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YouTube and music copyright info

What's going on with ads on YouTube videos caused by "copyrighted" music?


YouTube have created a database of fingerprinted music; i.e. music that YouTube's system "recognizes" by analyzing the audio in an uploaded video and automatically matching that audio against their database of registered, copyrighted tracks. If a match is found, YouTube automatically places a "copyright notice" or "third party ownership" notice on your video ("Your video may include content that is owned or administered by these parties:"), and in most cases, places advertising on that video. Some of the money generated by that advertising is paid out to the music copyright holder (i.e. the publishing company that owns the music).

Our music is generally not fingerprinted by YouTube

Unlike most royalty-free music / stock music sites, do not practice "music fingerprinting". We do not submit our music to any Content ID fingerprinting database, we do not receive any advertising income from YouTube, and our music should not cause "copyright notices" by YouTube. This is one of the main reasons many people prefer over any other stock music library, when it comes to licensing music for YouTube videos.

Still received "copyright notice" on music licensed from us?

Even though we do not practice Content ID / music fingerprinting, we cannot always control 100% what happens to all the music that we have on our site. Only about half of the music that we have on our site is actually owned and completely controlled by us. The other half of our music is simply being distributed through our site. These tracks are owned by the individual composers/musicians who sent the music to us. We sell their tracks and pay them half of the profits. These musicians often have the same music sold via other music sites as well, such as their own band site - and some of those sites may submit the music into a Content ID / fingerprinting database.

We constantly remind our composers that we do not wish to sell tracks that are in any YouTube content ID / fingerprinting database, but even so, there may be stragglers. We have often asked musicians to have their music removed from Content ID / fingerprinting, and on a couple of occasions we've had to stop selling some music tracks because they would repeatedly cause "copyright notices" at YouTube. Not because the music was fingerprinted by us, but because the composer is selling the same track through another service, and they fingerprinted this composer's tracks.

If you should encounter the "copyright notice" on a track purchased from our site, it's important to remember that you're not in any kind of trouble. The music that you have licensed through our site is 100% legally licensed to you, and your video will not be removed or blocked in any way. You are not being suspected of copyright infringement or anything like that. YouTube are simply informing you that YouTube's completely automated system found a match for that music track in their systems. If you encounter this with music licensed through our site, we would appreciate it if you could let us know, so that we can discuss it with the composer. Please send us the URL of your video, the track title and composer of the music track used in the video, and the name of the company that is claiming "ownership or administration" of that music. Thanks.

Classical music copyright notices

With classical music recordings, the situation is somewhat messy. The thing with classical music is that the actual composition is in the public domain (it belongs to no one and everyone), but who ever actually makes their own recording and arrangement of a piece of classical music automatically owns the copyright to that recording. We have the rights to our version of Chopin's Nocturne. But another company may have made their own version of the same composition, and they may have put that recording into the YouTube audio recognition system. And that fully automated system often cannot tell the difference between one version/recording and another!

If you received a "copyright info" message when using classical music that you licensed from us, most likely some company, somewhere, has made their version of the same composition, and they own the rights to that recording. They don't own the rights to the version that we sell, but YouTube's automated systems cannot tell the two versions apart from each other, and the track that you licensed from us is wrongly being matched to a recording of the same classical composition made by somebody else.

It's a real mess up there at YouTube with classical music, and in some cases, several big music publishing companies are claiming the rights to the same piece of music, even though that recording doesn't even belong to any of them. This thread over at Google Groups illustrates some of the problems people are having with companies claiming rights to public domain and classical compositions that they don't own the rights to.

There's not really much we can do about this, other than to recommend you use the "Dispute" feature and, if necessary, provide the license documentation that you got from our site when you made your purchase. You may explain during the dispute submission process that this is a case of mistaken identity and that this version so-and-so composition is a recording that is licensed to you via and it is not the same recording as (what ever company is claiming the rights to it). With a bit of luck, this process will lead to the claim being removed from your video.

If you are serious about not having advertising on your video, don't use YouTube

It amazes us when somebody uses YouTube for professional presentation videos, on which they absolutely do not want any advertising to appear. Remember that YouTube is a free service for anybody and if you read the small-print before you upload videos to YouTube, you will notice that by uploading video to YouTube, you are basically giving YouTube total ownership of your video, and they can do whatever they want with it. So if you're a famous hotel chain who's made a wonderful video about your hotels, you really should not use YouTube to host that video, because YouTube can, and will, place an advert for a competing hotel chain right on your video. If it's important to you that no advertising appears on your video, don't use YouTube! Host the video on your own web server instead.

About the author: Bjorn Lynne constantly finds himself inspired by new sounds and new directions in music and sound design. He started composing music on his Amiga computer around 1990 and from then on has gone on to produce more than 20 music albums, worked for 10 years as an Audio Manager in a video games development company, started his own business Lynne Publishing, (which owns and runs, scored music for film and TV, and produced a large amount of Stock Music and Sound Effects for the library. He lives with his wife and his daughter in an idyllic seaside town in Norway.

Other articles you may find useful:

Shockwave-Sound's website and offers:

Choosing music and using stock music libraries:

Composing and producing music:

Sound effects, Sound recording, Sound design:

Voiceover, voice recording, dubbing:

Music for movies and TV shows:

Music for video games:

Other / Technical issues and various.:

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