How To Use Copyrighted Music On YouTube

How to use copyrighted music on YouTube

Can I use copyrighted music on YouTube?

There is no shortage of free indie music but it wouldn’t it be better to use a famous song that everyone knows? In fact, in many cases you can!

Read on to learn how you can legally use copyrighted music in your video or vlog and what happens if you use copyrighted music on YouTube.

How YouTube copyright works

YouTube employs a robust copyright system called Content ID that helps music owners to protect their work and to make money to allowing others to use their music in YouTube videos.

Every time you upload a video, YouTube scans it to detect if your video contains any copyrighted music. If it finds a match, you get a copyright claim.

When you get a claim, these things may happen:

  • Ads appear in your video.
  • You can’t monetize your video.
  • Your video is blocked in some countries.
  • Your video is muted.
  • Your video is blocked worldwide.

Most copyright owners will be OK if you use their music in exchange for having ads running in your video.

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Thus, the BIG question is:

How do I know what happens if I use copyrighted music in my video?

To find out, look at YouTube Music Policy database.


YouTube has removed the Music Policy page along with the old Creator Studio. According to YouTube, the page wasn’t “popular enough”.

youtube music policy removed

We’ve published a new post that explains how you can see if any song or piece of music is copyrighted with 100% accuracy.

Related: How to check if song is copyrighted on YouTube

You can read below (and see how great and useful it was) or jump to the next section that discusses how copyright claims affect your channel.

The music policy database lists thousands of popular songs and can tell you EXACTLY what will happen when you use a particular song in a YouTube video.

If you scroll through the policy or look up some of your favorite artists, you’ll notice that some songs are not available at all:

youtube music policy - blocked

So, it would be a BAD idea to use this song.

Some are available to use if you’re OK with the ads in your videos:

youtube music policy - ads

So it would be OK to use this song but..

IMPORTANT: If you use any music listed in the Music Policy database, you will receive a copyright claim notifying you that you use copyrighted content.

Unlike copyright strikes, the claims are merely notifications. It’s how YouTube tells you that it detected some copyrighted content in your video.

As long as your video isn’t blocked and you don’t mind the ads, you can simply ignore the claims.

However, you want to avoid copyright claims when:

a) You monetize your videos. The claim will disable monetization.

b) You create promotional videos for your business or for clients. Claims make ads appear in your videos.

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How to avoid copyright claims

If you want to use a well know popular song registered with Content ID, the only way to remove the claim is to get license from the copyright owner.

Sadly, unless you run an advertising agency or a movie studio, licensing top artists would be close to impossible budget-wise.

Learn more how to license commercial music in a film or video.

Not all is lost, though. There is plenty of legal free music on the Web, starting from public domain music, creative commons music, in addition to free music distributed by artists and some music libraries.


You still can get copyright clams for using free music, even if you obtained it legally.

Remember, it depends on whether the music is registered in YouTube’s Content ID database or not. Many artists who distribute their music for free register it with Content ID to make money from the ads.

Based on our experience, we recommend:

a) If you have a personal, non-monetized channel, simply ignore the claims. Your videos will have ads but otherwise won’t be affected. Don’t forget to check YouTube’s music policy database before using any music.

b) If you monetize your channel or create commercial / promotional videos, get proper licenses for all music that you use. You can get license directly from copyright owners or from a music library.

Having a license will give you ability to remove the claim if you ever get one.

Read more: How to resolve YouTube copyright claims


You CAN use copyrighted music on YouTube, as long as you understand the rules.

If a particular song is registered with Content ID, you will get a claim. It doesn’t matter is that song is labelled “royalty free”, “no copyright”, or came from a music library.

Most claims (unlike strikes) are harmless but ads may appear in your video and you may not be able to monetize.

Having a license or a formal permission will help you to quickly and easily resolve copyright claims and in some cases even whitelist your entire channel.

Related: YouTube Copyright: The Ultimate Guide

Related: Non Copyrighted Music For YouTube Videos

Test your knowledge

True or False? I can safely use copyrighted music on YouTube if I give credit.

False! Content ID system does not care whether you give credit of not. If the song is registered in the Content ID system, you will get a claim on your video.

True or False? Will I get a strike if I dispute the claim?

False. There is no penalty for disputing copyright claims.


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