If you’ve ever uploaded a video on YouTube that contains music, it’s likely that you’ve received a copyright claim stating that you’re using copyrighted content in your video.
Sometimes the claims are mistakes but sometimes they aren’t. Whatever the case may be, YouTube wants you to clarify the situation.
What is this system? How does it work?
It’s called YouTube Content ID. It’s an automated system that crawls through videos on YouTube, analyzes the content and tries to find videos that are using copyrighted material (mostly audio, but also video and images). If the system finds a match, it will send a copyright notification to the user asking them to clarify the situation.
The user can dispute copyright claims stating they have permission to use the material or they can just ignore the claim which states that they understand they’re using copyrighted material. In the latter situation, YouTube will monetize the users video and collect ad revenue from it that goes directly to the copyright owner.
Note: YouTube Content ID is not the same as uploading a video to YouTube. They are separate systems. Anyone can upload a video to YouTube but not everyone can be part of the Content ID system.
Why This System Exists?
The reason is simple: To avoid and catch copyright infringements. YouTube has basically become one of the largest sites to listen free music on. You can imagine what big record companies think about this. Systems like Content ID helps them (and all artists) to get even a little bit of money paid for these free plays.
Why It’s Faulty?
There are pros and cons to YouTube Content ID.
What’s great about it is that almost any artist and beatmaker can collect royalties when their music is used on YouTube videos. That’s revenue that you probably didn’t even know about before.
But, there’s major flaws in the system and it mostly comes down to the music itself that’s submitted into the system.
1. When Using Non-Exclusive Beats
When an artist uses a non-exclusive beat (a beat that other artists may use too) and digitally distributes the song, the problems may occur.
Often when you distribute a song digitally via CDBaby, TuneCore, DistroKid, or similar distribution service, the song may be distributed to YouTube Content ID system, as well. Obviously artists are eager to submit the song EVERYWHERE but they don’t realize they can’t do that. In general, non-exclusive beat licenses do NOT allow distribution to YouTube Content ID.
When the artist submits their song (accidentally) to the Content ID system, the system will crawl through YouTube and find content that matches the submitted track. Guess what? Now, YouTube assumes that every video that uses even the same beat is infringing copyright of the artist. Of course, that is completely wrong because the artist is not the copyright owner of the beat. The artist has no rights to do this with a non-exclusive beat. The artist possesses a license to only sell and stream the song, they don’t have a permission to monetize videos that uses their song.
If you’re a beatmaker and you have a YouTube channel where you publish beats, even you may receive these copyright claims from artists using your beats! In fact, I know cases where the original beatmaker has gotten their videos taken down when a major artist has used a beat of theirs.
Luckily, most of the times when you get a copyright claim and dispute it properly, it goes away. It’s important to dispute the claim in a professional manner by writing a brief clarification of the situation and provide proof if needed.
2. When Using Royalty-Free Loops
The exact same thing can happen when using royalty-free loops (and samples) in your music. If you’re not manipulating the loops enough, YouTube will easily find content matches.
The system is stupid (because it’s automated) and doesn’t understand that even though there may be matching content, it’s not always a copyright infringement. Using royalty-free loops in your music is absolutely fine, you have the rights to do that, but it may cause issues with the system.
Yes, it’s really annoying. The import thing is to work around the system and manipulate the loops as much as you can to avoid Content ID matches. Usually altering the pitch and speed is enough.
The Content ID system has caused a lot of irritation for artists and beatmakers online. You could say it’s simply broken because it doesn’t take into account how, for example, the online beat-selling industry works. I really hope we will see a change in the near future.