What kind of content can I monetize?

The best way to ensure you’ll be able to monetize your YouTube videos is to create your own content. Use your imagination to create something completely original. Examples of videos that have been successful on YouTube include daily vlogs and home videos, do-it-yourself videos and tutorials, original music videos and short films.

You’re also expected to follow YouTube Community Guidelines, which may increase the visibility of your content on YouTube, leading to more views and higher watch time, more user engagement, and ultimately more revenue.

Obtain commercial use rights for specific types of content 

For your videos to be eligible for monetization, you must own all the necessary rights to commercially use all visuals and audio, whether they belong to you or to a third party. If you decide to incorporate third-party content in a video you must clear the rights to use and monetize this content on YouTube. Often, this clearance takes the form of explicit written permission from the rights holders.

To ensure that you’re not infringing on anyone else’s copyright, take a moment to learn from Russell and Lumpy at our Copyright School.

Here are some details about how you may obtain commercial use rights for the following examples of commonly-used content. You may also want to review how to read licenses to understand your rights and what YouTube looks for in your documentation.

Can I monetize my video …

… if I created all the audio and visual content?

You can monetize content that you created as long as you still hold the rights to the video.However, if you have assigned rights to a third party (e.g., a music label), you should consider whether you retain the appropriate rights to monetize the content yourself. You may need to consult an attorney.
… if I use an audio and/or visual editing software to create my own content?

You may be able to use audio and visual editing software to create monetizable content, but this depends on the scope, limitations and commercial permissions of the license. If you have used samples or loops, make sure that the license specifically allows for their commercial use.
... if I use royalty-free or Creative Commons content?

You can monetize royalty-free or Creative Commons content if the license agreement grants you rights to use it commercially. Sometimes rights owners require you to credit the creator of the content or provide proof of purchase in order to use it in your video for commercial purposes. For more information, please review how to read licenses to understand your rights.
... if I have permission to use audio and/or visuals created by someone else?

You can, but you need to be able to provide explicit written permission granting you commercial use rights by the rights holder at any time. For more information, please review what YouTube looks for in your documentation.
... if I am playing a video game, or doing a walkthrough?

Whether you can use video game content for monetization depends on the commercial use rights granted to you by licenses of video game publishers. Some video game publishers may allow you to use all video game content for commercial use and state that in their license agreements. Certain video game publishers may require you to credit them in a specific manner for your gameplay to be monetized. Videos simply showing game play for extended periods of time may not be accepted for monetization.
... if I am doing a tutorial demonstrating use of a software?

You can monetize videos showing software user interface only if you have a contract with the publisher or you have paid a licensing fee. Otherwise, showing software user interface on your video has to be minimal unless providing instructional or educational value.
... if I use content that is in the public domain?

If you can prove that the content in your video is in the public domain, you may be able monetize it on YouTube depending on the scope, limitations, and commercial permissions of the license. For more information, we encourage you to read these public domain resources.
… if it contains my original recording of a cover song?

If you are performing a song that does not belong to you, you may not be able to monetize it unless you have explicit written permission from the rights owner of the song, or that owner has claimed and elected to monetize the song in your video and share revenue with you. Visit this article for more information. 
… if I use my personal recording of public concerts, events, shows, etc?

If you want to monetize your recording of a performance at a concert or show, you would have to get explicit written permission from the rights owners that own the rights to the performance you recorded.
… if I made a recording from TV, DVD, or CD?

Although you may have recorded something yourself, usually its actual creator or author holds many of the rights needed to commercially exploit this content. This means you cannot monetize third party content that you have recorded without explicit written permission.
… if I upload content that I purchased?

Although you may have purchased something yourself, usually its actual creator or author holds many of the rights needed to commercially exploit this content. This means you cannot monetize third party content that you have purchased unless its rights owner grants you commercial use rights.
… if I upload content that I found online?

Although you may have found the content online for free, in most cases its actual creator holds many of the rights needed to commercially exploit the content. If you want to monetize such content, please ensure that you have have all the necessary commercial use rights for it.
… if it contains music from the YouTube Audio Library?

Yes, you can monetize music from the YouTube Audio Library. For more information about the Audio Library and using this free music in your videos, please visit this Help Center article.

If you are still unsure what kind of content you can or can’t monetize, please review our video monetization criteria. For more information about copyright, copyright infringement and fair use, please visit our Copyright Center.

Please note, the above material is being provided solely for educational purposes and is not legal advice. You should only seek legal advice from a lawyer or legal representative.