholds copyright law by allowing copyright owners to make claims on any content that uses their copyrighted material without permission.
To do this YouTube has a system called Content ID. Imagine Content ID as a sophisticated version of Shazam. Just like how Shazam scans your environment for audio that matches its database, Content ID scans the audio of every video uploaded to YouTube. If any part of a video’s soundtrack matches audio files registered to the Content ID database, it can trigger a copyright claim.
Here’s how it works:
1. music copyright owners need to register their song or video with Content ID
Say one of your favorite singer-songwriters creates and records a song called Don’t Infringe Me No More, they could register that song with Content ID. Then, it’s in the content ID database. You may want to use the song in your video, but Content ID will now be able to find out if you do.
2. Content ID tracks down copyright infringement
After a copyright owner registers their copyright with Content ID, YouTube regularly sends a virtual police force to search for unauthorized uses of it. So, if you’ve uploaded a video with Don’t Infringe Me No More in the background and you don’t have permission to use it, Content ID will hunt you down.
3. YouTube applies a copyright claim
If you’re found to be in breach of copyright law, you will get a copyright claim applied to your video. This is not something you want – let’s take a look at the consequences.
What happens to your video if you infringe copyright and get a copyright claim?
If you decide to ignore all the warning signs and use copyrighted music without permission, prepare yourself for the consequences. Your video will be the equivalent of grounded. Indefinitely.
Once the content owner learns you’ve used their work without permission, they can choose to do any of the following:
- Monetize your video (basically, you get demonetized and the copyright owner gets to monetize your YouTube video instead of you) – this is the most common result of a copyright claim!
- Mute your video (your video will still be available, but no sound will play)
- Track the video’s viewership statistics without taking further action. This doesn’t sound too bad, but it’s also not very common so don’t pin your hopes on receiving this one.
- Block your video (your video becomes unavailable and YouTube may penalize your channel)
None of that sounds good, does it?
So, why does YouTube copyright music?
As we mentioned earlier, YouTube itself doesn’t copyright music, it enforces the copyright that artists have to their own songs. If they didn’t do this, then artists and record labels would come after YouTube and Google themselves. Just as YouTube Creators would seek payment if someone else wanted to use the content they’d created, music artists want to be compensated when someone uses their work too.
They are the legal content owners, after all.
For more information, check out this beginner’s guide to YouTube Music Policies.
How YouTubers try to avoid music copyright claims (badly)
Perhaps you consider yourself a smooth operator, able to pull off some fancy schemes to avoid paying for music on YouTube. Alas, trying to trick the almighty Content ID is rarely successful. It’s like trying to talk your way out of getting grounded after coming home at 3 am with a dented car. It’s not happening. Even if you get away with infringement temporarily, YouTube’s algorithms are constantly becoming more advanced and you’re bound to get caught out eventually.
Here are some common less-than-wholesome strategies some people suggest for how to avoid copyright on YouTube.
1. Writing “I claim no rights to this song.”
How many times have you seen a YouTube Creator say they don’t own rights in the song they’re using? Many. How many times does it work? Zero.
Unfortunately, this strategy is useless. Think about it this way: If you walked into a shoe store, snagged a pair and walked out the door admitting you don’t claim any rights to the shoes, would that work? Absolutely not. You don’t need to say you don’t own any rights to a song, the copyright owner already knows that. At this point you’re just advertising that you’re using the music illegally.
Giving credit to the content owners when using copyrighted material also doesn’t work, although you may have to do this when you get a license.
2. Changing the speed/pitch of the music
With everyone and their mom becoming amateur music producers these days, you won’t have a hard time finding someone who can warp a copyrighted song so it sounds just a little different. The idea is that Content ID won’t be able to recognize the audio after you’ve changed it ever so slightly.
This bad-faith strategy suffers from various pitfalls:
First, as a Creator, you’re blatantly disregarding the rights of other creatives. It’s one thing if you’re not aware of copyright law, but it’s another to so openly commit copyright infringement.
Secondly, warping audio can distort quality and ruin the experience for your viewers, meaning they’re less likely watch your content again and they may be less willing to like or subscribe.
Finally, as we said earlier, Content ID keeps getting better and better. YouTube is aware of these tricks and is constantly improving its algorithm to catch this kind of usage. The new algorithms can often recognize altered versions of original songs. If you’ve got away with it now, it’s only a matter of time before you’re found out.
3. Just playing a snippet of the track
This is just a fool’s errand. If you’re thinking of ‘just playing two seconds’ of the track because supposedly that won’t trigger a claim, you’re playing with fire. And for what, really? Is it worth having your entire video demonetized for 2 seconds of audio?
The above three methods, though the intent of avoiding copyright violation is there, will still likely result in legal action being taken by the content owners. If you want to know how to avoid a copyright claim on YouTube, the answer is simple: either don’t use any or actually get permission. Do you know, it’s not actually that hard to get permission to use the real deal? You won’t get copyrighted and you get a lot more out of it than just two seconds. Keep reading to find out how!
How to not get copyrighted on YouTube (properly)
This all probably sounds really limiting, and we’re here to tell you not to worry! There’s actually plenty of music kicking about for you to spice up your videos with, you just need to make sure you use it properly.
So, what music can you use on YouTube if you want to avoid copyright infringement while still making kick-ass content? There are a couple of different types of music you can get that are suitable for YouTube.
The historical way: stock music
You might have heard of royalty-free music or ‘stock music’ before. This is the most commonly used music on YouTube over the years.
You’ll likely pay a subscription fee to access a music library of tracks that you can use on YouTube. All without getting a copyright claim or having to pay ongoing royalties. YouTube Audio Library is one example.
Sadly, these tracks usually leave a lot to be desired and most ‘good’ royalty-free tracks you’ll find are overused. So, although you will avoid copyright violations, your YouTube video may not live up to its potential.
The new way: popular music
However, there’s a way more exciting type of music available. Did you know it’s actually possible to use popular music on YouTube now too? Without getting copyright claims? Lickd is a music library created especially for creators, allowing you to legally use popular music in your YouTube videos for the very first time. Choose from over a million songs from the likes of Charlie Puth, Sia, Megan Thee Stallion, Panic! At The Disco, XXXTentacion, Bazzi, Jess Glynne and many many others – and NOT get copyrighted on YouTube.
You still don’t have to pay ongoing royalties or worry about copyright claims, but you get all the benefits of using music that your viewers will actually recognize.
Why popular music?
So what benefits are these, I hear you ask? Well, using popular music can give your video a big boost! in fact, it’s been shown to increase ALL important YouTube metrics. Likes, comments, subscribes, watch time, you name it. It’s a relatively new development so if you get in early, you can set yourself apart from the rest with the freshest music.
Ultimately, here at Lickd, we just want to see you succeed. That’s why we made it possible for you to finally be able to use popular music in your YouTube videos. Legally and without worries of copyright claims!
On top of that, you can also access stock music – the world’s largest stock music library for creators to be exact! And quantity doesn’t mean lower quality. This stock music has also been used in TV and movies… yeah we’re not playing around! Guess what, because we love creators so much, you’ll get 25% off your first popular music track and free unlimited stock music for 14 days. Get on it via the link below.
Not yet convinced? The numbers speak for themselves, but here are a few other options for you.
If you’ve got some cash to spend then Pond5 could work for you. You’ll be able to search a library of around 15,000 tracks and you should be able to find something for between $20 and $60. It offers background music and sound effects for your YouTube videos, but bearing in mind these are only stock music tracks.
This is owned by Shutterstock, who you’ve probably heard of if you’ve ever needed a photo for something. As with the photos, you’ll find a huge selection of stock music, but there’s no scaled pricing. You’re looking at $49 per track regardless of your audience or the quality of the song, which can be a little steep. (Especially when you consider it’s just stock music and you could license Charlie Puth instead from as little as $8…)
While traditional royalty-free music libraries can be helpful, they often provide unknown background music. For example, PremiumBeat offers a wide selection of user-submitted music. However, you’re unlikely to find any tracks from big-name artists. While stock music certainly serves a purpose, sometimes you want to differentiate your videos with a hit song. Otherwise, your videos will sound like everyone else’s.
Finally, here are a few other tips to make sure you don’t get copyrighted:
1. Only use content you’ve created yourself
By far the safest way to avoid copyright infringement and strikes is to only use your own content on YouTube. If you only use music and videos that you’ve created yourself, you won’t have to worry about copyright claims as you’ll be the copyright owner. However obviously it depends if you have the skills, equipment and time to write and record your own music to use in the background of your videos – as well as creating the entire video yourself.
2. Stick within the ‘fair use’ policy
You may well have heard the term ‘fair use’ being thrown about, and while it may sound like your free ticket to using whatever tracks you want in your content, it’s probably not. Fair use may allow you to add a track and not receive a claim, but it’s unlikely.
Usually, fair use applies if you’re using copyrighted content for non-profit educational purposes, but even then it depends on the content you’re using, how much of it you’re using, and the effect that your video may have.
So, every fair use case is judged differently, and what may pass as fair use for one person may not be judged as fair use for another.
Now you know how to not get copyrighted on YouTube
Lickd is the holy grail for mainstream music for content creators. Say goodbye to worrying about copyright infringement on YouTube. Unlike standard music libraries, Lickd has popular music people will recognize in an instant, giving your video an extra boost. Get copyrighted music from the biggest artists at affordable prices and avoid breaching copyright law.
You can search Lickd by artist, theme, genre, or even the type of video you’re producing. Pay per song for ultimate flexibility.
Sign up and start creating high-quality content without fear of copyright infringement. Even better, get 25% off your first popular music track and 14 days of free stock music thrown in!
How do you avoid copyright on YouTube?
- Get legal permission to use popular music with Lickd!
- Make and use your own music
- Try royalty-free music
How long does a copyright strike last?
YouTube copyright strikes expire after 90 days. After this time, they will be erased.
What happens if you get 3 copyright strikes on YouTube?
If you receive 3 copyright strikes, your account and any channels associated with it will be terminated. This means all of the videos on any of the created channels will be removed and new channels cannot be created.
What do I put in the description of a YouTube video to avoid copyright claims?
Solely putting a disclaimer in the description of your YouTube video will not protect you from copyright claims. You need to seek adequate permission from the owner, or of course, get your music from Lickd.