How To Dispute An Illegitimate YouTube Copyright Claim


All seasoned video producers will experience this.  The producer finds the perfect Royalty Free Music for their YouTube video.  After purchasing a legitimate license, they rest assured knowing all is in place and legal.  The videographer can finally relax.  A few hours later, they check on the video hoping to find thousands of hits, but only discover a nasty and confusing message:

“Includes copyrighted content”

Unfortunately, this problem is very common.  It happens from all libraries, regardless if they are exclusive, a major label, or non-exclusive.  Even if the library claims they are immune to false ContentID claims, I would not believe them because nobody is.

We Have Good News

Thankfully, if the music was purchased from, we 100% guarantee you own the rights and the claim is not legitimate.  Much of the time, it is an honest mistake made by the ContentID AI.  But often the claim comes from a malicious third party trying to take advantage of the system and unsuspecting YouTube video publishers.

Regardless, the solution is simple and there is an easy fix:  We highly recommend you dispute this claim.

Our take on the Situation

There are many reasons why this happens.


The ContentID uses an AI and sonic signature matching algorithm.  Many songwriters purchase canned music libraries for creation software like Pro Tools and Cakewalk.  It doesn't take much to produce a unique piece of music that matches many other tracks that used the same drum-sample, for example.


ContentID has specific rules for qualifying your music library.  Most notably, you must own the exclusive rights to the music.  Mixed libraries with both exclusive and non-exclusive rights, used their exclusive library to gain access, then uploaded their entire non-exclusive catalog.  This simply is not playing by the rules.  We have encountered this on more than one occasion and with more than one library.


Must be exclusive.  Some contentID management services like AdRev, and CDBaby, do a similar play.  Some services are better than others, but I'm convinced they claim their exclusive rights, yet upload non-exclusive content.  However, it's more nebulous because thousands of artists subscribe to these services and I suspect they cannot do the due-diligence required to fully know the rights their clients have.


It's difficult to believe, but anybody can file a copyright claim.  Often times, the response is YouTube places banner ads on the video and the claimant gets a percentage of the ad revenue!  So it doesn't take much to build automation to utilize the ContentID system to attempt to scrape pennies from unsuspecting publishers.  If successful, and scaled out to millions of videos seems to enough motivation to invest in this practice.  However I doubt anybody is actually making money on this scheme, but it seems lots of hackers are trying.  Wired did a great article on this back in 2011.

Again, the solution is simple and there is an easy fix:  We highly recommend you dispute this claim!

Disputing the Claim: Our Recommended Steps

TL;DR:  If you are in a hurry, here is a shortcut to the abbreviated version.

At, we recently created a marketing video which ContentID flagged.  Of course, we have the rights to use our music in promotional videos! We disputed this claim and very quickly the claimant dropped the claim.

Here we document the entire experience.  This is the exact step-by-step guide on how we fought the claim and won. We highly recommend you follow these steps as exact as possible.

Step 1

We signed into YouTube and went to the “my videos” page.
We saw this:

Step 2

Click on the link “includes copyrighted content”. This is what we saw:

Looks like the Claimant is “AdRev for Rights Holder”.

Important: At this point, please send us an email, and include a link to your video, the music used, and who the claimant is. We have relationships with many companies that file these claims.  Often we can get them to drop the claim and whitelist your channel very quickly on your behalf.

Step 3

Next, click on “File a dispute”.

Here, it’s important you MUST ONLY check:

“I have a license of permission from the proper rights holder to use this material”.

Choosing any other option may result in loosing this dispute.

The next screen asks you to verify your choice.

If you want to watch a silly video about copyrights, click on “Learn more about copyright on YouTube”. I don’t recommend the video, it’s just plain silly.

I checked the box “I am sure…” and clicked “continue”.

Step 4

In my example case, the claimant (AdRev) actually got the track name and artist correct. Much of the time, your claim may have a different artist or track name. Regardless, the next steps are the same.

In the Reason for dispute section, we highly recommend you say this:

"I have purchased a royalty free music license from I can provide documentation if necessary."

Check the other two boxes, enter your full name and click “Continue”. Don’t let the scary language deter you. You are doing this in good faith, and doing everything in your power to provide a legitimate video, with a legitimate music license.

I have never heard of anybody actually getting their YouTube account terminated. I’m fairly confident that action is saved for accounts that are repeatedly and purposefully trying to use copyrighted material.


Step 5

Finally, you should be presented with a review of everything. Ours looked like this:

Click “Submit Dispute”. You should be re-directed back to the copyright notice page. You status message should now say “Your Dispute is in Progress”:

Very shortly, you should receive an email with the details of the dispute. This was ours:

Now all you can do is wait. The email claims it can take up to 30 days to review the information, but it’s usually addressed much quicker then that. Our video took under 2 days for the claim to be dropped.

When it was dropped, I received this email:

The TL;DR version

1) Sign in to YouTube and go to the “my videos” page:

2) Click on the link “includes copyrighted content”.

3)  Important: Please email with the subject, YouTube ContentID dispute.  Please include a link to the video and the exact text under the "Claimant".  Also, if it is known, include the track you are using from

3) click on “File a dispute”.

4) In the Reason for dispute section, use this exact text:

"I have purchased a royalty free music license from I can provide documentation if necessary."

Check the other two boxes, enter your full name and click “Continue”. Don’t let the scary language deter you. You are doing this in good faith, and doing everything in your power to provide a legitimate video, with a legitimate music license.  We have never heard of anybody actually losing their account.

5) Review your claim and click “Submit Dispute”. In a few minutes check your email for a confirmation message.

6) Our claim was dropped in under 2 days.

7) In rare occasions, the dispute will not be rejected. In this case, then you need to retrieve your receipt and license from your account on  And go through the process again. This time you should be presented with a form to provide documentation. A .pdf of your license and receipt are available in your account on  These documents should be easy to upload directly to YouTube.

I cannot emphasize enough...We have not lost a YouTube ContentID dispute and work hand in hand with our clients to make sure any hurdles they come across are resolved. 


Google can change their processes and policies at a moments notice with warning. We make an effort to stay up to date with those changes and communicate that out to our customers and artists.  Let us know if you come across a roadblock or irregularity not mentioned above. We will do our best to help and guide you through it.


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