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How to Copyright a Song on Youtube?

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Lokesh Pal

December 6, 2023

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How to Copyright a Song on Youtube?

Do you know how to copyright a song on Youtube? In the age of digital creativity, YouTube has become a premier platform for artists to share their musical talents with the world.

But with this global exposure comes the pressing need to protect one’s work from unauthorised use. For musicians, songwriters, and composers, understanding how to copyright a song on YouTube is crucial.

Not only does it secure the rights to your creation, but it also ensures you’re recognised and compensated for your work.

Dive into this guide as we unravel the steps to copyright your song, ensuring that your musical masterpieces remain distinctly yours in the vast realm of YouTube.

How Copyright Helps in Social Media Platforms?

Protection of Original Content

Copyright ensures that creators of original content (e.g., videos, photographs, music, artwork) have legal protection against unauthorised use or replication.

This promotes originality and creativity, as creators know their work is protected from being taken without permission or compensation.

Monetization Opportunities

Social media platforms like YouTube have integrated systems to detect copyrighted materials.

Copyright holders can choose to monetize these videos by placing ads, even if someone else uploaded them.

This provides revenue opportunities for content creators.

Control Over Content Distribution

Copyright gives creators the authority to decide where and how their content is distributed.

They can grant permissions, issue licenses, or even strike deals with social media platforms for exclusive rights to display their content.

Knowing that their work will be protected and they can potentially earn revenue from it, individuals and companies are more likely to invest time and resources into creating high-quality content.

Combating Plagiarism

Copyright laws enable creators to take action against those who plagiarise or reproduce their content without permission.

Social media platforms often have mechanisms in place to report and remove plagiarised content, thus ensuring that original creators receive proper credit.

Integrity and Reputation

For both content creators and social media platforms, respect for copyright upholds integrity.

Platforms that don’t respect copyright can suffer reputational damage, potential legal consequences, and loss of users or advertisers.

Promotion of Licensing and Collaboration

Respect for copyright has led to the development of various licensing models that facilitate legal content sharing and collaboration.

For example, platforms like Instagram have made it easier for users to share music in their stories by obtaining blanket licenses from record labels.

Guidance for User Behavior

Social media users are often unaware of copyright laws. Platforms, by implementing and educating users about these policies, indirectly instruct millions on the importance of respecting intellectual property.

This fosters a more respectful digital culture.

Platform Longevity and Sustainability

Respecting copyright laws is not only ethical but also crucial for the long-term survival of social media platforms.

Legal battles over copyright infringement can be expensive and damage a platform’s reputation.

Ensuring that users adhere to copyright norms ensures a sustainable business model.

Encouraging Innovation

When content creators know their intellectual property is safe, they are more inclined to innovate and experiment.

This leads to a richer variety of content on social media platforms, benefiting both creators and audiences.

Copyright Policies on Youtube

Content ID: YouTube has a system called “Content ID” which allows copyright owners to easily identify and manage their content on YouTube.

When a video is uploaded, it’s checked against a database of files submitted by content owners.

If there’s a match, the copyright owner gets notified and can decide what action to take.

Three Actions for Copyright Owners: When a match is found via Content ID, copyright owners can decide to:

  • Monetize the video by running ads against it.
  • Track the video’s viewership statistics.
  • Block the content either globally or in specific regions.

Copyright Strikes: If a copyright owner believes their content is being used on YouTube without permission, they can submit a copyright takedown request.

If the request is valid, the content gets removed, and the uploader receives a copyright strike.

Accumulating three strikes results in the termination of the YouTube account.

Counter-Notifications: If an uploader believes their content was wrongly taken down due to a copyright takedown request, they can submit a counter-notification.

If it’s accepted, the content may be reinstated.

Fair Use: YouTube recognises the concept of “fair use,” which allows limited use of copyrighted material without permission for purposes like criticism, commentary, news reporting, education, and research.

However, fair use is a complex legal doctrine and can vary by country. YouTube doesn’t decide on fair use but provides resources and information for creators.

YouTube’s Copyright School: After receiving a copyright strike, users are required to complete YouTube’s Copyright School, which educates them on copyright basics and YouTube’s policies.

Repeat Infringer Policy: YouTube’s terms of service include a policy to address repeat infringers. As mentioned, accounts that receive three copyright strikes are terminated.

Music in YouTube Videos: Many creators want to use music in their videos, but copyrighted music can lead to Content ID claims or even takedown requests.

YouTube provides the “Audio Library” with royalty-free tracks that creators can use safely.

Manual Claims: Even if Content ID doesn’t automatically match content, copyright owners can manually claim videos if they believe their rights are being infringed upon.

Dispute Process: If a creator believes they have the right to use the content in their video, they can dispute a Content ID claim.

This initiates a process where the claimant reviews the dispute and decides on the next action.

Appeals and Escalations: If a dispute doesn’t resolve the issue, creators can appeal or escalate to further challenge a claim.

Royalties and Monetization: YouTube has licensing agreements with many music labels, publishers, and other stakeholders.

This means that even if a video contains copyrighted music, in some cases, it may still be available on YouTube, but with ads. The revenue from these ads often goes to the copyright holders.

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How to Copyright a Song on Youtube?

  1. Copyright Your Music Formally:
    • Before anything else, it’s a good idea to formally register your music with the copyright office in your country. In the U.S., for example, this would be the U.S. Copyright Office. This provides legal proof that you are the original creator of the music.
    • Although copyright is automatically conferred upon the creation of an original work, formal registration provides stronger legal protection in case of disputes.
  2. Join YouTube’s Partner Program (if eligible):
    • Once you have a certain number of subscribers and accumulated watch hours (requirements can change, so check YouTube’s current criteria), you can apply for the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). This allows you to monetize your channel and access copyright protection tools.
  3. Utilise Content ID:
    • If you own copyrighted music and anticipate that others might use it in their YouTube videos, consider using Content ID. This system scans uploaded videos against a database of files submitted by content owners. When there’s a match, you get notified and can take action.
    • Note: Gaining access to Content ID requires you to either be very influential as an artist or to work through a third-party company that already has access to Content ID.
  4. Engage with a Digital Rights Management (DRM) Company:
    • There are several third-party companies that offer digital rights management services. These companies can help you manage and protect your music on platforms like YouTube. They can submit your tracks to YouTube’s Content ID system on your behalf and monitor the platform for unauthorised use of your music.
  5. Manual Monitoring:
    • Even with Content ID, it’s a good idea to occasionally search for your music manually on YouTube to ensure no unauthorised uses slip through the cracks.
    • If you find a video using your music without permission, you can submit a copyright takedown request to YouTube.
  6. Licensing and Permissions:
    • If you want to allow others to use your music in their videos (potentially as a revenue source), consider creating clear licensing terms. You could sell licenses directly or through platforms dedicated to music licensing.
    • Provide a way for creators to easily get in touch with you for permission to use your music.
  7. Educate Your Fans and Audience:
    • Use your platform to inform fans about how they can legally use and share your music. The clearer you are about permissions and restrictions, the less likely they are to unintentionally infringe on your rights.
  8. Stay Updated:
    • Copyright laws and YouTube’s policies can evolve. Regularly review updates to ensure you’re protecting your music effectively.

Conclusion 

Protecting your musical creations on YouTube is paramount in today’s digital age. While songs are automatically copyrighted upon creation, formal registration offers stronger legal standing.

Leveraging YouTube’s Partner Program and Content ID system, or collaborating with a Digital Rights Management company, can further safeguard your rights.

Regular monitoring and clear communication with your audience about licensing terms ensures that artists maintain control over their work while fostering a respectful digital ecosystem for creators and consumers alike.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I automatically have copyright over a song I create and upload to YouTube?

Yes, copyright is automatically conferred upon the creation of an original work. Uploading it to YouTube doesn’t change this.

However, formally registering your song with the copyright office in your country provides stronger legal protection and is recommended.

How do I prevent others from using my copyrighted song in their YouTube videos?

Utilise YouTube’s Content ID system. This system scans uploaded videos for matches to your song.

If a match is found, you can take actions like monetizing the video or blocking it.

To access Content ID, you either need to be a significant artist or work with a third-party company that offers digital rights management services on YouTube.
 

What do I do if someone uses my song without permission on YouTube?

You can submit a copyright takedown request to YouTube. If the request is valid, the infringing video will be removed, and the uploader will receive a copyright strike.
 

Can I allow others to use my song on YouTube and still earn revenue?

Yes, through the Content ID system, when a match is found, you can choose to monetize the video by running ads against it. The revenue from these ads can then be directed to you.

What’s the difference between YouTube’s Content ID system and formally copyrighting a song?

The Content ID system is a tool by YouTube to help copyright owners manage and protect their content on the platform.

Formal copyright registration, on the other hand, is a legal process that provides proof of ownership and grants you exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, and perform your song.

It offers protection beyond just YouTube and can be used in legal disputes.

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