Disputing Copyright Issues

For more detailed advice on copyright notices, see Fair Use Tube's article on copyright disputes.

Types of Copyright claims and how to dispute themEdit

There are two different ways a copyright holder can ass-ram your YouTube video: ContentID claim, and DMCA takedown. The DMCA takedown is the most infamous, resulting in a copyright strike.

ContentID claimEdit

This often happens as soon as your video is uploaded, and is generally triggered automatically through YouTube's identification system. The severity of restrictions this causes can vary - videos can be monetized by the copyright holder, blocked in certain countries, or blocked worldwide. If your video is blocked, you will want to dispute the ContentID claim. This can be done through your video's Copyright Notifices page.

You will see a list of options as to why the copyright claim is invalid. Select the one that says "My use of the content meets the legal requirements for fair use or fair dealing under applicable copyright laws," and continue. After a page verifying that you want to continue with the dispute, you will see a page with a text box asking you to explain why your video is fair use. Refer to the Fair Use Argument instructions below. You will also be asked to type your name - you're best off using your real name; refer to the Contact Info advice below.

After you submit this, your video will be playable again, and the copyright holder has 30 days to respond. Most copyright holders tend to respond with a reinstatement of the copyright claim within a few days.

Reinstated ContentID claimEdit

Most often, the copyright holder will reinstate their claim, and your video will be blocked again. In order to dispute this one, your account has to be verified, which involves confirming your account through a mobile phone - this only needs to be done once per account. Once your account is verified, you will see an option to appeal the rejected dispute, through the same page as last time.

This time the justification process is more complicated. YouTube asks for your full contact info (see note below), and now asks for separate reasons why your video fits four different aspects of fair use. Again, refer to the instructions below.

Once you've disputed the reinstated claim, your video will be watchable again, and the copyright holder's possible responses are to release the claim (either explicitly or by doing nothing for 30 days), or to issue a DMCA takedown.

DMCA takedown (copyright strike)Edit

This has long been the bane of editors everywhere, and killer of nearly all the retired greats before us. However, you have the power to revert the claim, restore your video, and erase the copyright strike. Once you submit a counter-notification, the copyright holder's only options will be to let the video slide, or sue you. Don't worry - chances are essentially zero that a big company would waste money on a lawsuit against a single YouTuber.

On the same copyright info page as before, click "Submit counter-notification". You will be asked to fill out information similar to the above two dispute processes. Again, refer to the advice on arguments and contact info. Once you submit, YouTube will process your dispute and forward it to the claimant. This generally takes several business days, occasionally up to a week. After YouTube forwards the dispute, it takes 10 business days (exactly 2 weeks) for your video to be restored. Then you're done!

If your account gets 3 strikes, your channel will be suspended along with any channels using the same email address or google account. However, you can still submit counter-notifications for your DMCA'd videos through email, as long as you know the URL's of the videos. Instructions on that process can be found in this Fair Use Tube article, under "Filing a DCMA Counter-Notice".

Contact InfoEdit

It is important that you present YouTube with contact info (name, address, phone) that is either your real info, or believable and consistent. Realistic name, existing address, etc. Obviously faked information may be grounds for dismissal of your dispute, and possibly suspension of you account due to a Terms of Service violation. It is highly recommended that you use the same name and phone number for all copyright disputes, especially if your account has been verified under a specific name and phone number. Addresses are okay to change from time to time.


  • Good names: "Chris Willis", "Adam Coleman", "Jack Gutierrez", "Joaquin Rybczynski".
  • Bad names: "Lemmy Kilyourself", "XxDarkwingCuck69Xx", "McLovin", "Eat my ass yootoob", "F%$%UKK yo***999u VIACUMDUMPSTERRR!!!!!!"
  • Good addresses: Houses on Zillow, prior addresses, pretty much any standing building that people live in.
  • Bad addresses: "1929 North 274th St. -- New York, NY 78723", well-known non-residential office buildings, buildings that burned down long ago, Barbara Striesand's house.

Fair Use argumentsEdit

For copyright disputes, it's important that you give fair use rationales specific to your video, not just the generic "Section 9.11 of Article 27 of Digital Millenimum Copypasta Act states that Viacom eats ass." The following examples of wordage should serve you just fine:

(For examples of each context, refer to the screenshots in this Google Doc.)

Single-Paragraph text box (initial ContentID claim, DCMA counter-notification)Edit

This video qualifies as Fair Use because it is 1) non-commercial, 2) transformative in nature, and 3) does not compete with the original and could have no negative effect on its market.

Four separate textboxes for specific rationales (appealing reinstated ContentID claim)Edit

For more information on these fair use rationales, see here.

Purpose and character of use:

This work is non-commercial, transformative, and parodical in nature, adding new meaning to the original.

Nature of copyrighted work:

While the copyrighted work is fictional, the other factors listed tip the balance in favor of fair use.

Substantiality of copyrighted work used:

The substantiality of the work used is such that the "heart" of the work is no longer present, being overridden by original transformative expression.

Impact on copyrighted work’s market:

This video is non-commerical, does not serve as a replacement for the original work, does not compete with the original, and could have no negative impact on its market.