YouTube – Monetise Yourself!
I’ve been on YouTube for a long time. Way before EvilWorldofHiglet or HigletFilms came along I was on there, and I’ve always quite liked the site. Sure – it’s chaotic, hard to navigate and reading comments will have you questioning your will to live – but I have always appreciated the fact that anyone, ANYONE, can upload their work there. When we were thinking about distribution options for ‘Mind My Brains, Darling!‘ we knew we had to be on YouTube, but chose Blip as a distributor because it seemed to make sense at the time (how that worked out is another post entirely).
In past I’ve had some brushes with ads being disabled on content on the EvilWorldofHiglet channel. Mostly this was due to bogus copyright claims, and this is a big problem on YouTube (as described here on Wired.com). However, I did manage to prove copyright and get the content back. Now there is a new type of problem. YouTube has expanded its Partnership program so that many more people can apply to have ads run against their content. That’s a great idea. BUT, (you knew there would be a BUT, didn’t you?) they are now clamping down and disallowing content even if there is no copyright infringement claims against your work.
Are you now, or have you ever been…
How does that work? Well, when you upload a video to YouTube you can choose to monetise the video if you have been accepted on the program. When I started uploading the ‘Behind The Scenes’ videos for MMBD, I thought I would try it out. I ticked the relevant boxes describing the content and certified that I owned all the rights to the material. The first two videos were accepted fine, and they are still monetised. However, shortly after uploading ‘Why We Developed BodyLineFilming Technique‘ on April 1st 2012 we had an automated email from YouTube stating:
I followed the instructions on how to submit a claim and sent this back to them within an hour:
“This video is a behind-the-scenes look at why we chose to film our
webseries, ‘Mind My Brains, Darling!’ in BodyLine, a filming technique we
have perfected over 3 years.
All the video, stills and music were created for the webseries and we have
full and exclusive rights to all materials – video, sound, music, graphics
and everything else. See our websites at http://higletfilms.com and
If you require more proof please indicate how this might be done and what,
in particular, caused you to disable monetisation on this video so we might
provide you with the materials you need.
We are hopeful that we will receive a prompt response to this since we have
replied within 30 minutes of receiving notification, even though it is 1:38
Then, we waited, bemused that our Video Manager still showed this:
Congratulations! We need that in triplicate, and in a super-secret format…
And then this morning I received not one, but two emails from YouTube Partner Support. Lucky me! Only, not really.
We haven’t been able to confirm that you have the necessary rights to commercially use all the video material and music from the information you’ve given us, so we ask that you provide written documentation substantiating your claim.
YouTube is not in a position to offer legal advice or to counsel you in any way. However, we have listed some elements below which we have seen in contracts to give you a sense of the types of documents we receive.
-explicit permission to use the rights holder’s content commercially (example: “I, rights holder’s name, give your name or channel’s name, the right to use my original content commercially.”)
-electronic signature with date (this can be as simple as the rights holder writing out full name at the bottom of the document)
Please be sure to pay attention to any limitations and/or conditions specified by the rights holder concerning your use of the content.
Once you have the appropriate contract, please email it to us as an attachment.
If you would like to monetize videos that contain third-party content that you have permission to use commercially, please refer to our Monetization FAQs at http://support.google.com/youtube/bin/answer.py?answer=2490081….”
Thanks for submitting your video for monetization. We need you to provide documentation proving you own the necessary commercial use rights to all sound recordings, musical compositions, performances, video material.
Simply stating that you own the rights to the content may not be sufficient. You must be as specific as possible whenever asked to make a claim on a video.
- If you created your own music, please provide the following information: Artist, Song, Music Composer/Lyricist/Publisher, Music Label (if any)/your relationship with Music Label, Rights Owner’s Name and Contact Information, Your Name (first/last).
- If you created original music or visuals from software, please provide the name of the software and a link to its license terms.
- If you used stock music or visuals from software, please provide the name of the software and a link to its license terms.
- If you used royalty-free music, please provide the following information: Name of the track, Artist of the track, Direct URL of the track, Link to the license terms.
- If an unsigned group or your friend gave you permission to use their song, please provide written consent for your commercial use from the copyright owner(s). To learn about what YouTube looks for in your documentation, please refer to http://support.google.com/youtube/bin/answer.py?answer=2490090.
- If your video includes any third party music, sound effects or visuals, please provide us with the source and license terms.
To learn about what kind of content is monetizable on YouTube, please refer to our Monetization FAQs at http://support.google.com/youtube/bin/answer.py?answer=2490081.
Once more, with documentation?
I thought that the information I sent to them would be enough, but apparently not. So now I need to find a way to word a response that will satisfy them that I have all the rights to all the content. Perhaps I will just send them this:
Why this is important
Granted, our viewing figures on YouTube are tiny, and we are not suffering a loss of income at the moment. BUT THAT IS NOT THE POINT. ANY MINUTE NOW our videos could be picked up, linked to or tweeted by a famous person, and then we would lose the potential to earn revenue. And we are not the only people this is happening to. Many YouTube users, including members of the International Academy of Web Television (IAWTV), have been having similar problems. If smaller creators are ever going to have a chance of earning any sort of money via their content, these sorts of issues have to be addressed.
YouTube needs to find a way to protect themselves from copyright claims that does not mean that content creators have to jump through ridiculous hoops to prove their claims. YouTube does give you examples of phrasings that might pass their automated tests, but obviously it doesn’t always work, and it is frustrating to be caught in this type of Brazil-type bureaucratic nightmare. Demotivating, indeed.
What can be done?
Firstly I would recommend that anyone hoping to monetise their videos makes a full and frank disclosure when they upload. And if your ads are disabled make sure you follow all the instructions. And then get really good at waiting.
I would like some more advice and guidance, too. If you have had videos removed or ads disabled, how did you deal with it? Would you like to see bodies such as the IAWTV put pressure on YouTube? Do you have any ideas how the situation could be resolved?
I would love to hear from you in the comments, on Twitter or Google+ so we can see how widespread the problem is.