Who: Google (YouTube Partner Program)

Where: Global

When: 6 April 2017

What happened:

The YouTube Partner Programme has introduced a new rule that they will not serve ads appearing on channels that have not obtained 10,000 lifetime views. In a move aimed primarily at protecting creator copyright, Google, the parent company of the video-streaming website, has claimed that the change will help them to keep tabs on YouTube channels to ensure that they are following their community guidelines and advertiser policies.

In a policy move that on the face of it would appear to stifle the prospects of a growing generation of creators, YouTube is cracking down on people who set up YouTube channels on the back of other peoples’ content by removing the key incentive to do so – the quick cash. When the YouTube Partner Programme first launched five years ago, those who signed up could begin making money from their uploads immediately but this latest development will delay the revenue-stream until 10,000 lifetime views have been achieved.

YouTube say that once 10,000 lifetime views have been achieved they will “review their activity against [their] policies” and so long as everything looks good, they will bring the channel into the YouTube Partner Programme.

It is hoped that this policy shift will also help ensure that adverts are kept away from offensive content. In recent weeks, Google and YouTube have experienced a wave of criticism after several top brands discovered that their ads were appearing next to homophobic, anti-Semitic or extremist content. McDonald’s and Tesco are just two amongst many household names that pulled their adverts from the world’s most popular video-streaming service in response.

Why this matters:

Ironically, in spite of the initial backlash it has received from the online ‘creator’ contingent, the policy may potentially improve the outlook for those very people – those seeking a revenue-stream from original and creative content. It may even incentivise genuine contributors to start uploading or continue to upload original content. Copyright infringement and the protection of original material has been a central topic of conversation since the digital boom of the late noughties and this step goes at least some way to preventing the illegal exploitation of other peoples’ copyright.

Furthermore, this is good news for brands who routinely advertise on this service (or indeed those who may be looking to rekindle their relationship with YouTube). Advertisers can take comfort from knowing that their ads are more likely to appear alongside genuine and original content, and that this content is subjected to much more stringent monitoring systems going forward – something that is particularly important given the value of brand reputation. Whilst the policy does not apply retrospectively and therefore won’t catch unsavoury content that is already out there, if nothing else it is a step forward for limiting its spread.

Google has also stated that it is looking into developing artificial intelligence capabilities to monitor the material on its site; this could be just the beginning of a broader project.