YouTube amends terms to run ads without paying users

(Logo: YouTube/Google, Background image: Pexels, Graphic: The Desk)

Google-backed YouTube says it has the right to run advertisements against any video on its platform without cutting content creators in on the proceeds.

The statement was made in an email distributed to YouTube users on Wednesday in which the company said it was amending its terms of service so it could have the “right to monetize all content on the platform” through the placement of advertisements.

Prior to the move, YouTube allowed anyone with a Google account the ability to upload an unlimited number of video clips that were distributed on the Internet without ads unless they opted in to a special plan known as the YouTube Partner Program. In exchange for participating in the program, YouTube Partners received a small cut of the company’s ad revenue based largely on video views.

Now, YouTube says it can place commercials on any video it wants — and if users aren’t part of the Partner Program, they won’t get any money from the ads.

YouTube doesn’t allow just anyone to participate in the Partner Program: Content creators must have — and maintain — a minimum of 1,000 channel subscribers and have accumulated 4,000 viewing hours across their videos within a 12 month period. Drop below either of those thresholds and YouTube reserves the right to revoke participation in the Partner program. (Those qualifications are waived for certain companies, including news publishers, who can sign up for the Partner program through a special application process.)

It isn’t clear when YouTube will begin placing the ads on non-Partner videos. A company spokesperson told tech publication The Verge the ads won’t run on videos on certain topics, including political opinion, gambling and alcohol.

Advertising generates a significant amount of money for YouTube, its big-sister operation Google and parent company Alphabet, with the video sharing website raking in around $5 billion in revenue through ads last quarter, according to investor filings.

In addition to the advertising change, YouTube said on Wednesday it wold soon collect taxes on payments issued to creators who are part of the YouTube Partner Program. Those payments will be treated as royalties for tax reporting purposes, YouTube said.

The company said the changes are effective immediately.