YouTube’s MCN Affiliate Channels Will Be Subject To Monetization Review

By 12/06/2013
YouTube’s MCN Affiliate Channels Will Be Subject To Monetization Review

News is making its way through the YouTube community that could change the landscape of the site for a number of YouTube Partners. Channels like ReviewTechUSA and AngryJoeShow claim YouTube plans to begin pre-screening videos from certain channels before they’re monetized as a means of deterring copyright infringement on the site.

ReviewTechUSA’s video (embedded below) on the change makes it seem as if the new system could spell doom for gaming channels that thrive on gameplay videos from copyrighted sources, as well as news channels that attempt to push out relevant stories in a timely manner. He cites a letter from YouTube Multi-Channel Network (aka MCN) Maker Studios to its Affiliate Partners as his source, which we have posted below in its entirety:

Hello, Makers!
YouTube is in the process of rolling out some updates to the partnership program. Since you’re part of the Maker family, we want to make sure you’re equipped to go full-speed on day one! We’ve prepared a summary of upcoming changes, plus a list of instructions on how to thrive in the updated ecosystem. Lastly, we’ll give you a sneak peek into how we’ll help you grow through the end of 2013. Let’s get right to it:


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First, your channel is still a member of Maker network. This means that you will continue to receive the full spectrum of benefits associated with Maker’s partner program. This includes access to Maker Max, one-on-one channel development, and your dedicated support team.

Beginning in early January, newly-uploaded videos will occasionally go through a process called monetization review. This review is performed by YouTube, and will determine if your content is in compliance with YouTube’s current terms of use and copyright standards. Once your content has been submitted, the approval process usually takes between a few hours to a few days. This system will be based on trust-algorithm, so the more often you’re approved, the less often you will be reviewed.

We’ve included a how-to at the end of this email, which includes our suggested practices. Simply follow the guide, and you should not see any interruption in your earnings.
We’re also extremely happy to hear that YouTube is making earnings transparency mandatory across all networks. As the first network to offer this information to all of its creators, we’ll continue to provide access to both your YouTube estimated earnings and income earned through participation in other Maker initiatives.

Your Contract with Maker: YouTube is introducing a module which lets you send us feedback regarding the status of your partnership. (Editor’s Note: We inserted a link into the previous sentence to provide some more context.)  Some people are calling this the “unpartner button”.  Maker does not use this feature for communication about its contracts and this button is not a legal notice.  If you have questions about your contractual relationship with us, please continue to contact us as you usually do.

As always, it’s your responsibility to only upload content that you own 100% of the rights to.  Do not use footage from other sources including TV, movies, trailers, music videos, etc.

Being partnered with Maker as an Affiliate channel doesn’t change how we work with you in any way. We will still provide you with support, help increase viewership, and find ways to grow your brand and revenue. We know there can be confusion and sometimes frustration when new features and platform changes roll out, but we’re here to help, answer any questions you might have, and figure out how to make these changes work to your advantage. Things like monetization review are designed to prevent your channel from getting arbitrary content and community strikes; the feedback module is designed to help YouTube channels who are working with unresponsive and non-transparent networks. None of the features are designed to hurt your channel or your content, and Maker is excited to work with all of our partners on each new development as they roll out.

How-to: Monetization:
1. Begin the upload process a few days before the scheduled release
2. Before the upload process is complete, set the video to UNLISTED
3. You may apply for monetization through your video manager, on a per-upload basis. First, refer to YouTube’s policy on what is and is not monetizable:
If you are confident that your video is eligible for monetization, you may follow the below instructions on how to submit your content for monetization review:
4. Once monetization is approved, release your video on-schedule

NOTE: Setting a public video back to unlisted or private will cause the video to disappear from subscriber feeds permanently, so be careful!

ReviewTechUSA explains new system could possibly attempt to combat a specific class of uploaders: Those who create a new account, upload copyrighted material, make a quick buck off the ensuing influx of views, let the new account get banned, rinse, repeat. Pre-screening all new videos seems to be a drastic measure (why not simply screen channels by IP?), but YouTube has already proven it will go to great lengths to protect copyrights on the site.

Meanwhile, the changes have also been noted by AngryJoeShow on Twitter, but Joe seems to have a different idea of how things will work. While ReviewTechUSA claimed the changes will affect everyone, including big channels like IGN, Joe explained that there will be two classes of channels: “Managed” and “Affiliate” channels, with the former free of pre-screening (because the MCN will take responsibility for any infringements) and the latter subject to it (because the MCN will have a less hands-on role with these channels). He also claimed there will be a “credit” system (aka the “trust-algorithm” mentioned above in the letter from Maker Studios) where more trustworthy creators will be given more leeway.

We spoke to a source familiar with the new system, who helped clear things up a bit. The source explained the biggest snag isn’t potentially rampant ContentID claims on new videos; instead, the delay between posting and monetization approval could cause problems. (Note how in the letter above, Maker instructs Affiliate channels to upload a video as unlisted, wait for the monetziation approval, and then make it public). There is the possibility that it will hurt news videos and exclusives that are looking to break quickly. AngryJoeShow also noted the potential for a broken system riddled with delays, citing YouTube’s recent comment changes as evidence that the site has a tendency of biting off more than it can chew.

However, there is also no indication this won’t be business as usual for those channels that follow YouTube’s Terms of Service and don’t have any previous copyright infringement violations. Channels in good standing are unlikely to see any difference in their normal day-to-day operations and will most likely not notice any changes to how their videos are monetized.

Again, keep in mind that feature hasn’t yet been implemented, and while the sources above seem to be confident YouTube is close to enacting a new system, that system’s actual completed form could look very different from these hypotheses. We’ve reached out to YouTube for comment and have not yet heard back. We’ll obviously have much more on this topic as we obtain more information.

Update 12/06/13 1:30PM ET: A YouTube spokesperson responded with the following statement:

Nothing illustrates the incredible growth and evolution of YouTube better than the enterprise class of businesses being built on the platform today. As these networks grow, we’re making product and policy updates that will help them operate at scale. We are also rolling out tools that will provide more transparency for creators and networks alike. This is part of our commitment to ensure that all enterprise partners can continue to thrive and be successful on YouTube.

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