Youtube Channel Monetization & Fair Use Considerations

YouTube has become an incredibly popular platform for creators to share videos, connect with viewers, and even earn money from their channels. However, monetizing YouTube videos involves understanding issues around copyright, fair use, and what types of content can be monetized. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about Youtube channel monetization and fair use considerations.

Overview of Youtube Monetization

YouTube allows creators to monetize videos through its Partner Program. This program allows you to earn money from ads displayed on your videos. There are specific requirements and guidelines creators have to follow to be eligible for monetization. Understanding these requirements is the first step to successfully earning money from your Youtube channel.

Youtube Channel Monetization Requirements

To join the Youtube Partner Program and enable monetization, channels have to meet these requirements:

  • 1,000 subscribers: You need at least 1,000 subscribers to your channel. This threshold ensures your content appeals to a wide enough audience.
  • 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months: You need at least 4,000 hours of watchtime on your public videos over the last 12 months to meet the eligibility criteria. This watch time has to come from non-subscribers as well.
  • AdSense account: You must connect an active Google AdSense account to show ads and earn money from video monetization. AdSense displays targeted ads on monetized videos and shares the ad revenue with creators.
  • Content guidelines: Your channel and videos must comply fully with Youtube’s content guidelines and community guidelines policies. Otherwise, your channel risks losing monetization access.

Tips to meet requirements faster:

  • Optimize titles, descriptions for better video visibility
  • Promote videos on social media to drive more viewers
  • Engage audiences to get more comments, shares and subscribers
  • Analyze audience retention metrics to create captivating content

Once your channel crosses these thresholds, you can apply for Youtube monetization through Google AdSense.

Youtube Channel Monetization Process

The high level Youtube monetization process involves:

  1. Enabling monetization in Creator Studio
  2. Connecting an AdSense account
  3. Getting reviewed by Youtube
  4. Displaying ads and earning money

Step 1) Once your channel crosses the subscriber and watch time requirements, go to Youtube Creator Studio and enable monetization.

Step 2) Link an active Google AdSense account. This is where your earnings from Youtube ads will get credited.

Step 3) Youtube will review your channel to ensure it meets all monetization policies and guidelines. This review can take up to a month.

Step 4) After getting approved, you can start displaying ads on your videos through AdSense and earning money. As viewers watch your monetized videos, the ads displayed earn you revenue.

The key things to keep in mind are meeting eligibility requirements through your content, undergoing Youtube’s review process, and maintaining channel compliance.

Overview of Fair Use for Youtube Creators

While monetizing Youtube videos can be lucrative, creators have to be mindful of copyright issues. Youtube allows you to use limited portions of copyrighted content under fair use. Understanding the principles of fair use and how to apply them properly is key for risk-free monetization.

What is Fair Use?

Fair use is a copyright principle that allows the limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. It balances the rights of copyright holders with allowing reasonable use for purposes like commentary, criticism, news reporting, teaching, scholarship etc.To determine if a particular use of copyrighted content qualifies as fair use, courts evaluate it on the basis of four factors:

1. Purpose and character of use

Using content for commercial benefit weighs against fair use while using for educational non-profit purposes favors it.

2. Nature of copyrighted work

Using factual content weighs more favorably for fair use compared to purely creative works.

3. Amount and substance used

Borrowing small portions of a work favors fair use compared to using its “heart”.

4. Effect on commercial market

Negatively impacting the marketability of the original work goes against fair use.

Evaluating these four factors holistically determines if a particular use case qualifies as fair use or not.

Examples of Youtube Fair Use

Here are some examples of copyrighted content usage on Youtube that may qualify as fair use:

  • Quoting a few paragraphs from a book in a literary review video
  • Using a news clip in a commentary on current affairs
  • Playing a song clip while reviewing musical techniques
  • Using movie scenes in a video essay evaluating cinematography
  • Showing product photos in a consumer review video

In each case, creators should use the minimum required portion, add their own original commentary, ensure there is no market harm to the copyright holder, and strike a fair balance of rights. This allows monetizing videos through ads without worrying about copyright claims.

Penalties of Youtube Copyright Infringement

If your video usage is found to violate copyright instead of qualifying for fair use, then rights holders can take these actions:

  • Copyright claim – Monetization gets disabled on the video, and revenue redirected to the claimant. Video stays public.
  • Copyright strike – Limitation of channel features like monetization for a period of time. Three strikes can lead to channel termination.
  • Manual claim – Video blocked in certain countries/devices or made private. Strikes may also be issued in some cases.
  • Lawsuit – Rights holder sues creator for financial damages from copyright infringement.

That’s why properly evaluating fair use and minimizing copyright risk is crucial for smoothly monetizing a Youtube channel.

Best Practices for Youtube Video Monetization

Now that you understand the key concepts around Youtube monetization and fair use, let’s discuss some best practices to effectively earn money from your videos while avoiding copyright headaches.

Produce Original Content

Creating wholly original videos using your own clips, imagery and narration is the best way to monetize safely. You own full rights over original content and don’t need to worry about copyright issues. Types of original content that thrive on Youtube include:

  • Commentaries and opinion videos
  • Listicles and Top 10 compilations
  • Animations and cartoons
  • Educational explainers, how-tos and tutorials
  • Vlogs documenting your life or travels
  • Gaming playthroughs and walkthroughs

Shooting your own footage, creating custom graphics, and adding your narration transforms the content into an original work you can fully monetize and scale up over time.

Use Licensed Media

If you want to incorporate third-party clips, images or audio into videos, use media licensed under Creative Commons and public domain works:

Creative Commons (CC) offers several license types that allow reuse with certain restrictions like attribution or non-commercial use. Various stock media sites offer CC-licensed content.

Public domain works don’t have any copyright restrictions. You can use them freely in monetized videos. Examples include very old artwork, government documents, facts/data etc.

Leveraging these sources lets you legally reuse media without worrying about copyright claims.

Evaluate Fair Use Cautiously

As discussed before, you can make limited use of copyrighted works without permission under fair use. However, fair use involves subjective evaluation of different factors. Ensure you carefully assess these aspects before claiming fair use:

  • Use only small portions of the copyrighted work (e.g. a few seconds of a song clip, one paragraph from an article). Using the “heart” of a work weakens your fair use claim.
  • Keep the usage to the bare minimum required to make your point. Don’t go overboard even if it strengthens the video.
  • Make sure your usage does not negatively impact the commercial market for the original work. Your video should not replace demand for the original.
  • Add adequate original commentary transformed into a completely new purpose like review, critique or analysis. This strengthens the transformative nature of fair use.

If in doubt, don’t rely on fair use. Seek explicit permission from copyright holders or use only original/licensed media.

Dispute Invalid Copyright Claims

At times, Youtube’s automated Content ID system can incorrectly flag fair use of copyrighted content as infringement. When this happens:

  • Edit the video to remove all complete/lengthy shots. Only retain short clips that strengthen your fair use claim.
  • Dispute the claim highlighting how you’ve evaluated fair use factors and your usage qualifies as fair dealing.
  • Be polite yet firm in stating your case. Provide specific examples of why the claim is inaccurate.

Many invalid claims get resolved this way, restoring your video’s monetization. For persistent disputes, you may need to further shorten the disputed portion or remove it altogether.

Build Leverage and Apply for Review

Over time as your channel grows in size and influence, you can negotiate direct paid licenses with large media publishers. Having an established viewership and revenue gives you leverage to pay copyright holders for legal usage.

You can also apply to Youtube programs like Creator Music where they offer licenses to use songs from top labels in videos. Such licenses protect you from copyright hassles.

Gaining scale and reputation in a niche can open doors for licensing deals and review programs.

Common Youtube Monetization Issues

Despite best efforts, creators may face hiccups in their monetization journey. Being aware of solutions around common Youtube monetization problems is important.

Videos Getting Demonetized

Youtube’s algorithms automatically scan videos for advertiser-unsafe content and demonetize them even without viewer complaints. Common reasons for demonetization include:

  • Excessive profanity
  • Overly sexual, violent or graphic imagery
  • Controversial or sensitive topics
  • Reused content without commentary
  • Metadata keyword stuffing

Solutions:

  • Review Community Guidelines on ad-friendly content
  • Add disclaimers and age-restrict if necessary
  • Mask profane words like bleeping audio or blurring lips
  • Use imagery judiciously after considering context
  • Add value through original commentary and narrative

Refine your content to align with Youtube’s advertiser-friendly guidelines.

Limited or No Ads on Videos

Even if your video is monetized, you may notice YouTube displays only a few ads or none at all. This happens due to two key reasons:

1. Advertiser preferences – Certain advertisers specify targeting criteria or blacklisted categories. If your content matches an advertiser’s negative keyword list, their ads won’t show.

2. Video duration – If your video duration is under 8 minutes, only one ad slot is available in the beginning. Longer videos get mid-roll ads inserted based on user drop-off rates.

Solutions:

  • Make videos over 8 minutes to qualify for mid-roll ads
  • Request Youtube to review if video is incorrectly blacklisted
  • Create content in high-value advertising categories like technology, business, gaming etc. Advertiser demand in lucrative niches can overcome preferences.

Tweaking content length and targeting in-demand niches can drive more ads.

Advanced Youtube Monetization Tips

Let’s wrap up the guide by discussing some pro tips to further boost your Youtube earnings through effective monetization.

Include Multiple Ad Formats

Youtube allows creators to opt into six different ad formats beyond regular video ads:

  • Overlay ads – Semi-transparent overlays displayed at bottom 20% of the video
  • Sponsored cards – Promoted content recommendations popping up as end screens/cards
  • Bumper ads – Un-skippable 6 second short video ads
  • Non-skippable in-stream ads – 15/20 sec un-skippable ads shown before video starts
  • Display ads – Banner ads shown on the video watch page
  • Super Stickers – Colorful sticker-like ad animations viewers can purchase during Live streams

Enabling these through Youtube Studio’s Monetization tab gives higher chances of displaying ads, leading to more revenue.

Promote Channel Memberships

Channel memberships allow loyal viewers to pay a monthly fee for special perks like custom emoji, badges, exclusive content etc. Set this up through the Channel tab:

  • Requirements: 30,000 subscribers and at least 1 membership level priced between $1 to $100 per month.
  • Revenue share: Youtube keeps 30% as commission. You earn monthly payouts for active members.
  • Loyalty building: Memberships increase viewer engagement. Members watch more content.

Memberships diversify income beyond just ads while making fans feel more invested.

Sell Branded Merchandise

You can create and sell custom branded merchandise through Youtube’s integrated Teespring portal. Promote your merchandise through end cards/links in videos and channel layout.

Merchandise unlocks an additional revenue stream beyond ads, memberships and brand sponsorships. Fans buy and proudly flaunt branded apparel or accessories.

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