The video-sharing website YouTube recently announced to complement its YouTube Audio Library by way of adding a new feature which allows users to check the consequences when using a particular music sequence for their videos prior to the upload of the respective footage. (see http://youtubecreator.blogspot.ca/2014/12/mystery-solved-what-happens-when-you.html).

So far, YouTube users could not be sure about what would happen to their video due to potential copyright restrictions triggered by the music track used in the video. Such restrictions go back to YouTube’s Content ID System (see https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2797370?hl=en-GB). Copyright owners can identify and manage their works on YouTube through this system by setting certain parameters of use. For instance, the audio sequence may be muted, the whole video may be blocked or it may be monetized by running ads against it.

Whereas in the past a video had to be uploaded first in order to see whether and which restrictions appear, the new YouTube Audio Library feature renders the respective information upfront. The user may choose from the categories “free music”, “ad-supported music” and “sound effects”. As regards the music YouTube is offering free of charge, it is yet in discussion whether Creative Commons licenses will apply or whether YouTube will implement stand-alone license agreements. In any case, the user needs to stay within the boundaries of the granted license, irrespective of a remuneration being agreed upon or not.

Of course, the new feature cannot solve all disputes between right holders and users. Still, it clearly is a step in the right direction. It adds transparency to the system. The vast majority of users wishes to obey the law and is ready to accept copyright protection. Having the possibility to check the legal situation prior to uploading one’s own video is therefore truly appreciated. The use of copyright protected works on the Internet will still give rise to legal disputes and users will continue to be faced with claims being put forward by copyright owners even though a music track has passed the initial check. However, with a growing YouTube Audio Library, legal certainty will equally grow which is to the benefit both of the right holder and the user.