If you’ve seen a TikTok video posted anywhere other than, well, TikTok, then you’ve seen the TikTok watermark: an automatically applied credit that includes the original poster’s TikTok account name.
We’ve written before about how digital video piracy is a huge problem, and how it’s especially pervasive with short-form content. Slapping an automatic, hard-to-crop-out watermark on every short-form may not stop all pirates from stealing them, but it’ll at least give viewers the heads up about who actually deserves credit for the content they’re watching.
With all this in mind, YouTube is now following in TikTok’s footsteps and adding automatic watermarks to all downloaded Shorts.
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“We’ve added a watermark to the Shorts you download so your viewers can see that the content you’re sharing across platforms can be found on YouTube Shorts,” a member of Team YouTube said in an Aug. 17 post on YouTube’s community forums.
One slight catch for now: this feature is rolling out to all users over the next few weeks, but only on desktop. Team YouTube says they plan to expand it to mobile “over the coming months.”
It’s also worth noting that while proper credit can be a big boon for creators, having nonremovable watermarks could also negatively impact their ability to cross-post their own content across platforms.
Instagram has outright said that its Reels algorithm suppresses videos with watermarks from other sites, so if a creator uses TikTok or YouTube Shorts’ creation tools to make all their videos, they’re now going to have to deal with a watermark whether they want it or not. If they keep the watermark, that’ll impact their traffic on Reels.