my letter to YouTube, explaining why they are violating copyright law in their effort to prevent violation of copyright law

Here is a letter I just sent to attempting to explain why they should remove their advertising from one of my videos.

Hi, I uploaded a video that contains audio from a song that is copyrighted by a US artist. However, in addition to releasing the music under a standard license, the artist also released the song under a Creative Commons license that allowed use for attributed derivative works. YouTube flagged the song as copyrighted, and I disputed that claim because I have the legal right to use this music in this video. YouTube then rejected the dispute, and reinstated the claim.

Because that the YouTube web interface doesn’t allow any further recourse, what are my options? Is there any way to get a human being to look at my license to this piece of music and remove the ads you are showing on my video?

The video is this:

I purchased the music on March 5, 2008. And as you can see from the following article, the license sold on that date was Creative Commons BY-NC-SA. I can send you a copy of the receipt if you’d like.

Thanks for your help with this matter.


ps. Ironically, by advertising on my video, YouTube is now making money from this work, which violates the non-commercial restriction of the music license. That, in turn, makes it illegal to publically perform this work. As strange as it sounds, I think in your effort to catch copyright law violations, YouTube has now actually caused a copyright violation!


  1. I got an automated reply that said this:

    Thanks for contacting YouTube! You’ve reached the copyright and DMCA
    compliance team. Your message has been received and is now queued for
    review. Please note that general help inquiries won’t be answered here.
    For help with other site-related issues, please visit our Help Center at If you wish to report abuse or inappropriate
    content, please visit, or if
    you feel you have a privacy request, please visit

    If you’re requesting removal of a video that is allegedly infringing your
    copyright, please make sure that you have provided us with all of the
    required information in order to process your complaint. Providing
    incomplete information may delay the processing of your claim. For the
    requirements of DMCA notification, or if you have questions about our DMCA
    policy, please see:

    Did you know that YouTube offers copyright owners a tool for submitting
    notifications more easily? If there are many videos to be removed, or you
    expect to have an ongoing need to remove potentially infringing content
    from YouTube, we suggest that you sign up for our Content Verification
    Program, which electronically notifies us, removing any room for error,
    and significantly increases the speed at which we are able to remove any
    infringing content. To sign up for this tool please visit:

    The YouTube Team

  2. Well, as you already know (I think I told you) I have had YouTube block monetization on videos I made using MY OWN MUSIC. I shot every frame of the video, played every note of the music, and had nothing copy-written in the video, yet they felt they must “review” my request to monetize (that is to place ads I make money on) the video. But it doesn’t stop there! I purchased “royalty free music” from Footage Firm for the express purpose of using in my works, and YouTube sends me a notice telling me that there is an issue with the music I used, and that THEY can put ads on my video, but I can’t. So I dispute the claim, wait – for sometimes months, then they make me prove I purchased the music, so I go back and find the receipt and send them a PDF of the receipt, and of course wait some more. I also have complained to Footage Firm, once very angrily going off on my sales rep. Footage Firm says that YouTube is “ingesting” the music Footage Firm sells but it’s taking a long time. So in the mean time, I miss the ability to have possible ad clicks to earn me money through Google Ad Sense during the crucial initial release of my videos, which is when most people see them. Usually I’ll get a rush of views in the first week (or day) of a video’s life, then interest fades, or nobody knows it exists.

    So to say the least I am FRUSTRATED at the impersonal, and overly stringent copy-write policies at YouTube. They are covering their own asses, but really couldn’t they somehow put the responsibility on the video owner so they can just let things be more free like on the superior Vimeo? The catch is that YouTube is the biggest, and the place most likely to have your video seen. There just needs to be a way to resolve these issues with content we actually have the right to use. They are wasting their own time chasing innocent people down and hindering those people’s flow for no good reason.

  3. Today I got this quasi-automated reply:

    Hi there,

    Thank you for your message.

    The claimant has reviewed your dispute and reaffirmed its claim to your
    video. Specifics of the policy applied to your video are in the Content ID
    Matches section of your YouTube account at:

    Please note that YouTube does not mediate copyright disputes. If you wish,
    you may resolve this issue directly with the claimant at

    We are unfortunately unable to assist you further.


    The YouTube Team

    So I emailed the claimant:


    Hi, Paris. I got your email address from this automated response from YouTube. They said you’re the claimant of a copyright dispute for a YouTube video I uploaded a few months ago. Could you explain to me the grounds on which you feel my license to this piece of music (Nine Inch Nails-26 Ghosts III) is invalid? I paid for the music, was granted a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license, and have followed all the terms of that license. Are you disputing that I purchased that license, that the music was licensed under Creative Commons, or that my use of the music follows the terms of license?


  4. Here’s the latest part of the story. Paris, of Rebel Waltz (a management company for musical groups), wrote this back to me:

    Hello Todd,
    With the Creative Commons license you are free to use the track and share your work as you wish so long as no one is profiting from the use. Null Co., as owner of this recording, retains commercial rights – this includes a claim to the audio related portion of the associated advertising revenue stream within YouTube (as calculated by YouTube’s algorithms, based on usage within the work). That is the only claim being made in regards to your video.


    Paris Montoya
    Rebel Waltz, Inc.


    And I wrote back two messages, one this morning and one this afternoon:

    OK, thanks for writing back. So how does that differ from if I didn’t buy a CC license to the music?

    Or maybe more to the point: Who was profiting from the use? I sure wasn’t; I’ve never made a dime from this video. And YouTube wasn’t profiting because there were no ads on the video…until you asked them to put ads on it.

    Do you see my point? Before the ads went on the video, the video was a non-commercial public performance, which is exactly what your company licensed me to do under the BY-NC-SA.


  5. I’ve got the same issue. I have monetization enabled for SOME videos on my account, but I never monetized this video.

    YouTube appears to have been putting ads on it against my knowledge, and has collected $0.11 so far. I got a copyright claim, I disputed the claim and they rejected that. Paris Montoya contacted me by email telling me to release my claim (what does that mean, YouTube doesn’t allow me option like that) by a certain date or they will issue a takedown notice.

    I’m within my rights to use it in the manner I have, and I have even offered to send the Null Corporation a sum equal to 100% of the revenue YouTube has earned from the video (even though I haven’t seen any of that money personally) and I have had no response from the Null Corporation.

    I’m stuck between an advertising company’s automated processes (Google/Youtube) and a profiteer. What’s the point in releasing something as Creative Commons if you won’t honour the licence?

    1. Yup, exactly. I doubt Trent Reznor had any idea of what a mess this would be when he had the idea to release some of his music as Creative Commons. And I doubt he really gives a damn to try to sort it out at this point.

      The important thing to realize is that it is in both the artist’s and Google’s best interests to keep this system just as it is. They’re both making ad revenue from your video, and even though your part is tiny, it’s better than nothing and it adds up when you multiply it by millions of users. If you don’t like it, you’re welcome to put your video on some other hosting side – your own, or another company’s (like Vimeo).

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: