YouTube Copyright Claim: Everything You Need to Know

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Carla Marshall
August 29, 2023
YouTube Copyright Claim: Everything You Need to Know

As a YouTube creator, you must be aware of your responsibilities and obligations. Consequences of copyright infringement can vary on a case-by-case basis, though ignorance is no defense.

Copyright is all about the original creator owning their work, whether it’s an audio track or a video on YouTube. If a third party uses someone’s precious content without permission, the rights owner can take decisive action to protect their creativity and hard work in bringing content to the platform.

In this article, we’ll provide a detailed discussion on YouTube copyright claims and strikes, so you can navigate the YouTube world and ensure you don’t unintentionally step on anyone’s toes.

DISCLAIMER: This information is an overview of how copyright works on YouTube. Please consult a legal representative if you need advice on a specific case.

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A YouTube copyright claim occurs when one party asserts that their copyrighted content, such as a video clip, image, or audio, has been used on the platform without their consent. The claiming party then has the choice to take action against this infringement and can look like the example below. 

The email a creator receives in the case of a YouTube copyright claim. It says there has been a manual review of the content and monetization has been transferred to the copyright owner and/or the copyright owner now has access to the analytics. 

It says this is not a copyright strike and includes some next steps which are basically: do nothing, refute the claim, or remove the claimed content.


Copyright owners have full control over their Content ID policy which is YouTube’s automated content identification system. Some creators and media publishers choose to prevent specific content, like TV and movie clips or music videos, from being uploaded to YouTube altogether.

On the other hand, some owners allow the content to remain on the uploader’s channel, but with the condition that a portion or all of the advertising revenue generated from that content goes back to the copyright owners as compensation.

Regarding a YouTube Content ID claim, the rights owner has several options to handle the violation:

  • They can block the entire video, making it unavailable for viewing on YouTube.
  • They can monetize the video by placing ads on it and keeping the revenue generated from those ads.
  • They can track the viewership stats, which disables monetization and lets the owner see how well the video performs.

YouTube has a complete guide to the options here.

Copyright Claims have the following consequences for creators on the receiving end:

  • Claims have slightly less impact on your YouTube channel and your ability to monetize.
  • Claims won’t lead to the termination of your channel.
  • A creator can dispute the claim if it can be proven false.
  • If you’ve used someone else’s content in your video, the rights holder can claim the revenue generated by that video.
  • If you dispute or appeal an active Content ID claim, the revenue data for the video will not be visible in YouTube Analytics during the dispute period.
  • If the claim is resolved in your favor, the revenue data for the disputed period will later be added to YouTube Analytics.
  • The copyright holder can advertise your video to generate that revenue.
  • The copyright holder can also choose to restrict the availability of your video in certain countries or regions.
  • The copyright holder may choose to take no action (but don’t rely on that option).
  • Content ID claims may come with specific rules related to monetization, tracking, or viewing restrictions.

YouTube has some specific advice on what to do if you receive a copyright claim on your video, so take a few minutes to watch when you can:

If your video receives a Content ID claim, you have the option to dispute it if you have a legitimate reason. Such reasons may include having all the necessary rights to the content in your video, using the content under a copyright exception like fair use, or believing that your video was wrongly identified or an error was made.

When you initiate a dispute for a Content ID claim, the person who made the claim (the claimant) is notified, and they have 30 days to respond. If the rights owner fails to respond within the given time frame, the Content ID claim is automatically lifted. See the below example.

A follow up email relating to a successful refute on a YouTube copyright claim.


However, if the claimant rejects your dispute, the claim is reinstated, and you can again appeal the decision. The rights holder then has 30 days to respond. Any ad revenue held and viewing restrictions are reinstated during this process.

At this point, the rights owner has several options. They can release their claim, choose to take down the video, or opt for a “delayed takedown.”

In the case of a delayed takedown, the uploader is notified and given seven days to retract their appeal; otherwise, the video will be automatically taken down from YouTube and permanently removed.

Be aware that the claimant can submit a copyright takedown request at any stage during the dispute process. If such a request is valid, your video will be removed from YouTube, and your channel may receive a copyright strike.

A YouTube copyright strike is a formal notice issued by YouTube to a channel owner due to violating the platform’s copyright policy. This occurs when a content creator notifies YouTube that their copyrighted material has been used without their explicit permission.

In strict adherence to copyright law, YouTube takes down the video upon receiving such a formal notification.

A copyright infringement warning from YouTube. It warns that the channel may receive a "strike" if immediate action is not taken.


Now, a video can only have one active copyright strike at a time, and it’s also possible for videos to be removed from the platform for reasons other than copyright infringement.

NOTE: Deleting a video with a copyright strike will not resolve the strike itself. The strike remains on your record as a warning, and it may have implications for your ability to monetize your content. Plus, if your active live stream gets removed due to copyright violations, you’ll face a restriction on live streaming for a period of 7 days.

Unlike claims, strikes can only be raised manually by the rights owner. There’s currently no available tool to help you automate the process.

If you ever happen to receive a copyright strike against one of your videos, you must take it seriously. The first strike can negatively affect your channel, like stopping live streaming and monetization, which we know can be problematic.

A copyright strike warning from YouTube. Copy reads: "You received a copyright strike" and warns that multiple copyright strikes will lead to YouTube disabling the account.


If you end up getting a second strike within 90 days of the first one, you won’t be able to post any new content for two weeks. Once those two weeks are up, Youtube will automatically restore all your channel privileges if there are no further issues.

Remember, though, each strike sticks around for 90 days from when it was issued, so it’s best to be careful and avoid copyright issues during that period.

Now, we don’t want to alarm, but if you get  three strikes within the same 90-day period, it could lead to your channel being permanently removed from YouTube. We hope it doesn’t come to that, so do your best to avoid copyright problems.


The bad news is that copyright strikes can sometimes lead to legal action and court prosecution, which is something you’d obviously want to avoid. If things don’t go your way, legal bills and penalties could be expensive. So, always make sure you have the right to use any content you include in your videos.

If you get a copyright strike, it means that a copyright owner submitted a valid legal takedown request for using their copyright-protected content.

There are three ways to resolve a copyright strike:

  1. Wait for the strike to expire: Copyright strikes usually last about 90 days. If this is your first strike, you’ll need to complete Copyright School. It’s an educational program provided by YouTube to guide creators through the ins and outs of copyright laws. This way, you’ll understand how they apply to the content you upload on the platform.
  2. Request a retraction: If you believe the copyright claim against your video is mistaken, you can contact the person who made the claim. Just reach out to them and kindly ask them to reconsider their claim. Sometimes, a simple conversation may clear things up. Here’s how to retract a copyright removal request.
  3. File a counter-notification: If you believe that your video was taken down in error or if it falls under fair use, don’t worry. You have the option to submit a counter-notification. This means you can explain your side of the story and tell YouTube why the strike is unjustified. Learn how to submit a copyright counter-notification.


Copyright ClaimCopyright Strike
Issued by content ownersMonetization goes to the content ownerVideo remains visible on YouTubeNo penalties or strikes against the uploaderMay result in limited video featuresIssued by YouTube or content ownerVideo may be taken down or blockedStrikes against the uploader’s accountRepeated strikes lead to channel termination

Here are five tips to help you minimize the risk of YouTube copyright claims and strikes.

YouTube takes copyright infringement seriously and enforces strict guidelines that align with copyright laws in the USA and other jurisdictions.

The platform states, “Creators should only upload videos they have made or are authorized to use. Users should not upload videos that they didn’t make or use content in videos that someone else owns without necessary authorizations.”

The first rule of YouTube’s copyright policy is to “upload videos that creators have made or that they’re authorized to use.”

2. Create Original Content

The most effective way to avoid copyright claims is to produce your own original content. Because nobody likes a content thief, and it’s a surefire way to get hit with copyright claims.

Don’t stress if you’re not a Grammy-winning musician or a professional videographer—you don’t need fancy equipment or a top-notch studio to be original. Some of the best YouTube content comes from creators who simply use their phones or basic cameras. It’s all about the content and how you connect with your audience.

For example, use the power of your voice. That’s you talking, laughing, and sharing your thoughts. Your personality can be the magic ingredient that sets you apart from the crowd and makes your content original.

3. Understand Fair Use

Fair use is a legal approach that allows for the limited use of copyrighted material without seeking permission from the copyright owner. That said, fair use is not a one-size-fits-all solution and can be tricky to understand.

The concept of fair use aims to strike a balance between copyright protection and the rights of content creators who use copyrighted material for specific purposes. These purposes typically include criticism, commentary, news reporting, education, and parody.

So, if you’re using someone else’s copyrighted material in a way that adds value through your own insights, analysis, or creativity, you might have a fair use argument.

NOTE: Each fair use case is evaluated on its own merits, and there’s no definitive checklist to determine whether something is fair use. It’s a complex area of law, and disputes can arise even when you believe your use is fair. To reduce the risk of copyright claims, we recommend you seek permission from copyright holders for any use of their material. 

4. Use Royalty-Free Music and Images

When it comes to adding tunes or visuals to your videos, royalty-free content is the way to go. Royalty-free content is a type of content that you can use without paying recurring royalties or fees for each use. It’s a budget-friendly option that can save you from potential copyright headaches.

For music, many platforms offer vast libraries of royalty-free tracks. You can find music in various genres and moods, making picking the perfect soundtrack to match your video’s vibe easy. Some of these paid platforms are Epidemic Sound, Pond5, and Soundstripe.

Regarding visuals, fortunately, many platforms offer royalty-free images that you can use for personal and commercial purposes. You can find photographs, illustrations, vectors, and more, catering to various topics and themes. Some of these platforms are Unsplash, Pexels, Vecteezy, Startup Stock Photos, and Pixabay.

5. Cite Sources and Give Credit

When you use copyrighted material under fair use or with permission, try to provide proper attribution and credit to the original creators. Not only does this show respect for their work, but it also informs your audience about the source of the content.

In the video description, include the original creator’s name, the work or music’s title, and a link to the original source (if possible). See the example below.

In addition to citing sources, consider including a disclaimer that informs your audience about your fair use rights where applicable. You can state that you have used copyrighted material in accordance with fair use for purposes such as criticism, commentary, education, or parody.

Remember, while including a disclaimer is a good practice, it doesn’t guarantee 100% protection from copyright claims. Copyright holders might still dispute you, even if you believe it is fair use. But having a disclaimer can show your good faith effort to follow fair use guidelines and may help resolve disputes more amicably.

Copyright claims can impact your channel’s growth, so it’s important to respect the intellectual property of others. To avoid likely copyright claims in the future, always use original content or obtain proper permissions and give credits when using copyrighted material.

As you navigate your YouTube journey, optimizing your channel and growing your audience can be key priorities. One tool widely trusted amongst content creators is TubeBuddy. TubeBuddy is a free browser extension and YouTube SEO solution designed to help you manage your channel more effectively. With its features like keyword explorer, video tags, and bulk processing, you can easily streamline your content creation process.Download the TubeBuddy extension today to see how it can help you.

get an unfair advantage on YouTube

Give your YouTube channel the upper hand and easily optimize for more views, more subs, and more of every metric that matters.

get started