YouTube to make changes to its manual copyright claim system

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You have just finished some masterful editing work on your video that you are excited to share with the world as you upload to YouTube, only to be quickly interrupted by an annoying copyright claim because some background music in your video has trigged some label’s copyright sensors and now they end up profiting from all of your hard work.

This is a frightening reality for many content creators on YouTube who frequently struggle with record labels claiming copyrights on their videos even when said music is featured for only the briefest period of time.  It’s an annoying thing which does hamper the fairness and creativity of many creators. It’s something YouTube wants to rectify, albeit only slightly, with some new rules around how copyright claims will be handled in future.

Now, according to a new blog post by YouTube, when a copyright claim is manually filed for “very short clips” of music or for music that is “unintentional[ly]” playing in the background of a video clip, the rights holder will no longer be allowed to earn money from ads placed on the video. Instead, they’ll have to choose between leaving the video up and blocking the creator from making money or blocking the video entirely. The new rules apply to audio copyright claims only, so short clips of videos aren’t covered.

So, while this isn’t a perfect solution and according to YouTube’s own words, will likely “result in more blocked content in the near-term” as labels adjust to the new rules this new rule does at least block the ability of record labels to make money off of your hard-earned work in your video. The company does hope these changes strike a better balance in the long term though and prevent the copyright system from being abused by labels and hopefully create more fairness to some of these content creators.

There are some caveats to the policy, though. It only applies to “manual” copyright claims made by the labels themselves. If a music clip is caught by YouTube’s Content ID system, which scans videos for infringing material, then rights holders will still be able to make money off the video, regardless of how brief or unintentional, the music is. A rule that does come across as a little unfair, though YouTube’s automated system s a lot more lenient than many of the labels themselves at least.

Last Updated: August 16, 2019

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