Asked in Copyright for Wisconsin

Q: Youtube updated their TOS in November 2020 to include rights to monetise copyrighted content, without paying? Legal?

The Youtube TOS for the USA was updated on the 18th of November 2020, to state that Youtube has the right to monetise the videos on any channel, should they see fit, and, if the owner of said content is not a partner, Youtube is not required to pay them. The terms also state that the creator retains all copyright, and is only licensing Youtube to use said content. Can Youtube, legally, not pay anything, for my Copyrighted works?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Steve Charles Vondran
Steve Charles Vondran
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • San Francisco, CA

A: This is not legal advice and is general information only. When you sign up to use a website, usually there are terms of service you agree to when you click on the "I agree" button. Some call this "clickwrap license." If you want to use the service (in this case YouTube and upload videos), you have to agree to be bound by the terms of service. If they were to implement a policy that they can monetize your videos (without paying you), that would be something you would need to decide if you want to comply with or not. For me personally, I have agreed to their terms, but I am able to monetize my videos, and they get a cut for their providing of the platform, security, and other services. So, in short, read your licensing agreements closely, if you agree, most courts would uphold this barring some unconscionable terms. If the terms are not agreeable, there are other platforms you can look into. Good luck!! Attorney Steve®

Allison Higgins
Allison Higgins
Answered
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Helotes, TX

A: As Steve stated, once you agree to the terms, you are typically bound by what they say. However, I would not be surprised if we see some legal challenges in the new year. It is hard to say whether or not they will succeed because this is the first time something like this has happened on such a large scale.

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