Thursday, February 21, 2013

Warning: Don't buy music for YouTube videos!

YouTubers, especially the partnership members, know the dilemma: Using popular music as a background makes a video so much more interesting, but as someone else usually owns the rights, all kinds of trouble may arise if you simply use a suitable mp3 file you have on your harddrive. Not being able to commercialize the video is standard in such cases, but you risk a complete shutdown of the clip and even penalties. YouTube has advanced auto detection software that is obviously very quick, and good.

So offers from professional audio suppliers are indeed very tempting. I fell for such an offer recently - during the first ever recorded usage of a chainsaw as ammo, I wanted "Hallelujah" from Händel playing gloriously in the background.

So I found this website:

See the link on

Sounds very attractive indeed. For 53,50 Euros, "most commercial uses" are OK, and YouTube video uploads are specifically listed. The exceptions listed on the site did not apply.

I went ahead and did the deal. The song download access was swiftly granted, and I was a happy camper.

But the nasty surprise was just around the corner. YouTube did not allow me to commercialize the video, because of "third party matched content". In other words, someone else claimed to have the rights on the music.

Three different "owners" (Believe, Muyap and INgrooves) obviously prevented my video from making money for me. Just ONE such claim is enough to cause trouble.

As the money from such YouTube ads is the ONLY income I make from my channel and I need the funds for the materials I use, this is a desaster.

So I filed a dispute, as I had the perfect paperworks. Also I contacted Proudmusic.

Within a few days, the video saw many many thousands of views (about 250k so far) - all not making any money for me. Two of the three prospective "claims" were dropped over time, but the third one, "Muyap", still blocks the monetizing option of the video. This has caused damages worth several hundreds of Euros.  And counting.

I wasn't happy about it, and asked the owners of ProudMusic for a refund. The loss of the ad money was far higher than the 53,50 I had paid for the music license, but I really wasn't happy with the deal and thought that giving me my money back was the least the guys could have done.

But they were reluctant. After a few harsh emails back and forth, they "generously" offered half of that money. Not even a tenth of the sum I lost because of the - from my point of view - misleading info on their website.

It turns out that they can give you a license, but can't prevent others from claiming the rights to YouTube. As YouTube can of course not be the judge in copyright fights, they simply block the monetizing option for disputed videos and leave it be. Understandable.

ProudMusic does not tell you about this BEFORE you buy a license. Of course not, as nobody would consider buying a license in the first place otherwise. So they give you the impression that all you have to do is to cough up 53,50 and you are all set. Then, after your video is online and blocked from making any money, they will explain this "legal situation" to you, in great detail. It's not that they don't KNOW about this. They just choose not to inform potential customers. This is misleading and shady, in my humble opinion.

So. Don't. Do not. Not even when it really itches. Go and buy a music license from any of the providers if you want to make some money with your YouTube video.

And spread the word.

UPDATE: Turns out they NEVER owned the rights. Someone else claimed the rights successfully after two years or so, and I was forced to take the video down. 


  1. I know it's not exactly Handel, but I'm sure many of your viewers (myself included) would be happy to contribute music for your videos, royalty free. It would be really cool for you to make the money you need to continue creating the videos, and would be great for the author of the music to have it heard :)

  2. The world is becoming aware of how greedy the music and movie industry can be and would rather u didn't support them. So like the person above said, plenty of ppl are willing to contribute for free. Win/win situation ;)

  3. Next time Joerg just try to find a cover of the song you want. Most covers are not covered by copyrights.

    1. you can get dmca notices for simply having a cover.

      i had a friend do a cover of hallelujah by leonard cohen and it was auto flagged and never resolved.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. HOW DARE THEY, they costed jeorg much money just for some background music. I hate copyright claims, the companys are so greedy.
    Thankyou jeorg for giving us this valuable information, i willl be able to make music videos in without disturbance from copyright claims on my videos soon.
    Thankyou so much.

  5. Good to know thanks for bringing this to light.

  6. Maybe easiest way is to keep the videos without any music. Then the sounds of weapons and hits can hear better. I think we want to watch and hear the slingshot, not the music. This was just a opinion from a guy, who can not put a music to a video :)

    a fan from Finland

  7. I use the music mostly during the hi speed shots - those cameras don't have microphones, so there is NO audio otherwise.

    1. Well you have this channel called ninety9lives and they sell their songs+licences for around €2,- per song or so, you can even get whole albums! As long as you credit them you shouldn't get trouble using it (just a tip)

  8. How in the world is Handel not copyright free yet?! He was an 18th century composer! I can't believe you had to pay, but after the fact you paid and had documentation the claim still prevented you from making ad revenue???

    I can't stand the system of dispute and disable with no regard to whether your video was legal or not. I mean what do they expect you to do? Spend money on a lawyer to prove you paid for 1 song's rights? A song in which no one who had anything to with its production is alive.... Of course the copyright claimer can afford this kind of action, I'm sure they make thousands of such claims a day, squashing the use of legally available music.

    Anyways first time commenter here, just wanted to show my support in saying how ridiculous that is, considering I really liked that video and think you should have been able to at least pay for your creative works with it. Lawyers trying to snuff out actual creativity so they can protect and continue to make money off of a 300 year old song.

    1. Well apparently Handel's Messiah IS copyright free, but what is copyright free is the music sheets only.

      So anyone can play them and perform them on their shows or whatever. However, what is copy-written are the performances.

      So if a I perform a musical piece by Handel, Mozart, Tchaikovsky. . . that's alright, but YOU can't use MY PERFORMANCE of this musical piece without my permission.

      But here's the problem with classical musical sheets, since it's just audio, it's hard to prove who has performed this musical piece.

      So in this case, Joerg has gotten permission to use the performance by the people at Proud Music Library. However, since their performance is almost identical to many others, many other sources can claim "OH WELL THIS IS ACTUALLY OUR PERFORMANCE AND THIS GUY USED IT WITHOUT OUR PERMISSION"

      And as Joerg said "YouTube can of course not be the judge in copyright fights" so he can't submit proof to them of where he obtained this performance from and that he has the right to use.

      The shit is complicated and unfair.

  9. WOW and I thought little Caesars was a rip off........

  10. I agree. Handel's music is well within the 50 years copyright ceiling. It should be in Public Domain. These copyright owners are just sabre rattling. I have had many YouTube clips pulled and successfully had them reinstated. I always add 'For Educational Purposes Only' etc. If they won't accede to the section 107 Fair Use clause then I go for the second dispute. This then places the ball firmly in the 'copyrighters' side of the fence. They have 30 days within which to take you to court (or begin proceedings) or YouTube will take the restriction off. When stating my case I always add that I am happy to contest the matter in court (Which I am) and add that they need only to let me know which court and I will appear. I would conduct my own defense thereby saving myself legal costs. They on the other hand would be up for thousands of dollars in court costs. The onus would be on them to prove the music was played by their orchestra/band. Any equipment produced would have to be authenticated as would the sample. They know that even if they win the case and are awarded costs they still have to get the money. If you refuse to pay..they have 12 months to serve you with a summons. If they cannot serve you they have to return to court to have another issued. I read a book once called "How To Avoid Your Debts" by Keith B. White (ISBN 0-646-07064-9). It has saved me thousands of dollars. From credit card debt to car accidents, you name it. He is a former bankrupt who went on to become a debt-collector finally author. As an added note may congratulate Joerg on his excellent videos and homemade weapons. If I survive the Apocalypse I will be able to defend myself and my loved ones.

  11. Of course. Handel's new music is well within the 50 years copyright ceiling.Youtube videos visitors can move imeediatly.

  12. Update: More copyright claims arrived. Turns out the guys at proudmusic never owned the rights. I had to take down the video.

  13. Unfortunately, false copyright claims are a very common and nasty occurrence in YouTube these days. You're not alone, Jörg, not by far. What I can recommend is ditching the paid licences altogether and stick to royalty free music, like Kevin MacLeod's ( Me and my colleagues use it all the time for our videos and have never had any trouble with them. But when it comes to preventing false claims: you can't. That's simply how YouTube is, currently. Everything is automated and YouTube doesn't care. All we can do is hope that they pull their heads out of the sand and fix it.


    1. With the lack of any useful feedback, I'm quite certain we've reached the point where Google has gotten too smart for its own good and has secretly taken over Youtube HQ. Now it's slowly giggling to itself as it watches humans lose their minds over this copyright nonsense.

      Also it's so cool to see different YT channels that I follow interact with each other. I really enjoy your animations!

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