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I've noticed that for videos that feature music, a new trend has appeared where users post something like "I don't own the music".

What's the reason for this?
Does it really prevent YouTube from removing the video?
Does it have any legal merit at all?

Is it simply a viral thing where they see other people post it so they do it themselves?

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I can't see how it would help them preventing copyright violation, the only thing they do is not take credit for the music... – Ivo Flipse Aug 16 '10 at 12:05
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Note: I have no legal background, other than spending time reading up on some of the cases concerning copyrights and the DMCA.

It is most likely from a lack of education concerning copyright infringement and the viral nature of YouTube. It does nothing to prevent YouTube from removing the content if the true copyright holder can prove the infringement. Plus there's no legal basis for it as they are still technically committing copyright infringement.

As Ivo commented, the best they're doing is admitting they have no rights to the song.

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In order to commit a crime, you need to commit a guilt act (actus reus) and ALSO possess a guilty mind (mens rea). Any acknowledgment like this does not make your copyright infringement any less illegal, but in fact satisfies one of two criteria necessary for you committing criminal copyright infringement. The other is the act of posting a video of a song you don't own. I honestly don't know why anyone writes stuff like this—it confirms that you know what you're doing is wrong which makes you more prosecutable, not less.

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I had a copyright strike and my video was blocked in some countries right after I uploaded it. I didn't knew what to do, I just added "I do not own the song..." and copyright strike was immediately removed. I don`t know how but it works in some cases.

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Because if I use a song owned by somebody else it will likely get removed. If I claim I do not own he rights I can't be held accountable for he content. Plus sometimes you can't upload a song in its original state because of copyright. Notice sometimes songs are sped up or slower than the original version is because they did not say they do not own he rights. So by me saying I do not own he rights I can upload it exactly as it should be.

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Interesting. Could you link to an official source for this information? – Vidar S. Ramdal Feb 28 '13 at 9:04

My guess is by adding the magic text "I do not own this song" will not block your content on copyright infringement basis and any ad revenue generated from it will go to the original owner.

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We prefer facts that can be backed up rather than guesses. – Al E. Sep 6 '13 at 3:05

If you don't own it, you have no rights to use it

"I don't own this song" can be used against the youTuber in a court of law

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