I know that classical music is public domain, so no-one can claim that they own classical music. But I add a classical music: I. Allegro in one of my Youtube videos (https://youtu.be/WJ13om_YkKg), and I see that NaxosofAmerica claims copyright for that. Am I missing something?

Here is the screenshot that NaxosofAmerica claims.

NaxosofAmerica claims copyright

  • I'd also like to know why it's a problem because there is no advertising on the video of my son performing & definitely no revenue coming in from it. People can't even view it yet the exact same piece of music is allowed by many others of them performing it. Nov 3, 2019 at 14:10

2 Answers 2


I know that classical music is public domain, so no-one can claim that they own classical music.

That's not quite right, at least not under US law. First off, "classical music" is a style, and music in that style is not automatically in the public domain. The rule for if music is in the public domain depends on when it was written, not what style it's in. For instance, music written in the US after 1926 is likely to still be copyrighted.

Second, that's about copyright in the composition. A recorded performance has its own copyright, separate from the copyright the composer has in the composition. Even if Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is public domain, a performance of it by the New York Philharmonic involves creative interpretation and belongs to the orchestra (assuming it was recorded). So unless the recording you used was public domain, it still is subject to copyright. In the US, copyright for recordings after 1972 mirrors normal copyright law; copyright for recordings before 1972 is complicated.

Third, Youtube's system involves some amount of automation. It is possible that the Content ID claim involves an automated system incorrectly thinking your recording was a copyrighted one. That's why you can dispute a Content ID flag and ask the copyright holder to review it manually.

  • 3
    It’s almost certain the OP is using a recording that post dates 1972 and is therefore under copyright
    – Dale M
    Dec 14, 2017 at 19:30
  • 2
    It's also possible that a company has registered with the Content ID system a work whose contents include a public domain recording, and the system has no means of distinguishing the portions of the work for which a copyright claim would be valid from the portions for which it would not. Further, sometimes a portion of a copyrighted recording will sound just like a portion of another independently-produced recording. It would be rare for a multi-minute recording to match perfectly, but it would not be uncommon for e.g. ten-seconds to match up very well if performed on identical instruments.
    – supercat
    Sep 7, 2020 at 19:17

I know that classical music is public domain, so no-one can claim that they own classical music.

It isn't that simple.

Copyright laws vary by country, but in many places, a recording of a performance of a musical composition can be copyrighted separately from the composition itself. It may be that the original composition was created so long ago that it's no longer protected by copyright. But if you used a recording that was created more recently, then that recording probably is copyrighted by the performers, or the music label to whom they may have transferred their copyrighted.

We can't help you with determining whether this particular copyright claim is valid, or what you should do about it - that would be legal advice, which we don't give on this site.

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