YouTube doesn't just have an army of bots trying imperfectly to sniff out copyright violations on videos on the site. It also has a song-removal feature that lets a video-creator cut a problematic song without losing control of their video or ruining it. At least, that's how it should work. We tested it.

The site's song-removal option has been in beta since May. It's probably still in beta because it isn't perfect (hey, maybe YouTube's copyright bots are in beta, too!).

We nevertheless had to try it out after seeing one of the YouTubers who has been caught up in YouTube's recent, aggressive Content ID copyright-sniffing sweep say that it had resolved a lot of his problems.


Sounds good, right? We got mixed results, as you'll see below.

A few things to point out first: Not every YouTube copyright issue involves songs. Many of the problematic ones of late have involved claims by game publishers. Cutting a song for a video won't make a difference in those instances, but if the claimant is a music group, cutting a song just might do the trick.


Removing a disputed song may bother people who feel that it's better to fight a questionable claim, but it's also possible that sometimes the claim is legit. And for some people, fighting the claims just doesn't make much sense, especially if the party on the other end decides to be unreasonable.

The relevant scenario is this: 1) You upload a video that has a song in it that YouTube decides shouldn't be in it. 2) YouTube flags your video and tells you what the problem song is. 3) If you're running ads on your video, well, suddenly you can't. 4) You could dispute the copyright claim, since so many of them are bogus or at least highly questionable OR... you could just say, screw it, and either replace the video with a new song-free copy that has to start at zero views OR... you could use YouTube's song-removal feature.

We don't run ads on our Kotaku YouTube videos, but we occasionally get a claim. That means we had some material to work with. We pulled two videos that had claims—one for a song in Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon and one for a song in Battlefield 3—and tried the song-removal thing. We also got a friend of the site to try it on a Disney-themed Minecraft video.


Listen to the results:

What do you think?

In some cases, the song seems more like it is muffled than cut. In other cases, the video just seems to more or less be muted. But sometimes it works out well enough that it's actually impressive, effective and not terribly bothersome.


If you'd like to try this out yourself, follow the steps below. The whole process takes just a few minutes and, if you were running ads on the video, you can run them again as soon as you hit "save"—you don't even have to wait for the new song-free version of the video to render. Good luck!

Step 1: Have a video


Step 2: Get that video Content ID-matched. Uh-oh!

Step 3: Acknowledge the match and get ready to remove the song


Step 4: Select an audio edit

Step 5: Choose to remove the song.


Step 6: Regain full control of your video as soon as you ok the removal.

To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter @stephentotilo.