YouTube will be able to place ads in videos made by any creators not involved in the platform’s affiliate program — without giving them any cuts in money. As of June 1st, the video platform has the right to monetize most of the content on its site under its updated Global Terms of Service. It will also ban the collection of personal information through facial recognition and change the way creators get paid. Here’s what marketers need to know about the changes.
“It is reasonably believed that this clarification is, at least in part, a response to commercialized services that have recently used access to advertising-based ‘free’ websites to obtain images or information for their own platforms,” said Brenda Leong, Senior Counsel and Director of Artificial Intelligence and Ethics at the Future of Privacy Forum, a Washington, DC-based privacy think tank.
In particular, the use of Clearview AI, which “matches images against a registered database,” and PimEyes, “which is more like a search engine [and] uses ‘spiders’ to search the web,” have raised significant concerns over the past few years. YouTube’s changes, she says, could be a direct response to concerns that such software is being used to collect user data without their permission.
While marketers using facial recognition software on YouTube may no longer do so, there is currently no US legislation prohibiting or even regulating the scraping of data on sites like YouTube, although Leong notes that it is a “key issue in current discussions.” about data protection laws on both sides is state and federal level”.
YouTube has declined a request for comment.
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YouTube’s Right to Monetize Content
YouTube has the right to monetize any content on its platform that is not part of the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) – a program that allows creators to acquire copyrights and monetize their original content.
“YouTube serves ads in various areas of their platform, including before and sometimes during videos, on the homepage masthead, and in various search results,” Leong says. “This update indicates that they also have the right to place ads on videos from providers or channels that are too small to qualify for their affiliate program. And in such cases, the full benefit of ad sales goes to YouTube until the channel has reached the tier to qualify for paid affiliate status and can receive a share.”
In fact, YouTube is already starting to show ads on videos across the platform that aren’t under an existing monetization deal. And under the new rule, there is no revenue-sharing component of the new initiative, meaning YouTube can place ads on original content without granting a revenue cut to the content creator.
New income tax policy
Under the new Terms of Service, YouTube payments to creators who are entitled to earnings are now considered royalties and therefore must comply with US tax laws. As a result, Google will now withhold taxes from these payments as required by law.
“US originators will generally not be affected by these withholding taxes as long as they submit valid tax documents in Adsense,” the company said in a statement released in November. Creators outside the US are governed by the laws of their respective countries.