Choose effective references
Valid references, containing material you exclusively own, can help you to accurately claim uploaded videos.
Always check your references
By now, you know that assets contain references, ownership information, and other data. The reference is the actual visual and/or audio material for which you own exclusive rights. Because Content ID matches user videos based on partner references, you should choose references carefully for accurate claiming.
You should ensure you have an exclusive copyright to the reference material for the territories where you assert ownership. The following examples should not be used in a reference:
- Content licensed non-exclusively from a third party
- Content released under Creative Commons or similar open licenses
- Public domain footage, recordings, or compositions
- Clips from other sources used under fair use principles
- Video gameplay footage (unless you’re the game publisher)
Your asset can have more than one reference. For example, a movie asset can have separate references with 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios. Remember to include precise asset metadata, such as the ISAN (International Standard Audiovisual Number) or EIDR (Entertainment Identifier Registry Association) and director, to identify your intellectual property.
Typically, references are created from videos uploaded under a channel you manage. You have the option to create references from claimed partner uploaded videos—one-by-one or in bulk. In some cases, you may want to give us a reference for a video you don’t want on YouTube. To do this, you can use a CSV template to deliver a reference-only file and associate it with one of your assets.
Select acceptable references
You can prevent problems such as claims against licensed content or public domain content by taking the time to clean up your references. Some types of content aren’t acceptable as references because they would lead to erroneous claims.
- Every reference should be sufficiently distinct. Don’t use: karaoke recordings, remasters, sound-alike recordings, sound effects, soundbeds, or production loops.
- Partners should provide individual references for each piece of intellectual property. Avoid compilations, continuous DJ mixes, mashups, countdown lists, and full album sound recordings. Instead of turning the album into a reference, separate it into individual references for each song.
- Video game soundtracks are only valid references when owned by the video game publisher. Video game soundtracks are defined as sound recordings that are created primarily for use in a particular video game (and not a popular song licensed for use in a video game).
We enforce these guidelines, and partners who create unacceptable references may incur warnings or penalties.
- Not all content is appropriate for claiming through Content ID.
- We encourage you to use full-length files as references, rather than clips.
Exclude third-party content from references
What can you do if your reference source contains third-party content? YouTube provides tools for you to exclude third-party content from your reference file, thereby creating a reference that reflects your exclusive ownership. For example, if you have a news broadcast that contains fair use clips and commercial breaks, you would exclude the material you don’t own from your reference.
You can perform reference exclusions using a couple of methods:
- From your YouTube account
- Within Content ID, go to the asset and select an active reference.
- Then enter the timestamps for each segment you wish to exclude.
- From your Delivery feed
- When delivering a reference through Spreadsheet Templates, you can exclude segments using the “reference_exclusions” column.
If you exclude a segment from a reference, YouTube automatically releases any claims based on the excluded segment. If you need to disable the entire reference from content matching against newly uploaded videos (for example, when a contract changes), you would deactivate the reference.
- From your YouTube account
Look out for invalid references
Sometimes, YouTube’s system identifies potentially invalid segments in a reference, such as public domain footage, in which case we route the reference for review by the content owner. Any claims based on the potentially invalid segment are marked as pending.
When you see a potentially invalid reference in your ToDo queue, you should play the flagged segment and validate your rights to that piece of content.
- If you own the segment exclusively, you should confirm the segment is valid. (Pending claims based on the segment become active.)
- If the segment contains third-party or indistinct content, you should exclude the segment. (Pending claims based on the segment become inactive.)
Be aware that if you don’t take either action within 30 days, we exclude the flagged segment and release any claims created from it. If you’re finding multiple invalid references in your queue, you may want to reexamine your procedures for creating references to remove indistinct or non-exclusive content.
- Partners may “request re-evaluation” if they believe they have exclusive rights to the reference.
- Make sure to take action on invalid references within 30 days.
Resolve any reference overlaps
Another reason to monitor your ToDo queue is to resolve any reference overlaps. Reference overlaps occur when two references in Content ID contain segments with identical audio, video, or audiovisual material, and the assets are owned by different partners. (The partner who uploads the most recent reference will see a ToDo action.)
To manage reference overlaps in your ToDo queue, you can use Tabs to view items by “Action Required," "Awaiting Other Owner," and “Resolved." You have the option to export the list of reference overlaps to CSV. Plus, you can apply the filter in the top right for a specific content owner (to view, export results, or do a bulk action).
When you select a reference overlap, you’ll see information about the owner of the other reference. You can play back and compare the overlapping segments, then choose to:
- Exclude the overlapping segment, allowing the other owner to assert ownership, OR
- Assert exclusive rights, prompting the other owner to resolve the reference overlap.
If you’re not sure what to do, you can contact the other partner in Content ID to request more information.
Here’s an example. Let’s say Partner 1 delivers the reference for an official music video. One month later, Partner 2 delivers the reference for a late-night talk show that contains a clip from the music video. Partner 2 is presented with the reference overlap, and in this case should exclude the segment of the music video from their talk show reference if they don’t exclusively own the official music video content.
Any claims based entirely on the reference overlap remain with the partner who delivered the content first, although these claims eventually go to whichever partner asserts exclusive rights over the content.