Did TikTok mute your video? Here’s how you can avoid and fix Music Copyright claims on TikTok

Does your new TikTok notification say 'sound removed'? See how you can escape those copyright claims in this guide.

Did TikTok mute your video? Here’s how you can avoid and fix Music Copyright claims on TikTok
Tiktok copyright claim

You've just shot the perfect TikTok video – great moves, flawless lip-syncing... but then it gets muted or taken down. Frustrating, right? Often, the culprit is copyright infringement – using music without an artist's permission. This just means that you have used a sound outside of TikTok's library.

TikTok has been cracking down on un-original content and the platform's recent updates to its Community Guidelines further emphasise this. Creators risk content takedowns, account strikes, and a significant loss of reach, all of which can stifle your growth on the platform. But don’t worry, there are ways to bypass or even avoid this issue! 

This guide will help you understand TikTok's copyright rules, learn how to check for infringement before you post and resolve any existing claims. 

Let's get into it!

Music copyright protects the rights of creators of original music. On social media, obtaining permission to use copyrighted music is vital. TikTok has licensing agreements with music labels and publishers, allowing users access to a vast library of copyrighted songs within the app.

Ignoring copyright rules can lead to content removal, account suspension, and even legal trouble.

User experiences on TikTok reveal two common reasons:

  • Reason 1: Matching Song in TikTok's Library: Even if you have the right to use a song, TikTok might flag it if the exact version exists in their library. This indicates a potential licensing issue.
  • Reason 2: Video Length and Background Music: If you use copyrighted music and your video exceeds 60 seconds, TikTok likely mutes it. Shorter clips often avoid this issue.

What creators need to know about TikTok’s policies

It's important to stay up-to-date on TikTok's policies to safeguard your content. The platform recently announced updates to its Community Guidelines and introduced new features to help creators avoid copyright infringements and account restrictions. Here's a breakdown of what you need to be aware of:

  • Clarified Rules: TikTok has refined definitions in its Community Guidelines, particularly regarding hate speech and health misinformation. Familiarising yourself with these updates will help protect your creative work.
  • For You Feed Eligibility: TikTok is working to ensure a safer For You feed experience by updating eligibility standards. A new policy will temporarily restrict accounts from appearing in the For You feed if they repeatedly violate content guidelines.
  • Warning Strikes: TikTok is introducing a "warning strike" system for first-time, less severe Community Guidelines violations. These warnings do not count against your overall strike total but remind you of platform rules. You can appeal decisions if you believe an error was made.
  • Account Check: A new feature allows you to easily audit your account standing, review recent posts, see any restrictions you might have, and identify if the content has been removed for policy violations.

TikTok's recent updates put the focus squarely on you, the creator! They want to empower you with the knowledge you need to navigate their music rules. Understanding these rules will dramatically lower your risk of accidentally using copyrighted music and facing frustrating account strikes. Ultimately, TikTok wants a thriving community where everyone feels safe and inspired to create awesome content.

It’s always wise to start by opening the TikTok app and searching for the song you’re interested in covering. Before you hit record, make sure that other users have covered it too. Look for a version of the song that doesn’t have additional audio layers—like someone talking or playing over it. Once you find a clean version, download it and use it for your video.

Pre-Recording Checklist:

  • Research: Open the TikTok app and search for the song you want to use. Look for other popular videos using the same song, especially those without additional talking or sounds overlaid.
  • Download: Find a clean version of the song and download it for use in your video.
  • Settings (Optional): If available, activate a copyright check feature within your TikTok settings.
  • Check Rights (If Possible): Try to confirm whether the song has royalty-free or other usage allowances.

Using In-App Copyright Check:

  • On TikTok's home screen, tap the three-dot icon in the top right corner.
  • Navigate to "Settings" and choose "Creator Tools."
  • Scroll to locate and enable the "Video Sound Copyright Check" feature.
TikTok creator video and copyright settings

Editing with CapCut:

  • Open CapCut and add your video.
  • Select the "Audio" tab and use the copyright check tool (typically a copyright symbol) to analyse your chosen song.
  • For accurate analysis, keep your video under one minute.
Capcut Copyright check

Before Uploading via TikTok Web:

Step 1: Open Chrome and go to Click "Log In" (top-right corner or below "Following" on the left) and choose your preferred log-in method (email, social media, etc.).

Step 1: Go to

Step 2: Click the cloud icon with the "Upload" label, then select your video file from your computer.

Step 2: Click "Upload"

Step 3: Give your video a catchy caption with relevant hashtags and choose an eye-grabbing cover image. Decide who can see your video (public, friends only, or private) and if you want to allow comments, duets, or stitches.

Step 3: Select and Upload Video

Step 4: This is the key step! Look for the "Run a Copyright Check" option and toggle it on. Wait a moment while TikTok analyzes your video. If there are no issues, you're good to go!

Step 4: Run a copyright check

If TikTok however, flags a copyright issue, don't worry! Try using a sound directly from TikTok's built-in library instead. This should let you post your video without fear of it getting taken down.

Unfortunately, TikTok doesn't offer a simple, built-in way to dispute copyright claims – even if you have permission from the copyright owner or are promoting your music. There is a buried "Counter Notification Form," but it requires information you're unlikely to have when receiving a claim.

Here are a few things you could do:

You can minimise future risks

  • Prioritise TikTok's Music Library: This is the safest route, as these songs are pre-cleared for use.
  • Respect Clip Lengths:  Stick to short snippets of copyrighted music based on TikTok's guidelines.
  • Giving credit to the artist won't always clear you, but it's a good practice.

You can also explore Licensing options

  • Seek Proper Licensing: If the music isn't in TikTok's library, platforms like Soundstripe, Epidemic Sound, and Artlist offer licensed tracks for video use.
  • Contact the Copyright Holder: If even licensing platforms don't have the song, try reaching out directly to the artist, label, or publisher for permission.

Try to understand your rights and limitations

  • Licensing Complexities: Know the difference between mechanical and public performance licenses, and understand TikTok's existing agreements.
  • Fair Use: Be aware of the fair use doctrine, but understand that it's a complex area and shouldn't be your main defence.

Note that: Commercial use of music has stricter rules compared to personal videos.

Parting Thoughts

By understanding copyright, TikTok's guidelines, and licensing options, you can safely make engaging content without risking copyright infringements. Remember, respecting the work of music creators keeps the TikTok community healthy and protects your account.

Get weekly insights on tech startups and VC in Africa