Youtube copyright issues

February 15, 2016 at 05:52 PM · Many violinists upload our own recordings of works that are in the public domain to youtube. Often we receive copyright notices due to "playmatches" the computers find between passages of one recording and another. Youtube then allows us to file a "dispute" with the "copyright holder" - usually a commercial recording that has monetized their video. Typically the "copyright holder" will release their "claim" to the new video, recognizing that while their recording is copyrighted, the composition itself is in the public domain and thus not copyrighted.

I've had this experience several times; however, my experience with one particular Bach video has been less pleasant. I recently sound-recorded the entire Bach Sonatas and Partias (, and have a video of the entire D minor Partia from a performance in Denmark on youtube at which has over 12000 views. That particular video had a playmatch with three other recordings. Two released their claim as soon as I disputed it, but the last one, Perlman's recording of the Allemande with Warner Group, upheld their claim. I presume that they are just too busy to respond to millions of playmatches, and so expect people like me to take the next step and appeal before they take the time to release their claim.

I have now appealed and am awaiting the outcome, but I will say that the appeal process is somewhat frightening: youtube warns me that if the claim is upheld again, my video can get taken down and I can get a strike on my account. Further, I need to provide my full name and address to youtube and to the claimant. I actually delayed appealing for a while - what guarantee to I have that WG won't uphold their claim again? - and in this time, any clicks that I received on ads on my video, would bring in money for them. You can see the dialogues' screenshots here:


I would like to know what the best strategy is for dealing with youtube in situations like these. How can I state from the outset that my "song" is in the public domain, and that no-one can put a claim on my recording of it? Or further, to copyright my recording, as the other claimants have done? (On a side note, I copyrighted my CD under creative commons, which is a little different and perhaps a little more nuanced/progressive.)

Works that are not yet in the public domain everywhere (eg. Prokofiev, Kreisler) present another issue - they are often claimed by "One or more music publishing rights collecting societies," although youtube does not list the names of these societies. It would be helpful to have a "guide to publishing your video on youtube" for classical musicians to navigate these issues!

Replies (29)

February 15, 2016 at 04:22 PM ·

February 15, 2016 at 06:45 PM · Unfortunately I have no useful information to share on this subject. Just wanted to say that I feel for you in this ordeal. Pfffffff ...

February 15, 2016 at 07:46 PM · As far as I can tell, YouTube is totally unresponsive to these requests. PlayMatch is presumably in the realm of "name that tune" sort of recognition, since as far as I can tell, any classical live performance will end up matching some established recording. I've never successfully disputed any match (and most of my videos have matched), despite them all being video live performances.

February 15, 2016 at 08:19 PM · I don't have an answer either. I have a couple of youtubes up, myself. But I'd just like to congratulate you for your accomplishments!

February 15, 2016 at 10:10 PM · Sorry to hear about your trouble. As if things weren't difficult enough already for classical musicians.

Here's an article I read a while back about an original video which was licensed to Sony, who subsequently made a claim against the creator.

Good luck!

February 15, 2016 at 10:54 PM · YouTube lately has been more vicious than before about taking down stuff. I suspect someone invented some algorithm that scans the web for 'matches' and then the big companies out there just send out copyright takedown notices wildly without as much as checking what they're demanding to be taken down because they think they own everything.

What can you do about it? Probably nothing other than contacting YouTube and hoping you get an answer other than "that's how things work". You can also write to your congressman in the U.S. and demand they change copyright laws because they've got out of control. :P

February 15, 2016 at 11:06 PM · OK, I am not a lawyer, but here are some thoughts.

All the Youtube copyright scanning is done by computer, and almost all of the appeals are done by computer. Don't expect human rationality or response times.

Bach is clearly in the public domain. Anyone has a right to perform it. Sometimes takedown / put back up wars go round and round, but usually the correct answer eventually emerges.

Your Creative Commons license has a copyright buried within it, along with grants of use per the specific terms you selected. So you have a copyright for your video performance - with grants of use.

Good luck. You will probably prevail eventually.

February 16, 2016 at 01:39 AM · I guess the silver lining in all of this is that you sound like Perlman.

February 16, 2016 at 04:49 AM · Did you know youtube has no customer support, telephone or email, at all!! All they offer is a forum of users answering questions about youtube whether they know the real answer or not, there's no way to know, if I didn't know better I would think that Zuckerberg is behind this!!

February 16, 2016 at 07:34 AM · Appeal. And fix your links.

"Violin Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004: I. Allemanda"

is definitely NOT by Itzhak Perlman () as it reads in the description of the Music in your youtube video.

P.S. Fix your links in the article, they points to the wrong addresses, they have to be pasted:,

February 16, 2016 at 08:20 AM · I have dealt with this issue a few times. My suggestion is to try to get in contact with the entity claiming the copyright - either by email or even better, by phone. I've called companies and explained the situation and received very fast results, more than once. It is now my go-to method instead of going through the process on YouTube. Hope this helps.

February 16, 2016 at 12:59 PM · If the big companies decide to take the matter all the way to court, you will have no choice but to get a lawyer. Sometimes, it's just easier not to bother with YouTube.

February 16, 2016 at 08:59 PM · From what I can tell these things are a regular occurrence. I think a lot of the claims to copyright are just companies trying it on. I put some original music to some old public domain newsreels. I had both of them challenged more than once. I replied back stating that the music was my own and that the footage was public domain and also gave a link. That seemed to do it. I'm certain if you are clear that you own the recording, that it is you playing and the music is public domain that you won't hear any more.

February 17, 2016 at 08:33 AM · These problems crop up all the time. I have a friend who battled this and never got satisfaction. In fact, they locked her account! She ended up opening a new channel with no further problems.

YouTube errs on the side of not getting sued. It sucks, but it's their right, and as a business it pays for them to cast a wide net.

Sorry for your problems, and best of luck getting them sorted!

February 17, 2016 at 12:56 PM · Its hard to argue copyright law with a computer programme. Given that youtube's side of the case is a computer, with no real people involved, I believe.

April 21, 2017 at 04:19 PM · Hi Claudia,

how did your dispute end? The five percenters really made my day.

I posted a thank you video for Violinwiki supporters and it was claimed by multiple claimants to be in their copyright. I do not even know who they are, the abbreviations SACEM, UMPI, UPMG Publishing tell nothing. Funny. The composer died more than a hundred years ago, sheet music from IMSLP. My off-spring may feel flattered her live play matched the professional recording (or is their matching algorithm so miserable?; at least it recognized the piece). So I appealed and I wonder what lame excuse they will present in 30-day time. I am willing to sue them for damages (waste of my time for filing the appeal).

April 22, 2017 at 03:01 PM · If a machine is detecting the matches (I don't know how this works ) - could you fool the machine by having the first 30 seconds random improvisation , then get into the piece advertised in the link and also tell people the piece starts at 35 seconds - the 1st 30 seconds are just .....something else. If you have recorded a concert could you go into a video editing program like imovies and put the first 30 seconds of random improvisation at the beginning?

April 22, 2017 at 03:09 PM · I have some videos of Bach performances on Youtube as well, I always contradict the copyright claims. Of course that are bots, programmed to make some money from people who get scared and don't contradict. Even if you upload a video with original content by a living performer, Youtube nowadays has the option, that both parties share their revenue.

In case of Bach and other classical composers, just contradict them, nothing to worry about!

April 22, 2017 at 03:19 PM · Sylvan, no. The algorithms are a bit fancier than this.

April 22, 2017 at 04:46 PM · No. And the algorithms can clearly tolerate a substantial amount of difference and still identify the work. I have a video of an orchestral performance I did of the Glazunov concerto, for instance, in which I and the orchestra both play far from perfectly (including missed entrances, etc.), there's applause, etc. and it's still flagged and I lost the dispute with the copyright claimant.

April 22, 2017 at 09:21 PM · Was this before 2000, Lydia? - or is Glazunov still under copyright for some reason?

April 22, 2017 at 09:33 PM · No, this was 2013, and it's public domain.

My other videos on YouTube that have copyright claims:

* A portion of my Schnittke "Suite in the Old Style".

* My 2nd movement of Prokofiev No. 2. (With piano, too, not orchestra!)

* My Brandenburg No. 5.

Just crazy.

April 23, 2017 at 01:33 AM · Are these DMCA notices? Because if they are, and since they are clearly erroneous, you can win significant damages since the claimants are filing false affidavits and there is a part of the law that spells oout damages that can be awarded to the other party if you file false notices. Free money, and their are attorneys that specialize in this.

April 23, 2017 at 02:30 AM · They are not. These are YouTube copyright claims. Basically, a rights-holder claims that your video uses something of theirs, and they are entitled to monetize your video. You can dispute it, but the benefit of the doubt goes to the supposed rights-holder and you can lose your YouTube account if you lose too many of these claims. Since I only post videos for my own archive for the most part, other than for family, friends, and the occasional external critique, it's just not worth it to fight.

April 23, 2017 at 10:42 AM · I would be honored if my piece of play would be thought to be played by a professional musician

Just kidding, Youtube claim system is huge problem for a lot of small video makers.

April 23, 2017 at 11:25 AM · I do not know, what you guys mean with "problem"? Here in Germany all accounts would be closed and videos with copyright music would be blocked one year ago. Compared to that the current state is heaven... also thanks to the claim system, which automatically distributes the rights. Most music is free to be performed now and even if there are claimed rights, you can share the revenue. Some times maybe it is just better to turn the ads/monetization off. In some cases, if the owner of the rights doesn't agree with your performance it is just fair to take it down.

If you are a video maker, like myself, you can inform yourself beforehand easily about the rights of a specific song or piece.

When it comes to facebook, there are more problems with rights on videos at the moment. Youtube is developing quite nicely!

April 23, 2017 at 01:03 PM · This post is more on the subject of Youtube filmmakers (Relating to the opening post) than music, if you don't care about Youtubers rights just stroll away

Simon, its not only the musical videomakers who's videos are claimed unfairly. Im not sure how its today, but for example, a while ago some Youtubers who make reviews for games had been harrassed by game developers. If you made a truthful but negative review, the developers would claim the video for themselves.

Of course its not a big deal that the video is down for 1 to 3 days, but the problem is that even thought the claim was absolute bullcrap, the videomaker would lose majority of the video's ad revenue (Their butter and bread) to the claimer. Also you could only file certain amount of disputes (I think it was max 3 per month) a time, and if you had 5 videos claimed, then it would actually take over a month for some videos to be unclaimed.

April 23, 2017 at 02:57 PM · Its a difficult discussion, because:

A: It changes all the time

B: Its different in every country

C: Every rights owner deals different with it

Some companies use youtube for brand building, product placemant and advertising, others ban their content from this platform completely. No studio recordings from the Beatles for example, other than some outtakes.

The problem is, that this platform is so big, that it acts like a big slow monster, but then makes a big swipe every year or so. All the small issues we have today will be dealt with somehow.

April 24, 2017 at 11:34 AM · Gema is idiotic, indeed. Only in Germany you can even prevent universities from using scientific sources (keyword ag wort).

I guess the algorithm is working sth like comapring different ffts on parts of different lenghts. They most likely only use the big peaks, so it cannot tell differences by for example using a different violin. Than they add some tolerance and it is already working quite well. Of course they will have added some huge intelligence into it over the time.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Colburn School: Chamber Music Intensive
Colburn School: Chamber Music Intensive

Find a Summer Music Program
Find a Summer Music Program

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Metzler Violin Shop

Bein & Company

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Los Angeles Violin Shop

String Masters

Bobelock Cases

Things 4 Strings LLC



Sleepy Puppy Press

Jargar Strings

J.R. Judd Violins, LLC

Southwest Strings

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine