YouTube is one of the most popular ways to discover new songs online, but it's also an incredible way to upload original work. Whether you're creating comedy sketches or documentary-style vlogs about life, there are plenty of reasons why people want to record their own audio tracks over other people's footage.
But what if the person whose song you used didn't consent to this arrangement? What if they actually have some legal rights to these recordings, too? How do you know whether or not you were allowed to use their material? And how does using someone else's creative property affect your ability to earn money from your video marketing efforts? Here's everything you need to know before uploading any kind of content involving copyrighted materials.
If you're wondering about the legal ramifications of posting clips featuring copyrighted music, we've got good news! It depends on where exactly within the clip you used the track. For example, let's say you recorded yourself singing along to "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi while dancing around your living room -- that would be considered fair game as long as you don't start recording until after the song has finished playing (and even then only if you explicitly mention the artist). But what if you cut up another song into little bits so that each section sounds like a different instrument? That probably wouldn't fly unless you specifically state which portion was yours and which sections belong to the original artists. You might also get flagged for having multiple streams of revenue.
In short, remember to always attribute the source of the sound when adding credits or embedding it directly onto your channel. If you can't find a specific attribution somewhere inside your clip itself, try searching Google Images for the title of the song. The best thing to keep in mind here is never assume anything.
The same goes for images. Are those photos of celebrities' homes or pictures taken by famous photographers? Copyrighted works may require special permissions to publish them alongside text. In general, though, you should avoid publishing images of people without asking first. These rules apply across all social media platforms, including Instagram and Twitter.
While you shouldn't risk getting locked out of YouTube just yet, there are still certain things you should consider if you decide to take matters into your own hands. According to YouTube's Community Guidelines, the platform reserves the right to remove any video that contains unauthorized usage of copyrighted content. To make sure you're following the rules, check out our list of tips for avoiding copyright strikes. Even if you think you haven't violated anyone's intellectual property, it doesn't hurt to double-check. After all, every creator knows that nothing ever really stays hidden forever online.
Unfortunately, it isn't entirely clear whether YouTube will continue to allow creators who repeatedly abuse its policies. As such, it's important to stay aware of any potential risks you could encounter. Don't forget that this applies to both non-creative users and actual YouTube stars. So if you happen to stumble upon a viral hit that uses copyrighted music illegally, make sure you report the issue immediately. Otherwise, you'll run the risk of being banned from the site altogether.
It's worth mentioning that this rule extends beyond the realm of musical compositions. Videos containing unlicensed movies, TV shows, animations, or graphic art may also be removed under these guidelines. Keep in mind that you aren't necessarily off the hook if your content falls under one of these categories. There is no hard limit on how often a user must violate the terms of service in order to receive a permanent ban.
This also means that if you intend to post something illegal, don't expect leniency from YouTube's moderators. They won't hesitate to suspend or terminate accounts associated with repeat infringers. However, since YouTube relies heavily on reports submitted through the Content ID system, many of these violations go unnoticed. This makes it difficult to determine how widespread the problem truly is. Therefore, it's more prudent to err on the side of caution than put your account at risk.
As previously mentioned, you're safe to use copyrighted music as long as you properly cite sources. Unfortunately, that's easier said than done. In addition to keeping tabs on proper attributions, you'll need to familiarize yourself with YouTube's licensing requirements and understand the difference between streaming and downloading. While the latter comes with additional fees, streaming services typically provide royalty-free access to millions of songs.
For instance, Spotify offers extensive catalogues of licensed music for free listening via ads. Meanwhile, SoundCloud lets listeners stream tracks without paying subscription costs. Other sites offer similar options, allowing you to listen for free without breaking the bank.
However, not everyone wants to shell out $10 per month for unlimited ad-supported tunes. Luckily, there are several web apps designed to help you search for new songs to enjoy whenever it suits you. Try Grooveshark, Rdio, Pandora, Songza, JangoMail Music Player, and Musixmatch. Or you can browse one of the largest libraries of public domain music available on the internet simply by typing in "public domain music."
Of course, none of these websites come close to replacing a dedicated digital library app. Most of us already subscribe to dozens of streaming services, so finding space for your personal collection may prove challenging. Fortunately, there are tons of great tools to organize your locally saved music files.
You can either download desktop programs or mobile apps to manage your entire music collection. Some solutions include Apple Music Sync, MediaMonkey, iTunes Match, Amazon Cloud Drive, and Dropbox. Alternatively, you can install specialized cloud storage software like Plex. With support for local playback, remote syncing, and cross-device compatibility, it allows you to store, sync, share, and play back almost any type of file imaginable.
And because Plex supports virtually every major operating system, you can easily set up a centralized location for all of your personal media. Then, you can build custom home theater setups tailored to your needs. Once again, you should look towards dedicated services. Services like Tidal ($9/month) and Primephonic ($4.99 monthly) charge higher rates for high-quality lossless downloads. Still others rely solely on subscriptions to gain entry.
Finally, if you'd rather skip the hassle of managing thousands of individual tracks, you can purchase premium versions of popular streaming portals like Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube Red. These plan bundles range anywhere from $2-$5 per month depending on price point and features offered.
Once you choose a service, stick to it. Avoid switching providers mid-subscription due to fluctuating prices. On top of that, you'll save time. Instead of inputting metadata manually for every single album, you can enter information once and watch it update automatically. Plus, you don't have to worry about transferring old data over to newer systems. Lastly, you don't have to pay extra for family plans. All three tiers allow you to add five devices to your existing membership.
When it comes down to it, giving credit to the original artists behind newly published pieces of work is essential. Although the specifics vary based on the situation, it's generally necessary to ensure appropriate compensation for your use of copyrighted material.
After all, most musicians depend on residual income from royalties earned elsewhere. By failing to attribute the source of their creations, you deny future opportunities for collaboration. Conversely, crediting the correct parties prevents unnecessary conflict later on.
That being said, the chances of making contact with the relevant individuals varies greatly. Sometimes, the easiest solution is simply contacting the publisher directly. However, you might not have much luck if the organization lacks a direct presence in whichever country you live in. Thankfully, you can use platforms such as Bandcamp to reach out to these contacts.
Bandcamp is a digital marketplace primarily aimed at promoting independent bands. Artists can sell their wares directly to fans, thus bypassing traditional distributors. Since Bandcamp takes care of billing and shipping duties, you can focus on developing quality relationships with prospective clients instead of wasting energy trying to negotiate deals.
With that being said, Bandcamp requires artists to submit complete albums separately. You cannot mix together various elements from separate releases. Despite this restriction, it remains a viable option for those looking to collaborate with established producers. Just make sure you pick your collaborators wisely!
Now that you know the basics, feel free to explore the vast world of YouTube. From funny skits to informative docuseries, there's a ton to see and hear. And contrary to what you may believe, the odds are stacked against you. Unless you follow the rules closely, you stand a decent chance of running afoul of the platform—even if you're well known. Hopefully these tips helped shed some light on the subject matter. Now you can safely pursue whatever project you desire without worrying about accidentally violating copyrights.
YouTube has always been about original content -- something created from scratch by an individual or small group of people. But there are also plenty of creators who take existing songs (or even entire albums) and create new remixes for their own amusement.
While most artists would be happy to see those types of creations come to fruition, some musicians don't want others using their work without permission. And so when someone uploads one of these mashups onto YouTube, it's hit or miss as far as ad revenue goes. If no money is made off of the song, then at least someone isn't profiting from the creator's hard work.
Here we'll look at whether it's legal to put together a YouTube video featuring copyrighted material like this and what the rules actually are. You may find yourself wondering how you're supposed to make money off of your creation while still respecting the rights of other parties involved. Keep reading!
If you've got your own channel where all the videos feature solely your own voiceover narration, chances are good that you aren't going to run into any problems monetizing them. However, if you mix up vocal tracks with instrumental ones, add effects, and try to keep everything looking "original," you might run afoul of copyright laws.
So what does it mean to copyrights? Essentially, they protect ownership over intellectual property. In our case, that means anyone who creates art based upon another person's ideas should receive compensation if that piece gets used elsewhere. A lot hinges on whether or not you did indeed copy said idea/artwork.
It comes down to two things: intent and similarity. Did you intend to rip off the artist whose work was stolen? Then yes, you could potentially face repercussions. On the flip side, though, if you simply wanted to recreate the sounds heard in the original recording but changed enough elements to avoid infringing, you'd likely be safe. The key here is finding out which category you fall under.
Just because you're putting together a video doesn't automatically grant you free reign over someone else's recordings. For example, let's say you recorded a track using only instruments. You might think that since you didn't record vocals, you're clear to post it online. Unfortunately, just because you're creating something doesn't mean you're allowed to claim credit for someone else's artistic contribution. It could very well be considered plagiarism.
In general, however, if you do nothing more than reproduce the melody of a song, it's probably fair game. So long as you change the instrumentation and lyrics enough so that your version feels fresh, you won't risk losing big bucks unless you intentionally tried to replicate the sound exactly.
The same goes for audio clips. Let's say you hear someone talking in a news broadcast. Instead of trying to imitate their cadence and inflection, you decide to edit their words around different sentences until they form a cohesive story. Even if you took the clip directly from the source, you wouldn't necessarily be able to claim full authorship for it. Copyright law protects original works, after all. Again, changing the context will help determine the outcome.
And finally, if you've ever seen a movie trailer, you know that many filmmakers choose to place familiar pop songs right near the end, sometimes right before the credits roll. This is done purely to entice viewers back to theaters to watch the actual film. That's called "derivative" usage, and it's protected too. Just remember that you cannot profit from making such trailers without first obtaining proper licensing from the companies behind the movies.
To sum it up, if you were inspired by somebody else's work but went above and beyond to improve on it, you shouldn't worry. As long as you weren't being purposely deceitful, you're fine. Otherwise, expect to pay royalties.
Not sure if your video qualifies as derivative or not? Check out this handy guide to understanding YouTube's official policies.
Now that we understand why certain songs appear on YouTube with watermarks across them, it makes sense that the platform itself tries to enforce its own set of guidelines. First and foremost, don't steal other people's work. Not only is stealing illegal, but YouTube strictly prohibits users from uploading pirated materials. Violators can lose access to the service entirely.
That said, if you're posting a cover album or a compilation of popular hits, you might not have much trouble. Copying pre-existing works is often exempt from copyright protection.
Of course, if you're doing anything resembling parody, stop now. Parody is defined as humorously imitating the style of something. While it can certainly be entertaining, parodying someone else's work falls under trademark infringement rather than copyright theft.
You're also likely to have better luck if you include enough creative license in your production. If you're mixing multiple songs together, for instance, you might consider including snippets of each tune separately. Or maybe you can sprinkle in a few non-copyrighted samples here and there to spice things up.
As long as you follow these basic principles, you can pretty much do whatever you please. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, so it never hurts to seek professional advice.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with taking inspiration from the masters. In fact, it's encouraged. After all, who knows how many great inventions started with simple inspirations. What really matters is whether or not you're giving due credit to the originator(s).
Even if you're working within the confines of copyright law, you should still ask for permission whenever possible. Most times, it won't cost you more than a polite email asking for approval. Make sure you respect any restrictions placed on the music itself. Some require that you purchase licenses, while others allow limited uses. Either way, it's best to err on the side of caution and check beforehand. Failure to comply could result in a DMCA takedown notice issued against your account.
Once again, it pays to consult a lawyer if necessary. They can answer questions regarding specific cases, offer guidance, and suggest potential solutions.
However, if you're planning on selling merch related to a particular song or video, you must obtain written consent from everyone appearing in said footage. Without prior agreement, you could easily find yourself facing lawsuits later. It's important to note that you won't be held responsible for unauthorized copies produced abroad. Those cases usually hinge on international agreements between countries.
When you violate copyright laws, there are consequences. One of those ramifications includes having ads removed from your videos. Advertisers prefer to partner with services that abide by their terms and conditions. When you repeatedly flout those rules, they start to wonder whether or not they want to sponsor your channels anymore.
But wait, you might argue. Can't I just buy my own advertising space instead? Yes, but it takes time to build credibility among advertisers. Chances are slim that you'll attract major brands overnight. Plus, paying for advertisements seems counterintuitive when you've already spent countless hours producing quality content.
One alternative is to sell merchandise through affiliate marketing sites like Amazon Associates. Donating profits earned from sales helps compensate creators for their efforts and keeps products relevant. At the same time, it provides a nice boost to your bank account.
Another option is to contact a company directly and request sponsorship deals. Many businesses actively advertise on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, allowing you to earn commissions when visitors click links in promotional posts.
Finally, you can approach smaller startups and ask if they'd be interested in sponsoring your next project. Smaller companies tend to care less about protecting their brand names and more about supporting independent creatives.
Whatever route you ultimately choose, remember that YouTube thrives on user contributions. By providing high-quality videos packed with valuable information, you strengthen bonds with fans -- thus increasing the likelihood of future donations.
It's not unusual for musicians to want some slice of revenue from their songs being used by others — especially when it comes to tracks they don't write themselves. But what happens when those users upload them to sites like SoundCloud or YouTube? Can you do anything about it? And how much are producers actually making off this arrangement?
We spoke to several industry experts who all agreed that there is no legal way for artists to force people to stop uploading their work online. However, there may be ways around it. For example, using an artist's own original recording as opposed to another person's might earn you more royalties. It also depends on where the song was recorded and whether the producer has any ownership over its creation. If he does, then he could potentially send someone a cease-and-desist letter demanding they remove his music from the platform.
But even so, things aren't always black and white. There have been cases where creators did get sued over music uploaded by other parties. The key thing here is to know exactly which rights you're infringing upon, and take steps to ensure yourself against any potential liability.
So let's say you've got a great video idea but need background music. You go searching Google Soundcloud for something good to listen to, only to find one particular track owned by somebody else. What should you do? Here we'll explain everything you need to know about legally licensing music for use in your productions.
Note: This article focuses mainly on US law because most countries' laws regarding copyrights are very similar.
Yes! In fact, many companies already offer opportunities for people to get involved directly in sharing musical works. Most notable among these are services such as Musiconomi (which allows anyone to create, manage, distribute, and sell their own digital albums) and Patreon (a crowdfunding platform). Both platforms allow performers to set up "channels" that share exclusive access to new material. They pay out monthly royalties based on the number of streams, subscriptions, donations, etc., each channel receives.
However, keep in mind that while both platforms provide a way for anyone to become part of the system, neither lets non-subscribers watch publicly available content. That means unless you plan on keeping your channels private, you won't ever see views coming into your account. So consider carefully before diving headfirst into either project.
Patreon is particularly interesting since it doesn't just rely solely on streaming income. Creators can choose between two different tiers: Creator Tier ($1 per month), which gives subscribers unlimited access to stream any content posted, including creator exclusives, ad-free viewing, early access, etc.; and Patron Tier ($3 per month), which requires patrons to donate at least $2/month to support projects. Contributors receive perks depending on their tier level.
No. At least, not yet. Artists have tried numerous times to develop systems whereby viewers can tip artists directly via cryptocurrency payments. While some were successful, none of these projects resulted in truly widespread adoption. Right now, the best option for artists looking to generate direct income through music remains Patreon.
As previously mentioned, however, Spotify recently announced plans for integration of tipping features into its service. When completed later this year, the feature will let listeners add small amounts of cash to individual songs. As time goes on, it's possible that Spotify may integrate similar functionality into its main app, too.
Also worth noting is Apple Music's recent decision to begin testing an optional premium subscription service called Apple Pay Cash. According to Bloomberg, the payment tool would allow users to send funds directly to specific artists. Users wouldn't necessarily have to subscribe to Apple Music in order to participate, though it seems unlikely that major labels would agree to this kind of move given Apple's current relationship with record labels.
If you'd prefer to stay away from Apple altogether, you can try donating to charity organizations instead. Charities often accept Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, and Tether (USDT) as forms of donation. Depending on your country, you may be eligible to deduct a portion of your charitable contributions from taxes, too.
Additionally, if you really want to go down the rabbit hole, check out OpenCollective—an open source alternative to Kickstarter designed specifically to help independent creatives raise funding for creative endeavors. On top of standard pledges, donors can opt to contribute to certain artists using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. A percentage of every transaction made is donated back to contributors.
When you upload a piece of media to YouTube, the company automatically scans it for copyrighted audio. Once found, YouTube removes the offending file, issues a DMCA takedown request, and sends a notice to whoever originally shared the clip. From that point forward, the person whose footage is removed cannot reupload that same footage elsewhere.
This process applies regardless of who owns the underlying copyright for the song itself. Even if you didn't intend to violate any rules, chances are pretty high that YouTube will catch wind of whatever you post eventually anyway. Furthermore, once a file gets pulled from YouTube, it becomes unavailable until enough members vote to reinstate it.
Fortunately, YouTube offers tools that allow you to prevent clips containing copyrighted audio from appearing in search results entirely. To activate these options, click on Advanced Settings at the bottom right corner of the screen under Video Manager " Content ID settings. Then toggle Use automated detection to No.
In addition, there are multiple apps that claim to detect copyrighted music in real time. Unfortunately, reviews indicate that such programs fail frequently and require manual intervention, thus rendering them useless for routine purposes.
Sure. One easy method involves hosting your entire production inside of your personal YouTube space rather than publishing it externally. With this approach, you retain full control over the distribution, marketing, promotion, and delivery of your finished product. Additionally, you can decide exactly what parts of your content you wish to include.
For instance, you could host behind-the-scenes cutaways featuring yourself editing your masterpiece, playlists showing off various aspects of your work, links leading supporters straight to download pages, interviews discussing the inspiration behind your project, live reactions to events happening during playback, and more. Basically, you can put together whatever package you feel best represents your unique artistic vision.
You can also utilize free software like Da Vinci Resolve to edit videos and sync soundtracks. These tools usually come equipped with integrated libraries of royalty-free music, allowing you to construct custom mixes without having to worry about violating anyone's intellectual property.
Of course, if you're going to follow this route, you must remember to properly attribute the sources of all music featured within your project. Otherwise, you risk running afoul of copyright infringement laws.
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