2013-12-16

YouTube Advertisements

I do not really understand YouTube advertisements. When I was doing "Ryan Ruins Requests," YouTube got mad at me because I was posting cover versions of other people's material. They told me I could not monetize those videos because I did not own the copyright. Ultimately, I decided the best way to proceed was to take those videos down and focus on my original work. I also removed all monetization from my videos and my blog.

Today, I am listening to music on YouTube while working, and the songs almost always start out with an advertisement. The problem is that none of these videos were posted by the copyright owner, so I am not sure how the presence of ads is not a direct violation of the terms of service.

This begs a few questions:

  1. Assuming it's all based on who gets "reported" for YouTube TOS violations, who on Earth would report me for doing "Ryan Ruins Requests?" Were they really that bad?
  2. Assuming it's not about who gets reported, why is monetizing a video containing an entire album by a particular artist "okay," while posting my own crappy rendition of a long-forgotten 80s song "not okay?"
  3. ...and so on.
Now, I can sort of see the underlying rationale of the people who post these videos. They want to upload a popular song and monetize it so that they can earn ad revenue for doing nothing other than uploading one of their favorite songs. But this is pretty clearly the whole reason there are rules against this sort of thing. Regardless of how you feel about copyright law, such activity is clearly a violation of existing copyright law. This qualifies as a public broadcast for commercial purposes, and you need permission for that.

But are people really this smarmy? I can understand why artists monetize the videos they upload. Musicians are pretty cheap, money-grubbing people. They want to take advantage of any revenue stream they can get their hands on, no matter how small. I don't fault them for that. That makes sense. But monetizing a video of someone else's work is pretty ridiculous. There are not very many morally compelling reasons to do this sort of thing.

A final word: We are completely inundated by advertising in today's world. One of the reasons I don't really monetize my blog or my videos is because I think people ought to be able to listen to a song or read an article without having to worry about buying something. It cheapens the whole thing. I want people to watch my videos and listen to my music because I want people to be interested in my music. I'm not trying to sell something. I just want people to like it. Or, barring that, I'd like them to at least be exposed to music they might not ordinarily hear. If my music were worth paying for, people would pay for it. I wouldn't need advertising revenue.

These days it seems like it is more about advertising than having a quality product. That needs to change.