YouTube: Monetization and the Issue of Duplication

During the past few months a lot of YouTube channels are have been demonetized recently do to something YouTube calls ‘duplication’. The main message to be taken from YouTube’s monetization review process is that in order for your channel to enjoy the benefits of monetization (which is a privilege not a right), you need to:

  • Respect the intellectual property of others.
  • Follow YouTube’s Terms of Service ( and Community Guidelines (
  • Producing content that advertisers would like to be associated with.
  • Upload videos in which you used enough of your own content that you deserve to be earn money from it.

The issue of duplication is related to this last point—whether you are creating enough content of your own. But what is duplication exactly? Unfortunately, YouTube does not give a clear definition, so one can only make guesses based on the kinds of channels receiving monetization rejections for ‘duplication’. Based on the kinds of channels that have been reporting having their monetization disabled, duplication appears to cover the following:

1. Duplication not involving copyright issues

The important thing to note is all of these cases, you would have the right to use that content commercially. However, that right does not mean that YouTube has the the obligation to assist you in making money from those videos by allowing them to be monetized.

1.1 Different versions of the same video on the same channel (e.g., a ten-minute version and a twelve-minute version).

1.2 Many very similar videos on the same channel (e.g., Twenty slightly different videos of the same Finger Family song).

1.3 Videos consisting solely or mainly of public domain work created by other people.

1.4 Uploads of copies (or minimally edited versions) of material previously published by other people under a Creative Commons license (this would apply to even the standard BY licence). For example, if you use a Creative Commons song from Incompetech ( or a song from YouTube’s music library ( as a small part of a video about something else, it would be no problem. However, if your videos were merely that same song and a still picture, that would most likely be considered duplication.

1.5 Videos closely matching content found on other channels, but that has not yet been claimed by the copyright owners.

2. Duplication involving copyright and trademark issues

These are more straightforward as the copyright issues mean the videos should not have been monetized in the first place as the uploader would not have the rights. In this list, I am assuming the video uploader has not gotten permission from the copyright owner to both upload AND monetize the video.

2.1 Channels that have received a lot of copyright claims (The one exemption would be for cover version channels in which the performers supply their own background music).

2.2 Uploads of obviously copyright-infringing content that has not been claimed.

2.3 Compilations without commentary of other people’s videos (even if those videos have not been claimed by the copyright owners).

2.4 Reaction videos with minimal commentary.

2.5 Narration of texts (e.g., stories, articles, news reports) written by other people (this would include an actual person narrating as well as the use of text-to-speech programs).

2.6 Live concert footage (and you are not the performer).

2.7 Lyrics videos of other people’s songs (with or without the actual song in the video).

2.8 Fan-fiction videos featuring trademarked and/or copyrighted characters (e.g., Harry Potter, Thomas the Tank Engine).


3. Possible other categories

Other channels have also reported having ‘duplication’ issues, but from my point of view, I find it difficult to see how the material could fall under that.

3.1 Channels with a lot of very long ambient content (e.g., a ten-hour fireplace video, an hour-long audio tone)

There may very well be other kinds of channels affected. I will update the list if I notice any more kinds of channels reporting duplication issues. Let me know if you think any other kinds of channels should be added.

~by longzijun


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7 thoughts on “YouTube: Monetization and the Issue of Duplication

  1. Pingback: [YOUTUBE – (@Longzijun) Was Your YouTube Channel Suspended for No Reason? (A Guide to Community Guidelines-related Suspensions) – Buddy Hyphen Baker DOT US V2.0

  2. Thank you Longzijun. I appreciate your sharing.
    I have one question if you could answer it.

    The CPM rate of a video? Does it depend on the quality of the views? That means the ads will display more on the video with higher watch time, higher engagement rate, or the same as for any view?

  3. Interesting article, thank you!! And what about no copyright music channels using creative commons tracks? According to what you’re saying they are in the first category “Duplication not involving copyright issues”. I see many of them on YouTube and they are monetized. Why should YouTube refuse to monetize small channels then? It would be really unfair. Or do you think that soon or later, YouTube will demonetize those channels?

  4. As for the no-copyright music channels, I doubt new channels specializing in that will get monetization approved (unless they really work on the visual elements–so that the the original visual footage they produce is worth monetizing).

    What about the existing big channels? That’s a good question. Maybe YouTube will demonetize all of them or maybe they well selectively allow some of them to remain monetized based on some criteria (e.g., how well established the channel is). That latter option may seem unfair, but that is the way the world works. When a company has to cut staff, for example, it will often adopt a last-hired-first-fired policy.

  5. Very interesting article. I just got demonetized for duplication without copyright issues. How do you even identify the videos when you have over 1000 videos?

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