How to Write a Copyright Description in Your YouTube Video

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Are you confused about how to write a copyright description in your YouTube video? Maybe you’re unsure if you even need one or what it should say?

Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to learn all about the law governing fair use and to determine whether or not you can use copyrighted material in your videos on YouTube, Vimeo, or any other video-sharing site. 

It cannot be very clear to decide whether you need to secure copyright permission or not when creating your video. 

You want to avoid infringing upon the rights of others, but you also don’t want to spend time securing permissions that aren’t necessary. 

To determine whether your video needs a copyright description or not, you first need to understand how the fair use doctrine applies in the context of YouTube and other video-sharing sites. 

This article will help you learn about YouTube fair use and why you need to write a copyright description.

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What is Fair Use?

Fair use is an exception to copyright law that allows some uses of copyrighted material without prior permission from copyright holders. 

Examples include commentary, criticism, parody, news reporting, and research. 

Fair use isn’t explicitly defined under U.S. law, so it can be hard to assess whether your intended use qualifies as fair use or not. 

The main factors taken into consideration are: 

  1. The purpose and character of your use; 
  2. The nature of copyrighted work; 
  3. Amount and substantiality of the portion used; 
  4. Effect on potential market or value of original work. 

Although these four factors have been deemed by courts to be most important, they do not necessarily determine if something is fair use or not. 

A video that uses only part of a song may also qualify as fair use if it’s transformative (i.e., adding new meaning).

However, there’s no guarantee that you will win in court even if you meet all four criteria for fairness since judges are often unpredictable when deciding such matters.

Why Do You Need to Write a Copyright Description in Your YouTube Video?

Before you post your video, you must determine whether or not it contains copyrighted material.

There are two ways you can use copyrighted material: Either by using something directly from a copyrighted work or by displaying something that would get your video was taken down if it were uploaded as an isolated image (e.g., singing along with music playing in the background). 

In both of these cases, you’ll need to give credit. You do so through a copyright description. 

If you don’t include one and someone complains about copyright infringement, YouTube will remove your video. 

It’s also worth noting that even if you’re not legally required to write one, it is still considered good etiquette on YouTube.

How To Write a Copyright Description?

If you’re new to uploading videos on YouTube, you may have seen some videos with an annotation that reads No copyright intended. 

Those are called Creative Commons Licenses. These licenses mean that someone is trying their best not to infringe on any copyrights, but unfortunately do not guarantee 100% that any copyright violation has been avoided. 

That’s why it’s a good idea for every video creator who uses copyrighted material in their video(s) to include a description explaining how they came across it and why they felt confident using it. 

This will help protect your channel from being taken down due to copyright infringement claims.

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Steps to Write a Copyright Description

Follow these steps to write an excellent copyright description:

1) Click on About

Go to your YouTube channel and click on About or Channel from your main navigation bar. 

Then, click on Advanced Settings under your channel name. This will bring up your advanced settings, including where you can add descriptions for each video uploaded to your channel. 

Here, you will write a description explaining how you came across any copyrighted material used in your videos, as well as why you feel confident using it without permission from its creator(s). 

Make sure to include links if applicable! 

2. Ask for Copyright Permission

If you are trying to use copyrighted material from someone else’s work, ask them first to permit you. 

If they say no, respect their wishes and don’t use their work in your video.

There is nothing wrong with asking; most creators would prefer knowing that their content is being used. 

Not only does asking show respect for their work, but it also shows that you have done some research into copyright law before posting anything online, and that’s always good practice.

3. Confirm If The Media Peice is Copyrighted

The easiest way to find out if something is protected by copyright is by doing an internet search for is [insert media] protected by copyright?

There are many sites available that offer free resources regarding copyrights and fair use laws.

4. Check if Media Falls Under Fair Use Laws

Remember that not everything on the internet falls under fair use laws, even when it seems like it should.

For example, an image that has been modified doesn’t necessarily mean you can use it freely; make sure to check what rights come along with modifying images before doing so; otherwise, you could end up in hot water down the road

5. If Flagged for Copyright Infringement

Finally, if you do get a takedown notice due to copyright infringement, follow these steps immediately: 

Send a counter-notice via YouTube’s counter-notification form. 

Do not upload another copy of that video until you receive confirmation from YouTube that your counter-notification was successful. 

If you get sued because of a copyright violation, hire an attorney specializing in intellectual property law immediately.

And remember never to ignore legal notices related to your account; ignoring them could result in severe consequences.

SEE ALSO: YouTube Black Voices Fund for Content Creators 


The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) doesn’t cover fair use, which is why you have to research whether you can use it. 

However, even though you are responsible for doing your research, make sure you contact an intellectual property lawyer before making any claims about fair use because there is still an element of legal risk involved. 

If you wish to remove copyrighted material from your video but don’t have enough original content, don’t worry; that’s easy enough. 

Add text saying something like removed due to copyright infringement and change any music or visuals borrowed from other sources.

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