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TIPS & TRICKS YOUTUBE

Can You Use Copyrighted Music on YouTube if You Don’t Monetize?

Using copyrighted material on YouTube has always been a contentious area. Whether it’s big faceless corporations stifling small creators who are clearly within the realm of fair use, or YouTubers blatantly stealing other YouTubers content, there are plenty of examples of things turning sour.

The question of whether you can use copyrighted music in your videos is a common one for inexperienced YouTubers, and, generally speaking, the answer is no. But what about if you aren’t monetising those videos? In this video, we’re going to address that very question.

The Blunt Reality

There is some nuance to be discussed with this type of situation—and we will get to that nuance—but it should be noted first that there is an absolute to deal here.

From a purely legal and technical point of view, there is no situation where you can use copyrighted music in your videos without permission, with the complicated exception of fair use. Copyright protection is not limited to situations where the copyright infringer is making money from their use of the copyrighted media.

Loosely put, any time someone infringes on copyrighted music, there is potential for someone who might have bought a song or listened to it on a streaming service who will no longer do so because they heard it on your YouTube video. So, while you, the copyright infringer, might not be making any money from your use of the media, you could theoretically still be costing the copyright holder’s money.

So, the golden rule here is that any time you want to use copyrighted music, assume you need permission from the copyright holder. No exceptions. If you’d like a bit more information on fair use, here’s a handy video;

The Nuance

Okay, so that was the blunt reality of using copyrighted music. Now for the more nuanced YouTube reality.

Firstly, you are extremely unlikely to face any legal repercussions for copyright infringement on YouTube. That being said, there is nothing to stop a copyright holder from pursuing in the courts for damages. If you infringe copyright, you are taking this risk.

In practice, copyright holders are content to let YouTube’s built-in copyright protection methods do the heavy lifting. So, while you might not get sued by Warner Bros. for using music they hold the copyright for, you will still face repercussions from YouTube.

Strikes and Suspensions

In the olden days of YouTube, a successful copyright claim against your videos would see you get a copyright strike, with three strikes leading to a suspension/banning. The strikes system is still in place, but it is less relevant than it used to be, as we’ll talk about in a moment.

Banning is the most severe repercussion YouTube will bring down upon you. If you are a successful YouTuber who is perhaps making quite a bit of money on the platform, this is a pretty severe repercussion. If you are a small YouTuber—perhaps one who hasn’t even met the threshold for the YouTube Partner Programme—then the prospect of being banned might not seem so severe, but just bear in mind that the ban would be permanent, and YouTube would enforce it on any future accounts they identify as being you.

Can You Use Copyrighted Music on YouTube if You Don't Monetize? 1

Content ID and Copyright Claims

The reason the strikes system is less relevant these days is that YouTube have implemented a system whereby copyright holders can “claim” copyrighted content, as well the Content ID system for automatically detecting claimed content.

In cases where copyrighted music is detected—and not successfully counter-claimed—the copyright holder has a few options.

  • Mute the audio of your video
  • Block your video
  • Monetize your video
  • Track your video

The first two are pretty self-explanatory. Monetising your video is exactly what it sounds like, with the twist being that the money generated goes to the copyright holder, not you. Whether or not you have opted to monetize that video—or whether you are even eligible to monetize it—is not a factor here. The final option allows the copyright holder to track the viewing statistics of your video, giving them all the data about how many people have watched, where they are from, and everything else you can see about your viewing demographics.

If your content gets such a copyright claim—and it is legitimate—you have a few options. You can swap out the music, dispute the claim, or go with the flow and accept the copyright holder’s chosen action.

In this sense, you could use copyrighted music in your videos if you are not concerned about receiving revenue from them. However, it is worth noting that there is no way of knowing what the copyright holder’s preferred action is, other than finding out who the copyright holder is and looking it up.

For music that is flagged in the Content ID system, you can test the situation by uploading a private video with the music you intend to use. It doesn’t need to be a real video, just a blank screen with the music playing will do. You will be notified as soon as the video has finished processing, and your options will be presented to you.

Final Thoughts

Copyright issues on YouTube are far from straightforward. That is, unless you take the “you can’t use copyrighted music without permission, end of discussion” line of thinking, but, for the most part, you should be safe to experiment without fear of any serious consequences.

Content ID claims do not negatively affect your channel, and YouTube gives you the opportunity to resolve the copyright issues before the video ever goes public, reducing the possibility of real legal consequences significantly.

So, can you use copyrighted music on YouTube if you don’t monetize? The answer is yes… in some cases. It’s also the case that the “don’t monetize” part is non-optional, since you won’t be able to monetize your videos if they have copyrighted music in them.

But whether or not you tried to monetize the video is entirely irrelevant to whether you are allowed to use the copyrighted music.

Top 5 Tools To Get You Started on YouTube

Very quickly before you go here are 5 amazing tools I have used every day to grow my YouTube channel from 0 to 30K subscribers in the last 12 months that I could not live without.

1. VidIQ helps boost my views and get found in search

I almost exclusively switched to VidIQ from a rival in 2020.

Within 12 months I tripled the size of my channel and very quickly learnt the power of thumbnails, click through rate and proper search optimization. Best of all, they are FREE!

2. Adobe Creative Suite helps me craft amazing looking thumbnails and eye-catching videos

I have been making youtube videos on and off since 2013.

When I first started I threw things together in Window Movie Maker, cringed at how it looked but thought “that’s the best I can do so it’ll have to do”.

Big mistake!

I soon realized the move time you put into your editing and the more engaging your thumbnails are the more views you will get and the more people will trust you enough to subscribe.

That is why I took the plunge and invested in my editing and design process with Adobe Creative Suite. They offer a WIDE range of tools to help make amazing videos, simple to use tools for overlays, graphics, one click tools to fix your audio and the very powerful Photoshop graphics program to make eye-catching thumbnails.

Best of all you can get a free trial for 30 days on their website, a discount if you are a student and if you are a regular human being it starts from as little as £9 per month if you want to commit to a plan.

3. Rev.com helps people read my videos

You can’t always listen to a video.

Maybe you’re on a bus, a train or sat in a living room with a 5 year old singing baby shark on loop… for HOURS. Or, you are trying to make as little noise as possible while your new born is FINALLY sleeping.

This is where Rev can help you or your audience consume your content on the go, in silence or in a language not native to the video.

Rev.com can help you translate your videos, transcribe your videos, add subtitles and even convert those subtitles into other languages – all from just $1.50 per minute.

A GREAT way to find an audience and keep them hooked no matter where they are watching your content.

4. PlaceIT can help you STAND OUT on YouTube

I SUCK at making anything flashy or arty.

I have every intention in the world to make something that looks cool but im about as artistic as a dropped ice-cream cone on the web windy day.

That is why I could not live on YouTube without someone like PlaceIT. They offer custom YouTube Banners, Avatars, YouTube Video Intros and YouTube End Screen Templates that are easy to edit with simple click, upload wizard to help you make amazing professional graphics in minutes.

Best of all, some of their templates are FREE! or you can pay a small fee if you want to go for their slightly more premium designs (pst – I always used the free ones).

5. StoryBlocks helps me add amazing video b-roll cutaways

I mainly make tutorials and talking head videos.

And in this modern world this can be a little boring if you don’t see something funky every once in a while.

I try with overlays, jump cuts and being funny but my secret weapon is b-roll overlay content.

I can talk about skydiving, food, money, kids, cats – ANYTHING I WANT – with a quick search on the StoryBlocks website I can find a great looking clip to overlay on my videos, keeping them entertained and watching for longer.

They have a wide library of videos, graphics, images and even a video maker tool and it wont break the bank with plans starting from as little as £8.25 ($9) per month.

Categories
DEEP DIVE ARTICLE TIPS & TRICKS YOUTUBE

How Much of a Video Can You Use Legally?

Fair warning, dear reader; this is going to be one of those posts that doesn’t really give you a definitive answer. At least, not in all cases.

The issue of copyright is one that has been a thorn in the side of copyright holders, content creators, and user-generated content platforms since… well, since user-generated content platforms became a thing. Using content that you do not own the rights to is a dicey business, and one that can land you in trouble with YouTube. But at the same time, there are situations where it is perfectly acceptable. And, of course, there are messy grey areas in between.

In this post, we’re going to do our best to cover all the basics, so, if you’ve been wondering how much of a video can you use legally, keep reading!

The Video Matters

The main reason that there is no definitive answer to this question is that how much of a video you can legally use depends entirely on the video, as well as other factors around the video. Let’s start from the good and work our way to the bad.

Public Domain YouTube Channels for Free Footage 1

Public Domain Videos

Public domain videos are the best-case scenario when it comes to video content you want to use. This is because public domain content is completely free for anyone to use for any purpose. You can clip it, remix it… you can even repost it in its entirety, though YouTube will prevent you from monetising that kind of thing.

Public domain means that the copyright has expired, and the work has passed into the public domain. This also means no one can copyright it, however, works that incorporate public domain content can be copyrighted if they have been sufficiently modified from the original content.

Creative Commons

If you can’t find public domain content that suits your needs, Creative Commons is the next best thing. You will need to pay attention to the specific licence, however, because there are several flavours of Creative Commons, and they all have different stipulations.

For example, a CC0 licence is, for intents and purposes, the same as public domain works. CC0 is a “no rights reserved” licence that can be used for anything and does not require attribution. There are also versions of the Creative Commons licence that require attribution, or that are free to use for personal work only, and so on.

Other Types of Free Licence

There are several other types of licence out there that will allow you to use content without worrying about the copyright, but you should always check the specifics of each licence. For example, the Against DRM Licence becomes void if DRM is placed on the work using the licenced content.

Copyrighted Content

And here we get to, unfortunately, the most common type of content you are likely to want to use in your videos. The reality, most of the content will be copyrighted, and, depending on the copyright holder, it may be an almost impossible prospect to get permission.

If the copyright holder is a large corporation—like Viacom, or Disney—you can pretty much kiss goodbye to any hope of legally using the content. It’s not impossible, but if you can even get a response from them, they’ll probably ask for an extortionate amount of money.

If the copyright holder is another YouTuber—especially a YouTuber of similar or smaller stature to yourself—then your chances of getting permission go up somewhat. Whether they say yes will still come down to their preferences and what you intend to do with the content, but you should at least be able to talk to them about it.

Fair Use

Fair Use is a complicated topic that deserves more than a small section in this blog post, so we won’t try to cover everything here. To sum it up, however, the concept of fair use says that you should be able to use copyrighted material for limited and transformative purposes without the permission of the copyright holder. Some examples of fair use include commentary videos, and parody.

Unfortunately, there is no rigidly defined concept of what constitutes fair use, and it is not a law as such, but a defence. That means that fair use would not come into play until after you have been sued, and are in court defending yourself. Needless to say, companies like Disney are not shy about breaking out the lawyers, and they probably have more money than you.

So, while the concept of fair use is appealing, the practical nature of it means you can still fall afoul of copyright holders, no matter how reasonable your interpretation of fair use is.

False Flags

Another problem to be aware of is copyright holders claiming content that they do not have the rights to claim. This can happen in situations where the content has similar audio to some copyrighted content, or where the copyrighted content features some public domain or Creative Commons licenced work. It is nearly always the result of YouTube’s Content ID system, which automatically checks for copyright infringement.

Unfortunately, there are no checks in place to verify that the “copyright holder” actually owners the copyright to the content they are claiming. In most cases, you should be able to counter-claim it and, as long as it was an honest error, the claim will be removed.

Final Thoughts

As a general rule, you should strive to avoid using content that you didn’t create as much as possible. Granted, there are situations where it’s just not possible, but there will always be additional baggage with content you don’t own, even if it’s just YouTube demonetising the video for re-using existing content.

If you do have to use content from elsewhere, be sure to check the copyright status of it, and pay attention to any licencing that might apply.

And, if you are relying on fair use, it’s best not to push the boundaries of the fair use description… unless that’s precisely what you’re going for, of course.

Top 5 Tools To Get You Started on YouTube

Very quickly before you go here are 5 amazing tools I have used every day to grow my YouTube channel from 0 to 30K subscribers in the last 12 months that I could not live without.

1. VidIQ helps boost my views and get found in search

I almost exclusively switched to VidIQ from a rival in 2020.

Within 12 months I tripled the size of my channel and very quickly learnt the power of thumbnails, click through rate and proper search optimization. Best of all, they are FREE!

2. Adobe Creative Suite helps me craft amazing looking thumbnails and eye-catching videos

I have been making youtube videos on and off since 2013.

When I first started I threw things together in Window Movie Maker, cringed at how it looked but thought “that’s the best I can do so it’ll have to do”.

Big mistake!

I soon realized the move time you put into your editing and the more engaging your thumbnails are the more views you will get and the more people will trust you enough to subscribe.

That is why I took the plunge and invested in my editing and design process with Adobe Creative Suite. They offer a WIDE range of tools to help make amazing videos, simple to use tools for overlays, graphics, one click tools to fix your audio and the very powerful Photoshop graphics program to make eye-catching thumbnails.

Best of all you can get a free trial for 30 days on their website, a discount if you are a student and if you are a regular human being it starts from as little as £9 per month if you want to commit to a plan.

3. Rev.com helps people read my videos

You can’t always listen to a video.

Maybe you’re on a bus, a train or sat in a living room with a 5 year old singing baby shark on loop… for HOURS. Or, you are trying to make as little noise as possible while your new born is FINALLY sleeping.

This is where Rev can help you or your audience consume your content on the go, in silence or in a language not native to the video.

Rev.com can help you translate your videos, transcribe your videos, add subtitles and even convert those subtitles into other languages – all from just $1.50 per minute.

A GREAT way to find an audience and keep them hooked no matter where they are watching your content.

4. PlaceIT can help you STAND OUT on YouTube

I SUCK at making anything flashy or arty.

I have every intention in the world to make something that looks cool but im about as artistic as a dropped ice-cream cone on the web windy day.

That is why I could not live on YouTube without someone like PlaceIT. They offer custom YouTube Banners, Avatars, YouTube Video Intros and YouTube End Screen Templates that are easy to edit with simple click, upload wizard to help you make amazing professional graphics in minutes.

Best of all, some of their templates are FREE! or you can pay a small fee if you want to go for their slightly more premium designs (pst – I always used the free ones).

5. StoryBlocks helps me add amazing video b-roll cutaways

I mainly make tutorials and talking head videos.

And in this modern world this can be a little boring if you don’t see something funky every once in a while.

I try with overlays, jump cuts and being funny but my secret weapon is b-roll overlay content.

I can talk about skydiving, food, money, kids, cats – ANYTHING I WANT – with a quick search on the StoryBlocks website I can find a great looking clip to overlay on my videos, keeping them entertained and watching for longer.

They have a wide library of videos, graphics, images and even a video maker tool and it wont break the bank with plans starting from as little as £8.25 ($9) per month.

Categories
DEEP DIVE ARTICLE YOUTUBE

Public Domain YouTube Channels for Free Footage

Public domain video is a great source of content for clips, transformative projects, and, frankly, just entertainment.

Public domain video—and any other content, such as audio and text—is completely free of copyright, and can be consumed for free, as well as used in other media without having to seek permission.

Naturally, with YouTube being easily the largest distributor of free-to-consume video around, there is plenty of public domain video on YouTube… if you know where to look. Though this is by no means an exhaustive list, we’ve collected together some good channels for public domain content.

What is “Public Domain”?

If you’re not sure what public domain means, it is essentially a piece of content that has either passed naturally out of copyright due to age, been released from copyright by the copyright holder, or was never copyrighted in the first place.

Public domain material has no licencing requirements or restrictions, and can be used in part or in whole for any purpose, including commercial. A popular example of someone using public domain content to make something new is the 2009 novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith. This novel uses the original text from the classic novel, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, but adds more narrative, turning the story of 19th-century English aristocracy into one set amidst a world full of zombies.

If you are interesting in uploading public domain content to your YouTube channel, check this post out.

Can I Upload Public Domain Movies on YouTube?

Public Domain Movies YouTube

Cinema has been around for a long time, and there are many movies that, either by quirks of copyright law, a filmmakers generous nature, or just the length of time since they were made, have passed into the public domain. Here are some channels where you can find entire public domain movies.

Public Domain Films

As the name of the channel suggest, Public Domain Films uploads entire public domain movies. There is a lot of variety here, from 7-minute shorts to full 90-minute movies. Some are in colour, some are relatively recent. There are films as recent as the late 1980s on there.

Public Domain Movies — Classic Movies Free

Much the same as above, Public Domain Movies has a wide selection of full movies that are in the public domain. This channel also has a selection of playlists, breaking those movies up into genres to make it easier to find something you like.

Public Domain Cinema

Public Domain Cinema is, broadly speaking, the same as the previous two suggestions, though with over 300 films, they are bound to have some public domain movies that Public Domain Films and Public Domain Movies don’t have.

Public Domain Music YouTube

Public domain media is not limited to movies, and there can be just as much of a demand for public domain music. Here are a few channels that deliver that very thing.

Audio Library

Audio Library is a channel dedicated to collecting copyright-free music for creators to use in their projects. And, with over four million subscribers, it is an incredibly popular resource.

It should be noted that not everything on this channel is public domain—there is a lot of Creative Commons music, and other licences that allow people to use the music freely while not being public domain. For most use-cases, this will be a minor detail, but if you are planning on using the audio in your videos, you should always make sure you know what the licencing and copyright situation is.

Public Domain Classical Music

Being one of the oldest genres to be recorded, it shouldn’t be surprising that there is a lot of classical music in the public domain. Public Domain Classical Music is a channel dedicated to just that.

Public Domain Music

Public Domain Music doesn’t have a gimmick or specialisation, but it is another source of public domain music that you can use in your videos without having to ask permission. You can also just enjoy listening to it, if you wish.

Public Domain YouTube Channels for Free Footage

Why is Public Domain Content on YouTube?

You might be wondering why anyone goes to the trouble of uploading public domain videos and music to YouTube, and there are a couple of answers to this.

The first answer is pretty straightforward; money. There is no copyright on public domain videos, which means there is no restriction on what you can do with it, and that includes monetising it. Populate a channel with hundreds of public domain videos, promote it, and rake in the cash, right?

Well, not exactly. While this has no doubt worked for some, YouTube has a policy against monetising duplicate content, even if there are no copyright issues at play.

The second reason is accessibility. You see, while public domain content is free, the distribution is not. If a book publisher does a printing run of a popular novel that is now in the public domain, you can’t demand they give you the book for free because they still paid for the printing and the paper. Likewise, any online video host is paying for the bandwidth and storage of that content, and the fact that they are hosting public domain materials does not obligate them to give you access.

However, YouTube allows free access to all its normal video content, so uploading public domain videos and music to YouTube is a great way to make sure it is available to everyone for free.

Final Thoughts

If we’re being completely honest, you’re probably not looking for public domain content to consume it. The chances are, if you’re the kind of person who is interested in obscure movies from 1923, you’ve probably already seen them.

The more likely reason, of course, is that you want to use public domain media in your videos, and that is a perfectly legal and acceptable thing to do under the current laws.

Can you monetize public domain footage? – Just remember that you can’t simply re-upload public domain content wholesale and expect to monetise it. YouTube will let you upload it, but they won’t let you monetise it as it will be considered re-used content.

Top 5 Tools To Get You Started on YouTube

Very quickly before you go here are 5 amazing tools I have used every day to grow my YouTube channel from 0 to 30K subscribers in the last 12 months that I could not live without.

1. VidIQ helps boost my views and get found in search

I almost exclusively switched to VidIQ from a rival in 2020.

Within 12 months I tripled the size of my channel and very quickly learnt the power of thumbnails, click through rate and proper search optimization. Best of all, they are FREE!

2. Adobe Creative Suite helps me craft amazing looking thumbnails and eye-catching videos

I have been making youtube videos on and off since 2013.

When I first started I threw things together in Window Movie Maker, cringed at how it looked but thought “that’s the best I can do so it’ll have to do”.

Big mistake!

I soon realized the move time you put into your editing and the more engaging your thumbnails are the more views you will get and the more people will trust you enough to subscribe.

That is why I took the plunge and invested in my editing and design process with Adobe Creative Suite. They offer a WIDE range of tools to help make amazing videos, simple to use tools for overlays, graphics, one click tools to fix your audio and the very powerful Photoshop graphics program to make eye-catching thumbnails.

Best of all you can get a free trial for 30 days on their website, a discount if you are a student and if you are a regular human being it starts from as little as £9 per month if you want to commit to a plan.

3. Rev.com helps people read my videos

You can’t always listen to a video.

Maybe you’re on a bus, a train or sat in a living room with a 5 year old singing baby shark on loop… for HOURS. Or, you are trying to make as little noise as possible while your new born is FINALLY sleeping.

This is where Rev can help you or your audience consume your content on the go, in silence or in a language not native to the video.

Rev.com can help you translate your videos, transcribe your videos, add subtitles and even convert those subtitles into other languages – all from just $1.50 per minute.

A GREAT way to find an audience and keep them hooked no matter where they are watching your content.

4. PlaceIT can help you STAND OUT on YouTube

I SUCK at making anything flashy or arty.

I have every intention in the world to make something that looks cool but im about as artistic as a dropped ice-cream cone on the web windy day.

That is why I could not live on YouTube without someone like PlaceIT. They offer custom YouTube Banners, Avatars, YouTube Video Intros and YouTube End Screen Templates that are easy to edit with simple click, upload wizard to help you make amazing professional graphics in minutes.

Best of all, some of their templates are FREE! or you can pay a small fee if you want to go for their slightly more premium designs (pst – I always used the free ones).

5. StoryBlocks helps me add amazing video b-roll cutaways

I mainly make tutorials and talking head videos.

And in this modern world this can be a little boring if you don’t see something funky every once in a while.

I try with overlays, jump cuts and being funny but my secret weapon is b-roll overlay content.

I can talk about skydiving, food, money, kids, cats – ANYTHING I WANT – with a quick search on the StoryBlocks website I can find a great looking clip to overlay on my videos, keeping them entertained and watching for longer.

They have a wide library of videos, graphics, images and even a video maker tool and it wont break the bank with plans starting from as little as £8.25 ($9) per month.

Categories
DEEP DIVE ARTICLE YOUTUBE

Can I Upload Public Domain Movies on YouTube?

There are often question marks over the legalities and practicalities of using content that you didn’t create your YouTube channel. For many situations, the answer is quite clear. For example—if you want to just upload an entire modern movie that is still in copyright, the answer is a resounding no. You will get a copyright strike for that, and possibly worse if you persist.

For other situations, the answer may be dependent on what you mean by your question. For example, can I upload public domain movies on YouTube? From a legal standpoint, yes. Absolutely. But let’s reframe that question. Can I make money uploading public domain videos on YouTube? No. No you cannot.

The context of the question is important, because if you are just looking to upload the video with no ulterior motive—perhaps you are trying to create an archive of something—then there is no problem. But if you want to monetise your content, we have a problem.

Can you reuse content on YouTube?- YouTube’s Stance on Reused Content

While it’s true that most of YouTube’s policies and service changes stem from a direct or indirect way to increase revenue, it’s not always immediately obvious how a particular change might help with that.

In the case of public domain content, there are no copyright holders to sue anyone, and the content is still subject to the same rules regarding monetisation as everything else, so what could the problem be?

Well, fewer viewers mean less ad revenue, and less appealing content means fewer viewers. If the same content is appearing in several videos across multiple channels, that content is going to lose its value to the viewer. Moreover, it makes YouTube as a hole look less valuable.

If someone is searching for something and comes across the same content several times, they’re less likely to search there in future.

So, when YouTube detects content that already exists on YouTube—even when that content is not copyrighted—it will demonetise it. This isn’t an unofficial rule, they explicitly mention it in their monetisation policy.

Can I Upload Public Domain Movies on YouTube? 1

Other Public Domain Problems

Though not technically a problem in terms of YouTube policies, there are other issues you might run into when using public domain content in your videos.

Not Really Public Domain

There is nothing to stop someone uploading content to a hosting service and claiming it is public domain. That is, nothing except for the copyright holder. However, if you use said content, you will be responsible for your copyright infringement all the same.

It may not seem fair, that’s the way of the Internet. The only way to definitive prove that a piece of work is public domain is to have it checked out by an expert, which isn’t exactly practical. If you stick to trusted sources, you should be fine. Some random WordPress blog isn’t an ideal source, however.

False Flags

While we don’t doubt that there are unscrupulous devils out there who are prepared to flag a public domain video for copyright violations that don’t exist, the risk of false flags actually comes from a more innocent—though no less frustrating—place.

YouTube’s Content ID system is a way for eligible YouTube channels to have YouTube automatically flag content that it recognises as someone else’s. This is used by TV studios, record labels, and more. The problem is, sometimes these eligible YouTubers use public domain content themselves, and the Content ID system doesn’t always know that. It just knows that the content they uploaded belongs to them, and you have just uploaded content that contains something identical to their content. The fact that it’s identical because you both got it from the same place doesn’t factor in.

In most cases, this mistake should be solvable with a simple counter-claim. Unless the copyright holder at the other end of the claim is an unsavoury individual with no morals, it should be quickly resolved.

Try to Use Original Content

Regardless of whether you are using public domain footage, Creative Commons, or legally licensed video, it’s a good idea to use original content as much as possible. A good metric to strive for is an 80/20 split, with 80% of the content you create consisting of your own original footage. Of course, that’s not going to be possible in all situations. For example, channels that offer commentary on real events will always have a large portion of their content consisting of footage they don’t technically own. But, if it’s possible, you should certainly strive for as little third party footage as you can get away with.

Why Use Public Domain?

If you’re new to the concept of public domain, and you’re wondering what’s so appealing about it, public domain works are works that are not under any copyright. They could have been intentionally released to the public domain at some stage, or they could have passed into the public domain after their copyright term expired.

These works essentially do not have an owner, so they cannot be “stolen”. Transformative works—that is, new works that use public domain content in a way that significantly changes it from the source material—can be copyrighted, however.

To give you a couple of examples, a content creator who includes a minute of public domain content in their video cannot claim ownership of that minute of video. However, someone could release a public domain video in its entirety with their face in the corner giving commentary, and claim that specific video, even though it contains all of the public domain content.

Final Thoughts

Anything that is public domain is essentially fair game for anyone to do anything (within the law, of course), but you should ask yourself what you are trying to achieve. Many attempts to make money using public domain content would fall flat for one reason or another, and end up being nothing more than a waste of time.

However, if you are using public domain content as part of a more complex video, you can certainly pull that off.

Top 5 Tools To Get You Started on YouTube

Very quickly before you go here are 5 amazing tools I have used every day to grow my YouTube channel from 0 to 30K subscribers in the last 12 months that I could not live without.

1. VidIQ helps boost my views and get found in search

I almost exclusively switched to VidIQ from a rival in 2020.

Within 12 months I tripled the size of my channel and very quickly learnt the power of thumbnails, click through rate and proper search optimization. Best of all, they are FREE!

2. Adobe Creative Suite helps me craft amazing looking thumbnails and eye-catching videos

I have been making youtube videos on and off since 2013.

When I first started I threw things together in Window Movie Maker, cringed at how it looked but thought “that’s the best I can do so it’ll have to do”.

Big mistake!

I soon realized the move time you put into your editing and the more engaging your thumbnails are the more views you will get and the more people will trust you enough to subscribe.

That is why I took the plunge and invested in my editing and design process with Adobe Creative Suite. They offer a WIDE range of tools to help make amazing videos, simple to use tools for overlays, graphics, one click tools to fix your audio and the very powerful Photoshop graphics program to make eye-catching thumbnails.

Best of all you can get a free trial for 30 days on their website, a discount if you are a student and if you are a regular human being it starts from as little as £9 per month if you want to commit to a plan.

3. Rev.com helps people read my videos

You can’t always listen to a video.

Maybe you’re on a bus, a train or sat in a living room with a 5 year old singing baby shark on loop… for HOURS. Or, you are trying to make as little noise as possible while your new born is FINALLY sleeping.

This is where Rev can help you or your audience consume your content on the go, in silence or in a language not native to the video.

Rev.com can help you translate your videos, transcribe your videos, add subtitles and even convert those subtitles into other languages – all from just $1.50 per minute.

A GREAT way to find an audience and keep them hooked no matter where they are watching your content.

4. PlaceIT can help you STAND OUT on YouTube

I SUCK at making anything flashy or arty.

I have every intention in the world to make something that looks cool but im about as artistic as a dropped ice-cream cone on the web windy day.

That is why I could not live on YouTube without someone like PlaceIT. They offer custom YouTube Banners, Avatars, YouTube Video Intros and YouTube End Screen Templates that are easy to edit with simple click, upload wizard to help you make amazing professional graphics in minutes.

Best of all, some of their templates are FREE! or you can pay a small fee if you want to go for their slightly more premium designs (pst – I always used the free ones).

5. StoryBlocks helps me add amazing video b-roll cutaways

I mainly make tutorials and talking head videos.

And in this modern world this can be a little boring if you don’t see something funky every once in a while.

I try with overlays, jump cuts and being funny but my secret weapon is b-roll overlay content.

I can talk about skydiving, food, money, kids, cats – ANYTHING I WANT – with a quick search on the StoryBlocks website I can find a great looking clip to overlay on my videos, keeping them entertained and watching for longer.

They have a wide library of videos, graphics, images and even a video maker tool and it wont break the bank with plans starting from as little as £8.25 ($9) per month.

Categories
YOUTUBE

Are YouTube Videos Public Domain?

YouTube has a veritable cornucopia of content available on its platform, with the overwhelming majority of it being created by regular YouTube users, not large corporations. This can often lead to the misconception that content on YouTube is “free”, or in the public domain as it is officially termed. The truth is a little messier than that, but we’ll walk you through everything.

So, are YouTube videos public domain? – This can be a grey area and depends on the copyrights given by the video owner and the age of the content itself. But the quick answer is, no. Most public domain content has no owners or the copyright has expired. Most YouTube content is fairly new works and therefore covered by assumed copyright.

Of course, we’re assuming you’re interested in whether a video is in the public domain because you wish to use the video for something. If that is the case, there are other options to consider.

Now, onto the details!

What is Public Domain?

Public domain is the term used for creative works that have no exclusive intellectual property rights. If you were to use material that is in the public domain, nobody could lawfully claim ownership of your content—though it won’t necessarily stop someone from trying.

Creative work can find itself in the public domain for several reasons. The creator of said work can waive intellectual property rights, for example, and release it into the public domain from the beginning.

There are also certain kinds of works that are simply not allowed to be copyrighted, an example of which being the formulae of Newtonian physics. Many works were created before any meaningful copyright law existed, and so were never protected, to begin with. There was no copyright registry when Shakespeare was writing his plays, for example.

Finally, there is a time factor involved in the passing of intellectual property into the public domain, but this is a little tricky to detail.

Is It Legal to Make YouTube Videos from Books? 2

Books and Software

For example, any computer software created before 1974 is deemed public domain.

Meanwhile, books typically pass into the public domain a certain amount of years after the author’s death. For America, this term is 95 years; however, it is 70 years for many other countries.

All of this means that for America in 2020, any book published before 1925 is in the public domain. You’re probably starting to see why it’s a little tricky to cover all the bases here.

If you want to learn more about making YouTube videos from books then check out my deep dive blog into what can you and can’t do without getting in trouble.

Music

Moving on to music, there is typically a clear distinction between musical compositions and musical recordings.

Compositions (essentially, the melodies and lyrics) are subject to broadly the same copyright terms as books. This is what led to the infamous case of Warner/Chappell suing people for singing “Happy Birthday to You”. Recordings, on the other hand, can be thought as more akin to property.

If you’ve ever heard of stories like Michael Jackson owning Beatles songs, this is how it was possible. The owner of the recording has the ownership rights of that recording; however, the artist is still free to perform their music, and will typically earn songwriter’s royalties.

But how does this translate to music in the public domain? Well, for the most part, you are free to cover music that is not in the public domain.

You should be aware that anything sounding too close to the original recording will likely get flagged by YouTube’s automatic copyright protection. Still, you won’t actually be doing anything wrong.

Copyrighted recordings, on the other hand, while still subject to an eventual transition to the public domain, have not been around long enough for there to be any public domain recordings. In 2020, the 95-year time limit on copyright extends back to 1925. In 1925, musical recordings were almost entirely classical music, and were still being outsold by sheet music! Some recordings will start going into the public domain in 2021, however.

When it comes to using music in my videos I use LickD. They have a wide range of popular tracks and artists. They have a simple fee system and you pay based on how many views you get on average. There is more information on their website.

Are YouTube Videos Public Domain?

Movies

Movies and film, in general, follow the same rules as books, though the terms will vary from country to country.

For America, the term of copyright is once again 95 years, and anything produced before 1925 is automatically considered public domain. That term is rolling, meaning that in 2021, anything created before 1926 will be in the public domain, and so on.

There are several works of film that are in the public domain because the creator has intentionally released their movie that way. Or, in the case of the cult classic, Night of the Living Dead, accidentally released into the public domain as the distributor forgot to file a copyright notice!

Public Domain on YouTube

YouTube does not presently have a means of flagging videos as containing public domain works. As such, there is no clear way to identify public domain content short of going off and researching yourself.

It is important to remember that the descriptions are not always accurate. If someone posts a video claiming it is public domain, and you then use that video and get sued because it is not public domain, the fault will still be with you.

Are YouTube Videos Public Domain? 1

You may be considering using public domain works in your monetized videos, and you have every right to do that. You could post an unmodified public domain work in its entirety on YouTube, and you would not be breaking their terms and conditions or any copyright law. You should be aware, however, that YouTube does have specific other rules in place that could affect you. For example, they have a policy on re-using content.

This essentially prevents people from just reposting existing work and monetizing the video, even if they are legally allowed to use the work.

One example of this would be a music compilation video made up of songs that are in the public domain. Another example would be uploading a public domain film.

The point of this policy is to prevent YouTube from being flooded with opportunistic attempts to make money for little effort. If a video is in the public domain, there is little other reason to post such a video. If you are modifying the video in a significant way, however, you should be safe from YouTube’s policies.

YouTube’s Standard License

We’ve covered what you can do with public domain works, but what about YouTube’s standard license?

From the uploader’s perspective, YouTube’s standard license grants broadcasting rights to YouTube. Basically, this means that the video is only licensed for watching on YouTube, and cannot be reproduced or redistributed without your express consent.

In agreeing to this license, you are also agreeing to YouTube’s terms regarding uploading videos. Still, the most significant factor is that you have control over your video when it comes to other people re-using it.

You will be entirely within your licensing terms to deny—or grant—permission for any use of your video. This applies equally to small individual YouTubers and multi-million dollar media companies.

If you are not the uploader, and you are considering using another YouTuber’s content, you will need to get permission from the uploader unless it is Creative Commons. We’ll get to that shortly.

Now, the reality of the majority of YouTube videos is that using a small sample of another video will not result in any legal action taken against you. For one thing, a small enough sample would be considered fair use, and not worth arguing over for the creator. But also, most YouTube creators cannot afford the expensive legal fees of attempting to sue someone.

If you use significant portions of another YouTuber’s video—or the whole thing—expect to get your video taken down unless you have the permission of the uploader. For larger corporations, such as record labels and media companies, using even a few seconds of their content can be enough to get a video automatically penalized.

For such companies, you are unlikely to get permission, or even a response if you request it, so it would be best to consider that a non-option.

Are YouTube Videos Public Domain? 3

Creative Commons

So, we mentioned that public domain and just grabbing content and hoping for the best weren’t your only options for re-using YouTube video. When a YouTube video is uploaded, the uploader can choose between the standard YouTube license and a Creative Commons license.

There are many variations of the Creative Commons license; however, YouTube only offers one of those variations. This is known as a CC BY license, but what is it?

Let’s start with Creative Commons as a whole. Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that makes sharing and re-using original works and knowledge easy and free. There is a lot to this organization beyond their licenses, but this article is not about Creative Commons, so we’re going to stick the licensing.

By using a Creative Commons license, you have a properly worded, completely legal document that lays out the licensing terms of a given piece of content.

Using this kind of license makes sharing content easier because there is no ambiguity or uncertainty about whether content can be used. The answer is yes; the only question is what is required of the entity using the material.

For example, CC0 is their base-level license, and, practically speaking, is the same as public domain. There are no requirements of compensation or attribution on CC0 works, and there are no restrictions on how you can use it. Other versions of the license do have limitations on how the work can be used, or requirements in order to use it.

Still, we’re only going to go into detail on the license that YouTube allows you to choose.

Are YouTube Videos Public Domain? 2

CC BY License

The CC BY License allows for the sharing, copying, and redistribution of the licensed material in any medium or format. You are free to transform, remix, and add to the material for any purpose, including commercial.

Perhaps most significant is the fact that the creator of the material cannot revoke any of the freedoms you have been granted. This only applies as long as you follow the terms of the license, however.

The only requirements under this license are that you must give credit to the creator, link to the complete license, and make it clear if any changes were made (and what they are). It is also essential that you do not make it appear as though the creator endorses your work.

Another facet of Creative Commons licenses is that you may not place any restrictions on CC BY licensed material. One example of this would be taking CC BY content wholesale and putting it behind a paywall.

The situation regarding using CC BY licensed video (or other content) in your YouTube videos is the same as with public domain. You are free to do so, however, merely finding creative commons works and reposting them will fall afoul of YouTube’s re-use policies. That will almost certainly see your videos disqualified from monetization.

If your content is sufficiently transformative, or if you only include the CC BY content as a relatively small part of your video, you should be fine.

Conclusions

Are YouTube videos public domain? Unfortunately not. At least, most of the time they’re not. The critical thing to remember when considering the use of existing YouTube content—as well as any content on the Internet—is that you need explicit consent in some form from the creator. That is if you want to use that content without running into problems further down the line.

As a general rule, assume that any content for which a large corporation owns the copyright is a no go. It will almost certainly get taken down, and some companies are more litigious than others.

And, remember, if you want to monetize your content, you need to add something to it. You can’t just upload an existing public domain or Creative Commons video. Well, you can, but YouTube will flag it under their re-use policy and disqualify it from monetization. Add something of value for your viewers to the content, and you should be good to go.

And, if you see some recent content that you really want to use in a future video; you can always wait 95 years for the copyright to expire!

Categories
SOCIAL MEDIA TIPS & TRICKS VIDEO

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