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New YouTube rules rub content creators up the wrong way

10 December 2013

Recent changes to YouTube's new policy regarding content copyright rules have left a sour taste in the mouths of gaming content creators across all platforms. These rule changes have flagged videos of gameplays, commentaries, let's plays, and game news with little to no warning to the owners of the YouTube channels.

Previously, content creators that have signed with a multi-channel network (MCN), more commonly known as a partnership, were able to earn income directly through the MCN without worrying about unauthorized copyrighted content. MCNs' copyright protection came at a small cost as a percentage of the channel's income would be directed towards the MCN.

The way the policy reads now is that partnered YouTube channels will be named either "managed" or "affiliate" channels. "Managed" channels are "going to keep the monitization benefits" they became accustomed to with the previous MCN policy. If creators' channels are not appointed as "managed" channels, they will be downgraded to an "affiliate" status. "Affiliate" channels are self-responsible and will have to share income with their MCN. "Managed" channels are the best for creators, but the decision lies solely with the MCN whether or not to deem creators' channels "managed" or "affiliate". In the eyes of the MCN, "affiliate" channels are more safe as the content creators are responsible for producing legal videos. "Managed" channels require more trust as penalties for unauthorized copyright content affect both the content creator and the MCN. 

Smaller gaming channels will most likely be named "affiliate" channels, leaving these creators "scared of any copyright claim". The way copyright claims work is videos can be reported as containing copyright infringement. Once the video is reported, it will be removed from the creator's channel, earning the creator a strike. If the channel reaches three strikes, the account is suspended. There are ways for creators to dispute these claims and improve the channel's standing with YouTube.

The problem with this change is how it affects creators who have been part of an MCN in the past. Once these creators are deemed "affiliate" channels, every video published by the creators is put under the copyright microscope. YouTuber AwesomeMattG (@AwesomeMattG), a TGN partner, tweeted "YouTube is sending out the new copyright claim e-mails but only getting 35 out of 978 videos isn't too bad". His tweet is one of the highest totals I've seen, but I'm sure there are many other creators with even more claims. The protection MCNs have provided for years is now gone for these "affiliate" channels, and the creators are getting burned.

Not only do "affiliate" creators have to worry more about copyright infringement, but their videos cannot be published as quickly. Once the upload is completed, the video will be audited for copyright-related issues. This process can take several hours, an eternity in YouTube time. Time-sensitive topics as far as views are concerned such as game release reviews, patch reviews, or events require quick upload and publish, thus hurting the possibility of a smaller channel breaking news before "managed" channels. In a system where view count is so precious, a decrease in views due to breaking news later than others leads directly to a decrease in income. The opinion among many YouTube personalities as well as YouTube fans is that this change is another step in the wrong direction for YouTube. YouTube is already under scrutiny for the widely despised Google Plus implementation to the comment system. Some creators lashed out on Twitter once news broke about the copyright claims and changes. @BlackNerd tweeted, "I got YouTube copyright claim notices for videos by companies that personally asked me to make the videos!"

@GreenSkull tweeted, "Guess I'm about to be a vlogger again..."

@Chaosxsilencer tweeted, "I'm averaging 1 content claim per hour on my main right now lol STOP ALREADY!!"

Those are just a few of the many, many complaints and opinions circulating around the Twittersphere. The fact that smaller channels are those who have the most to lose with these changes is plain to see. It brings up the idea that starting a successful YouTube channel just became that much harder. Will these "affiliate" channels be able to adapt to the changes or are we going to see less and less gaming channels? Only time will tell, but I'm hoping for the best for all my YouTube brothers and sisters.


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