The “Chilling Effects” of YouTube’s Internet Censorship and Lack of Transparency

We’ve been watching with interest a story developing over at Digital Music News. The site ran a guest editorial by Jeff Price promoting his new YouTube Content Management System Collections Service, Audiam.

It’s interesting to note how Price targets distribution companies as the black hats but does not criticize YouTube for their less than stellar “Openess and Transparency” with artists. East Bay Ray of The Dead Kennedys spoke to NPR about his frustrations with Google.

YouTube Shares Ad Revenue With Musicians, But Does It Add Up?

“Holiday in Cambodia” by the punk band Dead Kennedys has been streamed on YouTube over 2.5 million times. Guitarist Raymond Pepperell — also known as East Bay Ray — says, overall, Dead Kennedys videos have been watched about 14 million times. But the band has only seen a few hundred dollars.

“I don’t know — and no one I know knows — how YouTube calculates the money”

It’s easy to see why so many readers took exception to Price’s understanding of how YouTube monetization works (or actually doesn’t). One of those people wrote a response to Price’s editorial, Emmanuel Zunz of ONErpm.

Why Jeff Price Is Horribly Misinformed About YouTube Monetization…

If I understand Audiam’s business model correctly (I have tested the service), it’s a pure Content ID play.  So here is my first point: Audiam states that they pay artists 100% of the revenues they collect for them from their own channel.  But by generating UGC claims on their channels that pay out at 35% instead of the Standard 55% an artist can get on their own, they are actually reducing the amount of money a musician can make through a Standard direct deal with YouTube.

What follows is the real story about the lack of transparency and openess that Google claims is essential to a “free and open” internet. You know, the kind of “free and open” internet where you make the music, movies, books, photos, etc and Google is “free and open” to monetize it without restriction. “Permissionless Innovation” yo!

So apparently when Zunz was being transparent and open (um, without permission) about Google/YouTube payments and policies in his response to Price he got a little to close to home in revealing Google family secrets. The result was a panicked Zunz contacting Digital Music News to remove, retract and/or otherwise redact the information that Zunz had made public. Oooopsies…

YouTube Demands the Removal of a Digital Music News Guest Post…

According to ONErpm, YouTube has demanded that the entire guest post – here – be ripped down, which would obliterate nearly 100 comments and the knowledgebase that comes with that (not to mention the detailed information in the post itself).

But the story doesn’t end there. Zunz had already written a second a highly detailed post for Digital Music News detailing how YouTube monetization actually works! Unfortunately that “Open and Transparent” post is not going to see the light of day in educating musicians about the actual mechanics, percentages and payments by YouTube.

YouTube Successfully Intimidates a DMN Guest Contributor…

It’s called “the chilling effect”…

Despite serious threats, YouTube has been unsuccessful at removing an earlier article on Digital Music News about confusing royalty payouts and specifics.  But what they have been successful at is preventing the next one: a 4,000+ word, highly-detailed essay on YouTube best practices and royalties, from a company highly-specialized in YouTube distribution.

The company simply got spooked, and asked that we not print the piece for fear of having their MCN status revoked by YouTube.  So here’s what artists, labels, publishers, startups, and the industry is missing as a result.

So the next time someone wants to talk about the benefits of a transparent, free and open internet based in permissionless innovation it might be worth while to send them this post. After all wasn’t it Google Chairman Eric Schmidt who said, “If You Have Something You Don’t Want Anyone To Know, Maybe You Shouldn’t Be Doing It“?

So when Google protects it’s interests it’s “business” but when musicians protect their rights it’s “censorship”.

Where are the defenders of internet freedom when you need them? The crusaders against internet censorship are silent…