There is a fair amount of confusion about the YouTube copyright system, so I thought I’d do a post on the topic. There are three separate systems at play, and you should understand all three. ContentID (No Duration) ContentID is the YouTube matching algorithm that checks your content against a vast library of other registered material. It is much better at matching audio than video, but is capable of doing both. The system in generally is only really capable of matching like for like, meaning that if you upload a song, it would match because it is exact, but if you upload a cover, it won’t even though you’re covering the same song. This matching system has 4 options for the content owner to apply to each individual piece of content. They can track it, which just means they get to see your analytics on that video. They can monetize it, which forces the inclusion of ads, or claims the revenue you would have otherwise received if you already were running ads. And they can block it in whatever countries they own the rights to that content for. And last, music owners can mute the video. https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2797370?hl=en A ContentID match itself is not a punishment. It is merely the system recognizing a piece of material you uploaded as already existing in the registered database. It is also entirely automatic, so taking a ContentID match personally is a waste of your time. There are a number of ways that this match can be invalid, and you sort those issues out by disputing the claim. So, how can it be invalid? Well, if you licensed a piece of royalty free music for example, the company you licensed from had no idea what your YouTube channel is, so the first time you use that music it will get flagged. Simply dispute by providing proof of your purchase and proof that the license you purchased under applies to YouTube content. Another commonly invalid occurrence is some YouTube networks bulk claiming their partners content, so items like game footage cutscenes or game sountracks may be unintentionally claimed by a company other than the developer or publisher. Simply dispute stating that the network is not the owner of this piece of content and must release the claim. Do your research to be sure that the claiming entity in the ContentID match is not the owner before you file the dispute. It could also be invalid in a situation where you are creating content where fair use is applicable. If you are reviewing a product, making a Parody, creating a piece of educational material, etc. Please do read up on the elements of Fair Use before disputing so that you can include the relevant clauses from Fair Use doctrine in your reason for why the dispute is being made. But also be aware, that YouTube is a private entity and is not legally required to apply Fair Use principles to their system, though they do try their best to do so. Copyright Strike (6 month duration) A copyright strike is where punishments begin. In order to receive a copyright strike, the content owner may or may not have the material registered with ContentID. What they must do however is submit what is known as a manual DMCA takedown notice to YouTube. YouTube then flags your content and removes it from public view. This also removes your ability to edit the video or interact with it in any way. You will see a screen on logging in, which cannot be bypassed until you acknowledge that you’ve seen the strike and you will get to sit through a wonderful Happy Tree Friends copyright video and answer some multiple choice copyright questions. Copyright strikes are targeted and NOT accidental. They mean that someone from the content owner had to actually watch your material, see that it infringed their copyright and manually tell YouTube they want it taken down. Understandably this has some consequences. You will lose features such as the ability to upload unlisted videos. https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2814000?hl=en If you believe that a copyright strike is invalid, for reasons like the ones above under ContentID, you have a dispute mechanism here as well. However, be very very aware that in disputing a copyright strike, if the content owner is serious and wants the content to stay down, they must sue you. So disputing frivolously is a good way to get lawyers sending you letters. Community Guidelines Strike (6 month duration) This strike is generally an automated one, though YouTube does have a mechanism for third party reporting. A community guidelines strike occurs when YouTube recognizes that you have breached the Terms of Service in some material way. This is commonly things like putting tags in the description, having misleading thumbnails and so on. https://www.youtube.com/static?template=terms The tricky thing about these strikes however is that because they are automated by the YouTube system, and people tend to break the Terms of Service on a large number of videos over the course of their channel before being caught, you sometimes don’t get a chance to appeal this. Why? Well, if YouTube finds that you are using tags in the description on a few 10s or hundreds of videos, and you get three strikes by the automated system back to back, your channel is shut down. Yes you can send in an appeal, but what exactly are you appealing? That you didn’t know any better? It won’t likely work and some very large channels have been shut down this way. So play it safe and read the terms of service before doing stupid things with your videos.