What Are YouTube Copyright Strikes and What Can You Do About Them?
As part of its system for protecting users' intellectual property, YouTube employs a strike-based system, lowering an account's standing and reducing that user's ability to monetize videos and access certain features, eventually suspending the account altogether. So how exactly does this strike system work, and what can one do to avoid accidentally incurring these penalties?
Guest post by Otavia Galileu of The Orchard's The Daily Rind
Copyright is serious business. As with any platform hosting user-generated content, YouTube provides content owners with a few tools to protect their intellectual property. One such tool is the ability to file a Copyright Takedown, allowing owners to remove content that is in violation of their copyright. To prevent a recurrence, YouTube also applies a strike to the account which hosted the removed content, effectively lowering their account standing and limiting their ability to not only monetize their videos but also take part in certain features available to other users (Live Streams, for instance). At 3 strikes an account is also terminated, fully removing the channel and all of its videos from the platform.
I’ve received a copyright claim on one of my videos from a content owner. Does my account now have a strike?
It is easy to confuse copyright claims with copyright strikes – while a claim can lead to strikes in certain situations, receiving a claim does not mean your account has received a strike. A claim is a link between your video and the asset (Sound Recording, Music Video, Film, Video Game, etc) which appears in the video. It allows for content owners to monetize, track, block, or take down your video when it contains their copyrighted content. Quite often claims are made automatically by YouTube’s Content Identification System and do not incur a strike on your account (even when your video is blocked). For more on claims, please check out this article on The Daily Rind.
How do I know for sure whether I have received a copyright strike?
When you log in to your account, navigate to “Videos” in your dashboard. This is a list of all of your videos, which you can filter to show any which have copyright claims or takedowns. When a video is taken down it will have this icon on the right side, above a notice stating either “Video taken down” or “Includes copyrighted content.” You can click on that notice to view additional details, such as which content was detected in your video, the name and contact information of the content owner who took down your video, whether a strike is applied due to the takedown when the strike will expire, and whether you may file a counter-notification. YouTube will also notify you via email as soon as your account has received a strike, so it is important to ensure that your account information is up-to-date. Regularly checking your email account for updates from YouTube is a safe way to stay updated on possible issues with your channel.
When your account has received a strike, you can see how it has affected your standing with YouTube. To view your account standing, navigate to your dashboard and find “Other features,” then click on “Status and features.” This page will show both your Copyright Status and your Community Guidelines Status. Note that Community Guidelines violations do cause strikes, but these are different from strikes received due to copyright violations. For more on recent changes to YouTube’s Community Guidelines, check out this article on The Daily Rind.
What can I do to prevent copyright strikes?
The only sure-fire way to prevent copyright strikes is to ensure that you either have documented clearance or licenses to post specific copyrighted content on your channel, or that you fully own all content that is posted to your channel. Any content that is owned by a third-party is subject to copyright takedowns, including (but not limited to): the music used in your video, the visuals (including still images), the composition (even when a song is covered by another artist), or any other form of media showcased in the video.
What are the consequences of receiving a strike on my channel?
The primary and immediate consequence of receiving a strike is your channel’s ability to participate in certain YouTube initiatives, or use some features: You may not use YouTube’s Spaces available to some creators, participate in Live Streams, and in some instances you may lose the ability to monetize content on your channel. Additionally, if your channel has received three strikes or more, YouTube will give you seven days to resolve those strikes or your channel and account will be terminated.
For channels which are partnered under a Multi-Channel Network, such as The Orchard’s, the network itself may also suffer consequences associated with your strikes. They can affect not only your channel, but others partnered under the network as well. Ensuring that your channel is strike-free is paramount in making sure that it remains in the network. If strikes aren’t taken seriously and promptly resolved, they may jeopardize The Orchard’s ability to keep your channel partnered under its network.
So I have received a strike. How can I resolve it?
Note first that no part of this article should be interpreted as legal advice, and if any aspects of the process of resolving a strike require such advice, please contact an accredited attorney to assist you. The very first step in resolving a strike is to complete Copyright School. This step is mandatory, and YouTube will require that you complete it before being allowed to contest a strike, or even know when that strike will expire.
To resolve a strike you must first consider why it has occurred, and know with certainty what your rights are, as laid out below:
- You or your organization are sure that one of the following is true: A) You have a license or documented clearance to use the content as it was used in your video; B)You fully own all aspects of any work featured in your video; C) The copyrighted material featured in the video was used in such a way that would strictly meet fair use criteria; D) The work is no longer copyright-protected (is in the Public Domain); E) The copyrighted work was incorrectly identified and has not been used in your video.
- You have used copyrighted material, your use does not meet fair use criteria, and you do not have ownership or a documented license to use the work in question.
In example 1, YouTube provides a way for you to contest the takedown, called a Counter-Notification. You can file a Counter-Notification by either emailing the required information to YouTube, or issuing it via the copyright notices page associated with the video in your channel’s Video Manager. When filing a Counter-Notification, YouTube will first review your application, making sure your case meets the criteria for eligibility to use this feature, and will then forward your notification to the claimant who took down your video. The claimant will, in turn, have 10 business days to respond with proof they have initiated legal proceedings against you (if they maintain they do have rights to the content), otherwise, the video will be reinstated and the strike retracted. For more on Counter-Notifications, please check out YouTube’s resources here.
Example 2 signifies cases where the strike is valid, and so counter-notifications cannot be used. In order to resolve, you have to contact the claimant who issued the takedown for your video and ask whether they can retract the takedown. Strikes also expire in 90 days – but if additional strikes are received in that period, your channel can be at risk of termination.
Please be advised that if your channel is in The Orchard’s network, situations in which valid strikes have been issued against you will lead into a review of the rest of the content posted on your channel, and multiple copyright violations will result in your channel being disconnected from the network.
A copyright strike is a serious infringement notification and is designed to penalize any misuse of protected content. As such, as a channel owner or manager, you must be aware of them and ensure that content posted to the channel is fully owned or licensed. Understanding of copyright regulations and YouTube’s system for copyright protection is a great first step in ensuring that your channel is complying with these rules, and is fully protected from receiving valid Copyright Strikes.