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YouTube music use, music fingerprinting and advertising on YouTube videos

YouTube music use, music fingerprinting and advertising on YouTube videos

Hello all,

We’re being asked a lot of questions about YouTube music use, YouTube’s “music recognition” system and how it relates to the use of licensed music, royalty free music, and “YouTube friendly music”, so I decided to write a few words about this somewhat complex issue.

YouTube have developed a system in which they have recorded “fingerprints” of hundreds of thousands of music tracks. They have a database of all these “music fingerprints”, and every time somebody uploads a video to YouTube they automatically match the sound in that video up against their database of fingerprinted music. If a match is found, the YouTube uploader (video creator) receives a “Copyright info” message from YouTube:

Dear (your name),

Your video, (name of video), may have content that is owned or licensed by GoDigital for a third party.

No action is required on your part; however, if you’re interested in learning how this affects your video, please visit the Content ID Matches section of your account for more information.

– The YouTube Team

What usually happens next is that advertisements are placed on your video. YouTube’s owners, Google, collect money from the advertisers, and some of this advertising revenue is paid out to the music owners.

The theory is that some of that advertising money should eventually trickle down to the music composers but, to be fair, we have never heard of any composer who has ever actually received any money from such use. The money seems to go to GoDigital and their clients, but never to the composers.

Lately some sites have started selling “YouTube friendly music” licenses for a very cheap price like $1.99 for non-commercial use only. This is music that is fingerprinted by YouTube, and using that music will get you one of the above emails, and advertisements will appear on your video. The YouTube-friendly music site collects additional revenue from these advertisements. So the $1.99 that you pay for the license is really only the beginning of the revenue for the site that sold you the music license. Their real revenue comes from monetizing your video, by collecting advertising revenue from the ads that are placed on your video as a result of using their music.

Here at, we do not sell music that is fingerprinted by YouTube or their partners such as GoDigital, RumbleFish, AudioMicro, etc. We stay away from any such music, because we don’t want our music to cause advertisements to be placed on our customer’s videos. Another major difference between us and the $1.99 place is that we also allow our music to be used for commercial purposes and commercial videos. The “Youtube-friendly music” places only allow the music to be used in one non-commercial video.

Of course, we can’t guarantee that YouTube won’t place advertising on your video. You should keep in mind that when you upload a video to YouTube, you are using their free services on their terms entirely. You have to accept that YouTube/Google owns the video that you have uploaded to them, and they can do anything they want with your video, any time they want. They can advertise on it, sell it, distribute it as they see fit, etc, without paying you anything. So please understand that using music from is not a guarantee that YouTube will never place advertisements on your video. All we can guarantee is that our music will not cause advertising to appear on your video, and that we do not further monetize our music by collecting advertising revenue from your video, like those cheap places do.

There have been a few exceptional cases where music that we sell has made its way into GoDigital’s / YouTube’s music fingerprinting database by mistake. If this should happen to you, please let us know about it. We will see to it that this mistake is corrected and that the copyright claim is removed from the music that you have licensed from us.

GoDigital Media Group music ownership claims

Last fall around October/November, we here at started to receive emails from worried customers who had licensed music from our site, used the music in YouTube videos, and received notifications from YouTube stating that the music “contains music owned by GoDigital Media Group”.

We were unprepared for this and very much puzzled, because this was music actually owned by our own company, Lynne Publishing, and some of it composed by manager Bjorn Lynne, personally.

After a bit to and from, it turned out that this situation was set in motion by a stock music distributor called Audiosparx having set up a “Ad Sharing Program”, in which composers were supposed to receive micro payments from YouTube after YouTube had put advertising on vidoes that contained this music, and that this program by default included all music that was listed at AudioSparx.

Audiosparx has submitted 15,000 music tracks to GoDigital and GoDigital are using “fingerprinting” recognition on music playing on YouTube. When a match is found, YouTube sends out a notice to the video uploader claiming that the video contains music “owned by GoDigital” (although the wording has lately been tweaked to “owned or licensed by..”). YouTube puts advertisements on the video, and pays money to GoDigital Media Group — all of which is happening without the permissions of the composers or publishers who actually own the music.

AudioSparx, to their credit, when they found out the kind of serious problem this setup was causing, they pulled the plug on the whole program, apologized, and withdrew from the deal with GoDigital. This happened in early January, but, unfortunately, as of February 12, the problem has not been solved. GoDigital are currently monetizing royalty-free music without permission from the composers or publishers. Apparently there is some technical problem with getting the music removed from their databases, and this has been their line since January.

We here at would like to apologize to any customer who has legally licensed music from us, only to receive disturbing copyright dispute emails from YouTube. Let me assure you that all music licensed through is 100% legally licensed to you and that GoDigital Media Group have no genuine rights to claim any ownership over the music.

On a personal note, I have to say that it’s disturbing for me to actually compose and produce a piece of music myself, play all the instruments myself, mix and record everything, publish the music through my own company…. only to be told that some company I had never even heard of is claiming ownership over the music and making money on it — and at the same time sending disturbing copyright messages to my customers who licensed the music from my own site. And all the while, without a penny coming my way.

We will keep asking GoDigital Media Group to stay off our music, and we hope that the problem will clear up very soon. We apologize for any inconvenience or confusion caused to our customers.