What To Do If Youtube Removes Your Video

The following guest post was written by Dave Owens, a 2010 graduate of the University of San Francisco School of Law.

The "Star Wars Kid" viral video

You post something on Youtube and later go to your account to show a friend or to see how much traffic you’ve generated and …


If this happens to you, first check your email or Youtube mailbox. You likely received a message notifying you that your video has been removed. The notification usually states the reason for the removal.

There are three reasons why your video might have been removed:

  1. You violated Youtube’s Community Guidelines;
  2. It was removed via Youtube’s Content ID Match; or
  3. Youtube received a DMCA Takedown Notice.

If your video is removed, here are the reasons for the removal and steps you can take to restore the video.

Community Guidelines

The Community Guidelines (the terms of service) gives Youtube broad latitude to remove material. The Community Guidelines state that Youtube can remove videos for copyright violation, sex/nudity, gratuitous violence, animal abuse, drug abuse, bomb making, or for any other reason Youtube deems necessary for removal. In this case, the only way to get your video restored is to contact Youtube and ask them to reconsider the removal.

Content ID Match

Youtube’s Content ID Match compares copyrighted works to uploaded videos. The copyright holder can then choose to block, track, or monetize the content by placing advertisements around the video. Although the Content ID Match is a clever solution to the widespread infringement that occurs on Youtube, it fails to consider whether the use of the content was a fair use. If you believe your video was wrongly removed, Youtube provides a process whereby you can fill out a form to dispute the removal. If the copyright holder still believes an infringement has occurred, they can issue a DMCA Takedown Notice.

DMCA Takedown Notice

A DMCA Takedown Notice is a formal notice of copyright infringement that Youtube receives. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) provides “safe harbor” to the Internet Service Provider if they implement a notice and takedown procedure. To be eligible, the Internet Service Provider must promptly remove infringing material and cancel the accounts of repeat infringers. For Youtube, a “repeat infringer” is anyone who receives three notices.

Counter Notice

The DMCA does provide the ability to issue a counter notice. The notification must be a “written communication provided to the service provider’s designated agent” and include:

  1. Your signature (electronic or physical);
  2. Identification of the material that has been removed;
  3. A statement under penalty of perjury that you have a good faith belief that material was removed because of mistake or misidentification;
  4. Your name, address, telephone number, and statement consenting to jurisdiction in Federal District Court for the judicial district in which the address is located.

Upon receiving your counter notice, Youtube relays the counter notice to the copyright owner and informs them that they will restore the video in 10-14 business days unless the copyright owner chooses to sue.

Before Filing a Counter Notice

Before filing a counter notice, it is best to consult a lawyer. The copyright owner may not respond to the counter notice because they do not want to spend the time and money to litigate the matter. Yet, if they do, it can be a long and expensive process for you.

If you did indeed use the copyright owner’s content without permission, the only defense would be fair use.  Unfortunately there is conflicting case law in regards to fair use. Judges do not always agree on how to evaluate the factors listed in the Copyright Act. It is best to get professional advice before immersing yourself in a legal battle.

Dave Owens is a 2010 graduate of the University of San Francisco School of Law.  He can be reached at [email protected]  The information contained in this blog post is provided only as general information for education purposes.

Photo credit: Urlesque