YouTube Has a Talk With Creators About Content Rights

Company implements new procedures for partners, networks to adhere to policies

YouTube has been reaching out to various creators and multichannel networks (MCNs) in an effort to iron out the company’s policies on issues like copyrighted material, music rights and digital rights management. Per sources, YouTube is looking to encourage MCNs (i.e., YouTube ad networks) to be more accountable for their talent's use of media and music on the platform, while also going directly to individual performers, educating them on how music and content copyrights work in the YouTube ecosystem, and providing them with tools to adhere to those rights.

The issue of copyrighted content, music in particular, has been a moving target for YouTube—particularly as its community of young creators frequently post movie and TV clips within their videos or cover popular songs without much knowledge of the ins and outs of copyright laws. A few months ago, the MCN Fullscreen was sued by the National Music Publishers Association over music rights.

In the case of Fullscreen, the issue of whether the network or the individual creators were liable for violations was unclear. Going forward, YouTube isn’t exactly dropping the hammer on talent that has crossed the copyright line but wants to make things more clear—and put more control in the hands of creators. And as a side benefit, it wants to help its vast collection of partners get paid appropriately.

As one MCN exec put it, "This is so people aren’t just out there doing whatever they want." Ideally, music rights holders should be paid their fair share. Meanwhile, YouTube is trying to sell its publishing partner and MCNs on their ability to do better on the platform. “They’re saying, 'Hey creatives, we want you to make some money' … but you need to make [them] more aware of the rules.”

Of course, some will immediately see conspiracy—that YouTube is looking to subvert the role of MCNs while building more of a relationship with individual creators. There’s even been chatter that YouTube is considering building into its interface a button or shopping functionality where creators can drop and add MCNs to help market their content and sell their ads. That is not even close to being true, says YouTube.

In fact, YouTube says it wants the MCNs to thrive and has no business getting involved in contracts between artists and their representatives. But YouTube is looking to formalize procedures for when creators and MCNs sever their relationship to avoid an extended back-and-forth.

"Nothing illustrates the incredible growth and evolution of YouTube better than the enterprise class of businesses being built on the platform today," said the company in a statement. "As these networks grow, we’re making product and policy updates that will help them operate at scale. We are also rolling out tools that will provide more transparency for creators and networks alike. This is part of our commitment to ensure that all enterprise partners can continue to thrive and be successful on YouTube."