YouTube Handed Out $1 Billion in Ad Money Thanks to Content ID

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Oct 23, 2012
In the past seven years, YouTube has paid $1 billion (€780 million) to rights holders via Content ID, which helps them monetize unauthorized use of copyrighted material.

Content ID was introduced back in 2007 to help YouTube scan uploads made by users for copyright infringement. It’s what takes down videos from TV shows that just aired, reposted videos and so on, reports the Financial Times.

The system alerts holders the second it detects something and gives them two options. One is to take down the video, while another is to place ads on the video and make money off those views.

More than 5,000 companies are using this program and the list includes big US TV networks and movie studios. “The vast majority choose to monetize and track rather than block the videos,” said Fred von Lohmann, legal director for copyright at Google.

This, of course, doesn’t apply to everyone, since we’ve seen plenty of removed content across YouTube, but it certainly applies for a lot of them.

For instance, in 2007, Viacom, which owns channels such as MTV and Comedy Central, demanded that YouTube take down 100,000 clips that it claimed infringed its copyright. The two have since settled a $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit in March this year, although no cash has reportedly changed hands in the process.

YouTube has been, in general, one big target for media companies concerned about digital piracy. While the site still issues takedown notices for content, the pressure has lowered significantly partly thanks to Content ID.
Profitable business
Some companies have made a business of sorts out of this. For instance, FreemantleMedia, the production group behind The X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, has some 160 channels on YouTube and uses clips uploaded by viewers to drive audience interest in its programs.

One instance in which it has managed to make quite a bit of money off Content ID was when it uploaded a clip of a young homeless man singing on Korea’s Got Talent. On its own channel, it had some 5 million views. One fan reuploaded the clip full with English subtitles and managed to generate over 128 million views.

“That was a fan teaching us what fans want. We monetize almost all of our fan-uploaded content…it’s become a significant revenue stream for us,” said Oliver Delfosse, senior VP of Digital for FreemantleMedia.

Overall, over $1 billion have been handed out in ad money to such media groups, which certainly makes everyone involved happy.
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