Dear Nigerian YouTuber, here’s how to navigate the minefield of music copyright

by  Toluwanimi Onakoya

The Nigerian YouTube community is increasingly gaining ground and waxing stronger. Members are constantly multiplying even more so in this current climate where people are actively exercising their creative juices.

People are also looking to be entertained by established YouTubers such as Dimma Umeh, Sisi Yemmie, and Fisayo Fosudo who are representing Nigerians on the frontlines of the video-sharing platform.

YouTube has been praised as a media channel that allows creatives to earn revenue for producing captivating content. However, the issue of avoiding copyright flagging, and the subsequent demonetization of their videos have provided a stumbling block for a lot of Nigerian YouTubers.

Copyright is a law that dictates the right of a creator to his/her intellectual property, The law allows the owner of a work (book, video, music, etc) the right to say how other people can use it. The issue of copyright is a hotbed topic within the YouTube community, drawing polarizing opinions. YouTube also takes a very firm stand against copyright infringement and it is detrimental for YouTube creators to be unaware of the platform’s copyright enforcement policies.

YouTube blocks and takes down any video on its platform that flouts copyright rules. After three strikes of copyright infringement, YouTube could ban the channel for life. The enforcement of this policy is achieved in two ways. YouTube makes use of a system called Content ID which automatically matches content that violates copyright against the numerous videos uploaded unto the platform’s reference files.

The second way this is achieved is when content creators upon noticing their work being used without appropriate permission, can report it and have it taken down. This is usually where a major issue rears up for most YouTubers.

Last Tuesday, popular makeup centered YouTuber, Dimma Umeh took to social media to share the “needle in the flesh” that music copyright claims pose for YouTubers.

She explains that at various times she’s made use of music that were labelled as free by their creators, giving access to anyone who wants to use them. She stated that she’s had situations where she’s used such for the soundtrack in her videos, only for the music creators to backtrack later in the future and create copyright claims for monetized videos that made use of these songs.

Fellow YouTubers accumulated under her tweet to share similar experiences with this particular situation. The statements described the difficult predicament copyright claims pose in restricting YouTubers making revenue from their videos.

These music creators could have issued a Creative Commons license granting permission for other YouTube accounts to use their work, only to revoke it later and go further to flag already popular videos for copyright infringement causing them to be taken down and demonetized. This is a major loss for YouTubers.

However, this situation can be rightly avoided if creators took extra precautions. They can avoid this by acquiring the sounds from music sharing subscription-based sites like Epidemic Sounds, Hook Sounds, Enovo Music, etc. Checking for a statement that sounds/music is copyright free does not quite cut it anymore. One must not take any chances; even musical covers are not completely exempt from copyright strikes. It is important creators do their extensive research to ensure they are not running afoul of any copyright rules or regulations.

As more people continue to delve into content creation, they must brush up on their knowledge on copyright to avoid the tricky pitfalls associated with the matter. Flouting copyright laws also affects the income flow for creators and their standing in the community.

Commonly said, it’s better safe than sorry.



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