YouTube: Monetization, Reused Content and Duplication

During the past few months a lot of YouTube channels are have been demonetized recently do to something YouTube calls ‘duplication’ or (more recently) reused content. 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 (and reused content) is related to this last point—whether you are creating enough content of your own.

1. Duplication or reused content not involving copyright issues, but involving third party content

The important thing to note is all of these cases, you would have the right to use 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 with the following characteristics may find it very difficult to have their channels approved for monetization:

1.1 Videos consisting solely or mainly of public domain work created by other people (e.g., public domain movie channels)

1.2 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 ( 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 be considered duplication

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

1.4 Compilations of viewer submissions or compilations of videos used with permission

1.5 Music promotion channels (with songs used with permission)

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 or reused content involving original content

The following may cause problems with monetization:

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

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

2.3 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. Channels specializing in these kinds of videos are not getting monetized.

2.4 Videos that are simply too basic (e.g., if your videos are basically just text on a still image, the channel is not going to get monetization approved)

2.5 .Videos generated automatically (e.g., using text-to-speech programmes to convert Wikipedia articles into the audio for a video or using a music visualizer to create the visuals).


3. Duplication and reused content 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.

3.1 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)

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

3.2 Mashup videos and music mix videos

3.4 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).

3.5 Reaction videos with minimal commentary

3.6 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).

3.7 Live concert footage (and you are not the performer and/or do not own the copyright to the video)

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

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

3.10 AMVs

3.11 Lyrics videos (of other people’s songs)

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


4. Possible other categories

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

4.1 Gaming videos without commentary. It is becoming clear that these channels are no longer getting monetized approved.

4.2 Audio podcasts. The issue is likely 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.

4.3 Channels with a lot of very long ambient content (e.g., a ten-hour fireplace video, an hour-long audio tone). This have the audio-focus problem mentioned in 3,2 . In addition, the visuals often have the problem mentioned in 1.3 (an over-reliance on stock assets).

4.4 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.

4.5 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.


5. The Elephant in the Room

That would be gaming videos 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 one of 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.


6. 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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