Last month my YouTube channel got a copyright strike. That happens when you violate some copyright rule and post content you don’t own. In my case, it was Viacom who went after me and removed a video of mine, showing some footage from an old Hey Arnold episode.
I won’t get into the whole case, I’ll only mention that what I did was in the realm of fair use, as it was done on my animation news show The Key Frame, in which I mentioned the upcoming Hey Arnold movie what was recently announced, and while talking about the movie I had a short clip from the show running in the background on mute.
While I might contest this, the point I’d like to discuss in this post is a different one.
What happens when you get a YouTube strike
The thing about getting a copyright strike, besides the fact that 3 of them will get your channel shut down, is that even if it was wrongfully made, until it is fixed your channel becomes heavily restricted. Features are being removed, linking to my website becomes unavailable, uploading unlisted videos is no longer possible and more.
In other words – even if you haven’t done anything wrong your channel gets screwed until you fix it. Fixing it, by the way, means you’re willing to go to court if necessary (in my case – going against Viacom), a task that will probably scare most YouTubers. You can also just wait it out and within 6 months your channel will go back to be in good standing.
What a crap storm, right?
When it first happened I got so mad I just wanted to quit YouTube. one of those moment you just want to throw everything away. But then I started thinking “I can’t just quit YouTube, what about Bloop Animation? It’ll all be gone!” and then I thought – “Will it?”
After examining my situation I realized nothing would happen if my YouTube “empire” was to suddenly collapse. I’ve done such a good job making sure my website is my main hub, that even if my channel gets deleted today it’ll barely have any financial effect on me and my business.
Do you see how dangerous is it to put your eggs in someone else’s basket? To count on someone else’s platform for your business? It’s scary as hell. If you work hard to own your audience then you will become immune to almost everything. You would endure any Google algorithm change, any new social network that might demolish Facebook or YouTube policy shift.
Can you imagine a full time YouTuber (who makes his full time salary from YouTube) going through something like this? It doesn’t even have to be a copyright strike, what if YouTube changes their advertising rules again? What if that change reduces the amount of ad revenue by 10%? That YouTuber is completely dependent on another company’s policy.
YouTube, for me, is a traffic source – not a business plan.
Own your website, own your email list, own your products, sell directly to your audience. You’ll never have to worry about what other companies do.