Copyright, Official Releases and YouTube

Can you answer all the following questions?

  • What can and cannot be copyrighted?
  • What does sound recording copyright mean?
  • Can chords be copyrighted?
  • How can I copyright my music?

In this article, I will speak about copyright on Youtube, tell you what copyright claims are, how to protect your music and how to register it (deposit/safeguard it).

Thank you everybody for your interest in my music, I will start by telling you how copyright works at the moment (year 2019) and then talk about the copyright policy I chose for my backing tracks.

What can and cannot be copyrighted?


1. Melodies CAN be copyrighted. You can and you should copyright melodies for personal protection in case someone else copies the same melody. If you need to protect a melody, you must write the score (music notation) and register it through a copyright collecting agency. There are many available, ASCAP is an example. The process involved in registering a track changes from country to country and from agency to agency. The symbol is ©. If someone else makes music using your melody (and your words if there are lyrics), that song becomes your cover, but you own the copyright. You hold proof that you came up with that melody first.

Sound recording?

2. Sound recording CAN be copyrighted. Sound recording can also be copyrighted, this is the sound, the sample of your instruments all together. The symbol is this ℗. Sound recording copyright happens only after you release a track through a distributor or record label (the latter will use a distributor anyway). There is an automated system to detect the sound, which only distributors have. If you take a sound recording copyrighted track or part of it, uploaded it on YouTube, you will receive a claim. This means that someone has the rights over your video. They can choose to monetise your video (through Ads), share monetisation (give you a little, about 10 to 30%) or block your video in some countries or worldwide. Each copyright holder decides what to do and adopts a personal policy.

Remember, for my tracks, I have disabled the copyright content ID claim on YouTube, to let you free to use them without receive a claim. However, I’ve already released my tracks, their sound recording is copyrighted ℗ and therefore cannot be released again.


3. Chords CANNOT be copyrighted. Nobody can copyright chords. They are a limited entity. Blues progression use similar chords and so do Flamenco progressions. All genres follow classic major and minor progressions. For example, the progression ‘Am F C G’ (and its transposed relatives) is adopted by over 500 songs. The song Despacito follows this progression. If someone could copyright chords, Despacito would never have existed and neither other hundreds of tracks which follow the same chord progression, such as It’s My Life by Bon Jovi, Save Tonight just to mention a few.

What if I want to teach the chords of a song and make a YouTube video?

About chords, however, there are multinational corporation using the YouTube content ID system to monetise also chords. If you make a tutorial explaining the chords of a song, the multinational copyright holder will claim your video manually or automatically, monetise it or even block it. This happens particularly if you use the name of famous artists in your titles. Bear in mind that YouTube rules change and this might be true for the year 2019 but in 2020 we do not now.

In other words, you CAN explain and teach chords in a YouTube video if you make no reference to a famous track. In addition, you CAN use my tracks to teach chords or anything you want, without receiving a copyright claim. This is because, as mentioned before, I have disabled this feature to let guitar teachers and musicians use my tracks without worrying about copyright claims.

My YouTube Copyright Policy

This is why my copyright policy differs from the one of most multinational distributors and you might find it advantageous to use my tracks instead of others. Please read the following article if you need more details about it: MY BACKING TRACKS POLICY

I wish all musicians and music teachers good luck, success and a lot of fun!


If you still have doubts, read the comments below my YouTube video, and in case you don’t find your answer there, feel free to comment and write your question.