I Did a Really Stupid Thing…On My YouTube Channel

I regularly videotape my daughter’s soccer games. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I videotape her playing soccer. That’s more accurate.

The reason I do that is so she can watch how she played and fix whatever she did wrong.  I don’t tape the whole game, just when she has the ball. After every game she looks at the video clips on the computer and looks to see what she did right and importantly, what she did wrong. I give her a lot of credit for wanting to improve and watching how she performed during each of her games.

Every few weeks, I will take highlights of her game and clips of her playing and put it into a video for her to keep for posterity and to show her friends if she chooses.

This week, I did something really really stupid that put my entire YouTube video channel at risk of being shut down.

Currently, I have over 600 videos on my YouTube channel. That’s just one source of where I put my video content. I have more videos scattered across the Internet way in excess of 600 videos. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, right behind Google. It’s a fantastic source of putting great content up for viewers and consumers to learn from you.

When putting together my daughter’s soccer video, I added music to the video from a song that was in our iTunes collection that she had previously purchased. The video was a short clip, lasting just over one minute. The music was bold, encouraging and energizing. I uploaded the video to YouTube.


Something strange happened as I was uploading it. It took much longer than I expected. After the video was fully uploaded it said it was processing the video, but took forever to process. Based on other videos I’ve uploaded, I figured something must be up. Rather than sit in front of computer and watch paint dry, I came back half an hour later and found an e-mail from YouTube. Here’s what it said:

“Your video may have content that is owned or licensed by someone else, but it’s still available on YouTube! In some cases, ads may appear next to it. This claim is not penalizing your account status.”

By the way, being the proud parent that I am, here’s Mia’s soccer video. Take a look. As an aside, during the game in the pouring rain, the varsity coach asked her to play for the varsity soccer team in a game the next day.


Even though my daughter had purchased a song that appeared in our iTunes account, it technically is not our content despite the fact we bought it and can use it on any of our Apple devices. When you upload a video, YouTube’s  terms of service require that you own the content before putting the video online. Since many people were taking songs and other original content without explicit permission, YouTube came out with an ingenious way to monetize this process.

If  you have inadvertently added a song that you purchased elsewhere, YouTube sends you a warning notice, like this one. When a viewer goes to play the video, either a monetized ad will appear as an overlay on your video and/or people can buy the actual song below the video player simply by clicking on a hotlink. This is a relatively ingenious way to monetize content.

The big lesson in this is not how YouTube monetizes this content.

The big lesson is that YouTube can penalize you for uploading content that is not yours. If you violate YouTube’s terms of service, they can, without warning, immediately shut down your entire account and all of your great content would no longer be accessible.

This was a wake-up call that I had forgotten about. Don’t make the same mistake and wind up getting penalized by YouTube.

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I just read Gerry Oginski's book this weekend, Secrets of Lawyer Video Marketing in the Age of YouTube. You wont find better "front to back" advice on using video to market your law firm anywhere.

Ben Glass
Founder of Great Legal Marketing and a practicing personal injury trial attorney in Fairfax, VA