There’s always been the “haves” and the “have not’s” of the world. In the land of YouTube, it would seem not so different.
If you’ve spent more than five minutes on the internet then you've seen how easily it can suck your time away. There is one particularly addicting site that you may have heard of. It’s owned by a small startup company (something ‘oggle”) and garners some of the highest traffic of any site on the internet. If ever there was the equivalent to internet crack, YouTube is its name.
Yours truly even got his start on YouTube. I launched my channel back in 2011 doing reviews and covering gaming and movie news. Of course, you can throw a rock right now and hit a dozen people that run a gaming channel these days. The sheer volume of new video content that is pushed through the site every hour is staggering. However, I truly have to give credit to YouTube for providing me a platform. If not for my channel, I doubt I’d be writing for CheatCC today.
However, this isn’t a love story that ends well. Let’s just say that if YouTube and I were in a “domestic partnership,” the cops would have been called on more than one occasion to break up a dispute.
Now, I’m really going to try not to come across here as a whiney little geek who’s still trying to “fight the man.” I’ll just lay out the facts and let you decide. Essentially, anyone who wishes to start a gaming channel on YouTube should know one thing: it’s going to be difficult to make money at it. Aside from the fact that a vast majority of amateur channels are game based (thus making you a single rain drop in a huge ocean), YouTube’s copyright policies are going to be the mud that your tires will immediately get stuck spinning in. I have no direct proof of this, but my suspicions tell me that the copyright crackdown happened right around the time that Google bought YouTube. Since then it seems that the landscape has been divided up into two camps. First are the channels that were previously partnered and are already pulling in ad revenue for YouTube. The second were new starts ups that would be subjected to different copyright scrutiny than the established channels. If you’re going to run a gaming channel, odds are you going to use footage of gameplay videos or trailers to do it. If done correctly, these videos are typically covered under fair usage claims afforded to us as citizens. However, even though YouTube claims that it recognizes fair usage, it does not. If you’ve uploaded game reviews in the past with the intent of monetizing them (which refers to the process of YouTube generating ads and thus allowing you to receive revenue) you have probably already experienced a frustrating reality. The automated system they’ve established flags it, prevents it from being monetized and then allows you to dispute it. The dispute process doesn’t do much, aside from allowing you to click a little box that says something to the effect of “I have a right to use this content under the fair use polices of the US Government…blah, blah,blah.” Really, it might as well have the lyrics to Wrecking Ball listed instead, as that’s exactly what YouTube’s copyright polices do to start up channels: they wreck them.
The sad truth is that established “or partnered” channels are not under the same microscopes. Their videos go live without getting flagged for no other reason than they’ve proven to be a viable, money making proposition that currently generates ad revenue. If they were held up to the same standard as many newer channels, the automated system would surely flag their content as well, thus YouTube would lose this income, and I imagine that's not something they intend to do.
Now, the only respites in the storm are game companies who recognize one fact: channels of gamers don’t hurt their products, they help them. This is where companies like Blizzard, Ubisoft and Capcom should be praised.
A recent update in YouTube’s automated copyright flagging system (the same one you heard me ranting about earlier) has been causing so much raucous as of late that these three companies have finally had to step in and reassure gamers they weren’t’ deliberately trying to make their lives miserable or destroy their channels. Blizzard recently stated on one of its Twitter accounts that “If you're a YouTuber and are receiving content matches with the new changes, please be sure to contest them so we can quickly approve them. We are working on a long term solution, but that is the quickest way to solve issues immediately.” Ubisoft made a similar statement, vowing to get the content matches cleared “same day,” while Capcom assured the claims are not “instigated by us.”
If you run your own gaming channel or are simply a fan of gaming content on YouTube in general, I cannot state this strongly enough: we need more of this from game companies. I truly hope my future on YouTube continues, but I’m not going to pretend that everyone is operating on a level playing field when it comes down to what content is approved. It’s simply not true. Our only hope that this will stop is for major game companies to throw their weight behind user generated content, especially video. The mod scene has long been embraced as a viable source of community created entertainment; it’s time that user reviews and commentaries receive the same support. MAYBE then YouTube will pick up on the trend and stop trying to stamp out the little guy.
I’m not a thief, and you’re probably not either. Unfortunately, based on the extremely skewed line YouTube has drawn in the sand, it appears they see us that way.