Content theft is a sad yet inevitable reality that all YouTube creators will face at some point in their careers. Your hard work is out there for the entire Web to see and, in some cases, steal. This is the new age of bootleg DVDs, only now, money is being taken from independent creators, not Hollywood executives.
The most common method of content theft occurs when a video is downloaded then uploaded on a different monetized channel. Making money from YouTube is tough enough without someone else splitting your search results in half and taking views from your original uploads.
If someone is directly copying your YouTube videos, here’s what you need to do to make it stop.
1. Make Sure Your Content Is Your Own
Before filing a copyright claim or flagging a video, make certain that everything is kosher on your end. This means music, images and content must all be your own before you can file a complaint. Throwing a Metallica song in your intro (unless you’re James Hetfield) almost certainly means that your video isn’t 100% original and therefore your claim is bogus.
2. Try Contacting The Channel’s Owner
Typically, trying to reason with someone who steals YouTube videos for profit doesn’t yield terrific results. However, there is a great deal to be said about civility in an age where a lawsuit is only a few clicks away. Try giving people the benefit of the doubt before calling in the troops. If that doesn’t work, then it is time to get serious.
3. Flag The Video
Probably the most traditional way of reporting stolen content, flagging a copied YouTube video can be done in one simple click. Just below a video there should be a flag icon that when clicked gives you several options to report a video. Among those options is the choice “Infringed my rights,” which is the option you should select to report a copied video.
Flagging videos comes with a price though; if YouTube catches you flagging a video unfairly (not truly a copyright infringement or you’re just being a dick) they will strip the partner status of your channel. Make damn sure that your claim is 100% original and has no grounds to be seen otherwise.
4. File A Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Complaint
First, a preface: This is probably the most extreme measure you can take and should probably be avoided if possible. Also, I’m not a lawyer so don’t stand up in court and yell, “Matthew from NMR told me to do this,” because that’ll probably hurt your case.
Okay, moving on. First, before filing anything, send a cease and desist message to the user. You can find a ton of good DMCA templates online; just make sure they are applicable to copyright infringement and not harassment or anything like that.
That should hopefully clear things up. If not, YouTube has a great copyright infringement notification page that incorporates the DMCA. This is serious stuff, so again, I recommend that you don’t start throwing around DMCA complaints left and right. You could end up in legal trouble yourself.