YouTube’s copyright system can sometimes be a double-edged sword. For some YouTube creators, the use of brief music clips in their videos has seen copyright holders and music companies become the source of lost revenue. Now, YouTube is making changes to prevent that.

In a blog post, YouTube explains how the Manual Claiming tool is being updated to make things more fair for creators on the platform. Specifically, YouTube is forbidding copyright holders from taking the monetization from videos that use very short clips from a song or unintentional inclusion, such as music playing in the background and out of the creator’s control.

Notably, this won’t change how the Content ID system automatically flags a video. Also, the copyright holder can still take down monetization on the video or block the infringing content. By taking away the ability for copyright holders to take the monetization from a creator’s video, YouTube hopes they will simply leave the content alone.

This follows up on a promise from this past April where YouTube said it wanted to address this abuse problem for the sake of its creators. Of course, YouTube still recommends that creators use unlicensed content as much as they can to avoid this problem in the first place.

These new policies take effect in mid-September for all manual claims.

One concerning trend we’ve seen is aggressive manual claiming of very short music clips used in monetized videos. These claims can feel particularly unfair, as they transfer all revenue from the creator to the claimant, regardless of the amount of music claimed.

Including someone else’s content without permission — regardless of how short the clip is — means your video can still be claimed and copyright owners will still be able to prevent monetization or block the video from being viewed. However, going forward, our policies will forbid copyright owners from using our Manual Claiming tool to monetize creator videos with very short or unintentional uses of music. This change only impacts claims made with the Manual Claiming tool, where the rightsholder is actively reviewing the video. Claims created by the Content ID match system, which are the vast majority, are not impacted by this policy. Without the option to monetize, some copyright owners may choose to leave very short or unintentional uses unclaimed. Others may choose to prevent monetization of the video by any party. And some may choose to apply a block policy.

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Ben Schoon

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