May 5, 2007
YouTube Makes Plans to Reward Select Independent Content Creators

YouTube isn't just coming up with content distribution deals for corporate copyright holders these days. The Web site is also moving forward with plans that will compensate some of the most popular creators on the site with some of the advertising revenue that their videos generate.

According to the company's site, some of the most popular YouTube creators will be selected to receive revenue deals, in somewhat the same vein of Revver's program for independent producers. Ads will be placed next to the videos, and the independent creators will receive revenue based on the number of views their videos receive.

Interestingly, though, YouTube is not opening up this content program for anyone. Instead, there remains a somewhat arbitrary line which independent video creators must cross in order to qualify for this new deal. The company has made it clear that an independent creator must not only develop an audience but sustain that audience for a period of time before they will become eligible for this new business model.

The details on any concrete method by which independent creators will qualify has not been made clear, so it seems YouTube will just decide when they think one of their users is worth striking a deal with, which could lead to some community controversies among YouTube users in the next few months, depending on how the plan is implemented.

The announcement was made through a blog post on Thursday on YouTube's site. Users who are interested in signing up for partnership with YouTube will fill out a form and will eventually hear back from the YouTube team.

The blog states:

Up until now there's been a distinction between the content you create and the content created by YouTube's professional content partners. We want to start changing some of the perception here. Which is why we're adding several of the most popular and prolific original content creators from the YouTube community to our partnership program. Now some of your favorite YouTube members, including Lonelygirl15, LisaNova, renetto, HappySlip, smosh, and valsartdiary, will begin to participate in the same revenue sharing and promotional opportunities that are available to YouTube's other partners. These include thousands of mid-sized to large content creators who range from video game companies to universities to production houses.

Previously, I wrote about Metacafe's "Producer Rewards" program, focusing particularly on the way content creators are trying to artificially increase the hits their videos receive to increase the money they receive. Back in January, I wrote, "I think it's a great idea to create incentive for compelling user-generated content, but the Metacafe folks are becoming well-aware of the challenges of not getting ripped off from making such an offer. They said they consider it a measure of success that people are trying to beat their system, but it's going to be an interesting struggle as they continue trying to expand the Producer Rewards program."

YouTube first mentioned these plans back in January.

Meanwhile, Google is seeking protection under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and is actively denying copyright infringment claims, with a federal court filing last week. Daisy Whitney with TelevisionWeek has more.