If you haven’t seen this, it’s video of Heather Dale of The Heather Dale Band, trying to get YouTube’s attention. They tried to sign up to get micropayments off of YouTube’s royalty micropayment system, but YouTube has decided that they don’t actually own and didn’t actually write their music.
Now, this is bullshit, of course, and Heather has provided (and can again provide) all the evidence of ownership needed. But she’s not merely been told she didn’t write her own material, she’s been told she and her band can’t even contest this ruling, or even further contact the programme. And all attempts to contact YouTube at any level have been rebuffed.
And this is, frankly, about par for the course for most of the “social media” environment. YouTube routinely makes bad decisions on ownership – not just bad, but laughably bad. I’ve had three of my own videos – solo live performances filmed myself or by fans – flagged as DMCA violations of other people’s work.
So far, I’ve been able contest successfully through their automated system, which has surprised me. But seeing Heather and Ben’s experiences, I’m becoming more convinced that this has a lot more to do with me not trying to monetise my YouTube channel than anything else. If YouTube doesn’t have to give me royalties, or even a meagre percentage of some royalty fractional micropayment, they don’t have much incentive to deny my counterclaims when someone or something – more likely some software – throws a bullshit DMCA takedown claim at me.
But if I am trying to get money, well, that’s an entirely different story, and I think that’s where Heather and Ben are running into trouble.
YouTube really doesn’t have incentive for this system to work at all. I rather suspect it exists as a guard against infringement lawsuits. “See? We pay out.” But if you don’t have the money to hire a big enough lawyer to go up against Google when YouTube’s lackadaisical system fails, well, screw you.
Because honestly, what’s their incentive for having a good process, much less making the right decision? They’re a large, public corporation; if there’s not a monetary incentive, there is no incentive, and there’s not a monetary incentive here.
Simply put, such incentive doesn’t exist.
So. It ends up being once again who you know. They’re looking for an actual person inside YouTube or Google who can override the autoresponders and let them get the royalties they’re due under this programme. Are you that person? If not, do you know that person? Heather and Ben are more sanguine about that person being out there than am I. Hopefully, they’re right. Go tell them.