YouTube is hands down the largest video creation, viewing, and sharing platform.

Thus, it is unsurprising that this popular video platform also has to deal with several copyright infringement issues.

On the surface, the concept of copyright may appear very clear – only the original creator enjoys ownership of the content. Thus, you cannot use someone else’s work without prior permission. However, YouTube offers some amount of leeway under the “fair use” clause that acts as a loophole to use and abuse original content.

What results in a copyright strike on YouTube? Does YouTube have a copyright policy in place? Can a disclaimer stating, “I claim no rights to this song/video”/”No copyright infringement intended” is enough to protect your YouTube channel? Well, the answer is complicated.

What is Fair Use?

“Fair Use” corresponds to a legal doctrine that grants a permit for unlicensed usage of copyright-protected material for freedom of speech under certain circumstances. In the US, Section 107 of the Copyright Act dictates the following four considerations under which users may seek relaxation:

  1. What is the purpose or character of the usage of the original copyrighted content?
  2. What is the nature of the copyrighted content that the user plans to use?
  3. What is the portion of the original content the user will incorporate in their video?
  4. What will be the effect of producing new content with the help of copyrighted material? Will the video serve as a substitute for the original content?

How to Avoid Copyright While Creating YouTube Videos

Now that you have a basic understanding of the Fair Use policy, here are some ways through which you can avoid copyright infringement over YouTube:

1. Create Original Videos

Naturally, the best way to avoid any copyright infringement is to create original content!

On the off-chance that you are capturing footage and uploading it over YouTube, make sure that the video does not contain any other business’s name, logo, or product name. For this purpose, you can make use of any youtube video maker to get you started! Edit out any copyright-protected detail that may result in copyright infringement.

Now that you have put in the time, creativity, and effort to create original content, how about securing it from copyright infringement? Slap on a watermark and include your YouTube channel logo to make sure that nobody can make unauthorized use of your video.

2. Select Royalty-Free Music

One of the quickest ways to come under the copyright infringement radar is by using music produced by big labels. This mistake can cost you not only in terms of a copyright strike, but all your revenue in your AdSense account will be redirected to the original owner.

Thus, the best way to avoid any copyright issues in this aspect is by using royalty-free music. The YouTube video creation dashboard contains several audio clips that you can incorporate in your videos.

Alternatively, even if you do decide to forgo the monetization and include a popular track, you can make use of the “Ad-supported music” feature. However, check up on whether the music is supported in a specific geographical location.

3. Give Content an Original Spin

Just because YouTube encourages original content, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel!

You can always have a fresh take on an existing content and make a wholly original piece from it! For instance, check out the “Donald Duck Meets Glenn Beck” video, which essentially has Walt Disney’s creation, but the commentary makes it original!

Start with a catchy intro using a free video intro maker and end it with a fitting outro. The content that’s right between is your blank canvas for testing out your creativity.

Whether you are parodying an existing content or reengineering it with a voiceover – the bottom line is that your modification should add value to the original content than trying to replace it. Try to get creative and add your own personality, style, and quirkiness to make an existing video even more interesting.

4. Avoid Sensitive or Inflammatory Content

The website issued stricter video content posting guidelines after YouTuber Logan Paul managed to post a video with a corpse! So be mindful of the kind of video content that you post on your channel.

Slandering someone’s public image or tapping into a video’s shock value potential may grant you a viral status or overnight fame, but it can also put you at the threat of attracting lawsuits and libels. Stick to information that is available in the public domain.

At the same time, discussing explicit content, nudity, or including harmful content can put your YouTube channel at risk of termination. Content has to be marked age-appropriate to prevent children from stumbling across such objectionable content.

5. Make Extreme Edits

Now, this tip comes under the “grey” area as you are technically modifying the content to make it yours even if you’re not.

Eliminate any brand information that you do not own; you will not attract any copyright infringement. In some cases, YouTubers flip the screen, change the aspect ratio, add video frames, mute or alter the soundtrack to introduce extreme changes. Alternatively, you can also distort images or voices while posting the original art to avoid copyright issues.

6. Gain Permission

In some cases, the best way to avoid any copyright issues is by seeking explicit consent from the original content owner! It is not only polite to approach them for this purpose, but will put you in a good light. Further, adding credits in the video description will also establish a good practice on content trading.

However, do bear in mind that the creator may revoke this permission at any point.

Final Thoughts

While YouTube does not create copyright, it is working towards preventing copyright infringement. If you are doubtful about whether your content violates any copyright laws, you can check out YouTube’s Copyright Center for more information. Further, your local and regional laws may also define the exceptions where you can use copyrighted content.

Remember, three copyrights strike could result in the suspension of your YouTube channel – so play your cards wisely!