Update 2÷2÷2015: Since the pub­lish­ing of this arti­cle, The Fine Bros have apol­o­gized for their trade­mark­ing of “React” and their actions sur­round­ing it, hav­ing Fullscreen rescind copy­right claims on videos they had marked to be blocked world­wide. We can con­firm that our own video that was blocked is now able to be viewed. They have also tak­en back their trade­mark appli­ca­tions and have decid­ed to dis­con­tin­ue React World. You can read more about the Fine Bros deci­sion here.

Since I had decid­ed to go free­lance in late 2015, I’ve watched my new medi­um of work enter a time where there is a much high­er amount of risk in upload­ing con­tent. For those not in the know, I shift­ed over from writ­ing over at over to doing Youtube con­tent exclu­sive­ly, still focus­ing on nar­ra­tive dis­cus­sion and the Video Game sub­cul­ture. Thing is, recent events that have tran­spired over on Youtube have made new­er con­tent cre­ators with small­er chan­nels more and more ner­vous. Beyond that, those affect­ed have also start­ed to voice oth­er issues that they have had with Youtube’s poli­cies, and con­cern about where it may end up.

To give a rough time­line, some­time last week a few ran­dom Youtube chan­nels dis­ap­peared. Not closed down, not locked due to copy­right strikes. Gone. The one that seemed to cause the biggest ruckus was the dis­ap­pear­ance of the chan­nel I Hate Everything, where many Youtubers expressed their con­cern in the event going on. When I Hate Everything dis­cussed what hap­pened after the fact, the video that had caused this to hap­pen was rel­a­tive­ly harm­less aside from strong lan­guage. The rea­son that was given to I Hate Everything was that it might be “repet­i­tive” and “offen­sive.”

Now, I’d prefer for you to have a look at his video on the sub­ject to get all of the details, but what he makes sure to do is to point out the obvi­ous hypocrisy of Youtube. To give a more per­son­al account of the­se sorts of things, I recent­ly upload­ed a Vlog talk­ing about for­mer Pantera front­man Phil Anselmo shout­ing the words “white pow­er” while giv­ing a Nazi salute at Dimefest, and Machine Head front­man Robb Flynn call­ing him out on it. In that video, I had two dif­fer­ent peo­ple com­ment who had videos on their chan­nel that were pure racist pro­pa­gan­da. Those are the type of peo­ple who should be report­ed accord­ing to the guide­li­nes, but the guide­li­nes that Youtube has for its con­tent cre­ators are incred­i­bly broad and rarely enforced to the let­ter.

What I Hate Everything pro­ceed­ed to do after­wards was put for­ward a video called Youtube is a Joke, where he point­ed out a glar­ing weak­ness in Youtube as a grounds for con­tent cre­ation. When he browsed the front page of Youtube in an incog­ni­to tab in Chrome, what he saw was a bit dis­con­cert­ing from the per­spec­tive of some­one who is still grow­ing his chan­nel. The major rec­om­men­da­tions were almost all from major tele­vi­sion shows, or from major music labels. This means that any per­son who first signs up for a Youtube account is bom­bard­ed with con­tent that already has an estab­lished audi­ence off of the inter­net, stack­ing the deck again­st con­tent cre­ators work­ing out of their homes and try­ing to estab­lish them­selves.

Beyond that, he makes anoth­er good point. Why is there not a “dis­cov­er” tab? Why is there no fea­ture where lesser known cre­ators can be sug­gest­ed to peo­ple based on their inter­est? Often times, sug­ges­tions for videos to watch on Youtube aren’t new­er cre­ators, but rather Buzzfeed-esque con­tent or some­one else in the mil­lion sub­scriber club who a) already has an estab­lished audi­ence and b) is only loose­ly based on your pri­or inter­ests. To use a per­son­al exam­ple, I had to click “not inter­est­ed” on Jim Sterling’s chan­nel dozens of times before Youtube’s pro­gram­ming got the mes­sage. The iron­ic part of the tim­ing is that it stopped when I upload­ed a video called “Jim Sterling the Cuck.”

With Google being one of the dom­i­nant forces in the tech world, and with the dig­i­tal medi­um giv­ing voice to many new con­tent cre­ators, there needs to be a ded­i­ca­tion at the high­est lev­els to ensur­ing that new con­tent cre­ators are being tak­en care of. As some­one with a his­to­ry in busi­ness, the smart mon­ey is nev­er with some­one who only has a five year plan. You don’t do a five year plan for your retire­ment, and you don’t do one with rais­ing your chil­dren, so why do one with your busi­ness? You can’t just base your deci­sion mak­ing on peo­ple who are mak­ing vids for the next five years. You nev­er know when some­one like PewDiePie may walk away, or if some­one like the Fine Brothers get sued into the ground (hypo­thet­i­cal­ly speak­ing). To quote Paul Heyman, “you need to be look­ing for who is going to be your next A-Rod.”

The main con­cern that I’m try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate here is that it doesn’t seem like Youtube is con­sis­tent­ly on the look­out for how Youtube can con­tin­u­al­ly be prof­itable for them in the next twen­ty years while they’re count­ing mon­ey from prank vids and girls danc­ing in thongs. Much as I appre­ci­ate a nice ass, you have to make sure that your meth­ods of pro­tect­ing your invest­ment are stacked in the favor of the peo­ple who could be bring­ing in mon­ey and have long careers based on their video con­tent. Needless to say, Youtube as a whole does not have a very good track record of this.

I’d like to take every­one back to Viacom International, Inc. v. YouTube, Inc, which is the court case that changed the land­scape of con­tent cre­ation for a long time. To sum­ma­rize, Viacom made an out­landish claim that there was mas­sive amounts of videos on Youtube that engaged in copy­right infringe­ment. Despite the fact that Viacom did not win a sin­gle case or appeal, the case made Youtube para­noid at the high­est lev­els, and after that case, copy­right strikes became the biggest fear for con­tent cre­ators. Often times you would even see copy­right strikes from auto­mat­ed sys­tems that were com­plete­ly unfound­ed, and videos that were clear­ly pro­tect­ed by Fair Use could still be flagged by an auto­mat­ed sys­tem. I myself faced this on a video of mine where I lam­bast­ed the end­ing of Mass Effect 3. EA attempt­ed to claim they had a copy­right on my video despite the fact that all of the game­play footage was self-captured. They lat­er retract­ed the claim, but they didn’t have grounds for it in the first place.

The whole auto­mat­ed sys­tem felt like big com­pa­nies can play the sys­tem like most peo­ple play the game L.A. Noire. You accuse from the get go, and when some­one asks for proof, you back off once you real­ize that the law pro­tects the aver­age man from being bent over a pin­ball machine and rav­aged by a large com­pa­ny. Over time, once Youtube allowed for all peo­ple upload­ing videos to mon­e­tize them and per­ma­nent­ly ditched the hard to reach “part­ner” mile­stone, the­se ran­dom strikes became less and less, and some con­tent cre­ators sim­ply wouldn’t be able to mon­e­tize their videos in minor cas­es.

To be frank, the biggest pro­tec­tion doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly come from Youtube itself though. I myself am part of the net­work TGN, and aside from giv­ing me cer­tain dis­tri­b­u­tion tools for my work, the big appeal of being part of a net­work is pro­tec­tion. Basically, if there is any sort of copy­right clash, the griev­ances go to my net­work before they come to me, and the net­work inter­cepts and rep­re­sents my inter­est as a cre­ator. The catch is that I have to share some of my prof­it from my videos with said net­work. Now, for some cre­ators there may not be much of an appeal. For me, due to the nature of the con­tent that I upload it pro­tects me from being ran­dom­ly silenced by some­one with a polit­i­cal bent or a com­pa­ny not hap­py with what I had to say about them. This same appeal might not seem as worth­while to oth­ers though, which leaves only Youtube to defend their rights con­sid­er­ing Youtube is giv­ing them the plat­form.

To Youtube’s cred­it, back in November they announced that they would be work­ing to pro­tect con­tent cre­ators in cas­es of fair use, but they may be at a point where dam­age has been done. In hav­ing spo­ken to some con­tent cre­ators, it seems more like an attempt to pro­tect the mil­lion sub­scriber club, con­sid­er­ing Youtube could stand to lose a decent amount of mon­ey if Totalbiscuit, or my old boss Angry Joe were to have videos removed based on sup­posed copy­right infringe­ment. Given all of the­se recent con­tro­ver­sies, skep­ti­cism is under­stand­able.

With all of that said, the fact remains that Youtube sim­ply doesn’t have the sta­bil­i­ty that it is going to need going for­ward as a plat­form. Many new cre­ators are fac­ing a long grind when it comes to cre­at­ing new con­tent and grow­ing their audi­ence. Often times the only real way to have ear­ly suc­cess is to have friends in high places. Youtube needs to inte­grate the tools to con­tin­ue to broad­en its base of con­tent cre­ators that are con­sis­tent­ly mak­ing them mon­ey.  They need to have a dis­cov­er tab. They need to give sug­ges­tions to peo­ple that are com­bi­na­tions of small­er and larg­er chan­nels to increase the pos­si­bil­i­ty of growth. They also need to have a series of videos on Fair Use to make sure that their con­tent cre­ators have the prop­er tools to under­stand how to pro­tect their chan­nels in the long run and real­ize what the law is in regards to this busi­ness.

Finally, we’re at a point where the law needs to stick it to the com­pa­nies and peo­ple respon­si­ble for try­ing to shut down dis­cus­sion. Recently the Fine Brothers have tried to file copy­right trade­marks (and were approved) on the word “React” sim­ply so they can make buck on any sort of “reac­tion” video, which is admit­ted­ly the cur­rent fad in Youtube land. They should be sued for this. I said it to Angry Joe in 2011, and I was just as right then as I am now. Nothing is going to change until some­one gets subpoena’d. Something needs to hap­pen in the court of law, and Youtube needs to wise up in regards to long term busi­ness plans. Cable is dying, and the inter­net doesn’t need to make the same mis­takes. CurtisEditorialGuest Editorial,YoutubeUpdate 2÷2÷2015: Since the pub­lish­ing of this arti­cle, The Fine Bros have apol­o­gized for their trade­mark­ing of “React” and their actions sur­round­ing it, hav­ing Fullscreen rescind copy­right claims on videos they had marked to be blocked world­wide. We can con­firm that our own video that was blocked is now…
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Micah Curtis

Micah Curtis

Lover of Metal, Video Games, and naps. Former Writer for Techraptor, Blistered Thumbs. Always a gamer.
Micah Curtis

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