5 Best Methods on How to Not To Get Copyrighted on YouTube

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If you’ve ever uploaded a video to YouTube, you have probably had to think about copyright in some form or fashion.

Heck, maybe you stumbled across this article because you got hit with your first violation. Well, friend, I’m here to help. Today, let’s learn a little more about copyright infringement, what it means and the best methods to avoid copyright problems on YouTube.

What is copyright infringement on YouTube?

Essentially, copyright infringement is when you use music or material that belongs to someone else without legal authorization, which can be obtained through proper licensing or consent from copyright owners.

There can be legal consequences for violating copyright. So, if you have received a warning, copyright claim notification or a takedown request, it’s best to edit the video and/or remove any of the copyrighted content.

How do you avoid copyright infringement on YouTube?

Even though I’m not a legal expert, I do have a monetized YouTube channel for one of my blogs. And, in the past, I also received copyright notices on some uploaded videos, even when I thought I was doing everything right.

Today, I am happy to report that I have not had any copyright issues since making a few simple adjustments. So, here are my favorite methods to avoid infringement on YouTube:

musician recording music on phone with tripod
(photo by I Believe I Can Fly/shutterstock.com)

1. Use only original content

The absolute best way to avoid copyright problems is by using only original content on your platform. This means filming your own footage, recording your own sounds and music and writing your own scripts and/or lyrics.

This may seem a bit obvious, but it is overall the best and safest method.

Now, I’m not saying a dispute will absolutely, 100% never happen with original works if they are still too close to someone else’s creative content.

For example, you may have noticed headlines about court cases between musicians and copyrighted music. One quick example is the song “Blurred Lines”, which was slapped with a copyright suit for being too close to the song “Got to Give it Up”. They ultimately had to pay $5.3 million and give half of the song’s royalties to the Marvin Gaye Estate.

So, it’s always best to be sure to keep your music and content as original as possible. Of course, this becomes more important if your channel is very popular or is getting a lot of attention. Just ask Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams.

laptop with music library mockup from youtube
(YouTube mockup with photo by catshila/shutterstock.com)

2. Use creator music from YouTube

YouTube makes money when you make money. So to help its creators, the platform offers its own YouTube audio library of sounds and music for YouTube creators.

To access the library, go to “Creator Music” on the left menu when you are signed into your Creator Studio account. You may have to agree to the terms and conditions first.

From there, you will see three tabs that offer paid, free and revenue-shared music options.

This is a pretty safe way to avoid copyright issues for content creators. However, when using this option, remember that the sounds and music may not be licensed across all platforms.

Also, you may also want to be aware of limited terms. A license that doesn’t last in perpetuity may have an expiration date, in which case monetization will begin to go to the music’s rights holders.

laptop with music library mockup
(Adobe Stock mockup with photo by catshila/shutterstock.com)

3. License stock music (maybe)

This is actually my LEAST favorite method. Let me explain.

When my team and I were new to our YouTube channel, we first used licensed stock audio from Adobe. This wasn’t necessarily inexpensive, for the record.

Now, I normally love Adobe. I use their stock images and programs frequently as a graphic designer and blogger. But stock audio? I was less than impressed. To my surprise, we were still being hit with copyright violations even after paying for licensed audio.

I know what you might be thinking. There was an option to enter a license key from the stock platform, and we were able to request to remove the violation. However, the request would not always get approved, making it impossible to ever monetize our video.

This meant that even after paying for licensing, we wound up with clips that were more or less useless.

I’m not saying this happened with every piece of stock audio we licensed, so you may have better luck than I did. And of course, licensing can vary and usage can be limited in some cases. Personally, I had a hard time knowing which pieces of audio would be a problem without uploading it and then waiting to see whether or not it got flagged.

So even though licensed stock may be an option for some creators, my team and I ultimately gave up this method. This brings me to my next tip.

laptop with music freelancers
(Fiverr mockup with photo by catshila/shutterstock.com)

4. Hire a freelancer on Fiverr to create original sounds and music

After all of our stock problems, we eventually hired a freelancer on Fiverr.

We found an artist on the platform who could compose and record our very own unique background music that was completely ours to use across any platform.

That part was a huge bonus for us since we could then repurpose the same content for Instagram, Tik Tok or Facebook. Also, I’m happy to report that we haven’t had any copyright issues since.

Plus, it was surprisingly affordable. We paid for a handful of songs that we can use and reuse as much as we like for about $200 each. It has been well worth its weight in gold because it has saved us so much time and headache.

But as a disclaimer, always check with the freelancer about the terms of use and be clear about the purpose of the material.

Read Also: 8 Steps: How I Became a Content Creator on YouTube (2023)

creative commons mockup on laptop
(mockup with images by Casimiro PT and catshila/shutterstock.com)

5. Look for public domain or creative commons licenses

In some cases, you can find royalty-free music and/or clips that are either public domain or have creative commons licenses.

In the case of a creative commons license, the creator grants permission for anyone to use their works of art in certain ways. But again, the terms may be defined by the creator.

For example, in some cases, attribution may be required. In other cases, the format may be used for noncommercial purposes only. Make sure you know the license type for the piece of work you wish to use.

Public domain is when the copyright to the work is either expired or belongs to no one.

Whenever you are seeking free works like this, always double-check the terms and make sure that the work is actually free to use. This also isn’t my personal favorite method, but it may be one worth exploring for some creators.

How can I legally use copyrighted music on YouTube?

I don’t like to be the bearer of bad news, but, legally, you can’t. You should only use content that is either your own or that you are authorized to use.

To quote YouTube’s website:

Creators … should not upload videos they didn’t make, or use content in their videos that someone else owns the copyright to, such as music tracks, snippets of copyrighted programs, or videos made by other users, without necessary authorizations.


What happens when I commit copyright infringement on YouTube?

YouTube has a system called the Copyright Match Tool and Content ID technology to check for copyrighted works of art.

Whenever you upload content, YouTube’s Content ID system scans the database for matching videos. You can think of it like a digital fingerprint database. If there is a match, an action is taken based on the predefined rules from the content owner. According to YouTube, these actions may include:

  • Blocking the video from being viewed
  • Monetizing the video by running ads against it, in some cases sharing revenue with the uploader
  • Tracking the video’s viewership

However, it should be noted that a DMCA complaint is different than a Content ID claim. DMCA stands for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

If a copyright owner submits a DMCA complaint, that YouTube video is taken down and given a copyright strike. And after three strikes, you’re out. More specifically, the whole account and associated channels may be terminated if you have three strikes within 90 days.

However, if you believe you have been given a copyright strike in error, you can always submit a copyright counter-notification.

What about Fair Use?

Essentially, Fair Use may allow you to use a small portion of someone’s copyrighted work “for the purposes of criticism, commentary or news reporting”. The purpose of Fair Use is to promote freedom of expression.

But with most things in life, it has its limits.

According to YouTube’s policies, courts will typically look at four factors when determining proper Fair Use:

  • The purpose and character of usage
  • The nature of copyrighted work
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used (compared to the work as a whole)
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

In other words, you may be able to use small portions of copyrighted work or short video clips under specific circumstances. I think of this in terms that you are adding value to the work you are referencing but still making your own unique content at the end of the day.

Copyright and Fair Use laws may also vary by country, so always use caution when you are using someone else’s material, even if you think it may fall under the terms of Fair Use.

Can I use copyrighted music if I give credit?

That sounds nice and easy, right? But no, you must have permission or proper licensing from the creator or copyright holder.

If you’re a creator, you know how much work goes into making a unique video. You probably wouldn’t want someone else to profit off of your own hard work, at least not without you getting your cut.

Read Also: 18 Ideas: How To Make Money on YouTube Without Making Videos (2023)

What do I say to avoid copyright on YouTube?

Unfortunately, there’s no magical script to avoid copyright laws. If you want to stay out of YouTube jail, avoid using any copyrighted material in your videos.

To quote the all-mighty Google:

Phrases like “all rights go to the author” and “I do not own” don’t automatically mean you’re making fair use of that material. They also don’t mean you have the copyright owner’s permission.


In other words, you can’t just say that you don’t own something and then gain the right to use it.

What if someone is using my copyrighted material on YouTube?

You can monitor your own copyrighted work under the “Copyright” menu bar on the left of your Creator Studio and submit copyright takedown requests from there.

YouTube asks its rightsholders to consider the applicability of exceptions before they submit copyright removal requests. You can read more about submitting a removal request here.

Have you had an issue with copyright on YouTube? What type of audio do you use for your videos? Let me know in the comments below.

Photo of author


Alaina O'Neal

Alaina O’Neal is a freelancer and blogger with over a decade of design and print experience‭. ‬She is certified in user experience design and digital media‭. ‬Alaina is‭ ‬also a 4x Tennessee Press Association‭ (‬TPA‭) ‬award winner.

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