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3 Ways You’re Probably Breaking the YouTube Fair Use Policy

Most YouTubers are familiar with copyright strikes, and know how seriously the platform takes copyright infringement. However, many people fail to identify the ways in which their own videos are breaking the YouTube fair use policy every day 😨.


YouTube Fair Use Policy

Understanding the intricacies of YouTube’s fair use policy is an important part of using the platform, as three copyright strikes on YouTube result in account termination. 

In other words, if YouTube deems three of your videos as violating their policy, your career as a content creator is virtually over.

However, before exploring the most common ways YouTubers break the fair use policy, we must first identify the meaning of “fair use”.

The fair use doctrine outlines certain instances in which the use of copyrighted material is permitted. More specifically, the law says the following circumstances may qualify as fair use: 

✔️  Utilizing copyrighted material to educate for noncommercial reasons

✔️ Including factual work such as newspaper 📰 articles, as opposed to creative arts

✔️ Using very little of the copyrighted material

✔️ Utilizing material in such a way that does NOT 🙅‍♂️ negatively affect the original work, such as with lost sales.

While these guidelines may seem self-explanatory, a shocking number of YouTubers break the fair use law every day!

In fact, if you consistently post videos to the platform, chances are you’re breaking the YouTube fair use policy in at least one of these three common ways:

❌ Failing to transform the original work 

The surest way to abide by the doctrine of fair use is to transform the original copyrighted material to make it your own.

Common strategies for modifying original work include remixes 🎙️, mashups, commentary, and critique 💬. For example, live gameplay videos that feature original sounds, music, and video from a game without commentary by the player are in violation of copyright law.

On the other hand, changing the intent of a movie scene by adding it to your video as a “reaction” would qualify as fair use. 

In order to ensure you’re following the YouTube fair use policy, always ask yourself: “What was the original intent of this piece of art, and how am I changing that intent now?” 🤔

❌ Tagging a creator or using a disclaimer as copyright

Unfortunately, and contrary to popular belief, tagging the creator of copyrighted material in a video does not qualify as copyright. 

Furthermore, using disclaimers such as “I do not own the rights to any music in this video” also does not exempt you from copyright strikes. 

The safest and most surefire way to avoid copyright strikes and losing your YouTube channel is by transforming 🌀 the material you’re using so it serves a completely new purpose.

In order to include hit music in your YouTube videos, use a website like SongFreedom to purchase the rights to songs your viewers love to hear. 

Otherwise, you can find a plethora of royalty free music and art on sites like YouTube’s Audio Library and Pexels. The artists who post their work here have already legally granted you permission to use it – so you can avoid worrying about fair use!

❌ Using too much content

Sometimes, something as simple as the amount of content you use could be the main cause of a copyright strike.

In fact, I usually discourage my clients from using more than three seconds ⏱️ of copyrighted content in their videos. 

Therefore, if you’re including an entire song in the background or posting a gameplay video with no critique or educational voiceover, you’re most definitely breaking the YouTube fair use policy.

If you simply can’t get your point across in one to three seconds, proceed with caution and use up to 30 seconds ⌛ of the material in your video.

Overall, if you’re regularly using YouTube and don’t want to lose your channel, you should familiarize yourself with the YouTube fair use policy

Avoid making the same mistakes as other YouTubers, and set yourself apart by avoiding stress over copyright strikes and legal penalties 💰.