How To Monetize YouTube Videos With Copyright Music

Vukasin Ilic 7 min read
How To Monetize YouTube Videos With Copyright Music

Every YouTuber's worst nightmare is being served with a copyright claim or strike for a video they worked so hard on.

You should know that if there is one thing YouTube takes very seriously, it is the issue of copyright infringement.

Picture this. Just as authors have copyright laws to protect their published works, so do content owners of music, TV or music videos, and other copyrighted media.

These content owners, a.k.a. copyright holders, have complete control over their copyrighted material on YouTube.

So while you may have seen YouTube Shorts videos featuring popular mainstream music, not all music is free to use.

That is why, as a creator, you should be cautious about the music you use in your videos to avoid receiving copyright claims or strikes.

The good news is that in today's guide, you'll learn all about how to monetize your videos on YouTube and how to do so with copyrighted music.

Let's jump right in!

What Does Copyrighting Have To Do With Monetizing YouTube Videos?

Short answer: almost everything.

To be able to monetize your videos as a YouTube content creator, you must first understand and follow YouTube's monetization policies, which cover the issue of copyright and how it works on YouTube.

Many creators skip this step, believing that once they have a large enough audience, they will automatically be able to start earning money from their videos.

News flash: It doesn't work that way. In reality, how well you follow these policies determines whether or not your channel will be suitable for monetization.

And so, in a situation where you use copyrighted content without permission from the copyright owner, YouTube flags this as copyright infringement.

As a result, you will either receive a copyright claim or a copyright strike, neither of which is desirable.

Naturally, receiving a copyright claim or strike on a particular video can affect your ability to monetize that video, with a copyright strike being the more severe of the two.

Then again, if you think you're free to use someone else's content as you like simply because your channel isn't monetized, we suggest you think again.

Even non-monetized channels receive copyright claims and strikes. So yes, it is fair game. It only takes one video with copyrighted content.

How Can I Qualify For Monetization On Youtube?

Not everyone who starts a YouTube channel does so to earn money from it.

While some start for fun and decide to monetize it along the way, others start with the intention of monetizing their channel.

However, contrary to popular belief, not all YouTube channels are monetized. The creator of a channel does not make money simply because it has thousands of views and subscribers.

Instead, they make money on YouTube by applying for and getting accepted into the YouTube Partner Program (YPP)

Now is an excellent time to start if you aren't already making money on your channel as a YouTube content creator.

You, too, can jump on the monetization train by first meeting the requirements for the YouTube Partner Program.

These requirements are set to ensure the YouTube teams have enough information to review your channel and make informed decisions on your eligibility.

Let's take a look at the requirements:

  1. Get at least 1000 subscribers with 4000+ valid watch hours within a period of 12 months.
  2. Get at least 1000 subscribers with 10 million valid public views on your Shorts in the last 90 days.
  3. Be in good standing with YouTube, which includes adhering to the channel monetization policies and not having any community guidelines strikes on your channel.
  4. Reside in a country or region where the YouTube Partner Program is available.
  5. Have an active Adsense account that you'll link to your channel. This step is necessary as it is required for all creators who wish to earn money and get paid for their YouTube channel. You can easily open an Adsense account from YouTube Studio if you don't already have one.

Once you've completed all these steps, your channel will be checked against YouTube's policies and guidelines.

This process usually takes around a month. In cases where it takes longer, it could be due to application, resource, or system issues.

To keep track of your progress and application status, check back in the "Earn" section of your YouTube Studio.

If everything checks out, you will be accepted into YPP and be able to start earning money from ads and from YouTube Premium subscribers who watch your content.

Not to sound like a buzzkill, but not all applications are successful.

If your application is rejected, don’t sweat it. You can always continue to create original content and build your audience, knowing that you will be able to reapply after 30 days.

How Can You Tell If Music Is Copyrighted On YouTube?

So you've created the perfect vlog for your YouTube channel, and what's left is to pick the perfect song or tune to complete your masterpiece.

Think about this for a moment. Would it be worth all the stress if you ended up using copyrighted music without even knowing it?

To avoid the stress that comes with copyright infringement, you must first determine whether or not the music you intend to use in your video is copyrighted.

In case you don't already know, when music is copyrighted on YouTube, it means that only the original creator has the right to make copies unless they grant permission.

Determining whether a song is copyrighted or not is pretty straightforward using these available options:

Check YouTube

As the world's most famous viewing platform, YouTube is a reliable source for determining whether or not a song is copyrighted. However, you can approach this as a creator in two different ways.

The first is to go to the "Music in the Video" section, where you can scroll down to the video description and see the song's information. The title, artist, and owner of the song's license will all be included in the description.

The second is to upload a video as unlisted or private to see if YouTube Content ID flags it as infringing on intellectual property.

If YouTube doesn't, then you have nothing to worry about.


PDinfo, short for Public Domain Information Project, is a music library housing thousands of musical works ranging from public domain music to royalty-free recordings and sheet music.

Because all public domain information on the site is based entirely on the USA's copyright laws, the PDinfo site is excellent for searching for songs to determine whether the song you want to use is in the public domain and available.

The copyright mark is essentially a small "C" in a circle.

When you download music or use it in a YouTube video, look for the copyright mark in the file name or information.

To be safe, if you are unsure whether you can determine whether a song is copyrighted or not on your own, you can always hire experts to assist you.

It never hurts to ask for help.

Granted, a lot of music nowadays is copyrighted, but we can't deny that it's nearly impossible not to include them in YouTube videos for that reason.

Interestingly, most of the time, these copyrighted songs are some of the best mainstream music, essential for capturing and retaining the attention of your viewers.

However, due to this, you can't totally rule out using copyrighted music in your YouTube videos.

A way to work around it is legally using copyrighted music on YouTube. When you do this and take all the necessary steps, you just might be able to keep 100% of the monetization on those videos.

Below are practical steps to legally use copyrighted music and make money from it.

  1. Get the license of the music by getting approval from the original creator in order to use their copyrighted music.
  2. Share a portion of the revenue derived from YouTube videos with the copyright holder.

Failure to ask for permission and take certain steps with permission from the original owner before using music content may result in a copyright claim or a strike from YouTube.

The simple truth is that copyright claims and strikes are sometimes used interchangeably when, in fact, they are two very different concepts.

It's no news that YouTube takes content management and the protection of its community seriously.

So, in the spirit of creating a platform that works for everyone, YouTube developed Content ID, a sophisticated software system to help content owners manage and protect their work.

As a result, a video uploaded on YouTube is checked against a database of audio and visual content copyright owners have submitted.

Content ID assigns a Content ID claim to the associated video if a match is made.

Almost all content claims on YouTube are made using Content ID. This one-of-a-kind software is so intelligent that it can recognize audio, video, and even melodies.

Here's how copyright claims work: You receive a copyright claim, also known as a content ID claim when you upload a video that contains copyright-protected content. This content could include anything from videos, music, pictures, speeches, and even written work.

Once your video is claimed, the copyright owner can:

  1. Block your video from being viewed on YouTube entirely or restrict it to being viewed only in specific countries/regions.
  2. Keep track of the viewership statistics for your video.
  3. Monetize your video by running ads on it and sometimes sharing revenue with you.

Receiving a content claim, however, is not the end of the world. Depending on the circumstances, you can choose to respond to the claim by either leaving it as is, removing the claimed content, sharing the revenue derived from the music with the original creator or simply disputing the claim.

However, it is worth noting that content ID claims don't result in copyright strikes.

Copyright strikes are a bigger deal compared to copyright claims.

While a claim will not have an impact on your YouTube channel, a strike, on the other hand, will. It will also affect your ability to monetize.

The first strike is a warning from the copyright holder that you are using the copyright holder's content without permission.

After receiving this, you must attend YouTube's Copyright School, a platform to help creators understand copyright and how it is enforced at YouTube, after which the copyright strike will expire after 90 days.

The copyright strike will expire 90 days after completing the copyright school.

Furthermore, if your active live stream is removed due to copyright violations, YouTube will restrict your live streaming access for seven days.

If your channel gets up to three strikes in the same 90-day period, your account and any associated channels are subject to permanent termination from YouTube.

The Bottom Line: It's Easy When You Play By The Rules

Now that you know YouTube doesn't play around when it comes to penalizing creators who violate its policies, playing by the rules would be your best bet.

If you think about it, it's better safe than beating yourself up about a copyright claim, strike, or even eventual termination.

All it takes is paying particular attention to the content you post on your channel and making sure they don't violate any community guidelines.

Here’s to putting out engaging and legal content that your audience can relate to and enjoy.


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