Copyright and other need-to-knows
YouTube is a community. Sometimes, when a video may violate a law or our Community Guidelines, we need to take that video down, restrict its availability, or take other action. Keep your videos and channel in the clear by learning a bit more about YouTube’s policies and some of the important laws that come into play.
Keep your videos legit! Get tips about our copyright and community guidelines.
Make videos for a global audience
- Keep your videos on the up and up: YouTube is a place to showcase your creativity, but videos don’t belong on YouTube if they feature hate speech, sexual content or nudity, violence, spam, or threats. Check out the explanation of YouTube’s policies in our Community Guidelines.
- Get your participants’ consent: If someone is uncomfortable with being identifiable in your video, they can ask us to remove it through our privacy complaint process.
- Don’t try to mislead viewers or game YouTube’s search algorithms: We penalize accounts that include misleading metadata in their videos’ titles, descriptions, thumbnails, tags, and annotations. This includes cramming keywords or tags in your description.
- Give as much context as possible: Your video’s title, description, and tags are a great way to provide context for your videos. When content is flagged for review, titles or descriptions that provide educational, documentary, scientific, or artistic information assist the review team in understanding the material you're uploading. Videos that don't violate our policies, but may not be appropriate for all audiences, are sometimes age-restricted.
- If you want to monetize your videos: Keep in mind that age-restricted content won’t be eligible for monetization.
- Keep it legal: You’re responsible for making sure your content doesn’t violate any laws. Don’t promote illegal products or encourage people to commit dangerous illegal acts. Keep in mind, we accept valid complaints about all kinds of legal issues, including trademark, defamation, and counterfeit.
Double-check that you have the rights
- Think about all the different pieces of your video: Think about the music, video clips, or even something that’s playing in the background for a short time. Each of these creative works is probably protected by copyright. Did you create each piece yourself? Great! If you didn’t create every part of your video, you’ll need to learn more about the rules for using someone else’s copyrighted work.
- Get the owner’s permission to use their material: You may need to purchase a license. YouTube can’t help you with this, but we do offer an Audio Library of free music and sound effects to feature in your videos. If you like to perform other people’s music, you may even be able to monetize your cover song video.
- Find out about fair use: You won’t need the owner’s permission to use their material if your video is protected by fair use, fair dealing, or a similar exception to copyright, but the law varies in different countries. In the United States, works of commentary, criticism, research, teaching, or news reporting might be considered fair use.
- Even if you follow the rules, it’s possible for your video to get a copyright claim due to a mistake by the copyright owner: Learn what it means to get a copyright strike or a Content ID claim and figure out what to do next.
- Always consult your own attorney: Consult your own attorney if you need legal advice about what’s OK to post on your channel. YouTube isn’t able to offer you any legal guidance.
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Think about whether your video is really appropriate for YouTube.
- Is it hateful? Pornographic? Violent? If so, then it probably doesn’t belong on the site.
- If you believe that it’s in the public interest to share newsworthy material others might find shocking or disgusting, be sure to include as much context as possible in your video’s title and description.
- Check out our Community Guidelines for definitions of each policy.
Viewers can flag your video if they think it violates our Community Guidelines.
- YouTube staff reviews flagged videos 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We’ll take action on your video if we determine it doesn’t follow our Community Guidelines.
Your video could be removed from YouTube. If this happens, you may:
- get a Community Guidelines strike, which will put your account in bad standing and disable your access to certain creator features. If you rack up three strikes, your account will be terminated.
- If we decide that your video isn’t appropriate for younger audiences, we’ll age-restrict it. This means viewers will need to sign in to their YouTube account in order to watch it.
If you’re sure that your video belongs on YouTube, you can:
- appeal your strike.
- You can also appeal an account termination.
Consider whether you’ve included anyone else’s copyrighted work.
- Is there music you didn’t create or a TV show playing in the background? Copyright protects pretty much any creative work, from photos to videos to computer software -- it doesn’t matter if it’s professionally produced or not.
- If you’re not covered by fair use, you’ll likely need the owner’s permission to put it on YouTube.
- Check with a lawyer if you’re not sure what’s OK to post.
Content ID scans your video. If a piece of your video matches a copyrighted work:
- You’ll get a Content ID claim, which means the copyright owner gets to decide how your video is available on YouTube.
The copyright owner’s policy determines if they want to block, monetize, or track it.
- Typically, with a Content ID claim, ads will run on your video, and you might not be able to play it on certain devices. In some cases, your video or its soundtrack may be blocked.
If a Content ID claim was made in error, you can dispute the claim.
- The copyright owner has 30 days to review your dispute, but their block or track policies will be suspended while you wait for their response. If music in your video is claimed, you can try to remove the song or swap it for a different track. You don’t need to do anything if you’re comfortable with the claim.
A copyright owner can always send us a takedown notice for your video.
- YouTube is legally required to comply with valid copyright takedown notices that include certain elements.
Your video will be taken down and you’ll get a copyright strike.
- You’ll be temporarily locked out of your account until you complete Copyright School. If you rack up three strikes, your account will be terminated.
There are three ways to resolve a copyright strike. The fastest way is for the:
- copyright owner to retract their claim. If you’re sure the claim was made in error, and are willing to defend your rights in court, then you may file a counter notification. This process takes ten business days. If neither of those options works out (and you don’t get any additional strikes), then your strike will go away in three months.