YouTube Content ID: How It Works

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11 Min




15 Jun 2021

YouTube Content ID: How It Works

A detailed guide on YouTube’s Content ID: how it works, the benefits, and the flaws.

What is Content ID

Content ID is a uniquely designed system for everyone who desires to protect their creative work on YouTube. The tool exceeded all other copyright protective systems by enabling copyright owners to earn from unauthorized uploads of their content. We know you have questions, so let’s get into the complexity of this tool and help you figure out how to make it work to your advantage.

How Content ID Works

Content ID works by scanning videos uploaded to YouTube against a database of files submitted to the platform by copyright owners. When the system identifies a match between uploaded content on YouTube and a copyright-protected work, the video receives a Content ID claim. The tool works in line with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and in turn, is supported and protected by it.

When dealing with unauthorized uploads, copyright owners can choose between options:

  1. To simply block them.
  2. To monetize them by running ads on the video.
  3. To track the video’s statistics.

The tool allows you to apply options to specific geographic areas. For example, you can monetize a video in one country and block or track in another.

Who Can Use Content ID

To use the Content ID tool, creators have to match specific criteria. Content owners have to provide exclusive rights to the materials. Content ID will then match your content against the YouTube database.

Because of strict YouTube policies for Content ID eligibility, you will need the assistance of your YouTube partnering company to receive access to the tool. YouTube does not grant access to individual content owners.

How Content ID Works on Live Streams

Content ID scans all live streams for copies of third-party content. But, unlike cases where a match of regular videos is found, the tool does not allow tracking or monetization on copies of your live streams and Content ID settings can’t be changed after the stream is created.

How Content ID Deals With Streams That Use Third-Party Content

  • Once the match is identified, a violator will receive a warning. 
  • If they ignore it, the system will replace their stream with a static image and no sound.
  • Finally, if the matching continues, the stream will be terminated and the streamer may lose access to live features.

Note that the policies do not apply to the authorized channels you specify in your allowlist.

Eligibility Criteria

To receive access to Content ID matching on live streams, you have to prove that:

  • You have an issue-free history of operating the system.
  • Your live content is time-sensitive. For example, you’re streaming an event.
  • There’s a high chance that other users will use your content in their streams.

You can find out more about how Content ID works on live streams here

Content ID Claim

If the system identifies that your video matches copyrighted content, you will receive a Content ID claim. In this case, you will receive an email from YouTube. To learn more about the claim on your video, sign in to YouTube Studio and follow instructions here.

What to Do If You Receive a Content ID Claim

What to Do If You Receive a Content ID Claim

If you received a Content ID claim, don’t panic. The claims usually don’t lead to suspension or termination of your channel but give the rightsholder a chance to track or monetize the video. There are several options for you to follow regarding a Content ID notice:

  1. If you agree with the claim, you can simply do nothing or take your time and decide what to do later.
  2. If you participate in the YouTube Partner Program, there’s a chance you can share revenue from eligible cover song videos.
  3. Another option is to either remove the claimed segment or song or replace or mute the claimed audio.
  4. And finally, you can dispute the claim if you think the system made a mistake. When deciding whether to dispute the claim or not, remember that if you’re not the rightful content owner your video can get a copyright strike. In other words, it will be removed.

Disputing a Content ID Claim

If you’re confident that the Content ID claim on your video is invalid, you can file a dispute. From this moment the other party has 30 days to respond.

What to expect from the other party in the dispute. There are 4 ways they can choose to act:

  1. Release the claim. They can choose to release the claim if they agree with your dispute. In this case, your monetization will be restored automatically.
  2. Reinstate the claim. If they disagree with the final decision, they can choose to reinstate the claim. If you’re confident about your dispute, you can appeal their decision.
  3. Remove your video. They can request your video to be removed and in this case, you will get a copyright strike which is a more serious issue that you should never neglect. 
  4. Do nothing about the claim. If they choose not to act on the claim, it will automatically expire in 30 days.

One of the things that may concern you the most during the dispute process is whether you can still earn on your disputed videos. The good news is that your video can still earn revenue while you’re disputing the claim but only on one condition: both you and the claimant must choose to monetize the disputed video. You can find detailed info on how revenue is handled during Content ID disputes here.

What is Fair Use

As YouTube stated, ’Fair Use is a U.S. law that allows the reuse of copyright-protected material under certain circumstances without getting permission from the copyright owner.’

However, it’s hard to know for sure under what circumstances creators can reuse the material and the rules of the law are quite elusive. But there are some basic rules to follow. Using small portions of copyrighted materials for nonprofit educational purposes or to convey your own idea may be considered ‘fair use’. Using other people’s work for commercial purposes is an example of ‘unfair use’.

YouTube recommends approaching ‘fair use’ carefully and seeking legal advice as policies vary in different countries.

To make things easier for creators and stay on the safe side, the platform created the YouTube Audio Library with free high-quality music and sound effects.

How to Get Music Into Content ID

You add music the same way you get your videos into the system: you first need to obtain access to the tool. As we mentioned above, you will need the assistance of your partnering company to make changes to your content if necessary and to apply for access.

Content That Does Not Qualify For Content ID

If you’re considering applying for Content ID, it will be helpful to know the type of content that does not stand a chance based on the platform criteria. YouTube has provided examples of content you won’t be able to obtain exclusive rights to:

  • compilations and remixes
  • video gameplay, software visuals, trailers
  • unlicensed music and video (which means that the content owner did not permit its use)
  • licensed music or video, but without exclusivity
  • recordings of performances

Content Ineligible for Content ID

Content ID is a unique and powerful tool that allows creators to not only protect their content but also earn from unauthorized uploads. Despite how efficient it all seems, the platform does not provide an easy and straightforward explanation of how an individual creator can obtain access to the system. Creators have to apply through their YouTube partnering companies to gain access. Besides this, YouTube’s requirements for applicants are strict, and violating Content ID policies and challenging the system might lead to serious consequences, from disabling access to the tool to terminating your YouTube partnership. 

For over 7 years we at AIR Creator Ecosystem have been helping creators use this tool to their max advantage and to enjoy the benefits of Content ID in a stress-free manner. We’re here to answer any of your questions and happy to take care of protecting your content, maximizing your earnings, and allowing you to simply create your vision.