Digital rights startup SuperBam announced it has paid out more than $10 million in reclaimed ad revenue to content creators who make their livings on YouTube, TikTok, Twitch, and Facebook.
Piracy is a major issue for creators, media companies, and publishers in the digital content space. And though the word “piracy” might conjure up dramatic images of illegality, when it comes to online video, things are usually way more banal.
Yes, there are those nefarious parties who are attempting to extract revenue from the $62 billion global online video ad industry by getting paid for content that’s not their own. But more of it is the casual, unauthorized mashups of YouTube reactions, compilations of TikTok clips, reuploaded copies of Twitch streamers’ broadcasts, and people reposting a creator’s paywalled Patreon or OnlyFans content so non-payers can access it all. That kind of piracy–which is sometimes but not always caught by YouTube’s Content ID system–also causes creators to lose out on potential revenue.
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SuperBam, which was founded by former StyleHaul and Fullscreen exec Rian Bosak in 2017, works with creators and companies to help them track down those mashups, compilations, reuploads, and reposts on YouTube and claim the revenue those videos generate.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Bosak’s company–like many other businesses dealing in digital content–saw a spike in traffic. We wrote about that uptick at the end of last year, and now we’re checking in to see what changes SuperBam has seen over the past 12 months.
Revenue reclamation doubled from 2020 to 2021. Some content got shorter.
“When we entered 2021, we saw the increased demand on our services by top creators continue throughout the year,” Bosak tells Tubefilter. Across the year, SuperBam added more than 60 creator clients, bringing it to a total of over 400.
Collectively, SuperBam helped creators reclaim revenue from “billions” of pirated views in 2021, “resulting in millions paid out to our clients,” Bosak says. “We’ve seen the amount we recover for creators more than double since last year, and it’s not slowing down.”
SuperBam doesn’t publicize details about how much revenue it recovers on average per creator, but did share the milestone we mentioned above—recovering more than $10 million in total revenue for creators over the past four years.
The company originally worked mostly with creators who posted long-form videos on YouTube. But in 2020, it started getting inbound from creators on platforms like Twitch as the pandemic drove livestream viewership to record heights. Then in 2021, it saw a similar rise in new clients–this time for creators whose bread and butter is short-form content. YouTube Shorts is getting more than 15 billion views a day, after all, and it’s a relatively new initiative. It’s no surprise that some of the content isn’t reposted by the original creators.
“As top creators release content across multiple platforms and with the explosion of short-form content being released on TikTok and YouTube Shorts, top creators are seeing more and more people use their content without permission, often with the uploader benefiting financially or in terms of promotion,” Bosak says.
Creators are posting paywalled content. That’s getting pirated, too.
Short-form content isn’t the only growing sector. Subscription platforms like Patreon and OnlyFans are becoming big business for creators (just ask Corinna Kopf or Tana Mongeau)…but that means they’re big business for pirates, too.
“Whether it’s to a website or streaming service like Pluto or Roku, subscription service like Patreon or OnlyFans, or other paid content model, we’ve seen creators leveraging paywalls grow quite a bit over the past two years,” Bosak says.
And when those creators’ paywalled content is stolen and reposted for free, especially on a regular basis, potential subscribers might not bother with ponying up the monthly fee. So, to handle such content piracy, SuperBam launched a service called Shield Blocking, where it works with creators, media companies, and digital publishers to find and take down copies of content reposted outside the paywall.
More content-makers want to know where their stuff ends up online
Now that digital video as a whole is getting more viewership than ever, more creators are getting into short-form content, and more content is getting paywalled, more content-producing entities are getting curious about where their stuff ends up online.
Bosak explains that SuperBam’s now working with “digital publishers, media companies, A-list celebrities, and other companies that want their rights properly protected on YouTube.”
That curiosity is a good thing, because for these content-makers, becoming savvy enough to know when their content is being pirated, and what they can do to stop it, could help them hold on to vital revenue.
“Running rights management of any kind is a full-time job,” Bosak says. “Knowing the necessary laws and how best to apply claiming practices requires a deep level of training and expertise.”