An introduction to YouTube policies and guidelines
YouTube is a community. Sometimes, when a video may violate a law or our Community Guidelines, we need to take that video down, restrict its availability, or take other action. Keep your videos and channel in the clear by learning a bit more about YouTube’s policies and some of the important laws that come into play.
We know that most creators follow the rules, but you can look here in case you have questions about specific YouTube guidelines or policies.
Policies that guide YouTube
Various guidelines and policies on YouTube help maintain a safe and vibrant community. Anyone who uses YouTube should take the time to review. As a creator, it’s your responsibility to ensure your content and conduct follow these rules.
The first thing to note is YouTube’s Terms of Service—which applies to anyone who uses YouTube. If you violate the Terms of Service, your channel could be removed and/or your account terminated. It’s a good idea to review these from time to time, as YouTube may revise the Terms of Service.
Anyone who interacts with YouTube needs to follow our Community Guidelines. These are common-sense rules that help make sure YouTube is the best place to listen, share, and create community. They outline the types of content allowed on YouTube, the rules prohibiting things like spam or harassment, and much more.
YouTube relies on a combination of people and technology to flag inappropriate content and enforce these guidelines. If we find that your content doesn’t follow our Community Guidelines, you’ll receive a warning (for the first violation). The next time your content is found to violate our policies, you’ll receive a Community Guidelines strike. If after the warning...
- you get one strike, then you won't be able to post anything—videos, live streams, stories, custom thumbnails, playlists and posts—for one week
- you get a second strike, then you won't be able to post anything—videos, live streams, stories, custom thumbnails, playlists and posts—for two weeks
- you get three strikes, then your channel will be terminated
Note: Egregious violations may lead to other repercussions.
If you receive a strike, make sure to review the reason why and learn more in the Policy Center so that it doesn't happen again. If you think that your content doesn't violate the Community Guidelines, you can appeal the action. Learn more about how strikes impact what you can do on YouTube.
YouTube is a global platform for news and information, and we realize that sometimes graphic material is vital to our understanding of the world. It’s important to add context, both within your video and in the title and description.
When a video is flagged, someone on YouTube’s team reviews the video—and its context—to decide whether the video should be restricted, removed, or kept live. This includes evaluating the video for educational, documentary, scientific, or artistic intent.
See it in action
When users ask us to remove contentWe work hard to respond fairly and accurately to legal and community concerns. That's how we maintain vibrant communities, while staying true to our commitment to free expression.
The Life of a FlagThis video explains how YouTube receives flags, actions reviewers take on flags, and other processes that help keep the YouTube community safe.
You should only upload content (including music, videos, and artwork) that you created or that you're authorized to use; otherwise, this could result in a copyright violation. Learn more.
If you use someone else’s content on your YouTube channel, the copyright owner can submit a takedown request. If this is a valid request, your video will be removed from YouTube and you’ll get a copyright strike. You can wait for a copyright strike to expire, seek a retraction, or submit a counter-notification. If you get three copyright strikes, your channel is subject to termination.
Alternatively, if you upload a video that contains copyright-protected material, you could end up with a Content ID claim issued by the party who owns the music, movies, TV shows, video games, or other copyright-protected material. A Content ID claim may result in a takedown or lost revenue depending on the actions specified by the copyright owner (but you can dispute a claim you believe is wrong).
We believe it’s important to keep YouTube a platform that inspires vibrant creativity and protects creative rights. If another channel uploads your content without your permission, you may file a copyright complaint via our webform.
- Carefully consider under which circumstances fair use (or fair dealing) may apply.
See it in action
In some cases, a video doesn’t violate our policies, but may not be appropriate for all audiences, so YouTube’s review team may place an age restriction on the video. Some factors that affect this are:
- Vulgar language
- Violence and disturbing imagery
- Nudity and sexually suggestive content
- Portrayal of harmful or dangerous activities
Age-restricted videos aren’t eligible for monetization and aren’t shown to users under 18. If you believe your video was age-restricted in error, you can appeal.
The YouTube Partner Program (YPP) lets you earn money from ads served on your videos and from YouTube Premium members watching your content. Your channel must meet the following requirements in order to be eligible:
- Have 4,000 watch hours in the previous 12 months and 1,000 subscribers.
- Comply with YPP policies.
- Comply with YouTube Spam policies and Community Guidelines.
- Comply with monetization criteria.
- Videos must follow advertiser-friendly guidelines. If you want to upload content that doesn’t comply with these guidelines, you should turn off ads on individual videos.
- You should only monetize content (including music, videos, and artwork) that you created or have rights to use.
If you’ve applied to YPP and met the requirements, we’ll review your channel for compliance with YPP policies and other YouTube policies. If you don’t have enough watch time or subscribers yet to qualify for YPP, check out this lesson for tips.
See it in action
Ads Friendly Guidelines - Barbara's TakeThis Creator Insider video dives into YouTube’s advertiser-friendly guidelines and offers tips to make content suitable for ads.
Here are some quick links to get the details on specific guidelines and policies:
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I should check out...
Using a YouTube product or service YouTube’s Terms of Service Uploading content or commenting on a video YouTube’s Community Guidelines Understanding copyright ownership YouTube’s Copyright website Making videos visible to all ages YouTube’s age-restricted content guidelines Earning money on YouTube YouTube’s Partner Program policies Creating content suitable for ads YouTube’s advertiser-friendly content guidelines