Unfair YouTube Bans: How Businesses and Creators Can Avoid Them

Anytime you join a social media site, you agree to a rather long and exhaustive terms of service agreement. While few people bother to read these agreements, it’s critical for businesses to understand them. When you’re playing in someone else’s sandbox, it’s important to know all of the rules. If you don’t, you may find the social pages you’ve spent years building can all be taken away over one small mistake.

Hold the Advertisements

There are specific ways you’re allowed to make money or advertise on your YouTube channel. Suppose you had a popular channel with 30,000 subscribers. You might be tempted to monetize your viewership by letting some other brand run a 30-second advertisement video on your page. And you’d quickly lose your account.

While you can plug another brand to your heart’s content, any paid advertisements you run on your page need to be embedded inside some actual content that you’re creating. If you’ve watched a sponsored podcast before, you probably have a good idea of what this looks like. Just keep in mind that this isn’t merely a rule of good conduct on the site, common courtesy, or good practices. It is part of what you agreed to when you joined the platform because YouTube wants people to be using their ad service.

Don’t Sell Videos

Suppose you had a private YouTube page filled with some premium videos, and you wanted to provide those videos as a gated service to your paying customers or clients. This would be one of the fastest ways to lose your account. That’s because one of the many things you agreed to was that you can’t sell videos or access to their service without approval.

But if you really want to sell video content, there’s an easy workaround. One option would be to upload to a private YouTube page, and then embed those videos on a gated platform. Alternatively, you might use a less popular video platform that allows you to sell direct access to customers, like Vimeo.

Always Get Music Permissions

Using a musical intro add style, professionalism to your videos.

You probably wouldn’t use someone else’s video without asking for permission first, but many people don’t realize that the same thing applies to music. You don’t have to run a super-massive YouTube page to get caught with a copyright violation. Three-hour videos have been pulled over 20-second clips, so don’t think that small quantity will make you safe.

Automatic detections for violations are becoming frighteningly good. If you use copyrighted music without permission, you’ll quickly find that the entire audio for your video gets permanently muted or pulled entirely. The automatic detection might also mean you could face a lawsuit since you were using the track for commercial reasons.

Automatic detections for violations are becoming frighteningly good.

Just asking the artist is often enough, but if they have digital copyright management over their work, it may not be. There are cases where an artist gives permission to a YouTube creator to use their music, and the content ends up getting flagged anyway. This is often because groups responsible for copyright management aren’t correctly notified, or even because song rights had been unknowingly passed out of the artist’s control.

Understand Fair Use

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act provides the basic rules that outline YouTube’s rights and responsibilities to protect copyrighted content, including who gets blamed when something goes wrong. As part of their DMCA compliance, YouTube uses a ContentID program searching for violations, but many people can temporarily beat the system by making minor alterations to their video so ContentID doesn’t catch them.

Obviously, you cannot post an entire piece of content that you don’t have the rights to, but there are circumstances where you are allowed to use others material, and that’s called fair use. You’re allowed to use brief bits of copyrighted material for reporting, education, research, criticism, or something else that substantially transforms the copyrighted work. Basically, you can’t play an entire episode of South Park, but you can play a 10-second clip from the show if it’s used as a criticism in part of a much longer video.

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What You Need to Learn

It’s tempting to cut corners and cheat on social media sites. But as a marketer building pages on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc., you’re fundamentally investing in something that someone else is controlling. This can be incredibly risky because you have essentially no recourse if YouTube or any other platform decides they want to delete the account you’ve spent years building.

Following the rules can be exhausting, but it’s the only way to be sure that you’re protecting your investment.

L. Scott Harrell

L. Scott Harrell is the Executive Editor of Vtrep.com. He is also a serial entrepreneur and top tier business development professional who speaks leadership, startups and digital media masterfully. Scott can be reached via email: editor@vtrep.com