Learn From My Mistakes: Copyright Headaches

Hey everyone:

This week’s episode is going to be a little less structured and it’s really just a cautionary tale so that you can learn from my mistakes.

Entrepreneurship is full of headaches and mishaps that could easily be avoided if you knew what to look for, but when you’re a brand new entrepreneur you don’t know what you don’t know – so you often can’t even ask the right questions to be able to prepare yourself. Well, even though I’ve been in the entrepreneurship world for years, I’m still pretty new to this whole YouTube thing so I recently had one of those “oh crap” moments. I’m going to share what happened with you here so that, hopefully, you can avoid it yourself in the future.

As you know, I post a new video at least once a week on my YouTube channel. Now, these videos are designed to be helpful to my followers (that’s you!) and they’re the backbone of my content marketing strategy. I also monetize these videos.

Now, of course, in order to monetize these videos it’s imperative that you own the rights to all of the material that appears in your videos: that means logos, images, music, whatever. Nothing tricky here yet, right? Right. I was always very careful to not try to monetize videosĀ in which logos showed up and I did a lot of research about where to find royalty-free music that I could use for the background in these videos. I read up on the different types of Creative Commons licenses and made sure that I chose a piece of music that specifically allowed commercial use and I made sure to give proper attribution in every single video.

I really thought I had covered my bases but then a few weeks ago – probably a couple of months ago by the time this video actually goes live – I received anĀ email notification from YouTube that there had been a copyright claim made on one of my videos. I felt terrible that maybe I had inadvertently done something wrong or left the attribution off of that particular video so I double checked, but everything seemed to be as it should be so I decided not to worry about. But then a couple of days later I got another of these notices from YouTube, and then another, and another. Now I was really frustrated: If I hadn’t done anything wrong, why was someone making a claim on my video? I started reading up on the process for contesting such a claim but the information that YouTube provided made it seem pretty scary: they didn’t tell me how they would decide who was right or wrong in the claim and if they decided I was wrong they could completely suspend my whole account – not just the monetization on the videos.

Yikes! I couldn’t have my account suspended because then you all wouldn’t have access to my videos and I would lose all of the traffic to my website that they generate. I’d rather not be able to monetize than to lose my channel so I decided to halt monetization on ALL of my videos that used that song – and it was DOZENS of videos. I kept researching though and I eventually discovered the problem: While I had dotted all of my I’s and crossed my T’s on my end by choosing a song whose artist allowed commercial use and giving it proper attribution, the artist apparently hadn’t been as thorough. He’d sampled another song to create his and so didn’t actually have the rights himself. That meant his being cool with commercial use and giving it a Creative Commons attribution license was pretty much meaningless. Good thing I hadn’t contested the claim!

Why can’t I just go back and change all of the music on the old videos you ask? Well, because that would require taking down the videos that are there and re-uploading them with new music. That would make them completely new videos with completely new links and would create a slew of dead links from the past, so that was not an option.

I’ve now switched to using different background music – music I got from the YouTube Audio Library so there is no question about my right to use it and I will simply never be able to monetize those old videos. SUPER BUMMER!

So why the heck am I blabbing on and on about this stressful experience of mine? Because my job is to make sure you all avoid the most common pitfalls that new entrepreneurs fall prey to so hopefully I can save you the stress of this one if you’re planning to use YouTube videos as a part of your content marketing strategy.

Live and learn I suppose – but this time around you can learn without living through the crumminess yourself!


I know this format is totally new for me so let me know what you think. Do you want more anecdotes like this about my personal ups and downs as an entrepreneur or do you prefer the more structured episodes that you normally see? Let me know in the comments below.

If you liked this format and think someone else would find the info helpful, please give me a thumbs up on YouTube and Facebook and share it with your networks. And don’t forget to subscribe to my channel and to email updates so you don’t miss any info or tips to help you plan and launch your new business.

One Reply to “Learn From My Mistakes: Copyright Headaches”

  1. Your “made in good faith experiences” will probably save and teach some individuals costly lessons they would have encountered like yourself. From my perspective, the more I can learn from individuals like you, willing to share their experiences – the better off I and others will be… thanks and good for you!

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