YouTube is a great resource that every business can make use of, however, if you don't know the rules you may end up doing more harm than good. As a platform designed around content creation, YouTube has to take certain steps to protect their content creators in order to maintain a healthy stream of videos and allow its users to make a good revenue.
The way YouTube protects its creators is via Copyright Strikes.
What Are Copyright Strikes?
YouTube is in a rather unique position as a social media platform as while its main function is to stockpile enjoyable video content for consumers, it can also be used by content creators to bring in additional revenue or even allow committed individuals to post on YouTube as a full-time job.
The way creators make money is through Ad revenue. When they achieve a strong following on their channel (4000 hours watch over 12 months & 1000+ subscribers) they are given the option of placing adverts on their videos. Each person that then watches the video and sees the Ad, results in the creator getting Ad revenue.
Now, this is where Copyright Strikes come into play. When you upload a video to YouTube, you are saying that everything in the video is your own work. If you use video footage or music that belongs to someone else and don't have permission to use it, you will be making money from someone else's work. In the event of this, the original creator of the content can place a copyright strike on your video.
This can result in a few different outcomes:
- They can use the copyright strike to stop your video from being live on YouTube.
- They can place a permanent strike on your channel (Get three and you're out. Your account is closed)
- They can place their Ad revenue on your videos and claim all the money for themselves.
It's easy to see why any of these could be a big problem. If your video is prevented from anyone seeing it then you will have wasted resources making it. If you gain a strike on your account you could potentially get your account banned and lose ALL your videos and subscribers. And if they place Ads on your video you will be only making money for someone else and the Ads themselves will often be for a competitor as YouTube tries to show Ads that are relevant to the video.
Why Might You Get A Copyright Strike?
The most common reason a business will receive a Copyright Strike is that they place music on their video that they don't own. It is often easy to overlook this as those that aren't YouTube savvy will simple throw on a song that they like and call it a day. Well, 9/10 this results in the composer of the music giving you a strike and claiming all the revenue on your video. Back in 2016, singer Taylor Swift tried to take on YouTube and placed copyright strikes on hundreds of videos containing her music. And she was fully within her rights to do this as they never had permission to use her songs.
Images and video are slightly less straightforward than music as there are certain situations in which you can use footage/images that aren't your own. While usually (and I recommend this) you should only use your own content, the Fair Use Act means that any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work. This means reviews, parodies, and other transformative videos can use the content without being open to copyright strikes. As a business, this also means you can't go around giving copyright strikes to every bad video review you might get.
How To Prevent Copyright Strikes
The simple answer to this question is to only use your own content in your videos. This would absolutely guarantee you would not get any Copyright Strikes. However, admittedly, sometimes using content found elsewhere is needed and in these situations, there are a few things we can do to reduce the threat of strikes.
For music, many artists will have a selection of songs that can be purchased for commercial use and some will ask for only a reference in your description stating that you got the music from them. If you cannot see these options there's no harm in contacting the musician and asking whether you can use their content. If you plan on releasing regular videos, it would definitely be worth having some brand music put together that you can put on all your videos. If you're really struggling, YouTube has a collection of free, copyright free music that you can use as much as you need.
It's rare that a business would be reviewing or parodying another product or service so it's likely that Fair Use won't affect your videos. With that in mind, using public domain images and buying stock footage should allow you to get whatever you need that you can't record yourself.
If you need additional advice about your content marketing plan, contact the JDR Group via our website or call us on 01332 343 281.