What to Do When Someone Steals Your YouTube Video Ideas

Andrew Moore-Crispin
December 7, 2023
Someone stealing your YouTube ideas

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery… but it sure doesn’t feel that way when you have a shadow who is stealing your YouTube videos, shamelessly ripping off your ideas and releasing the same content (more or less) shortly after you hit publish.

If they’re stealing YouTube videos from your channel and reuploading them on theirs, that’s a clear violation of the YouTube Community Guidelines and you can report them… but if they’re stealing your ideas and creating new videos, YouTube can’t intervene.

We have a YouTube shadow who, coincidentally, always seems to publish a video—with the same idea we had, sharing the data and insights we researched—a couple of weeks after our video goes live.

It’s not the same video. It’s like a bizarro world TubeBuddy video. Right down to the thumbnail that’s typically just different enough from ours to not be a clear infringement.

Anyone looking at our video and theirs can see they’re clearly ripping us off, but they’re not stealing in any legal sense (note: I’m not a lawyer).

So what do you do when someone is ripping off your YouTube video ideas?

Take a deep breath

It’s frustrating but cooler heads prevail. Write a nastygram if it makes you feel better but sending it would probably be a mistake (note: I’m not a therapist).

Take heart in the fact that they’re following you, which means you’re leading them.

Don’t let anyone stealing your YouTube video ideas knock you off course. Your ideas are good enough to steal. While it’s frustrating, it’s also a good sign.

Don’t acknowledge

The best advice is probably the same advice we got for dealing with schoolyard bullies: just ignore them. It may be easier said than done but they’re already stealing your ideas, don’t let them steal your thunder too.

It may be tempting to call your shadow out but that’ll probably help them more than you. Resist the temptation to  jump into their comments or call them out on your channels. You’ll only give your shadow more attention.

Now, if a creator with a much larger following is ripping off your ideas, you may have something to gain calling attention to it.

It’s a judgment call. See the first point (take a deep breath) and decide how to proceed.

Don't acknowledge when someone is stealing your YouTube video ideas. Graphic of man shouting into megaphone from a computer screen.

Beat them (figuratively)

Living well is the best revenge. (note: I’m not George Herbert). 

A great idea is a great idea, but it’s the execution and the optimization that makes all the difference. So make sure your videos are the best they can be so that anyone stealing YouTube video ideas is making a hollow copy. 

Make sure your videos are better optimized with tools like Keyword Explorer and Retention Analyzer so you’ll get the traffic, not your shadow. Use TB competitor analysis tools like Videolytics to gather intel. Use TB Keyword Explorer,View and Copy Tags and other tools to beat them at their own game.

Make lemonade

Good artists borrow; great artists steal (note: I’m not Pablo Picasso… and it’s appropriate that the progenitor of that particular quote is up for debate). 

If you have a good idea, people are going to be inspired by it. Like good artists, they’re going to copy it. Some will steal it outright. 

Maybe steal JackSucksAtLife’s idea (you won’t be the first) and instead of being bitter about it, lean in and have some fun.

Keep on keeping on

It can be frustrating when someone is shortcutting their process by borrowing from yours. But unless they’re stealing more than your ideas and concepts, there’s probably not a lot you can do about it. 

Take a deep breath and think how best to proceed. Don’t acknowledge your shadow unless you have something to gain by doing so. Beat them at their own game by making your video the best example and theirs a clear rip-off.

People chasing a light bulb idea

After all, they can steal your ideas and mimic your strategy, but you’re the one out in front, leading.

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