A new policy on YouTube that will come into effect in January 2014 is beginning to destroy income that YouTubers are earning from their videos. It has begun to affect the LetsPlay community and will soon spread to anyone who makes remixes, fan videos, or reviews of content such as movies, music, and videogames.
The policy is in relation to YouTube’s move to sort out the massive amount of copyright theft complaints that they get daily. It’s unofficially called the “Content ID System policy” and it allows copyright holders to tag a video or a specific part of the video as part of the IP that they hold claim to.
Users are able to continue putting up such videos on YouTube, but any advertising revenue they previously received now goes to YouTube and the copyright holder. This is beginning to hurt the LetsPlay community in a big way.
The way this works is that the tagged part of the video now allows external companies to place adverts and links within the video and on the right-side of the video’s page, earning revenue from the video itself and the flagged parts inside it. Even if viewers turn off the annotations, they still earn the original content holder money from their video.
If LetsPlay YouTubers want to continue making these videos and receive money for their work, they have to become an affiliate channel to an existing one such as Sony, Microsoft, and EA, or they have to become a managed channel, joining under the banner of other channels such as Machinima, RoosterTeeth, or PewDiePie.
On the surface the Content ID System makes sense for claiming advertising revenue from third parties making money from content without prior consent, but this opens up the possibility of stealing revenue from popular YouTube channels.
If you make a claim that looks official using a fake company name on videos that are earning money from advertising, you can tag it, purporting to own the IP in question, inject your own adverts and links into the video and the money that would have gone to the original channel now comes to you, temporarily, until Youtube gets to investigating your claim. Channels that have a lot of subscribers are especially at risk, as those are going to be targets for revenue thieves.
The Content ID System has already gone into the initial testing stages as of 3 December 2013 and many people in the LetsPlay/Walkthrough community and even those who are already under a larger channel’s banner are seeing their videos being flagged, one by one. Below are a few tweets from popular YouTubers who are part of the LetsPlay community.
The issue is affecting YouTubers across the entire site and more are popping all the time.
Copyright claims are hitting channels such as OlgaKay, GameRiot, some Machinima partners, FrankieonPCin1080p, and even people who have videos not showing any of the content but are merely talking about it (in the case of Capcom tagging Jim Sterling’s video about something that isn’t Capcom-related). Some publishers are stepping up to the plate and investigating the issues for the LetsPlay community.
We’ll bring you more on this story as it develops.
For the moment, YouTubers that are being affected by the new policy are taking down videos from their channel to avoid being hit until an alternative is available.
It also seems that Sony and Microsoft may have known that this storm was coming, which is why neither console allows for video uploads of gameplay to YouTube.