YouTube copyright policy

YouTube is now changing the procedure of handling copyright claims around brief or unintentional clips of music in an attempt to make the system fairer to video creators. In this short span, the company warns that the changes could ultimately lead to more videos being blocked entirely. YouTube copyright rules now become more strict with the changes.


Content creators on YouTube have increasingly struggled with record labels claiming copyright on their videos when snippets of music appear momentarily in the background, like from the radio of a car passing by. YouTube new copyright rules don’t stop these claims from happening but they want to discourage the claims by removing a key incentive for copyright holders, the ability to make money.

When a copyright claim is manually filed for “very short clips” of music or for music that is unintentionally playing in the background of a video clip. The rights holder would not be allowed to earn money from ads placed on the video. Instead, the creators have to choose between leaving the video up and blocking the creator from making money or blocking the video entirely. The new copyright claims are implied on audio copyright claims only, therefore, clips of videos are not covered.

As per a blog post written by YouTube, the reaction is what the company seems to expect will happen right off the bat, as labels adjust to the new policy.

“We acknowledge that these changes may result in more blocked content in the near-term, but we feel this is an important step toward striking the right balance over the long-term,” the company wrote.

The change in copyright rules comes in response to an uptick in the number of manually filed copyright claims on small clips of music in recent months. YouTube new policy will likely stop the covering situations when music is playing unintentionally and when music is played intentionally but very briefly. However, there are a couple of loopholes in the policy, like it only applies to manual copyright claims, when a record label or other rights holder identifies something that belongs to them and files the violation notice by hand.

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Or if a music clip is caught by YouTube’s Content ID system, which scans videos for infringing material. Then the right holders would be still entitled to make money from that video, regardless of the song playing in the video. The success of these rules only depends on if the company enforces adherence to these new rules.

When filing a claim manually, rights holders will always retain the ability to elect to make money off of an infringing video. The main difference now is that choosing that option in one of these scenarios would be a violation of YouTube’s rules, but it’ll be up to YouTube to enforce them. The company says it will block the ability to file a manual claim from rights owners that repeatedly fail to adhere to the rules.