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:

The issue of duplication is related to this last point—whether you are creating enough content of your own.

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. YouTube states:

In most cases, even if you have licenses to use the content or your videos are protected by copyright laws, such as fair use, if the main purpose of your channel is to monetize other channels’ or sources’ content, then you won’t be eligible for YPP. You still need to be contributing to the value of that content in some way. Note: some of these videos may still be fine to remain up on YouTube!(Partner Program Reviews and Removals (including Duplication))

Channels withe the following may find it very difficult to have their channels approved for monetization:

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 that have been done to death already. A good example of that would be ‘learn color’ and ‘baby shark song’ animations. There are tens of thousands of these videos on YouTube already. They do get a lot of views, but children really need to learn more than what the videos are offering.

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

1.5 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 CC BY licence). For example, if you use a Creative Commons song from Incompetech (incompetech.com) or a song from YouTube’s music library (www.youtube.com/audiolibrary/music) 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 be considered duplication.

1.6 Videos closely matching content found on other channels (and you are not the original uploader).

1.7 Videos over-reliant on things like stock photos and stock video (even though the channel owner may have licensed them)

1.8 Videos generated automatically (e.g., using text-to-speech programmes to convert Wikipedia articles into the audio for a video.

YouTube has stated that using third party content can be OK, but the key thing is what you do with it—specifically, what value you are adding to it. For example, there is some value in searching for the funniest videos involving falls. However merely finding them and stitching them together into one video would not be ENOUGH added value. You would simply not be bringing enough of your own content to the table.

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 necessary commercial 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.

2.2 Mashup videos and music mix videos.

2.3 Compilations without commentary (or with only minimal 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 and/or do not own the copyright to the video).

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

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

2.9 AMVs

2.10 Lyrics videos (of other people’s songs)

2.11 Videos that attempt to evade YouTube’s Content ID system (e.g., mirroring and videos so that copyright infringement is more difficult to detect)

3. Possible other categories

Other channels have also reported having ‘duplication’ issues. These include:

3.1 Channels with a lot of very long ambient content (e.g., a ten-hour fireplace video, an hour-long audio tone). There are two main issues to consider. One would be that the videos are mainly to be listened to (not watched), so if ads were placed on the video, they would go unnoticed by most viewers. The other issue would be related to point 1.7 (an over-reliance on stock photos and videos.

3.2 Channels aimed at toddlers. YouTube is intended for people aged 13 and above and the advertisements would reflect this demographic. If you are aiming for a really young audience, your content and YouTube’s advertisers may simply not be compatible.

3.3 Narration of public domain works (e.g., audio books). There are two main issues. One would be that the videos are mainly to be listened to (not watched), so if ads were placed on the video, they would go unnoticed by most viewers. The other issue would be related to point 1.4 (an over-reliance on public domain work.

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.

4. The Elephant in the Room

That would be gaming videos with no commentary or with very shallow commentary. In this case, all the visuals and most of the audio would be owned by the game developer (and, if commercially-released music is used, the copyright owners of the music compositions and recording). This is probably YouTube’s biggest genre in terms of uploads. It is unclear how such channels will be treated under the new policy. I suspect new gaming channels who don’t do much commentary will find it difficult to get monetization approved.

5. What You Can Do

According to a Recent YouTube YouTube post Partner Program Reviews and Removals (including Duplication) (, you can do the following to improve your chances of getting monetization:

Add commentary or show your presence in your videos (voice or on screen)

Link back to your YouTube channel from your website

Provide more context about your work in your video and channel descriptions

Make sure the content on your channel aligns with [YouTube’s] policies. You can review: Community Guidelines, AdSense Policies, and YouTube Partner Program policies.


~by longzijun

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27 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?

  6. Hello, I own a trap music channel with subs 105K and recently i got demonetized by duplication but i really dont know what dat mean since none of youtube wanted to explain me something or the video duplicated, can u pls give me more info and help me out to solve this big issues since i just re-applied and i dont want to be declined ? My channel its about to promote artists and i create one daily mix with ncs music 90% of the time and even with copyrighted only when they allow me to use it, now my 3 big issues are :

    1) i am promoting music which other channel promote and dats why i got demonetized for duplication ? the video, spectrum and image ofc are different from the others publishers

    2) in my mixes i am usually using the songs i got by submission 50% and the other 50% i type on youtube ncs trap and i pick what i think fit better for the mix ? is this a possibile reason i got demonetized for since the video are already on youtube ?

    3)Before i had like 1000 mixes and songs and i used multiple times the same songs in more mixes its a valuable reason to get demonetized and to be the main problem ? now i am producing mixes but all different from them and none a single track used 2 times.

    In your opinion do i have any chance to get monetization back ?

    Best Regards & wish u the best , thank you for your time !

  7. Hi, I got the same problem as P.R on 24 Sep, I’m not sure what happen because I didn’t have any strike from copyright issue, but I indeed have one similar video which I was made it wrong and I upload another video with a little bit changes, however, I just private the old one and let it there, I suspect that was the only reason make the system think it is a duplication maybe?

    Besides, as I checked the internet, people said they will get an email from youtube if they are demonetized with reason, however, I didn’t get this email, do you think it’s a wrong determination from the changing of the algrithom of youtube?

  8. Pingback: YouTube is Demonetising ENTIRE CHANNELS – FreedomRings.News

  9. How would you explain Twitch Streams Compilation videos like Pan PUBG.
    Would uploading different parts of different streamers be acceptable for monetisation? Cause they pretty much have like 4-5 ads in their videos.

    I also noticed some Gaming Channels with little to NO commentary that I believe they got approved this year. You think YouTube is making some exceptions? or just breaking their own rules

  10. Gaming channels are THE big mystery at the moment. They don’t seem to have been affected by large-scale ‘duplication’ demonetizations…yet. The only guess I can make is that the status quo likely won’t last. There are simply too many really small channels (in terms of viewership) uploading massive amounts of long videos. One possible solution would be tightening up monetization requirements in order to deter people who start channels hoping to earn easy money. Another way would be to do what Vimeo did and implement storage quotas and paid storage plans.

  11. You are scaring me now, Longzijun!

    My channel is based on hypnotherapy audio of my own composition, Brainwave Entrainment of my own composition (the least numerous of my videos), and Ambient Music of my own composition. I use stock footage for the visuals. Are you telling me I am going to be demonetized for Duplication also?

    As stock media is the backbone of the mainstream broadcast industry (you should have a look at how many times National Geographic and BBC Worldwide Nature footage is recycled in their own documentaries), this looks to me as though YouTube through the auspices of Adsense, is trying to say it is better than the mainstream broadcast industry and also Hollywood. And if that is true, then YouTube may well be shooting itself in both virtual feet.

    HypnosystemsUK

  12. A few ambient music + stock video/photo channels have already been demonetized, so there definitely is some risk for your channel. The most popular video on my own music channel uses a visualizer for the visuals, so there is some risk for my own channel as well. You will have to decide whether to rethink your video production workflow.

  13. No good camera and no budget for same…hmmm. I have no intention whatsoever of putting my face to the camera either. So there is no rethinking to be done. The channel will stand or fall on the current production workflow.

    I’m not using the stock “as is” anymore either. I am compositing in transparency, which may help. You didn’t speak to my theory on YouTube now thinking it is better than the mainstream broadcast/movie studio industry; and I’d very much like your opinion here.

    If my channel gets demonetized, I most likely won’t cease posting, but I will certainly drop the rate on same. I have other outlets which though they don’t offer monetization, will welcome more content from me. There are also some up and coming platforms which will offer monetization in future, based not on ads, but on Blockchain technology; these may be a better monetization bet.

    Time will tell…

    HypnosystemsUK

  14. I disagree with that theory.

    I think YouTube was just being naive when they opened monetization up to everyone. They probably thought monetizing videos would lead to huge improvements in the quality of content. They made matters worse by rewarding frequent uploading with higher rankings in search and recommendation results.

    As a result, they got buried in an avalanche of people trying to earn money via the least amount of effort and skill. They were buried in a deluge of learn colors videos, Elsa and Spider-man videos, public domain film channels and poorly made top ten videos (which tend to use stock footage). My take is that they are now simply trying to undo their mistakes by removing the incentive to produce quick and cheap videos (I’m not saying yours are that; I am just referring to those easy-money channels).

    I don’t think YouTube would have any issue whatsoever with people using stock footage or Creative Commons material or public domain footage if it weren’t for all the channels producing low quality videos using such assets.

  15. I post videos about how to use different types of software then I post the videos together as a full tutorial. So there will be maybe three videos step 1,2,3 then a video with them all together. Maybe I add transitions and cutoff some outros, but most of videos 1,2,3 remain in the all together video.

    I don’t want to get hit with a duplication strike. To me, these are useful on their own and then useful in a different way when cobbled together into one video.

  16. It may be useful, but it may also harm your monetization chances. If you are patient, you might want keep using that format. If your monetization application is unsuccessful (or if your already-monetized channel is demonetized), you can consider removing the duplicated content and re-applying. (There is no strike).

  17. My channel got demonetized too on august 25th. My channel name is “Roll Media 2”.
    I make music cover videos performed by Street Musicians, I always share revenue for the musician,
    I read somewhere that Music Cover is allowed to monetize.
    Why do you think my channel got demonetized then??? Can you help me to identify my channel, please???

  18. Well…that is a great channel, but videos of other people’s concerts and live performances will definitely lead to monetization problems.

    Music covers can be monetized if you are the one doing the cover (which you are not) or if the cover artist is doing the song specifically for your channel (e.g., many of the video on the Kurt Hugo Schneider channel are like this). You don’t really have that kind of channel.

    The solution would be rather complicated. You could form an official collective (a kind of artists’ organization) and the channel would then represent all the artists who actually belong to the collective (and only those artists).

  19. Pingback: Rejected for Monetization Because of Duplication | My Blog

  20. If this is really true then what about all the compilation channels that still have ads? Just to name a few – Nice Channel, MrMrMike1337, Moto Madness, I’veGOT7, LOFE, Funny Vines, The Best Fails, Tiger Funnies, Life Awesome, and who knows how many others still have monetization even after reposting the same existing videos from other channels.

  21. Those channels have not been reviewed yet and will likely be demonetized later. Any channels, like my own, which already met the minimum watch hours and subscriber requirements when the new policy came into effect in December 2017 have not had to go through the monetization review process. We simply carried on monetizing our videos. However, all channels will be looked at eventually (though it will probably take a few years for that to happen).

    If you have a new channel and you are just mainly doing compilations, your channel will not be able to pass the review process. It’s as simple as that.

  22. I find it difficult to believe Youtube has not had the time to review compilation channels with millions of subscribers and views because those would be the easiest to find. If they lost monetization, then Youtube would be losing millions of dollars too. I think Youtube just gives the older channels a pass because they were made before the rules changed like you said.

  23. The priority has been on reviewing new channels (that are just now meeting the minimum criteria of subs and watch hours). Even so, some newer channels have already been waiting for nine to ten months for a review. If YouTube reviewed the channels that already met the criteria first (and there are a lot more of those), the new channels would be waiting a few years to get their channels reviewed.

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