Chris Parker | Emmy Winning Media Designer

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Our National Anthem…
A Lesson in YouTube Copyright

“The Star Spangled Banner”…

America’s national anthem…

A staple before every baseball ballgame…

Synonymous with freedom and liberty…

A part of our nation’s collective consciousness…

So it was without hesitation I chose this iconic hymn as a musical backdrop to The Emmy Winning Blog’s 4th of July celebration video.

For those who did not share in the patriotic reverie, let us stand; hold our palms to our hearts and press play.

Shortly after posting this moving tribute to America I was sent an ominous message from YouTube stating that this video was in violation of using third party content.


Third party content?

What does this mean?

Well, simply put I was using someone else’s work as my own.  I was a copyright thief!

How could this be?  I created the animations myself with software I purchased on a computer I own.

Oh wait, what about the music?

The music must be stolen.

No, the music is “The Star Spangled Banner”, THE national anthem, and a work and performance that is firmly ensconced in the realm of public domain

But wait; upon further review of YouTube’s claim, it WAS the music.  YouTube was claiming that of all things, “The Star Spangled Banner” was owned and controlled by a private party.

Well I’ll be a Yankee Doodle’s Dandy.  How can this be so?

First, for those unfamiliar with it, let’s define public domain.

Public domain is any intellectual property, such as a song, a book, or film that is available for public use.  Simply stated anyone can use a public domain work without need to acquire permission or license to the copyright owner.  It is free for use by anybody for any reason.

Simple, right?

Then why was YouTube flagging my video?

Hmmm. That’s a good question.  YouTube uses algorithm software to identify content owned and controlled by private parties.  If these algorithms match any other video already posted on YouTube then, WHAMO!  Your video is flagged.  This is especially true for music.

So what does this mean for my video?  Well, first off it restricts where and what devices can play my video.  Many could not view my video on their smart phones or tablets.  In addition my account had a checkmark against it.

Yet, perhaps the most damming part was the shear principal of it all.

This was the land of the free and home of the brave, where free speech and liberty reigned supreme.  So I called upon our nation’s founding fathers… Jefferson, Franklin, Adams and Washington and taking a page from their book I rebelled.

I was able to file a dispute against these claims.  And though a month came and went, justice finally prevailed.

Fortunately YouTube understands the complexities and tribulations of copyright law and as my case was strong YouTube lifted any claim that was made against my video.

Free at last!

Protecting your content isn’t always easy.  Even if you are using public domain works its important to keep track of where and how you are utilizing these elements.  Organizing and tracking these rights are a vital part of creating and maintaining control over your original creative content.

Freedom certainly does come at a price…

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

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