YouTube Copyright: Avoid Those Strikes

Infringements of YouTube copyright are a very real thing that all TGN Partners have to handle. And with the addition of the hilariously bad Content ID copyright flagging system, it’s almost a full-time job to make sure you aren’t copying what anyone else has done before.

Youtubers all around the globe deal with YouTube copyright infringement, but it’s actually quite easy to avoid making the mistake of, either purposefully or accidentally, plagiarizing another person’s work.

How to Spot Copyrighted Material

Copyright has everything to do with “intellectual property”, or IP for short, and making sure that someone is not copying yours. Anything that is trademarked, copyrighted, or otherwise marked as someone’s personal creation (usually via watermark) is considered intellectual property. So, things like artwork, music, stuff with that little ™ or © next to it, and logos are protected and copyrighted.

Avoiding YouTube Copyright Infringement

This is actually pretty easy, if you follow very simple rules and apply the definition we have discussed above to the assets you are including in your video, it will be easy to avoid YouTube copyright strikes..

Number 1:   If you didn’t draw the picture, don’t use it.
Number 2:  If you didn’t create the video footage you are about to use, don’t use it.
Number 3:  If you didn’t write it, do’t use it.
Number 4:  If you didn’t write the music, don’t use it.
Number 5:  If you didn’t create it, seriously, don’t use it.


YouTube Copyright: Avoid Those Strikes
The first rule of copyright is club is to always talk about copyright club.


Following these rules will keep you from infringing on YouTube copyright rules, because you are creating all the content yourself. But, as most YouTubers know, creativity can be very hard to just pull out whenever you need it. You may need some help creating the right music and sound effects, or you may need help with channel graphics. This is where exceptions to the rules above can be made.

You can use other people’s content if you have their written consent, or if you have some sort of promotional agreement (such as promoting their work on your channel). This is very helpful for those of us who can’t draw very well or have no idea how to work around ProTools. Be warned, though, that artists need to make money too, and good graphics/sounds are not cheap.

We know some of you are strapped for cash, however, and there are always free alternatives. Plenty of graphics online are available for free use, and you just need to grab to spruce them up and make an image of your own.  There are even websites that can show you how to use the program, so you can create your own, albeit rudimentary, graphics.

We know some of you are strapped for cash, however, and there are always free alternatives.

And if you’re a TGN Partner, you don’t even need to worry about creating your own music. We have a deal with Epidemic Sound where TGN Partners get access to their royalty-free music library – a giant library of over 25,000 epic tracks for you to use. So go out there, create your own original content for your channel, and avoid that YouTube copyright strike!

Gaming and Copyright Infringement

Let’s make this simple. Yes, all video games are absolutely copyrighted material, and yes, that makes them not okay to use on YouTube. So, how do us gaming YouTubers get over this gigantic hurdle?

“Every game company releases a ToS or a EULA

that covers everything from account sharing to

whether or not they will allow their game footage

to be used for monetary profit (aka monetized videos).”

Game developers and legal teams solve this problem with their crazy Terms of Service. If you want to avoid a YouTube copyright strike on a video of a game, using gaming footage you made yourself, you’re going to need to check their Terms of Service agreement, or their End User Legal Agreement.

Every game company releases a ToS or a EULA that covers everything from account sharing to whether or not they will allow their game footage to be used for monetary profit (aka monetized videos). Just check that agreement for a section about how you can use their assets on YouTube, and if they state it is okay to use them for monetary gain, you’re good.

Some game companies are cool with it, some *cough* Nintendo *cough* aren’t. If you want to make a video about a game, you’re going to want to check those legal documents before proceeding, or face the wrath of a YouTube copyright strike.

YouTube Copyright: Avoid Those Strikes
Don’t do this to EULAs.


Next comes the subject of using video game footage from a game company, or other YouTuber. Instead of creating your own footage, you can use footage you’ve seen from other sources, but you must contact the creator first and get permission to use the footage. Some of the bigger videos out there – official game releases, gameplay trailers, or character reveals – are okay to use for a little bit, but don’t be surprised when big brother comes down and smacks you with a YouTube copyright strike.

It’s best to get the creator’s approval to use the content first and you can do so through many different avenues like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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Avoiding Youtube copyright infringement is an important part of a being a gaming YouTuber. You have to watch what assets and content you use, and be sure that you are not taking something that someone else created, and using it for your own benefit.

But even the best of us can get slapped every so often with a YouTube copyright strike, so what do you do when this happens? Stay tuned for next week’s post about how to handle getting rid of a YouTube copyright strike on your channel. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next week!