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Content Marketing With Video, Tip 7 – Avoid Copyright Problems

If you watch videos on YouTube you’ll probably notice that there are lots of uploaded videos that contain copyrighted material on the ‘Toob.  And that the ‘Toob seems to have a relaxed view on folks uploading clips with copyrighted material on it.

Here’s the thing though:

Uploading videos with copyrighted content is against the terms of service.

So if you’ve got videos that contain copyrighted content on them it’s entirely possible that at any moment your Channel could be suspended or closed down.  Ever spoken to anyone who’s been shut down by Google (either their AdSense account, or their YouTube account)?  If so, ask them how easy it was to talk to someone and get it reinstated.

If you use YouTube as part of your Content Marketing efforts, DO NOT put copyrighted material on them.  Whether it’s music, footage of TV shows or films, images.  Anything.



If you need music, there are hundreds of places where you can get royalty free tracks to use.  And the variety that’s out there is staggering.

If you need images there’s iStock photos.  Or make your own.

If you need video footage you can buy stock footage.

Seriously – your YouTube channel, if used correctly, will grow into a major business asset.   But if any of your videos have copyrighted material in them, you can theoretically be shut down.  At any time.

What To Do If You Already Have Videos Out There That Contain Copyrighted Material

I was reviewing my channel as part of the prep work for my upcoming Content Marketing With Video course – and I had to seriously look at this option.

Back when I started, I recorded about 15 videos that contained music of artists like Michael Jackson, Bob Marley and the like.

So I triaged my videos.

Those that I didn’t need on my channel and could be deleted immediately.

Those that could be deleted and replaced by an edited version without the copyrighted material  (the criteria was they had less than 5000 views).

Those that I wanted to leave on the channel due to the view count, search engine position, etc – but that needed to have the copyrighted material removed.

For the last category of videos what I had to do was this:

  1. upload edited versions of the video  to Youtubewithout the offending sections
  2. create annotations on the original version that link to the new uploaded ‘clean’ version
  3. nuke the audio by audioswapping for something from YouTube’s library. (I chose some Bach).

Here’s a screenshot of what people who find the copyrighted version of my tutorial lesson for Billie Jean looks like:















And you can see this video has had nearly 70,000 views – hence the reason I didn’t just want to delete it from the Channel.

What To Do If You Need To Upload Videos That Include Copyrighted Material

Seriously, the answer is don’t.

If you feel you absolutely have to, need to, can’t do without it for some reason then create a new channel and upload it there.  Keep your main channel clean.  That way if your secondary channel ever gets nuked by YouTube, well you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

There’s Another Reason Not To Include Copyrighted Material Though…

Actually there’s three.

Something I’m working on – and will be teaching in my upcoming course – potentially has these benefits:

  1. Makes your videos stand out and get more eyeballs – both on YouTube and on Google
  2. Makes it easier for people to click through to your website from your channel page.
  3. Gives your channel page more authority.

I’m testing these at the moment….and the early results are encouraging and positive.


Using copyrighted material – whether music, images or TV or film footage – is against YouTube’s TOS and could lead to suspension at any time.  As YouTube can be a major asset for your business, it should be a no-brainer that this is something you should actively try and

If you have to use some videos with copyrighted material in them, set up another channel.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Steven March 11, 2012, 3:24 pm

    I am doing some youtube marketing and I have found that there are specific niches where not to use copyrighted materials.
    Youtube doesn’t check any videos on their own and they check only flagged videos but most of the time they are not flagged by copyrighted material owners bu t instead your direct “competitors” on YouTube.
    I have videos in specific niches where copyrighted materials stick forever online but there are some niches where videos gets removed very fast.

    • Paul Wolfe March 17, 2012, 8:00 am


      That’s not my experience. If I upload a video which contains Copyrighted Music on it, then YouTube finds out as soon as they process the video, they have a content match filter.

      If your video contains copyrighted material then YouTube will either disable the sound, disallow the video, allow the video to go live but place ads next to it, and allow the video to go live with ads but disabled in some countries.

  • Morris @ Local SEO Services March 12, 2012, 11:28 pm

    Excellent points you made, Paul. In fact YouTube will help you identify the problems.

    When you upload, YouTube analyzes the file and will tell you the name of the song you “borrowed”.

    I also found lots of copyrighted material on YouTube when I was in Germany last year. YouTube just doesn’t play it. I felt like I was in China behind the Great FireWall.

    • Paul Wolfe March 17, 2012, 8:01 am

      Hey Morris

      Yeah – when I had some copyright matched videos on my channel the notice I got from YouTube often said that my video would be blocked in certain countries. Germany was nearly always in that list of countries.


  • Chris March 15, 2012, 9:02 am

    Great post, and good points. It looks like I need to eliminate the music in the background from a video. Is there any easy way to do this?

    • Paul Wolfe March 17, 2012, 8:03 am


      Thanks for stopping by.

      The sad news is there isn’t. Your options are:

      1) Delete the original video and re-upload an edited one.
      2) Leave the original video and hope for the best.
      3) Upload a new edit without the copyrighted music, then audioswap the track from the original and nuke the entire soundtrack, then put an annotation on the video to direct people to the new version.


  • Sonny March 16, 2012, 3:59 pm

    Was there a point you were trying to make in closing when you say, “…should actively try and…” (ending abruptly) ?

    • Paul Wolfe March 17, 2012, 8:03 am

      Ha ha – yes there was. I’ll edit that. Thanks.

  • Cheryl Pickett March 16, 2012, 5:58 pm

    Just gotta say that just because you don’t get caught using copyrighted material doesn’t make it right. As an author and writer, (and my husband is a musician) I expect adults at least to play nice. If it’s not yours to use, which is what copyright means, please respect me enough not to.

    BTW, Paul, haven’t gotten a newsletter from you in a while, not sure if you just haven’t sent or if it’s getting stuck somewhere. Just FYI.

    • Paul Wolfe March 17, 2012, 8:07 am

      Hey Cheryl

      Thanks for the comment.

      I hear ya…and in principle I agree with you. Where Youtube makes it difficult to work out is that they appear to allow it – despite what it says in the TOS. YouTube is AWASH with clips of music, TV clips, film clips, DVD clips etc etc. I mean, literally awash with the stuff.

      And I can see why some people would think it’s OK – especially as a lot of the people posting this stuff don’t have any commercial intent, they are just posting their favourite clips/tracks/songs/videos/film sections etc to share.

      But if you are using Youtube as part of your content marketing – and man, you should – then you need to ensure that your channel is squeaky clean. There are other benefits too….but that will wait for the Course I’m prepping.

      And yep, I know I’ve been quiet in the last few weeks. Combination of unusual circumstances….


  • Jeevanjacobjohn March 20, 2012, 3:01 am

    Hey Paul,

    Thanks for the tip.

    I have started working on making videos (thanks to you for all your tips and encouragement and thanks to bunch of my blogging friends who encouraged me to start making videos) and everything is going good so far. I am working with Camtasia and I do have a question: it is alright to use audio tracks that come with the software, right? (Got those tracks along with the license so they must be royalty free, right?).

    • Paul Wolfe March 22, 2012, 8:37 am

      The tracks that come with Camtasia should be royalty free.

      If you’re not sure – or if the tracks don’t do what you want them to do – there are literally millions of royalty free tracks available. Just type royalty free music into google and you’ll find a bunch.

      If you make lots of video then you may want to consider a tool called Sonicfire Pro. It’s a very interesting piece of software for video makers who aren’t musicians.

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