Los Angeles Business Journal

YouTube Tweaks Video’s Big Picture

INTERNET: Small creators left to sort out copyright claims solo. By Omar Shamout Monday, July 21, 2014

Multichannel network heavyweights such as Maker and Machinima now have the ability to designate some channels as “managed,” allowing the networks to handle any copyright issues that come up for an individual creator. That designation has typically been reserved for the company’s must lucrative stars, such as PewDiePie, who represent a small fraction of all the creators under contract.

Some creators still see advantages in an MCN, as they also receive cross-promotion on other channels, tech support, ad sales departments and merchandising opportunities. But one disagrees.

“Basically, that’s the only reason to join,” said a gaming video creator named Jason who goes by “Jester814” on YouTube. Jason declined to disclose his last name.

A 32-year-old disabled veteran who lives in Greenville, N.C., Jason started making videos of himself playing video games and posting them on YouTube about two years ago. MCNs typically give creators anywhere between 50 percent and 80 percent of ad revenue, depending on the network and individual contract, and Jason said video ad money is his primary source of income, though he also earns disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Earlier this year, he struck a deal with Union for Gamers, a network operated by Curse Inc. of Huntsville, Ala., to carry his game play. Curse gives each of its contracted creators a 90 percent cut of ad revenue, and the network offered Jason managed partner status so he would not have to defend copyright claims on his own.

The deal with Curse is a marked change from the relationship he had until earlier this year with RPM Network, a division of Maker.

Jason mostly records himself playing games in the “Arma” franchise created by Czech developer Bohemia Interactive, which granted him permission in July 2012 to use its games in his videos. Nevertheless, Jason said before signing up with Curse he received 30 or 40 of the automated copyright notices after the Google policy change in December. Unsure why the claims were generated, he nevertheless had to dispute them on his own despite his agreement with Bohemia – a process that he said took “anywhere from two weeks to two months.”

Jason argued that if MCNs are going to pass the burden of dealing with infringement claims to affiliates, then those creators should get a bigger slice of the revenue pie.

“They were still taking the same amount of money,” he said, “but no longer offering that Content ID protection, which as far as I could tell upset most people.”

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