The Do’s & Don’ts for Using YouTube Copyright Music

The Do’s & Don’ts for Using YouTube Copyright Music

Navigate the complexities of using copyrighted music on YouTube. Ensure compliance and protect your channel effectively with these Do’s and Don’ts.


YouTube is not the Wild, Wild West that it used to be some time back.

The massive growth of the video-sharing platform, spurred on by its increased usage over the years, has led to some very tight copyright regulations.

Now, no YouTuber can dare violate YouTube’s Content ID System and other copyright laws lest YouTube comes cracking its whip for their transgression.

How can I legally incorporate copyrighted music in my YouTube video?” is a typical issue faced by YouTube’s content creators.

The fact is that you will not find any easy hacks or shortcuts out there. Why, you ask? Well, because those are the types of things that can get you in trouble.

The only method to safeguard yourself from a YouTube copyright strike is to become acquainted with the music licensing laws of the platform. That way, you will know exactly how to use copyrighted music on YouTube legally.

And in this article, we aim to walk you through all the nitty-gritty of how to use YouTube copyright music for your YouTube videos.

So, let’s get started!

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How does YouTube Copyright Works?

Consider the following: Copyright allows businesses and individuals to license out other people’s creative work. Your favorite musician writes and records a new song, which you can then include in your videos.

It’s almost like a technique for helping creatives co-operate and use each other’s work to improve their own.

It goes without saying, since you did not compose the songs that you intend to use in your video, you cannot claim any ownership of them. If you wish to utilize copyrighted music on YouTube, you must first obtain permission from the original creator.

YouTube’s copyright regulations ensure that creators are correctly compensated whenever their work is used. This is where YouTube’s music policy comes into the picture. The two components of YouTube’s copyright system function in tandem, monitoring video uploads for copyright violation and offering a venue for producers to file their own copyright claims.


To get a fair idea of the terms and conditions encompassed in YouTube’s copyright policy, we suggest that you go through the “YouTube Copyright and Fair Use Policies.”

Types of Copyrighted Music on YouTube

More then 90% of the music that exists is copyrighted. With copyright legal owners of a music gain protection against infringement and get recognized as the creator/composer in most cases. That owner may be totally fine with you using their work for your personal YouTube videos.

In most cases, content creators need background music for YouTube videos, and this is where the importance of copyrighted music comes into play.

Given below are some examples of the categories of copyrighted music on YouTube that can be used legally:

1. Creative Commons Licensed Music

Several music composers make their work available under the Creative Commons license of YouTube.

You are free to utilize Creative Commons music. Nevertheless, depending on the licensing terms, you may be required to acknowledge the creator or use the music exclusively in non-monetized videos.

The Creative Commons License may not be the most outstanding solution if you intend to monetize your videos.


2. Licensed Music

You may most certainly use Licensed music on YouTube if you have definite authorization or a permit from its copyright holder.

Here in this image below, you can see an example of a Licensed piece of music used on YouTube.


But how do you go about obtaining the permit for Licensed music? Here are several possibilities:

  • It may be as straightforward as writing a letter to your favorite indie musician and seeking their permission.
  • For prominent artists protected under corporate labels, you will have to contact their managers and negotiate the licensing agreement. Typically, that would not be the most pragmatic (or least expensive) choice for a YouTuber on a budget.
  • Obtain permission to employ royalty-free music created particularly for videos and commercial works of art. If you want to monetize your videos, this is the most fantastic choice. Check to see whether the music owner offers copyright protection.

3. Ad-Supported Music

Numerous publishers and record labels agreed to an arrangement with YouTube that enables artists to contribute their music to place ads in YouTube videos.

Now, if you do not mind the ads, this might be a fantastic way to incorporate excellent, high-end music in your videos. However, your videos will not be eligible for monetization. This means that the ad revenues will be shared directly with the music owners and not with you as the video creator.


This seems like a fantastic choice for a hobby YouTube channel, but it is not suitable if you seek to monetize your videos and build a successful YouTube channel.

Now that we’re through with the basics of discussing copyrighted music on YouTube, let’s get down to business.

Do’s of Using Copyrighted Music on YouTube

On the Internet, copyright breaches are all too prevalent. Several YouTubers misuse copyrighted music for their personal gains without realizing the repercussions.

YouTube is one platform that is very rigorous with its copyright policies. It holds power to either delete your video or suspend your entire account if you are found in violation of its copyright policies. So you must use your discretion when including music in your YouTube videos.

Here we have enlisted 3 legal methods to incorporate copyrighted music in your YouTube videos:

1. Use Works in the Public Domain

Over time, copyrighted works eventually shed their copyright protection and slip into the public realm. Therefore, such music existing in the public domain is free for anybody to use. In the United States, any song or musical piece produced before 1922 is now copyright-free and exists in the public domain.

You can visit The Public Domain Information Project’s website for additional information about public-domain music. On that website, you will find a compiled list of musical pieces that have lost their copyright protection throughout the years.

But beware! Don’t solely rely exclusively on the information supplied by the website. Conduct your own investigation to ensure that a song has a copyright date of 1922 or before. Moreover, if you are not from the United States, you might need to verify your country’s copyright laws.

2. Reuse YouTube Music with a Creative Commons License

We have already talked about the Creative Commons License, so you know what that is. Several YouTubers get the Creative Commons license to allow others to utilize their work. Such users can add a CC BY license to their videos on YouTube.

The YouTube Video Editor allows anybody to employ such videos for non-commercial or commercial reasons. Whenever you create a YouTube video content with Creative Commons, the title of the original video is automatically credited under the video player.

Given below are some of the steps through which you can find Creative Commons licensed material on YouTube:

  • Step 1: Search for something on YouTube and then click on “Filters


  • Step 2: Now, select “Creative Commons” under the “Features” list


  • Step 3: After applying the filter, all the results you get will have a Creative Commons license. Simply choose the video that you think fits your needs best.

Likewise, when searching for a particular category of music on YouTube, you can apply the Creative Commons filter to see whether you can legally use it for your own YouTube video.

3. Get Direct Authorization or License from the Copyrighted Owner

To employ music that is not available in the public domain and is not free to use, you must get permission. In fact, Stanford University Libraries have outlined a five-step procedure for obtaining permission to use copyrighted material, as enlisted below:

  • Analyze whether a copyrighted work necessitates authorization
  • Determine who created the original content in the first place
  • Determine the necessary rights involved
  • Contact the copyright holder to work out a payment plan
  • Obtain a written authorization agreement

Keep an eye out for the copyright terms for the song you’re utilizing. This is due to the fact that certain songs hold copyright both for the song as well as for the studio recording of the song. As a result, you will need to purchase two licenses to be able to use the music legally.

Don’ts of Using Copyrighted Music on YouTube

Maybe you think yourself to be some slick operator, capable of devising elaborate ways to game the YouTube system. But don’t get too confident just yet! Even before you think about tricking the mighty YouTube algorithm into circumventing its copyright laws, we suggest that you go through the list in this section.

That way, you’ll know these are the things you mustn’t do to avoid a copyright claim/strike:

1. Claiming Zero Ownership of the Music Used

There have been countless instances with YouTube videos where the creator claims that they do not own the rights to the music or audio that they have used in the video. But how often does this technique work to shield against future copyright? Not a lot of times.

Simply stated, this technique is ineffective. Consider this: Would you be able to go to a store, pick up something, and then walk out saying that you don’t own that thing? Certainly not. Even if you confess it, stealing remains stealing.

2. Playing a Snippet of the Track

Like we have already stated, attempting to deceive Content ID is an idiot’s errand. The algorithms get more capable of recognizing changed versions of original music with every new update. And, what is even the purpose of ‘only using five seconds’ of the audio track so that it apparently doesn’t trigger a claim?

The only effective solution to preventing an absolute copyright strike on YouTube is basic: just pay for the music or seek permission from the copyright holder.

3. Using Copyrighted Music with Changed Pitch/Speed

This technique has a number of flaws. For starters, as a YouTube content creator, you openly disrespect the creative rights of other creators. Sure, imitation is the best form of flattery, but should you not be showing your support to the artists you admire by not leeching of their hard work?

Moreover, distorting the original music might damage the audio quality and spoil your listener’s experience. Lastly, if your video goes viral, chances are the original artist (or someone who knows the artist) will most likely discover it. Therefore we don’t recommend using this technique.


It is possible to determine with near absolute certainty if a song or some part of the audio track that you are about to use for your YouTube video is copyright protected (that is, whether it will elicit a copyright claim on YouTube).

To do so, create a basic video using the soundtrack, submit it to YouTube, and closely monitor the “Checks” option during the time of uploading, as shown below:


Most of the time, you may still utilize copyrighted music in your videos as long as you do not monetize them and seek the original creator’s permission.

For more information on creating, uploading, and scheduling videos for YouTube and other social media platforms, try SocialPilot.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I copyright a song I’ve created and used in my YouTube video?

If you have made a video of your music, or of you performing a song, it is already covered under YouTube’s copyright terms. What you’re presumably curious about is whether you need to register your YouTube video’s original music as a copyrighted work with your country’s Trademark Office before posting it to YouTube. And the answer is simply no, you do not need to.

Why do copyright strikes happen on YouTube?

YouTube allocates strikes based on allegations of its bot-discovered copyright infringement. Certain users have often voiced their concerns that the strike allocation procedure is unjust to them. The major concern has been that the system automatically assumes YouTube users are guilty and sides with copyright holders even when there has been no tangible infringement.

Can Content ID claims turn into copyright strikes on YouTube?

Copyright strikes, channel termination, or channel suspensions are not the consequence of Content ID allegations. You can, nevertheless, challenge a Content ID claim if you feel it was done in error.

What happens when you get two back-to-back copyright strikes on YouTube?

If you receive a second copyright strike within 90 days of receiving your first strike, you will be barred from posting any copyright for at least two weeks. If no additional issues arise, your full rights as a YouTube creator will be immediately restored after the 2-week duration.

What is the difference between a copyright claim and a copyright strike?

A copyright claim is basically somebody claiming that you have exploited their creative work without their consent, whether it be through directly lifting a video clip, a picture, or a bit of music. A copyright strike is significantly more dangerous and costly for a YouTube creator, and your channel may get suspended if you commit several copyright violations.

About the Author

Picture of Jimit Bagadiya

Jimit Bagadiya

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