YouTube Rejected My Partner Application


The two most common requests for videos I get on YouTube and here on my blog are:

  1. requests for more depth of content: “make more [Rift Warrior / Prot Pally / etc] videos”
  2. requests for more breadth of content: “can you make videos of [X / Y / Z] classes or [A / B / C] games?”

To date, the limiting constraint for the number of videos I can publish is the amount of free time that I have. Given that constraint, I made the decision a while back to provide depth of content, e.g. 1 class at a time for 1 game.

For example, when Rift launched back in February, I rolled a Warrior as my main character, and as I leveled him up I made a series of narrated videos for the class and wrote an in-depth Riftblade Warrior Guide. It was not until more recently that I started creating videos for different classes, namely Rogue and Cleric, even though I had played around with alts.

That being said, what I would love to do is create videos for multiple classes for multiple games concurrently. The implication of delivering that much content is that I would need to invest more time into blogging and video creation. Making a video for me takes an order of magnitude more time that writing a text-based blog article like this post. For each video, I have to capture illustrative footage, watch it to find scenes with educational value, edit the best segments, narrate, iterate, and finally render and upload the finished product.

IMO, my videos provide distinctive value because of thought and intention that goes into creating them. That may sound arrogant, but if you perform any of the following searches on YouTube, you’ll see multiple videos from my channel on the first page of the search results:

So this brings me to the YouTube Partner program. Basically the Partner program enables a YouTube user to monetize their videos. If I were a Partner, I would take a careful and thoughtful approach toward ad integration that so that viewers would have a positive experience.

Every now and then I have checked on the YouTube Partner page to see whether my channel was eligible. The traffic on my YouTube channel has gradually grown, and this month I cracked 2k subscribers. Recently the “Apply Now” button on the Partner page returned a different result: it didn’t tell me I didn’t qualify, which it had in the past. So I applied.

At the time of application, here were my statistics:

  • >2k subscribers
  • >85k channel views
  • ~885k upload views

YouTube provides general guidelines but not specific numbers (e.g. # of subs, # of views, # of thumbs up, etc) for approving new Partners. I understand that – they need to have the flexibility of approving whichever applicants they see fit. From what I’ve read over the past couple weeks, applicants have very differing experiences as far as getting approved or rejected.

I received the rejection email from YouTube today, which is the boilerplate rejection letter, except for the italicized text (emphasis mine):

Dear taugrimtaugrim,

Thank you for your interest in the YouTube Partner Program.

Applications are reviewed for a variety of criteria, including but not limited to the size of your audience, country of residence, quality of content, and compliance with our YouTube Community Guidelines and Terms of Use. At this time, we are unable to accept your application because your channel does not contain sufficient original content. You may find the the following resources helpful in making your channel eligible for the YouTube Partner Program:

Thank you for your understanding.

The YouTube Team

I read through the links provided above, and I understand that YouTube will not approve Partner applications for channels that simply show video game footage. Video game vids (usually with music overlaid) are a dime a dozen on YouTube.

However, the last 80+ videos I’ve made over the past 2.5 years are all narrated educational videos, and I have received thousands of comments/messages/tells from players saying that my videos (and written guides) have been a huge help to them. And I know that there are other video game commentators who are Partners. So it’s not that I was applying for something that YouTube had never approved previously.

Needless to say, I’m really disappointed with the outcome for my application :(

I didn’t get into blogging with the expectation of it evolving into an income-earning job. I blog and make videos because I love gaming and I enjoy teaching and helping other players. I believe my getting turned down by YouTube’s Partner program is bad not just for me but for folks who appreciate the kind of content I publish. Frak!

Had I been approved, this post would have looked very different, and I would be here writing about how I was going to be greatly expanding my coverage of MMORPG games and classes – in short that you’d be see a lot more videos from me covering greater depth and breadth (more games, more classes). And I would be able to justify the much greater investment in time, because I would be compensated for it with the experience of learning the Partnership aspects of YouTube (valuable knowledge IMO) and with some incremental income – who knows how much but anything is better than nothing, amirite?

/sigh

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Posted in Blog Musings
24 comments on “YouTube Rejected My Partner Application
  1. Helbrecht (Deepstrike) says:

    I wonder if a petition would make any difference?

    Some form of community based feedback that would go some way towards assuaging whatever concerns they may have for its ongoing viability?

    I would be happy to sign such a petition as i feel like your guides and commentary have gone a long way to improving my experience of Rift. It certainly made lvling my Warrior easier and its proving the same with my Cleric.

  2. bloxs says:

    I agree with Helbrecht, your videos have plenty of content that proves to be much more worthy of players time than all other rift pvp videos that ive come across on youtube.

    if theres a petition that would change this, id be eager to sign it.

    regardless, im a fan through and through taugrim, you’re doing great work, even though a bit of compensation would help, it doesn’t mean you are hereby cut off from that possibility. you said it yourself, the channel is growing, i dont see why you couldn’t apply again at a later time.

    all the best to you.

  3. BORF says:

    Taugrim,

    The issue isnt the quality of your content, or viewer base.

    In order to monetize videos on YouTube, they require expressed written permission to commercially use all content. It kind of stops falling under “fair use” then. Basically you need to contact Trion and receive permission/licensing which I would imagine they would be more then willing to grant, because they should be able to recognize the quality, value, and time you invest promoting/exposing their game. I make dime a dozen music overlays and its time consuming, so I can recognize your efforts, hope it works out. The standard is 2 month wait from the day you received that email, but with correct documentation you may be able to circumvent this.

    Cheers

  4. Cylarus says:

    I would recommend maybe trying to get in as a director at TGN. They’ve jut achieved tier 2 partner status which means that they can also use that pull to get their directors partnered up fairly easily on their personal channels.

    A good friend of mine that produces wow videos has been a director with them for a few months, and they’ve helped him get his personal channel setup as well.

    They’ve also recently hooked up with BroadbanTV/VISO which may offer some other unique opportunities in the near future.

    They’ve been taking on tons of new directors in the past couple of weeks, so if you’re interested, now’s the time to jump on board. They have what’s called a TGN Idol program which is mainly aimed at people just getting into video production, but given that you have a stable and reasonably popular channel, I wouldn’t be surprised if you could bypass all of that like some other directors have with a simple email to George (their CEO) at george(at)tgn(dot)tv

    They’ve said that it might be a few months before they’ll be able to start kicking money over to their directors for videos posted on their TGN channels, but if they can help you get your personal channel partnered as well, that would hopefully get you half way there.

    Anyway, I’m sure I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but just to be safe, I thought I’d post it.

    Their primary channels of interest would be /tgn /tgnWorldOfWarcraft and of course /tgnrift.

    If you’d like to take to my friend about his experiences joining them as a new director, feel to hit him up on his personal channel at /BajheeraWoW. Tell him Cy sent you.

    I’ve always enjoyed your work, and I’d love to see you getting a little monetary support to keep it up.

    • Cylarus says:

      Wow. I little proof-reading would have gone a long way there before I hit the post button. My bad.

  5. Castorcato says:

    They’re just a machine, don’t expect them to have feelings!

    Chin up old bean.

  6. CCM says:

    Seconding what BORF said above, the issue is Youtube’s potential liability for hosting videos containing copyrighted material. Right now, your videos may qualify as a “fair use” of Trion’s copyrighted footage due to the highly transformative nature of your product (you’ve made it educational, as opposed to the game content’s original value as entertainment), the fact that you’re using relatively small segments of game content in your videos, and the fact that you’re not currently using the videos in a commercial manner. Once you start to profit from people watching your vids, though, that almost certainly takes your use of Trion’s copyrighted material out of “fair use” and into infringement of Trion’s copyright.

    The problem then becomes that Trion can notify Youtube that your content is infringing its copyright in the game footage, and Youtube must take it down right away, or expose itself to humongous liability. You can tell Youtube to put the vids back up, which it also must do, but that puts you and Trion head to head in an ugly copyright battle that, sadly, you probably wouldn’t win.

    So, that legal reality pretty much removes any incentive for Youtube to permit you to monetize your vids. As much as it sucks, it’s the price we pay for Youtube to be able to host any content that contains potentially copyrighted material – as long as they comply with the “notice and takedown” process described above, they’re protected from liability for publicly displaying, copying, or otherwise reproducing copyrighted material.

    BORF is right though, you should see if Trion will grant you some sort of license to reproduce its material, which should relieve Youtube’s worries and, I would imagine, get you on the fast track to the Youtube partnership program.

    Good luck, I’m a huge fan of your vids and I hope you can expand your production of this awesome content. (PS I’m still a law student – none of this is legal advice, and you shouldn’t rely on it as such!)

    • taugrim says:

      BORF :

      Taugrim,

      The issue isnt the quality of your content, or viewer base.

      In order to monetize videos on YouTube, they require expressed written permission to commercially use all content. It kind of stops falling under “fair use” then.

      Cheers

      CCM :

      Seconding what BORF said above, the issue is Youtube’s potential liability for hosting videos containing copyrighted material. Right now, your videos may qualify as a “fair use” of Trion’s copyrighted footage due to the highly transformative nature of your product (you’ve made it educational, as opposed to the game content’s original value as entertainment), the fact that you’re using relatively small segments of game content in your videos, and the fact that you’re not currently using the videos in a commercial manner. Once you start to profit from people watching your vids, though, that almost certainly takes your use of Trion’s copyrighted material out of “fair use” and into infringement of Trion’s copyright.

      Good luck, I’m a huge fan of your vids and I hope you can expand your production of this awesome content. (PS I’m still a law student – none of this is legal advice, and you shouldn’t rely on it as such!)

      Thanks for the insight and feedback, I really appreciate it.

      I hear you both, but my guess is that it is not a legal issue – note that the rejection letter did not indicate there was any potential legal issue, nor was I asked about it.

      There are plenty of people who have gameplay footage channels or channels with gameplay narrations and who are YT Partners, and I doubt that all of them requested and received explicit permission from the game developer(s) to make videos.

      I also believe that Trion, or any game developer, would not assert their copyright for videos loaded onto YouTube, unless there was a very strong reason to do so. Videos drive customer acquisition at no cost to the game developers – basically users are promoting / advertising the product of game developers. I know this from personal experience (people have told me they subbed to games because of my videos), and I’m sure the game developers know this too.

      But then again, I’m a business man and not a lawyer, so you two may have a more relevant perspective to dissect this.

  7. Derezzed says:

    I think your stuff is great, I read it all the time. You may want to think about casting a wider net with your videos. Meaning, posting the same or similar posts that you put on your site on the RIFT forums, ZAMM and other Rift related forums. This would include a link to your site, a direct imbed of the video, and a link to the video. Thats my 2plat. Hope you get sponsored.

    • taugrim says:

      I have been posting (most of) my videos on the RIFT forums, but I think posting them on ZAM is a good idea as well.

      Thanks for the feedback.

  8. Justin says:

    I don’t think I ever comment on any blogs or sites, but I will yours. I casually play Rift as a dps warrior and when I found your site, I found it had a lot of good tips and info for me. When I saw you went cleric sometime after I started mine, I matched your spec as best I could (I am a few levels above what you have in your videos) and I’d say at level 29, I was tops in every category but deaths in Codex. Even at level 31, I still rank top 5 in damage and healing (sometimes #1 for some matches).

    At any rate, I understand the frustrations of having a life and trying to blog. I wish you lots of luck in your endeavors and I hope one day you can get something back for all the hard work you have put in. I look forward to the rest of your adventures and postings. Keep up the good work.

  9. BORF says:

    taugrim :

    I also believe that Trion, or any game developer, would not assert their copyright for videos loaded onto YouTube, unless there was a very strong reason to do so. Videos drive customer acquisition at no cost to the game developers – basically users are promoting / advertising the product of game developers. I know this from personal experience (people have told me they subbed to games because of my videos), and I’m sure the game developers know this too.
    But then again, I’m a business man and not a lawyer, so you two may have a more relevant perspective to dissect this.

    The partner program is only for people who are uploading their original content. When showing gameplay videos then this is not your original content – even though you bought the game its still copyrighted with all rights reserved and this means you are only allowed for private use.

    Broadcasting a video as a non-partner is non-commercial use but not private use. Fair-use can be apply here, and youtube allows it until disputed. I have had music taken down by a catalog, made a fair use dispute, and they restored it.

    The Partner Program is to make money with the content. So you also need a permission or license that is even allowing you to use the content of this game for commercial use. So contact the Trion, luckily they arnt one of the massive studios, who host their own video distribution etc etc. I think you two could work something out. They are very active on the social media thing, and you seem to be linked into that (YT, Twitter, Blog, Facebook?)

    Gaming Partnerships are probably the hardest to get. Most gaming partners will be with machima or gamestudio.

    This is exactly what YT/Google meant with “original content”, they cant say its copyrighted just that it isn’t yours.

    • taugrim says:

      BORF :

      The partner program is only for people who are uploading their original content. When showing gameplay videos then this is not your original content – even though you bought the game its still copyrighted with all rights reserved and this means you are only allowed for private use.

      The Partner Program is to make money with the content. So you also need a permission or license that is even allowing you to use the content of this game for commercial use. So contact the Trion, luckily they arnt one of the massive studios, who host their own video distribution etc etc. I think you two could work something out. They are very active on the social media thing, and you seem to be linked into that (YT, Twitter, Blog, Facebook?)

      Gaming Partnerships are probably the hardest to get. Most gaming partners will be with machima or gamestudio.

      Thanks for the insight BORF.

      I have been conflating two issues:
      1. getting into the Partner program
      2. once in the Partner program, being able to monetize videos

      After doing more reading today on #2, it seems that as you said, I would need to get explicit permission from the appropriate game developer to monetize videos for their game. Otherwise YouTube might reject it.

      I have met a few folks from Trion in person, so if it came down to it, I could ask for their guidance/assistance in getting permission. But until #1 happens, I probably won’t need to do so.

      Thanks for all the feedback everyone! Has given me some things to think about for future video efforts.

  10. Darker Muse says:

    It makes you wonder, if they actually sat down and watched your videos. Quality speaks for itself. If they had I doubt you would have been rejected.

  11. BORF says:

    @Taugrim

    I think I wasn’t clear originally, the two problems you list are actually exactly the same. Being a youtube partner places you in a sort of “profit sharing” program, so approval into the program is monetizing of the content in question.

    A video game partnership is the among the most difficult to obtain. Imagine all the FPS clip applications coming in , with 1000s of bogus sub4sub subscription, copyrighted music, etc etc .

    Still, you are in the best possible position knowing and having had contact with devs, so before re-applying, you will have to contact Trion.

    I know the also have a new social media community manager, Zann is last name I think. The whole integration method with live updates and you as a sorta poster child (cross-linked) could be mutually beneficial in spotlighting an “actual player” using there twitter/YT/facebook integration. Just my 2 cents.

    Its usually a 2mo period to reapply, so I would open communication with Trion, and I would guess things turn out ok. Good luck, and dont it personal it is not a comment on the quality of your content.

  12. Innbel says:

    I think what you’re doing counts as original content – I think the problem is that the person reviewing your application cannot easily see this.

    I’m not sure what that means for you, other than I’d be inclined to think you need to find a way to stay away from the appearance of just annotating youtube uploads of rift gameplay (which you are correct in saying are a dime-a-dozen).

    The good news is that you have the talent to create worthwhile content to read. I subscribe to your blog and readily gobble up your advice – this is no easy feat for a tough-sell like myself.

    I encourage you to find a way to monetize this blog. No excuses are necessary, it’s fair and in the end will only improve the quality of content on you blog.

  13. Valentus says:

    Honestly I wouldn’t sweat it too much. Plenty of quality channels get rejected all the time, especially it seems those whose channels are focused around video game footage. I think a similar thing happened with Husky or HDStarcraft when applying when they had already produced tons of solid content, and I’m sure countless others have had it happen to them. BORF has already laid out some great solid points to follow, as have others, but you should also consider reaching out to other similar channels that have partnerships and ask for any pointers. Also I think Youtube does like to see more real-life stuff(I know you already have a number of such videos) so maybe you could think of ways to incorporate more of that. Anyway have always enjoyed your vids(even when I don’t play the game) and good luck with reapplying.

  14. My comment won’t be worth too much in helping results, but I hope it’s at least worth it in the sense of gratitude. I’ve read BORF’s insightful comments and hope you will be able to obtain some more positive light as to interracting with Trion and getting into a Youtube partnership program. I might be overly optimistic, but I agree with a few of the comments here that Trion would think positively about what you are providing for the game and for its playerbase.

    Your videos have personally helped me throughout World of Warcraft and reinforced my PVP play from ground zero into a strong player. They also answered many of my questions about Rift’s very complex talent/skill system before I even started on the game. In the perspective of a Rift player and a follower of your blog, all your work is entirely worth its weight in gold, and should be rewarded accordingly.

    Perhaps you can also start a donation service for loyal subscribers to help contribute for your hard work.

    I sincerely wish you best of luck in obtaining what you are looking for, from Youtube and from Trion.

  15. ciderhelm says:

    Contact me. This is Ciderhelm, I’m dropping you a message on the Rift official forums.

  16. Gaardarun says:

    The quantity and quality of the posts above is fantastic. It’s also a testament to the strength of your channel’s loyal following. So, I say keep it going as much as you can! Although the content and comments on this post is a bit different from your others, it is, once again, very informative and educational!

  17. Tarshana says:

    Your work is still highly appreciative =) Hopefully they’ll change their mind. That being said, I’m back from vacation now, so I can’t wait to dig into all the posts I missed out on.

  18. Arkaan says:

    So by other games, you mean possibly coming back to wow? Would be nice to know. We miss ya buddy :).

    Arkaan,
    That scrub rogue.

  19. Grievv says:

    One comment on the YouTube partnership issue: I’ve noticed that most other channels, at least the ones I think are partners, have their own intro/exit animations and graphics, as well as editing during the gameplay itself. That might go a long way as far as original content goes, at the cost of production time. Just a thought.

    • taugrim says:

      Yes, I am thinking about getting a graphic designer or animator to help create those assets you described.

      Thanks for the feedback!

      I’ve also realized that many channels that are partners were partnered under an existing partner, e.g. Machinima.

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