TGN Focus: YouTube Music Copyright and You


I’ve seen lots of general confusion about how copyright works as it relates to music in the background of videos that we put our heart and soul into.  The truth is, the claiming system isn’t perfect yet as YouTube and other third parties work to discover real copyright issues.  But, as the system continues to improve (for the betterment of everyone in the industry), there are some important lessons to learn about properly incorporating music into your videos.  Let’s take a look:

Protecting Yourself Pre-Upload

What’s the best way to avoid copyright issues that might result in claims or strikes?  Stick to in-game sound for your YouTube videos (as long as the game is copyright safe) instead of incorporating your own music in the background.  Even if you play music to stay focused while you’re recording (as I often do), plug some headphones into your cellphone and play the music from that device instead of from your computer.  This way, you get to have the blood-pumping music blasting while you play, and your game footage is clean from copyrighted audio.

“So, as 50 Cent would so aptly put it, what’s a player to do?”

But what if you want to have music for that extra level of personality to your video?  Well, this is a trickier issue.  Whatever you’ve heard about citing the original artists for your playlist is pretty much untrue, because permissions to use intellectual property must be explicit, meaning that you have to actually have a proper agreement with the holder of that copyright.  This takes a long time and may not even cover all of your bases, so it frankly isn’t worth it for the most part.

So, as 50 Cent would so aptly put it, what’s a player to do?  Luckily for us, YouTube’s working pretty darn hard to make sure that you can do everything you’re looking to accomplish on your channel.  They’ve provided a big list of royalty free music that you can use in your videos.  Right now, that list is limited and somewhat low quality, but you never know where that list might take you.

On the other hand, there are quite a few services like Beatsuite.com that will let you purchase royalty free music from their lists.  They’re not cheap, and thus not for everybody, but they can be a good copyright safe option to make sure you’ve got all of your bases covered.

One Final Note

Remember that none of what I’ve written above constitutes legal advice, so if you’re really interested in how to protect yourself from copyright be sure to do your research.  It will benefit your channel and ensure that you can get the most out of your content.

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