How to Avoid Copyright Strikes on YouTube With Creative Commons

Copyright strikes on YouTube – and any other social media platform – can be detrimental to your brand. While one copyright flag 🚩 may yield smaller consequences, such as a video takedown, three strikes automatically means the end of your channel and YouTube career!

As a result, many YouTubers ask how they can use copyrighted material in their videos without getting flagged for it. 

Luckily, there are several ways to do this. For example, many influencers utilize the doctrine of fair use or request 🙏 permission from artists to feature their work on social media.

That being said, one of the most popular – and FREE! – ways to legally use copyrighted songs, sound effects, and videos on your YouTube channel is with Creative Commons.

Creative Commons is a Californian nonprofit that helps artists share their work while simultaneously helping other artists use original content without ⛔ getting sued for copyright infringement. 


In order to provide creators with the rights to use certain content, Creative Commons’ lawyers created seven different types of licenses for the artists to choose from. 

Therefore, anyone navigating the website and searching for content will find a symbol representing one of the following licenses associated with each individual piece of art:

✔️ Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) – Allows creators to share content in any format and on any website, as well as remix, change, or add to the material for ANY purpose. There is also an attribution requirement.

✔️ Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) – Allows for the same uses as CC BY 4.0, but also requires identical attribution for any remixes or modified versions.

✔️ Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) – Allows creators to share and modify content for non-commercial purposes with required attribution.

✔️ Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) – Allows for the same uses as CC BY-NC 4.0, but also requires identical attribution for any remixes or modified versions.

✔️ Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0) – Allows creators to share the content in any format and on any website, but does NOT allow for remix or modification. Appropriate attribution is required.

✔️ Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) – Allows creators to share the content for non-commercial purposes, but does NOT allow for remix or modification. Appropriate attribution is required.

✔️ CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication – This deed indicates that the original creator has sacrificed all copyrights for use and remix of their content, including for commercial purposes. In other words, they give up ALL rights to the content and use is unmoderated.


Many artists choose to use Creative Commons licenses for all different types of art, including video, music 🎶, writing, and photos. However, there are specific ways to find different forms of art with these licenses. 

For example, when you browse the Creative Commons website, you can search from over 300 million images. Also, you can filter results by the type of license, subject, source, file type, and size.

Next, for those in need of royalty free music, there are several music publishers that release songs with Creative Commons licenses. For example, you can browse the ccMixter 🎤 website for remixes, samples, and more.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for royalty free videos, perhaps for reaction content, you can actually find Creative Commons videos right on YouTube! 

Simply enter in the search 🔎 bar the name of a person or topic you want to feature followed by a comma and “Creative Commons”, with no spaces between the commas.

Haven’t found what you’re looking for? Check out the Creative Commons content directory here.


Once you’ve found the content you’d like to use and understand the license you’re acquiring, be sure to do a quick Google search to confirm the art actually is part of Creative Commons. 

Unfortunately, some people have been known to falsely claim to own Creative Commons rights, making your use illegal 👎. That being said, searching online to confirm the creator’s identity is an easy way to ensure you’re not violating any copyright laws by using the material you’ve found.

After this confirmation, you must simply use the content as its license allows!

For example, all Creative Commons licenses, with the exception of the CC0 1.0, require attribution ✅ of the original artist. Put simply, attribution usually requires listing the title, creator, source, and license type, but you can find more specific information on the Creative Commons website.

Plus, remember that remixing or modifying the content in any way may require additional attribution.


Generally speaking, Creative Commons licenses are a great way to avoid copyright strikes on YouTube. That being said, as with most uses of copyrighted material, there is always a risk.

For example, if you use a license that allows for commercial use of the content, there is always a chance the original creator could come back claiming 🗯️ their material was only designated for non-commercial uses. 

Luckily, while these risks do exist, most people will not have a problem with Creative Commons licenses. Therefore, I always recommend my clients feel free to use Creative Commons licenses, but to simply do so with caution 💁‍♂️.