@SchneiderMaria Comes for YouTube With Class Action

We are thrilled to report that composer and big band leader Maria Schneider has sued YouTube in the prelude to a class action.  It’s worth pointing out that this is the first time since the Viacom case that the creative community has taken on the Leviathan of Mountain View.  It’s also worth pointing out that Google won’t be able to buy their way out of this one the way they have the others, they can’t give a job to somebody’s child, it’s just not going to go the usual way that Google thrives on corruption.  The complaint is really well-written (as we would expect) and tells the all-too-familiar compelling story of the struggle of artists to deal with YouTube’s “whack-a-mole” business model (or what Chris sometimes calls the “ennui of learned helplessness”:

This case is about copyright piracy. YouTube, the largest video-sharing website in the world, is replete with videos infringing on the rights of copyright holders. YouTube has facilitated and induced this hotbed of copyright infringement through its development and implementation of a copyright enforcement system that protects only the most powerful copyright owners such as major studios and record labels.

Plaintiffs and the Class are the ordinary creators of copyrighted works. They are denied any meaningful opportunity to prevent YouTube’s public display of works that infringe their copyrights—no matter how many times their works have previously been pirated on the platform. They are thus left behind by YouTube’s copyright enforcement system and instead are provided no meaningful ability to police the extensive infringement of their copyrighted work. These limitations are deliberate and designed to maximize YouTube’s (and its parents Google’s and Alphabet’s) focused but reckless drive for user volume and advertising revenue.

Moreover, the Plaintiffs and the Class are not only prevented from using any meaningful enforcement tool, but the system in place actually exacerbates the harms caused to them including in a manner that bars Defendants from the protections of any safe harbors under applicable copyright laws such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”).

Read the complaint here.

@loudmouthjulia: Creators finally know how much money YouTube makes, and they want more of it

[Editor Charlie sez:  Hey Susan, do you like apples?]

Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat told investors during an earnings call on Monday afternoon that YouTube pays out a majority of that advertising revenue to its creators. Although Porat wouldn’t say how much of the $15 billion goes to its content makers, she did specify those payouts belong to YouTube’s “content acquisition” costs, which run around $8.5 billion.

For people trying to make their living on YouTube, many feel like they don’t see nearly enough of that $8.5 billion. Top creators tend to earn the most ad revenue via higher rates — as long as their content is advertiser-friendly — because they generate a large number of views. Other advertising revenue then trickles down to the thousands upon thousands of creators who belong to YouTube’s Partner Program.

Many personalities have said they feel like they have to fight for advertising revenue, turning to subscription services like Patreon and signing brand deals since ad revenue isn’t reliable. Now, in the wake of major changes to YouTube’s advertising policies when it comes to content aimed at children (which may include popular video genres like gaming), advertising revenue looks even more fraught.

YouTube has long enticed creators to work on its platform with advertising revenue, but most creators didn’t know how much YouTube was making. Now they do — and, as one YouTube employee told The Verge, this feels like “a real seminal moment.”

Read the post on The Verge

@realrobcopeland: WSJ Reports Google Reveals YouTube Revenues of $15 billion of Value Gap, CEO Wants More–Where’s Ours?

Very insightful reporting from Rob Copeland at WSJ on Google’s revenue that culls out YouTube’s share of Google’s revenue–and boy are we getting hosed.

Alphabet said YouTube exceeded $15 billion in annual revenue in 2019. That would be on the lower end of projections for the video business, which has been the subject of educated guesses for years, and suggests that YouTube pulls in less than $8 a year from each of its 2 billion users. On a call with analysts, Mr. Pichai said he believes there is “significantly more room” to make money off YouTube’s users.

Read the post on the Wall Street Journal.

Given that YouTube is heavily dependent on music videos, it’s hard to explain how YouTube is dead last in royalty rates:

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And remember, according to BrandWatch, “[a]s of Jan 2020, the 93% of the most-watched videos [on YouTube] were music videos” and according to IFPI’s Music Consumer Insight Report, 47% of time spent by fans listening to on-demand music is on YouTube.  So it’s hard to explain why YouTube royalties are so low–and I would actually say that YouTube royalties are actually negative when you take into account the total cost of dealing with YouTube on DMCA, Content Management System and Content ID.

If you can afford it–remember the A2IM and Future of Music Coalition study that showed the main reason that independent’s don’t pursue their rights is because they can’t afford to.  Not a big leap that they definitely can’t afford to challenge Google.

A2IM FOMC Study Slide

It’s all a little hard to understand.  Even at 1% of YouTube revenue for publishing, comparable to the low public performance royalty at radio (distorted by the radio oligopoly), the songwriters alone should divide up $150,000,000–in a comparable deal.  Artists should be grossing well over that in line with historical ratios.  Given the outsized impact of music on YouTube’s revenue, shouldn’t the total industry-wide royalty payment be vastly more than $150,000,000?  Why do we get hosed so badly on YouTube revenues?  My bet is that it’s not at the negotiator level.  Those are some of the most talented negotiators in the world.

But they’re on a leash and Google knows it.  It’s always seemed to be a situation where eventually someone upstairs calls and says, thanks for the great work on YouTube negotiation–we’ll take it from here.  And you see the result.  Hard to explain any other way.

But it may help to explain why this person is laughing at us.

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@tanyabasu: YouTube’s algorithm seems to be funneling people to alt-right videos

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A new study suggests what we’ve suspected for years is right: YouTube is a pipeline for extremism and hate.

How do we know that? More than 330,000 videos on nearly 350 YouTube channels were analyzed and manually classified according to a system designed by the Anti-Defamation League. They were labeled as either media (or what we think of as factual news), “alt-lite” intellectual dark web, or alt-right.

Read the post on MIT Technology Review

[We’re thrilled to have a chance to publish an important Twitter thread by composer Kerry Muzzey that crystalizes a number of phenomena: How Kerry caught YouTube using Content ID as a tool to extend the period of time that they can profit from infringement (or the “piracy profit window”)…

via Must Read Guest Post by @kerrymuzzey: YouTube’s Latest Deceptive Tactic — Music Technology Policy