YouTube Cuts Content Creators out of the Value Chain with Move to Creative Commons Licensing

YouTube is adopting a Creative Commons License and encouraging users to opt-in to the most liberal CC License so that their content can be used in mashups.

Why does YouTube want mashups? Is it out of the goodness of its heart? Is it because it really enjoys all those talking animal videos? Nope. It’s because once you are in the CC License, your content doesn’t get a revshare. YouTube is creating an economy that cuts the creator out of the value chain.

Right now, if you upload content to YouTube, you get a cut of the ad revenue that your content generates. If you are LockerGnome, that adds up to some pretty serious money — enough to keep the lights on and feed your cute pets, and possibly have something left over for Star Wars art. If you opt in to the new license, however, all of the views that are generated from derivative works make you nothing. So those videos from a leading tech analyst that should have been edited down to three minutes rather than 12 minutes of rambling, or video of walking down a hallway, can be fan edited to make for better content, but neither you, nor the fan, make any money.

If you are using YouTube as an advertisement, and just want to get your video views, this model might make sense. Release the latest version of your next hit single and hope that people use the audio in a video that goes viral so everyone buys your album. This is what’s most likely to happen: you release your music video and people cut it to pieces and make fun of it. If you haven’t noticed, YouTube isn’t so much of a warm community as a bunch of people who happen to be in the same place, and will become an angry mob with the slightest provocation.

Here’s what’s making matters worse for content creators: once you put your content in Creative Commons, it doesn’t have to stay in YouTube. Your upload that you intended to be used for mashups on YouTube is suddenly now fine to “pirate” to Metacafe,,, or anywhere else — as long as they give you attribution. This includes converting to shiny disc or selling MP3s.

Quite literally, if you did release your upcoming hit single to YouTube under this license, I could download it, put it on a CD, sell the CD at Walmart, and only give you credits on the label.

I can’t actually come up with a scenario where this model is good for the content creator.