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YouTube Content ID: A quick guide for music artists

September 27, 2022 • 5 min read

In the past few decades, monetizing music on streaming services has been an important piece of any musician’s career and YouTube Content ID is a tool just for that. Created in 2005, YouTube is the most popular audio and video streaming platform in the world – as of 2022, there are over 800 million videos uploaded on the website. However, all artists who wish to upload their songs to the DSP must beware of copyright disputes, and most happen due to Content ID matches. YouTube Content ID is an automated service to monetize videos and analyze which videos infringe copyright claims. If you’re interested in marketing music on this DSP, keep reading for all you need to know about copyright claims in this service. 

 

First of all, what is Content ID?

First implemented in 2007 and improved throughout the years, YouTube Content ID is an automated, digital finger-print system that allows users to identify videos that use a content they own – be it video, audio, or both. To do so, YouTube scans the original content and compares it to the ones submitted by other content providers in their huge database. Whenever there is a match, the owner of the original content is notified so they can decide what to do about the infringing video or audio. 

 

So how does this work?

To be a Content Owner – that is, the person or organization that claims the content and sets its monetization policy –, users have to meet a certain criteria. To qualify, artists need to own exclusive rights to a work and provide evidence that it’s their original work. Mashups, remixes and covers do not apply, as you don’t hold exclusive rights to the piece. You’ll also have to sign an agreement with YouTube stating that the work is 100% yours. 

However, if you upload your music through a distribution service, like Magroove, a Content Owner) will automatically be created for songs distributed to YouTube. Reference copies of your audio and metadata will be sent out, describing the content and the territories you own it in, and the Content ID system will compare it to what is being shared on the website, looking for any matches to your work. 

YouTube will then create an asset in its content management system of your song. The platform may also create a viewable video, a reference for Content ID matching, or both. By doing this, artists have access to Content Manager tools in the YouTube Creator Studio. 

As for the royalties collected when the video is monetized, YouTube Content ID will pass it over to us and we’ll deposit your earnings in your Magroove Balance.

The videos that the platform detects as a match to the original work are claimed on behalf of the asset. In the Content Manager tool, you’ll have access to the list of actions you need to take such as reviewing claims and resolving disputes, as well as analytics, revenue reports and more. 

 

How can I use Content ID to protect my work?

Once an audio and metadata are uploaded through a distributor and the Content Owner is set up, YouTube will do all the legwork of detecting which videos may be using the original content. While having work copied may be flattering, remember that it can have negative effects, such as decreasing your revenue on the platform.

When Content ID finds a match of an original content being used by another person, the copyright owner is notified and decides what should be done about it. The Content Owner can either:

  1. Block the work, making the content unavailable;
  2. Track it to see how many views it gets and other statistics;
  3. Monetize it, placing ads on the “stolen” content so it generates revenue for you. 

If you decide to track or monetize a claimed video, it will stay viewable on the platform, with the active Content ID claim on it. You can also change your mind about what you decide to do about the “stolen” content later, so no pressure. 

When YouTube Content ID fails to find a match but the original owner has come across it in another channel, content creators can also manually claim the work. To do so, go to the Studio Content Manager and, if you have access, the Manual Claiming Tool

 

What if my work gets a copyright claim?

If you use copyrighted material, it’s essential to make sure you’re not infringing any claims or violating fair use. This depends mainly on the purpose and character of the use, the nature of the work, the size of the content used, and its effects on the value of the work. 

If you are going to use someone else’s work on YouTube, remember: 

  • Use as much of your original content as possible. Marketing Agency Brafton suggests using a 70-30 guideline: 70% of your original work, and 30% of the copyrighted work.
  • Give proper credits to the source and, if necessary, cite multiple sources.

This way, artists can avoid demonetization or even potentially receive a copyright strike, which are much more serious than Content ID claims.

If you get three copyright strikes, your YouTube account is deleted. Strikes expire in a period of three months. So, if you’ve received an unfair strike, reach out to the copyright holder and see if they’ll retract it, or submit a counter-notification (please note that by doing this, you’ll start a legal process). 

YouTube’s copyright and content-protection policy frequently comes under fire due to allegations of unfair copyright claims. Content ID has been accused of falsely matching works, so if you get notified and it seems like a mistake, contact YouTube so you don’t suffer any penalties. You can do so by reaching out to Creator Support or by emailing YouTube (copyright@youtube.com). 

Details of the claim will also give you a list of possible actions, such as to leave it as it is (the Content Owner will decide what to do with the infringement), mute the audio, replace the song (with a track from the YouTube Audio Library) or dispute the claim. You can also share the video revenue with the music publisher if you’re in the YouTube Partner Program. 

You can access these options in the Restrictions column, by clicking on “See details” and then “Impact”. If you have a license to use the copyrighted work, you’ll have to send evidence over to the platform. 

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