Are you curious to understand the YouTube copyright rules for video games?

The dynamic world of video gaming and the colossal platform of YouTube converge in ways that are both exciting and intricate.

Gamers, streamers, and enthusiasts have transformed YouTube into a haven for let’s plays, reviews, and walkthroughs.

But with this digital revolution comes a maze of copyright complexities. How does one differentiate between fair use and infringement?

What are the dos and don’ts for game streamers on this platform? Dive in as we embark on a journey through YouTube’s copyright rules for video games, ensuring your channel thrives without crossing any lines.

YouTube Copyright Rules

YouTube’s copyright rules are designed to protect creators’ intellectual property rights and ensure that content uploaded to the platform doesn’t infringe upon these rights.

Here’s an overview of some of the primary copyright rules on YouTube:

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

Videos uploaded to the platform are scanned against a database of files that were submitted by content owners.

If a match is found, the video gets flagged, and the copyright owner is notified.

Copyright Strikes: If a copyright owner believes that a YouTube video infringes on their rights, they can submit a copyright takedown request.

If the request is valid, the video is removed, and the uploader receives a copyright strike. Accumulating three strikes can result in the termination of a channel.

Fair Use: Fair use is a legal doctrine that allows limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holder.

It includes purposes such as critique, commentary, news reporting, research, and education.

However, claiming fair use is not a guarantee against infringement claims, and the doctrine can be interpreted differently across jurisdictions.

Music in Videos: If you use copyrighted music in your video, it can lead to the video being demonetized, muted, or even taken down.

It’s crucial to obtain necessary licenses or permissions if you wish to use a copyrighted song.

Monetization: Using copyrighted material can affect a video’s monetization status.

If a video contains copyrighted content, any ad revenue might go to the copyright owner instead of the uploader.

Video Game Content: While many game developers allow the sharing and streaming of their games on YouTube, some copyrighted content within games (like music tracks) might trigger copyright notices.

It’s essential to check with game developers or publishers about their policy.

Public Domain and Creative Commons: Just because content is on the internet doesn’t mean it’s in the public domain.

However, content under the Creative Commons license can often be used, but with certain conditions. Always check the terms of the license.

Counter-Notifications: If you believe your video was wrongfully taken down due to a copyright claim, YouTube provides a process to submit a counter-notification.

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This is essentially a formal challenge to the claim.

Education & Resources: YouTube offers a Copyright School, an educational tool that helps creators understand the nuances of copyright and the platform’s policies.

Royalty-Free Libraries: YouTube provides the YouTube Audio Library, a collection of music tracks and sound effects that creators can use in their videos without facing copyright issues.

Copyright for Video Games

Copyright for video games is an essential aspect of intellectual property law, ensuring that developers, artists, and other stakeholders have control over their creations and can profit from them.

Here’s an overview of the principles and nuances of copyright as it pertains to video games:

Scope of Protection

  • Video games are unique because they’re a composite of various copyrightable elements.
  • These include the game’s code (software), graphics, design, music, sound effects, storyline, characters, and in-game dialogues.
  • Each of these elements, when expressed in a tangible medium, can be subject to copyright.

Ownership and Rights

  • The game developer or the company that financed the game’s development typically holds the primary copyright.
  • However, elements like licensed music or third-party assets might have separate rights holders.
  • The copyright holder has the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, or license their work. They can also create and own rights to derivative works.

Licensing and User Agreements

  • When you purchase a video game, you’re generally buying a license to play the game, not the game itself.
  • This license outlines what you can and can’t do. For instance, most End User License Agreements (EULAs) prohibit users from redistributing the game or using its assets for other purposes.

Fair Use and Mods

  • The creation of mods (modifications) by players is popular in the gaming community.
  • While some game developers embrace the modding community and view it as a form of fan appreciation, others see it as an infringement on their copyright.
  • Whether modding falls under fair use is a gray area, and it largely depends on the jurisdiction, the nature of the mod, and the game developer’s stance.

Streaming and Let’s Plays

  • Streaming gameplay, creating “Let’s Play” videos, or doing game reviews are common practices today.
  • While many game developers allow and even encourage this, as it often boosts sales and awareness, there can still be copyright considerations, especially if the game’s music or other copyrighted content gets flagged.

Infringement and Penalties

  • Copying, distributing, or profiting from a game without the rights holder’s permission is copyright infringement.
  • Penalties can range from legal notices and takedowns to substantial fines and legal action.
  • It’s worth noting that piracy (unauthorized copying and distribution) of video games has been a significant concern in the industry for years.
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YouTube Copyright Rules for Video Games

Video games and YouTube have an intricate relationship, especially when it comes to copyright.

Gamers, streamers, and reviewers need to be cautious and aware of the rules when uploading game-related content.

Here’s an overview of YouTube’s copyright rules specifically related to video games:

Game Footage and Let’s Plays:

  • Many game developers and publishers permit players to upload gameplay, including “Let’s Play” videos, walkthroughs, and tutorials.
  • However, it’s essential to check the game’s End User License Agreement (EULA) or the developer’s content policy, as some games may have restrictions.
  • Even if gameplay is allowed, other copyrighted content within the game, like music or cutscenes, may trigger a copyright claim on YouTube.

Content ID:

  • YouTube’s Content ID system scans uploaded videos against a database of copyrighted files.
  • If your video contains copyrighted elements from a video game (like music or certain video sequences), it might get flagged, leading to demonetization, video takedowns, or revenue being redirected to the copyright owner.

Fair Use

  • Fair use is a doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission.
  • For video games on YouTube, this might include reviews, critiques, or educational content about the game.
  • However, claiming fair use isn’t a guarantee against copyright claims, and it’s always evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Music in Video Games:

  • Background music or soundtracks in games can be copyrighted separately from the game.
  • Using such music in your video, even if it’s part of the game, could result in a copyright claim.
  • Some YouTubers choose to mute copyrighted in-game music or use royalty-free alternatives to avoid this.

Monetization and Commercial Use:

  • Monetizing gameplay content on YouTube is another gray area.
  • While many developers allow the sharing of game content, they might have stipulations against commercial use.
  • Always verify with the game’s copyright policy before monetizing.


  • Giving credit to the game developer or publisher doesn’t automatically grant you the right to use copyrighted content.
  • However, proper attribution is always good practice and may be required by some licenses.

Live Streaming:

  • The same copyright rules that apply to uploaded videos also pertain to live streams.
  • If copyrighted content is detected during a stream, YouTube might temporarily interrupt or terminate the stream.

Official Statements and Permissions:

  • Some game developers provide official statements allowing content creators to use and monetize their game footage on YouTube.
  • It’s a good idea to keep such permissions handy, especially if faced with a copyright claim.


  • If you believe your content was wrongfully claimed or taken down, YouTube offers a process to dispute the claim.
  • Make sure you have solid grounds to counter-claim, as false counter-claims can result in penalties.


Navigating the intricate waters of YouTube’s copyright landscape for video games is essential for any content creator hoping to share their gaming experiences.

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While the platform offers vast opportunities to showcase and discuss game-related content, understanding the nuances of copyright rules is paramount.

From respecting in-game music rights to knowing when gameplay footage can be monetized, the onus falls on creators to stay informed.

In this ever-evolving digital age, armed with knowledge and a proactive approach, gamers can continue to share, stream, and celebrate the world of video games on YouTube without crossing any legal boundaries.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I monetize my gameplay videos on YouTube?

It depends on the game developer’s policies. Many developers allow gameplay footage to be monetized, but some might have restrictions.

Always check the game’s End User License Agreement (EULA) or the developer’s content guidelines before monetizing.

I received a copyright claim because of the in-game music. What can I do?

In-game music rights can be separate from the game’s rights. You have a few options: Dispute the claim if you believe you have the rights or it falls under fair use.

Remove or replace the copyrighted music using YouTube’s built-in editing tools.
Avoid using copyrighted music in future videos by muting the game’s music or using royalty-free alternatives.

Are “Let’s Play” videos allowed on YouTube?

Yes, many “Let’s Play” videos are allowed, and the genre is popular on YouTube.

However, always ensure you have the necessary permissions from game developers and be wary of copyrighted elements like music or cutscenes that could trigger a claim.

Can I livestream my gameplay on YouTube without copyright issues?

Live streaming is subject to the same copyright rules as regular uploads.

If copyrighted content is detected during your live stream, YouTube might temporarily interrupt or even terminate the stream.

It’s essential to ensure you have the right permissions and avoid copyrighted music or visuals.

What is the “fair use” doctrine, and how does it apply to my game videos?

Fair use is a legal doctrine that allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holder.

It might cover activities like criticism, commentary, news reporting, and educational uses.

For video games on YouTube, this could apply to reviews, critiques, or other transformative content.

However, claiming fair use is not a guaranteed protection and is often evaluated on a case-by-case basis.