YouTube and the Dreaded “Third-Party Content” Match

What does it mean when your YouTube video gets flagged for matched content?

Even when you have proper licenses and permissions for footage and music, YouTube can still flag videos for a suspected copyright violation. Here’s how to file a dispute and prove you are one of the good guys. 

As you might imagine, Digital Bard creates dozens of new videos each month for our clients. We play by the rules, and have license subscriptions to several footage, sound effect and music libraries to help us work our magic. So when our clients post their new videos to YouTube and the videos get flagged for matching third-party content (almost always the music bed), there are some steps we’ve learned that usually get it resolved quickly.

First, a little background on what a third-party match means. Creators of footage, music, sound effects, TV, film, radio, singers, performers, networks, etc. deserve protection from unauthorized use. We work hard to produce our work, and don’t want it swiped and reused without our permission.

To help protect creator’s rights, YouTube and parent company Google introduced some new guidelines and software that sweeps through videos, hunting for violations. Simply put, a “Matched Third-Party Content” message means it has picked up something in your video that you don’t own. You may have permission to use it, but you don’t OWN it.

“Piracy is rampant. I’ve been robbed everyday for 25 years,” says Gene Ort of GMP Music, one of our awesome providers of all things musical. “It is in all of our best interests that this procedure exists.”

If your content is matched, you get a notice, along with information on what YouTube plans to do about that. In some cases, they merely exercise their rights to show advertising on the video, with the ad revenue going to the publisher. In other cases they block the video. And in extreme abuse situations, they can deactivate your account. Yikes! So it is worth taking the time to dispute a claim against you, if you’d like to continue using YouTube for your videos and SEO benefits.

How to file a copyright dispute

If a rights owner has made a claim and you own 100% rights to use it, you can dispute the claim. Get your license agreement information together and head over to the Video Manager section. YouTube offers more information on a Content ID claim here and guidance on what to do here.

  • Go to Copyright Notices to see any videos with flags
  • Click the link under the effected video, indicated Matched Third-Party Content.
  • Choose “File a Dispute” near the bottom of the notice
  • Choose the reason you are disputing the claim. In the case of licensed music, you would select “I have a license or written permission from the proper rights holder to use this material.”

Since a music copyright violation is the most common type, here is some sample language we have successfully used in a dispute. Feel free to borrow from it and adapt it to your own needs.

ABC Company  contracted Digital Bard Video Productions, LLC in Frederick, MD to produce the videos, now being flagged for matching third-party content.  Digital Bard used royalty-free, licensed music beds from “Acme” Music, under an annual subscription for commercial use. The “Acme” Account # is 12345, and the company can be contacted at (phone #) for verification.
Under the terms of the license, these videos constitute a “Work Product” and are fully licensed. Please remove the flag.

In our experience, the content was authorized and flags were removed within a week, although we received no additional notice of this. We just logged in and checked the “Copyright Notice” section and saw the designation had been changed.

If all of this seems like way too much trouble for you, there are paid video hosting options available. We use Vimeo for our professional portfolio, and also utilize the amazing customization and engagement tracking available through Wistia.  While these platforms do not sweep for copyright protected materials, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have proper licensing in place. How would you feel if someone swiped your work?

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