Copyright claims are a well-known aspect of the giant social streaming platform YouTube. A copyright claim is made when someone suspects that another person has utilized their creation(s) without their consent. Below we’ll take a look at what it means to receive a copyright claim on YouTube.

The Importance of Copyright Online

Copyright refers to a form of intellectual property. It is critical to protect your original work as soon as it is finished. Books, movies, works of art, music, photography, architectural blueprints, and many other works are all protected by copyright. Copyright infringement is when a person copies, distributes, performs, or displays all or part of a copyrighted work. That said, a copyright claim on YouTube refers to someone publishing or using original content in their own videos owned by another creator without permission. The legitimate owner then determines whether to take action after identifying the copyrighted work.

Copyright Actions on YouTube

Alternatively, original creators can claim ownership and gain monetization revenue from YouTube videos using their work. In that instance, the video will include an advertisement, and the copyright holder will be compensated. Copyright claims are sometimes known as content ID claims on the YouTube platform, where technology searches for video infractions and alerts the owner when any copyrights are suspected of being infringed. So, if you run a YouTube channel with original content, you need to be aware of when your terms are broken by the audience and when you should file a copyright claim. 

Beware of Infringing on Fellow Creators

Creators and influencers online, especially on social media platforms such as YouTube or Instagram should also be careful not to infringe as it could prove a costly mistake. Such was the case with influencer Michelle Phan who landed in legal controversy after spending years building herself into a beauty industry titan via YouTube. At the height of her success, Phan was sued by Ultra Records for more than 50 instances of copyright infringement. Copyright mistakes can serve as a cautionary tale for other entrepreneurial social media influencers who seek to avoid the same outcome. You can learn more about this case story taken from our Cases in IP Strategy: Industry Lessons Learned Volume I business cases here.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this article shall be construed as legal advice.


The Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property, an initiative of the Michelson 20MM Foundation, provides access to empowering IP education for budding inventors and entrepreneurs. Michelson 20MM was founded thanks to the generous support of renowned spinal surgeon Dr. Gary K. Michelson and Alya Michelson. To learn more, visit