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ART GUERILLA WAR: Youtube content ID & music copyright

Hi comrade! Today we talk about Youtube Content ID and music copyright in Internet. First of all, a disclaimer: this is my vision, and it’s everybody’s personal responsibility on taking and practicing the stuff. I don’t have the intention to get the system gone. I just want to discuss how to make it better and how amateur musicians, like I am, could manage it in legal and fair way.

What is Youtube Content ID

Youtube Content ID is a system that automatically detects and (considering various factors) manage unapproved usage of copyrighted audiovisual content. Youtube scans a video while it’s being uploaded, and then goes to a huge database of tunes and videos protected by copyright. If the machine finds matches, it might impose restrictions on the video and/or channel.

Levels of the restrictions

  • no view limitation, 50/50 sharing revenue with artist (when you just played a cover, no original tune detected)
  • no view limitation, all revenue goes to artist (copyrighted stuff detected, artist don’t mind to keep it viewable)
  • blocked in some countries, all revenues go to artist (the video can’t be watched in several countries)
  • blocked in all countries / deleted, strike for channel (the most severe punishment for a single video, your channel gets deprived of some functions and its rating temporary gets lower)

One strike hangs on channel for a while (few month normally). If you receive 3 strikes in a row, you channel could be blocked at all.

Metallica & Rammstein

The restrictions are varying from one song/video/artist to another. For instance, Metallica is pretty liberal: in most cases they just monetize the video. On the other hand, we have Rammstein: blocked/stroked/deleted in more that 30% cases of detection. There’s a big layer of songs by different artists that might be blocked in some countries (because of marketing and legal reasons). You can explore it on channel’s dashboard.

All of that might sound fair enough: intellectual property must be protected. Ok.. But not until it reaches absurd! It don’t want to repeat things I’ve said in video, so here’s more.

Cases from my practice

A number of my videos got busted. But the biggest pity was ‘Anesthesia’. Made own drum track, even played half-step lower (that’s actually because of too thick strings). Youtube proposed me to share revenue with the copyright owner (some label, even not Metallica nor their ‘Blackened Records’). Supposedly 50/50. After 3 months I checked my analytics: 17 000 views, 0,41$ earned including 0,29$ from Youtube Red views (normally it’s 2-5% of total revenue amount). Thus I earned 0,11$ ‘from their mercy’. Estimated full revenue from 17 000 views is about 3,5$. So I got about 3%!!! And I don’t believe that the money will fully go to Metallica because of the digital bureaucracy.

Another example. I’ve made a guitar/bass lesson on ‘Wherever I May Roam’ with my friend Serj. Probably we played it pretty good: Youtube said that we used ORIGINAL track! We disputed it, and after few days (or weeks) they allowed to share 50/50.

How I handle it now

So, I decided not to use original audio in my covers and do some tests. One of the experiments was a cover on live track (My Friend of Misery). And… I got busted again! It turned out that the database of Youtube Content ID contains also all live performances of Metallica recorded.

After that I don’t rely on using any of the stuff. From now on I make own backing tracks. I found a lot of advantages doing this: clear from copyright, tighter sound, new skills, more qualified content in general. It requires extra hours of work, but it’s worth the result (if you want, I’ll make a video about how I make the drum tracks)

Another hack for Youtube musicians

I did that with some of my covers – found and used original drum track! In case of Metallica, there’s about a dozen of original Lars’s drum parts available (ripped from GuitarHero and stuff). Just take the audio, do some EQ and go ahead! This way it’s almost impossible for them to prove that you used original track 🙂


Of course, it’s not about money only. Thanks to the videos new comrades have found us, and I’m doing it for them. I have YOU guys – those how appreciate my work and ‘talent’. But you now… When you’re married and have a child, you see the World a bit different. You begin to value your time and efforts more than ever.

Wow, I’ve written a lot yet. My content is gradually getting infected by ‘f*ck-the-system’ thing. Why? There’re issues around us, and it’s in our power to spread seeds of disagreement and make changes. That’s why metal exists, doesn’t it?

Thanks for the time you spent here. Hope you take the information consciously. Join our AVanguard to be informed about updates. Expect new tabs, articles, videos. Andriy Vasylenko. Be in metal \m/

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