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Understanding YouTube's Copyright Policy

Updated: Jul 23, 2023

YouTube has come a long way from being an advertisement-free website for videos to a platform where professionals create and share content to gain monetary benefits. YouTube’s copyright policy states at the outset that content creators have the authority to upload videos they have made or received permission to use. In legal terms, this means they own the copyright to these videos, either by having created them or being granted the rights by someone who is the original owner of the copyright. This means that one cannot use someone’s music or parts of copyrighted videos without permission while creating one’s own content for Youtube, regardless of any monetary gain.

Copyright exceptions

Copyright exceptions enable the creators to reuse copyrighted material without seeking permission, but only in some situations. It certainly plays a crucial role in fostering the free flow of ideas and creativity. Different countries and regions may have different rules when it comes to exceptions and YouTube takes local rules into consideration while looking into copyright removal requests. The respective courts decide the applicability of the exception on a case-to-case basis. In India, such an exception is referred to as the right of ‘Fair Dealing’ and is covered under Section 52 of the Copyright Act of 1957. It contains a list where the use is considered ‘fair’, such as the use of copyrighted material for the purpose of criticism, commentary, news reporting, and teaching. YouTube encourages creators to consider the applicability of copyright exceptions before submitting video removal requests.

Claiming copyright on YouTube

YouTube has copyright management tools that the creators can access to claim copyright infringement.

It is an online form on YouTube for a copyright removal request. This is the quickest and easiest way to submit a complaint and is to be done by the copyright owner or any person authorized by the owner. For instance, an advocate filing a copyright claim on behalf of a company or an individual.

This tool automatically identifies videos that match other content on YouTube. When a match is found, the creator can review it and choose the preferred mode of action such as putting it on Archive, requesting the removal of the video, or contacting the channel which has uploaded the video. It is accessible to any creator who has submitted a valid copyright removal request.

Creators can utilize this tool to identify potentially infringing videos and provide YouTube with sufficient information to remove them. A creator needs to be eligible for the Content Verification Programme in order to use it. YouTube provides a form by which you can check your eligibility for the same.

This tool has an enterprise webform, which is similar to the copyright takedown webform. But the difference is that it lets a creator search through the videos that are publicly available to find infringing content and a takedown request can then be submitted directly from the enterprise webform. It is specially designed for copyright-holding companies wanting to issue multiple removal requests.

It is YouTube’s automated content identification system to identify and manage copyright-protected content. Copyright owners with a content ID submit audio and visual content, and YouTube scans videos against that database. When a match is found in its content ID system, then based on the content ID settings of the owner, the tool applies a claim to the matching video, which can either be tracked, monetized, or blocked. It is for those with the most complex rights management needs. These actions are specific to a geographical area which means a video can be monetised in one country/region and blocked or tracked in another.

The Webform is available for everyone to use. Other tools are accessible based on demonstrated need, available resources, and knowledge of YouTube’s copyright system. It is important to note that using any of these tools for copyright claims initiates a legal process. Therefore, misusing a tool such as giving false information or repeated abuse of the copyright removal request process can lead to loss of feature access, the suspension of your account, or other legal consequences.

Action taken by YouTube in cases of copyright infringement

YouTube applies a copyright strike to an infringing video when the copyright owner submits a valid and legal complaint for removal. An account, with all its associated channels, can be terminated if its user gets three copyright strikes within 90 days. YouTube has also provided ways by which creators can overcome these copyright strikes, which include going through copyright school on its website after the 1st strike, waiting for the strikes to expire after 90 days, requesting a retraction, or submitting a counter-notification if the creator thinks the video had been removed mistakenly or comes under any copyright exception.

In conclusion, YouTube has a strict copyright policy and also aims to ensure a balance between the rights of copyright owners and the freedom of speech and expression. But it has also received multiple criticisms on how it favours large corporations to limit the usage of uploaded videos, complicated Content ID mechanism, removal based on bare seconds of use of copyright material, and harsh copyright filters. In any case, if a creator intends to use the platform must remember not to infringe on another’s copyrighted material, which results from labour and hard work. This will uplift innovation and foster a thriving creative ecosystem, which is what YouTube aims for with its copyright policy.


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