Aardvark DailyNew Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.
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I make YouTube videos.
In order to make better videos, I sometimes include music.
To make sure that those who create the music I use are properly rewarded for their hard work, I pay a license fee for that music.
By complying with copyright law and the ethics of the situation, I should be free to monetize my videos on YouTube and earn some coin in return for all my hard work.
At least that's how things are supposed to happen.
As YouTube shifts its focus from supporting individual content creators to focus more on a far smaller number of very large creators, life has gotten a lot harder for us little guys.
The revenues we get for our videos have fallen precipitously in recent times and quite a few creators are throwing in the towel -- finding it pretty near impossible to make a living on the platform even when they have a million-plus subscribers.
This situation makes it even more important that every video published is able to be monetized.
So right now I am super pee'd off.
Well I license my music from Audiio.com and pay an annual fee of almost $400 for the privilege. Even just covering that cost requires quite few views and those views require a lot of hard work in the form of planning, shooting video and editing.
When selecting music tracks for my videos I'm always careful to ensure that they're flagged as "cleared for use on YouTube" -- which means there should be no problems with copyright claims or strikes thus all the revenues are returned to me (less YT's share of course).
The problem with falling foul of YouTube's "Content-ID" system and getting a copyright claim against a video is that it effectively kills the performance of that video stone dead. Although you can appeal the claim and, if the claim has been made in error, have any revenues earned during the period of the dispute plaid to your account, the performance of the video is generally so poor that the amounts are miniscule.
Last week I uploaded a video to YouTube, complete with music licensed from Audiio.com.
Despite that track being marked as "cleared for use on YouTube" it was claimed by a third party.
In this case, the claimant opted not to monetize the video and, because there was a claim in effect, I could not monetize it either. This meant that despite all my hard work and effort, the video was not going to earn me a single red cent -- through no fault of my own.
Yes, I'd done everything by the book and covered my arse from a copyright perspective but still YouTube's Content-ID system robbed me of what should have been financial reward for that effort.
I contacted Audiio.com and they said they would make sure the track was cleared with YT. Sure enough, the claim was released but the damage was done. That video would never perform as it should because once a copyright claim is made, a video is effectively demoted by the algorithm, even when that claim is lifted.
So I deleted the video and made a few changes before uploading it again. This time it should have had a new chance to be promoted by the algorithm and, according to Audiio.com, it was no longer going to be claimed by Content-ID.
Well guess what... the new upload was immediately claimed again.
I contacted Audiio.com to try and get some clarrification as to what the hell was going on and, three days later... nothing but silence, they've already got my money so now they don't give a damn.
So once again the video has been demonetized and dumped by the YT algorithm. Days of work are lost because it can't be monetized and, as predicted, it has gotten just a fraction the views that one of my videos would normally get.
It really pisses me off that no matter how hard you try to work within the confines of the copyright system, you still get screwed.
For this reason I'm ramping up my efforts to self-host my videos and kick YouTube to the curb.
What's the point in putting in all this hard work and effort if the rug is pulled out from beneath your feet by a system that lets others prevent you from earning money from your work simply because YT's content-ID system is flawed or there are parties who "try it on" by claiming stuff that's not theirs? And what good is it licensing music when the company you're dealing with makes false representations about it being "cleared for YouTube monetization" when clearly it's not?
So many greedy parties all seeking to use copyright law to screw others -- it's ridiculous.
Yes, I'm a bit angry right now -- but who wouldn't be when several days hard work has to be written off because of incompetence, greed and idiocy on the part of others?
I'm cancelling my Audiio.com subscription and will no longer be recommending them to anyone -- because it seems they just don't give a shite and misrepresent the status of their tracks in respect to YouTube's content-ID system.
Carpe Diem folks!
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