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Rules and policies

Copyright

Copyright

The first rule of copyright

Creators should only upload videos that they have made or that they're authorized to use. That means they should not upload videos they didn't make, or use content in their videos that someone else owns the copyright to, such as music tracks, snippets of copyrighted programs, or videos made by other users, without necessary authorizations.

What are Copyright Exceptions?

Copyright exceptions are laws that allow you to reuse someone else’s copyright-protected material without getting their permission, but only under certain circumstances.

In the US, the most widely known copyright exception is fair use. When deciding whether a use is fair, courts look at four factors: the purpose and character of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, and the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. Some activities that may qualify as fair use include criticism, commentary, and news reporting. Fair use aims to promote freedom of expression.

In some civil law countries, including many in the EU, more limited exceptions are recognized where the reuse must fall within specific categories, instead of having factors that are weighed. The categories set out in Article 17 of the EU Digital Single Market copyright directive are quotation, criticism, review, caricature, parody, and pastiche. These words have their usual meaning in everyday language, but are also enacted into law by each member state and interpreted by both national courts and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). It is also important to consider the context of the use, and the purpose of such copyright exceptions, one of which is to balance creators’ freedom of expression, and rightsholders' copyright.

In some countries, such as Canada, the UK, and Australia, a hybrid concept of fair dealing exists. Courts weigh factors similar to those in fair use, but reuses must fall within specific categories. These categories include quotation (general quotation, and quotation for the purposes of criticism, review, or news reporting), caricature, parody, and pastiche.

Most countries in the world have signed an international treaty known as the Berne Convention, which allows reuses in specific categories, including for quotation, and news reporting.

While there are some similarities regarding copyright exceptions across the globe, there are still considerable differences between the laws of each country. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer as to whether a reuse falls within copyright exceptions, and the courts decide the applicability of such exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

At YouTube, our mission is to give everyone a voice and show them the world. Copyright exceptions play a key role in furthering this mission by supporting the free flow of ideas and creativity. Therefore, we ask rightsholders to consider the applicability of copyright exceptions before they submit copyright removal requests. We believe this would strike a balance between respecting the copyright of rightsholders, and creators’ freedom of expression that may be protected by copyright exceptions.

In addition, we build products that empower creators to access, create, and share information like never before. We’ve created an Audio Library for you to discover free high-quality music and sound effects that you can reuse safely. Now with YouTube Shorts, you can create short videos sampling someone else’s content, provided they have given you permission to do so. We're also continuing to build and expand Creator Music, which lets creators in the YouTube Partner program safely use commercial music by licensing tracks or sharing their video revenue with music rights holders.

How can rights holders make copyright claims?

Everyone has access to YouTube’s Copyright Management Tools, which gives rights holders control of their copyrighted material on YouTube. We work with rights holders to match them to appropriate features based on the scale of their copyrighted content on YouTube, and the resources they’ve dedicated to responsibly manage their content online. Our Copyright Management Suite provides a number of ways rights holders can make copyright claims.

Webform

The simplest way to have unauthorized copies of copyrighted content removed is by manually submitting a copyright notification through our DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) webform. This tool is best for most users - it is open to everyone, and available in every language.

Copyright Match Tool

The Copyright Match Tool uses the power of Content ID matching technology to find re-uploads of videos on YouTube. Available to over 1,500,000 channels, it identifies near-full reuploads of a Creator’s original videos on other YouTube channels and allows the Creator to choose an action to take: they can request the removal of the video, message the uploader of the video, or simply archive the match if they do not want to take any action. Any user with a demonstrated history of successful DMCA takedowns via our webform can apply for access using our public form.

Content ID

Content ID is our solution for those with the most complex rights management needs. It is our digital fingerprinting system that allows rightholders to upload content they have exclusive rights to as reference files, and then scans videos uploaded to YouTube for matches of that content. When a user uploads content, Content ID scans against the database for matching videos. If there is a match, then an action is taken based on the predefined rules or policies that a content owner sets themselves:

  • Block a whole video from being viewed. Creators do not receive a copyright strike if the content owner blocks a video.
  • Monetize the video by running ads against it; in some cases sharing revenue with the uploader.
  • Track the video's viewership statistics.

In most cases, this means that rights holders don’t need to submit copyright takedowns for these videos and instead have the opportunity to monetize and run ads in exchange for the videos being live.

What action does YouTube take for copyright infringement?

If a copyright owner submits a valid DMCA complaint through our webform, we take down that video and apply a copyright strike. If a user gets three copyright strikes in 90 days, their account, along with any associated channels, will be terminated. We also have tools to help Creators resolve their copyright strikes - including waiting for it to expire after 90 days, requesting a retraction, or submitting a counter notification.

Content ID works differently. If a match between a reference file and a new upload is made, a “claim” is made. Based on the preference selected by the Content ID owner, we’ll apply a policy to track, monetize, or block, but will not issue a copyright strike.