If you want to create content on YouTube and you want to use music, you NEED to know about the laws surrounding copyrighted music – here’s everything you need to know…

With the popularity of YouTube, it’s no surprise that people are using copyrighted music in their videos without permission. YouTube is a video-sharing website where users can upload, share, and view videos.

Since its creation, YouTube has been a target for copyright infringement. Copyright owners have expressed concerns that their content is being used without permission on the site and have filed lawsuits against YouTube and its owners.

Let’s learn about YouTube copyright laws along with the DO’s and DON’Ts of using music in your YouTube videos.

What is YouTube Copyright?

Copyrighted Music on YouTubePin

YouTube’s copyright is a complex topic that can confuse creators and viewers. In general, copyright applies to videos as to any other type of content, and owners have the exclusive right to control how their work is used.

YouTube says that creators should only upload videos they have made or that they have permission to use. That means it’s against their policy to upload videos with music tracks that someone else owns the copyright to, snippets of copyrighted programmes, and snippets from videos made by other users without necessary authorisations.

There are a few key things to remember regarding copyright on YouTube: first, you must have the right to use any copyrighted material in your videos, including music, clips from TV shows or movies, and any other content you incorporate into your videos.

Second, you should always give credit to the original creators whenever you use their work. This helps to ensure they get the credit they deserve and protects you if someone accuses you of copyright infringement.

Finally, it’s important to be aware of YouTube’s copyright policies. There are several things you can’t do on YouTube, such as using someone else’s copyrighted work without permission or uploading videos protected by copyright.

What Music Can You Use in YouTube Videos?

Most commercial music online is protected by copyright which implies that it has a legal owner who might or might not be the creator/composer. So, when content creators need background music for their YouTube videos, they need to understand the intricacies of copyrighted music.

Here are some examples of types of copyrighted music on YouTube that can be used legally:

1. Creative Commons Licensed Music

Several music composers have made their work available on YouTube under the Creative Commons license. Everyone is free to utilise Creative Commons music. However, you may use the music exclusively in videos that are NOT monetised or be required to acknowledge the creator depending on licensing terms. Additionally, it may not be the best solution if you intend to monetise your videos.

2. Licensed Music

You can use licensed music on YouTube if you have definite authorisation or a permit from the copyright holder. But how would you go about obtaining a license for licensed music? Here are several possibilities:

You can either write to your favourite musician and seek their permission. Alternatively, you will have to contact their managers if the content is protected under corporate labels. Usually, there are better choices than that for a YouTuber on a budget.

Ask if you can use royalty-free music in your videos and artwork. This is the best choice if you want to monetise your videos.

3. Ad-Supported Music

Some publishing and record labels have agreed to an arrangement with YouTube that allows artists to contribute their music to place ads in YouTube videos.

If you are okay with the advertisements, this could be a great way to include excellent, high-quality music in your videos. But your videos won’t be able to make money.

Now that we’re through with discussing copyrighted music on YouTube, let’s get down to the dos and don’ts.

Consequences of Violating YouTube Copyright?

To protect copyright holders and deter copyright infringement, YouTube has implemented several copyright policies and procedures:

  1. Copyright owners can submit a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) complaint to YouTube if they believe their content is being used without permission.
  2. If YouTube determines that the content is infringing, it will remove the content from the site and may also terminate the user’s account. If a user receives three copyright strikes within a 90-day period, their account and any associated channels will be terminated.
  3. However, such users can request a retraction or submit a counter-notification against the copyright claim with YouTube.
  4. Copyright infringement can also result in civil and criminal penalties. Civil penalties can include monetary damages and a court order to stop the infringing activity. Criminal penalties can include jail time and fines.

Copyrighted Music on YouTube: DO’s & DON’Ts

A) Do research to make sure you are using copyrighted music legally.

When using copyrighted music in your videos, it is important to do your research to make sure you are using it legally. Several online resources can help you determine what is and is not allowed, and there are also several licensing options available for those who need them.

If you are unsure whether a particular song is copyrighted, it is always best to err on the side of caution and find a different song to use. This will help ensure that you don’t run into any legal trouble down the road.

B) Do get permission from the copyright holder before using their music.

Before using someone else’s music in your project, you should do a few things. First, make sure you have permission from the copyright holder. They may permit you to use the music for free, or they may charge a fee. Finally, make sure you credit the copyright holder in your project.

C) Do use creative commons music whenever possible.

Whenever possible, you can also find creative commons music for your videos. There are a ton of great songs and artists that allow their music to be used for free. Plus, using creative commons music helps support the artist.

D) Don’t assume that just because a song is in the public domain, you can use it without permission.

Just because a song is in the public domain, don’t assume you can use it without permission. Many publishers and artists still hold the copyright to songs that are technically in the public domain, and they can sue you if you use their song without permission. Always check with the copyright holder before using a song, even if you think it’s in the public domain.

E) Don’t claim the music in your videos as your own.

When you post a video online, you should always credit the artist who created the music you used in your video. Don’t claim the music as your own – you could get in legal trouble if you do. Instead, credit the artist in the video itself and in the video’s description. This way, your viewers will know whom to thank for the great music in your video!


Many copyright laws apply to YouTube videos, so it’s important to be aware of what you can and can’t do when using music in your videos.

You are usually permitted to use copyrighted music in your videos as long as you do not monetize them and obtain the original creator’s permission. But, it’s always the best to use royalty-free music in your YouTube videos to ensure your account doesn’t fall under copyright issues.

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