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What kind of content can I monetize?

For your videos to be eligible for monetization, you must own all the necessary rights to commercially use all visuals and audio elements, whether they belong to you or to a third party.

Guidelines for content you created:

  • Follow YouTube Community Guidelines
  • Create all elements of the video yourself, such as, daily vlogs and home videos, do-it-yourself videos and tutorials, original music videos, original short films
  • Make sure you own all the necessary rights to commercially use all visuals created by you
  • Keep in mind that advertisers are more likely to place ads on advertiser-friendly content

Guidelines for content you didn't create:

Can I monetize my video if...

Click below to see if your type of content is monetizable and if you need to prove commercial use rights to use it.

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 are signed with a music label, you may or may not be able to monetize your video depending on the terms and/or limitations of that agreement. You may need to consult an attorney.

I use 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.

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.

Learn more about how to read licenses to understand your rights.

I have permission to use audio and/or visuals created by someone else

You can monetize such content, but you must be able to provide explicit written permission granting you commercial use rights to that content by the rights holder at any time.
I'm playing or doing a walkthrough of a video game

Whether you can use video game content for monetization depends on the commercial use rights granted to you by the license from the applicable video game publisher. Some video game publishers may allow you to use all video game content for commercial use and confirm such permission in their licensing agreements.

In other licensing agreements, publishers may not grant commercial rights for videos that simply show game play for extended periods of time. For these licensing terms, the use of video games must be minimal unless the associated step-by-step commentary provides instructional and/or educational value and is strictly tied to the live action being shown.
I'm doing a tutorial demonstrating use of a software
 

Whether you can show software user interfaces in a video submitted for monetization depends on the commercial use rights granted to you by the license of the software.

In some cases, you may need a contract with the publisher or proof that you have paid a licensing fee. Otherwise, the use of software user interfaces must be minimal unless the associated step-by-step commentary provides instructional and/or educational value and is strictly tied to the action being shown.

Learn more about video game and software content.

I use content that's in the public domain
 

In order for content to be in the public domain, the copyright of the work has either expired, been forfeited, or is no longer applicable. 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).

The criterion to qualify as public domain may vary depending on many factors.
Learn more about the public domain.
It contains my original recording of a cover song
 

Some cover songs may be eligible for monetization. In order to be eligible, the music publisher must claim the song through the Content ID system and elect to monetize it.

If the song has not been claimed, you may not be able to monetize your video unless you have explicit written permission from the rights owner of the song.

The use of any commercial sound recording, such as an instrumental, karaoke recording, or live concert performance by the artist is not be eligible for monetization.

Learn more about monetizing eligible cover videos.

I use my personal recording of public concerts, events, shows, etc.

Although you may have recorded something yourself, usually the original creator or author of the underlying content being recorded (e.g. composer/lyricist of the song being performed at a concert) holds many of the rights needed to commercially exploit this content.

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 original rights owner of that performance.

I made a recording from TV, DVD, or CD

Although you may have recorded something yourself, the actual creator or author of the underlying content being recorded (e.g. producer of the TV show being displayed on the TV) may hold many of the rights needed to commercially exploit this content.

If you want to monetize your recording of a TV show, DVD or CD, you would need to get explicit written permission from the applicable rights owner of the audio and/or visual elements you recorded.

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.

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, make sure that you have all the necessary commercial use rights for it.

It contains music from the YouTube Audio Library

You can monetize music from the YouTube Audio Library.

I used third-party content under Fair Use

Commercial uses are less likely to be considered "fair use," though it’s possible to monetize a video and still take advantage of the fair use defense in some cases. For more information, go to the What is Fair Use? site. 


Still need help?

If you're still not sure what kind of content you can or can’t monetize, review the video monetization criteria. For more information about copyright, copyright infringement, and fair use, go to the Copyright Center.

The material on this page is provided solely for educational purposes and is not legal advice. You should only seek legal advice from a lawyer or legal representative.
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