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"YouTube & Copyright"



Until recently, I knew very little about how YouTube deals with copyright violators.

Sure…I’d heard stories from friends & colleagues, but I’d never actually dealt with it firsthand.

Now I have!


For those who aren’t aware, I’m a long-time YouTuber. I set up my first channel in January of 2010 & currently administrate five. Even with 5 channels, I’d never had occasion to post work I didn’t own or, at the very least, have permission to use. A few weeks back, I decided to try something new…a series called “Play Along”. The videos consist of me playing drums to a prerecorded song. Not exactly a revolutionary concept, but it was new for me & sounded like fun!


My original intent was to post each video without the copyrighted audio. That would have avoided the legal quagmire, but it would have made the finished product less interesting. After some deliberation, I decided to roll the dice & include the audio. If nothing else, it would serve as a learning experience.


When I formatted my video, I used an mp3 iTunes version of the audio (song). Typically, mp3s of this type contain tagging which allows the track to be detected on platforms like YouTube. I uploaded the project & classified it as an “unlisted” video. This is standard practice for me. Once I view the upload & verify that it’s intact, I change the classification to “public”. Since it was late, I put that final review off till the next morning.


By the time I logged back on that next day….

·  YouTube’s technology had detected my use of the copyrighted material.

·  They’d sent me a Gmail notification listing my options.

·  My video had been tagged & set up for AD monetization…pending my approval.


Remember, at this point the video was still classified as “unlisted”. I hadn’t even checked the viability of the upload yet. It seems the wheels of progress turn quickly when there’s revenue at stake! :rolleyes: 

Fortunately for me, this was the outcome I was hoping for. Most of those 2nd hand stories I mentioned earlier described a similar process.


Here’s a copy of that actual YouTube notice…..  



Your video has been blocked in some countries.

Copyrighted content was found in your video.

Because of the claimant's policy, this video can't be played in some countries.


·         Video blocked in 1 country 

·         Unavailable on some devices 


·         Monetized by claimant 

If you agree with these conditions, you don't have to do anything. 
Learn more


Copyright details





·         Look Away (Album Version) - The Ozark Mountain Daredevils

·         Sound recording

·         0:02 - 3:29 play match

·         UMG

·         Blocked in some countries 

·         Remove song 

·         File a dispute 



Additional details:

·  When you hover over the Video blocked in 1 country” statement, it tells you which country…in this case - Germany.

  • When you hover over the “Monetized by claimant” statement, this notice appears – You can use the copyrighted content in your video, but ads might appear on your video.”
  • As you can see, the poster is given 3 basic choices:

1.    Do nothing, indicating that you agree with the arrangements already negotiated.

2.    Remove the copyrighted song

3.    File a dispute over the ownership of contested material, in this case the play-along audio track.

* Clicking on the “Learn More” link took me to a page containing this statement –  



“Am I in trouble?

·         In most cases, getting a Content ID claim isn’t a bad thing for your YouTube channel. It just means, “Hey, we found some material in your video that’s owned by someone else.”

·         It’s up to copyright owners to decide whether or not others can reuse their original material. In many cases, copyright owners allow the use of their content in YouTube videos in exchange for putting ads on those videos.”



In the spirit of full disclosure, that page also contained information pertaining to other potential outcomes. Occasionally, the owner of rights can strongly object.

In rare cases, your standing as a YouTube member can be affected…. negatively & permanently.


So…the bottom line is this - doing what I did is a bit of a crap-shoot. ;) 

There is a chance it could affect your standing on YouTube.

BUT, the vast majority of the time, you’re likely to get an outcome similar to mine.

In my case it was win-win. They allowed me to use the audio + I gained first-hand knowledge of their procedures.

Once I finally viewed the upload & changed the classification to “public”, I placed this statement in the liner notes… 


“The ADs you see here are not mine. The registered owner of "Look Away" chose to allow use of their audio content in exchange for placing ads in my video. Since I had no commercial aspirations for this project anyway, I thought that arrangement was more than fair!”

 For anyone interested, here’s a link to the video discussed here. https://youtu.be/VRdqL_UCQz0


Tom Hoffman

"About Me" Muse Member pg.


Tom Hoffman YouTube

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That's one of the easy outcomes!   Some copyright owners have the audio stripped from your video.  Some have the whole thing deleted.  Warner Brothers is noted for this.  I've had Steely Dan and Jethro Tull (live) videos deleted.  Just recently my band's live version of Led Zeppelin's 'Ramble On' was deleted.

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Good to know !

I knew those outcomes were possible, but you're the first I've heard of who's experienced 'em. Shame the whole thing's so unpredictable.

For whatever it's worth, I did 7 of those videos altogether.

Out of the 7, the worst outcome I had was with an Eagles tune ("Too Many Hands"). Strange circumstances too...it went completely unclaimed for approximately 6 months. When it was finally claimed, they bared play in the US market...still visible everywhere else. If I recall correctly, they didn't even monetize it...simply excluded U.S. play.

Shame too, since it was my best effort! LOL

What can ya' do? :rolleyes:

...appreciate you chiming in!



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2 hours ago, Mike B said:

Just recently my band's live version of Led Zeppelin's 'Ramble On' was deleted.

Bummer. I'd like to hear/see that. 

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Some copyright owners have the audio stripped from your video.  Some have the whole thing deleted.  Warner Brothers is noted for this.  I've had Steely Dan and Jethro Tull (live) videos deleted.  Just recently my band's live version of Led Zeppelin's 'Ramble On' was deleted.

Purely for the sake of keeping the discussion on track, I'd like to point something out Mike.

Yes, we're both talking about YouTube covers, but 2 very different types of covers.

  • In the 7 videos I did, I simply played drums along with their commercial release of the song. Their writing, their arrangement, their performance, their production...not mine. In addition to that, I tried my absolute best not to bury the audio with my drum track. I went for the best mix possible keeping my drums audible, but allowing their version of the song to shine through. Hopefully, what listeners end up hearing is their song...with enough of my drums to know that I'm actually playing along. That was a deliberate choice. I hear far too many of these single-instrument covers doing their best to overwhelm the copyrighted audio. Frankly, if it were my song, I wouldn't like that either!
  • If I understood you correctly, the videos you referred to were live recordings of your band playing their copyrighted material. If that assumption is correct, then the owner of rights had no say in your choice of arrangement, no say in how it was recorded or the final production quality, no say over the quality of the performance itself, etc. That's a world of difference! In addition to those variables, you've got to consider that the legal tolerance for infringement has changed a lot in recent years. I recall reading an article early this year about one of our landmark downtown venues being forced to close their doors after years of ignoring royalty demands from ASCAP/BMI. The venue had been sent countless warnings, explaining that they owed royalties for years of hosting cover material in their venue, but they chose to ignore them. Back in my band days, these things weren't issues. Nowadays they are..in the real world, as well as youTube.

Lots of variables with your type of posted cover, not so many with mine.

Perhaps that made a difference, perhaps not? But for the sake of clarity, I thought I should pointed it out. We're not talkin' apples-to-apples here. ;)

Thanks again for your comments!



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Personally, Tom, I would be more concerned about the rights in your own material which have been transferred to YouTube under their standard licence.

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"For clarity, you retain all of your ownership rights in your Content. However, by submitting Content to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and YouTube's (and its successors' and affiliates') business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels. You also hereby grant each user of the Service a non-exclusive license to access your Content through the Service, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such Content as permitted through the functionality of the Service and under these Terms of Service. The above licenses granted by you in video Content you submit to the Service terminate within a commercially reasonable time after you remove or delete your videos from the Service. You understand and agree, however, that YouTube may retain, but not display, distribute, or perform, server copies of your videos that have been removed or deleted. The above licenses granted by you in user comments you submit are perpetual and irrevocable."


Basically they can use your content as they will and royalty-free to promote YouTube (or rather Google and its divisions). 

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21 hours ago, Moso said:

Bummer. I'd like to hear/see that. 

I'll send you the Facebook link - they didn't delete it (yet)!


Tom - the Steely Dan and Jethro Tull videos were those bands playing live.  I've had photo slideshow videos stripped of audio (original recordings from the artists).


The whole PRO (Performance Rights Organization) thing about venues hosting music that must be licensed from BMI/ASCAP/SESAC is completely different.

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The whole PRO (Performance Rights Organization) thing about venues hosting music that must be licensed from BMI/ASCAP/SESAC is completely different.

Yep...I understand that it's completely different. But my point was that nothing occurs in a vacuum.

Because your L.Z. cover was a live recording of a performance, that alone may have been enough to upset the artist or label.

Essentially, it's a visual record of you band being paid to play a song, which didn't legally belong to you. 

The fact that you placed it on YouTube see may have been the icing on the cake.

Who can say for sure? I can't!



Tom - the Steely Dan and Jethro Tull videos were those bands playing live.

I assume these were pirate vids shot at a live show, by someone not in possession of the necessary permissions? 

If that was the case, again the issue of control comes into play. Since you shot the video, they have no control over how they look or sound in the publically displayed product.

Bottom line - if it doesn't make them look particularly good, why would they allow it to remain public?

Would you?

Honestly, I'm amazed the industry allows any of that stuff to remain in digital circulation...particularly if the poster attempts to monetize the content.


As for the danger to my rights Lass/Muso, yeah...I understand the risk associated with placing it online anywhere.

Fact is, there's a long list of web-entities who currently list copies of my vids.

Just for grins, I did a search a few months ago. I Googled "DrumStuffTH" and came up with pages of results with listings of my material.

Some were simply pass-thru's, but many had actually helped themselves to the original uploaded content. I saved a short-list of what I found...for posterity :rolleyes:


Simply put - I understand the risk involved, but I chose to do it anyway.

What can I tell ya'?

I am not part of the "music industry", I do not gig anymore, my material is not & has never been for-sale...and I have no immediate plans to change any of that.

I have the luxury of worrying less about protecting my financial interests & more about ways to have the content heard.


Would I prefer for my rights of ownership to be respected?


Am I willing to forego participation in platforms like YouTube in an effort to protect those rights?


As far as I'm concerned, life's a trade off...I give something up to get a little more exposure in return.

At this point in my life, it's a trade I can live with. 



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I don't monetize videos of others, or of me (or my band) doing cover songs.  The live videos of bands certainly never show the band in unfavorable ways.  On the contrary, its 'free publicity' for the band - "here's what they're like live, go see them"!  Some bands have embraced this philosophy over the years, others haven't.


As to the LZ song by my band - yes we were being paid to perform, and the venue has the necessary PRO licenses.  The label that owns the rights to the song could monetize the video - but to just ban it/have it deleted?  What good reason could be behind that?

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The label that owns the rights to the song could monetize the video - but to just ban it/have it deleted?  What good reason could be behind that?

Your guess is as good as mine. ;)

Honestly, there's a ton that I don't know! 

The intent of the article was to share the things that I do know. Hopefully someone else finds it helpful.


BTW While I do appreciate all the additional details, rest assured...I was not accusing you of anything.

Since I know next to nothing about you, I was simply allowing for possibilities.

Fact is, many do attempt to monetize content which isn't theirs & many do post substandard quality videos. It's nice to know that you do not:) Enjoy your holidays!



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