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YouTube Update to the Terms of Service: ads on more videos, changes to payments

Yesterday YouTube announced an update to its Terms of Service. The changes went into effect on November 18 in the United States (immediately, in other words), and will take effect in countries outside the US in mid-2021. 

Update May 2021: the new terms go into effect outside the US on June 1, 2021.

There are three changes:

  • a clarification that it's not allowed to harvest faces 
  • a change in the classification of payments from YouTube as royalties with potential tax implications for non-US Partners (Tax information must be submitted by May 31, 2021)
  •  a new "right to monetize" videos on channels that are not in the YouTube Partner Program (with no payment to the channel owner)
There will be additional information in 2021, as the terms come into effect outside the US. 

Forbidden to harvest faces

You are not allowed to ... collect or harvest any information that might identify a person (for example, usernames or faces), unless permitted by that person or allowed under section (3) above;

The terms have always forbidden anyone to "collect or harvest any information that might identify a person" on YouTube. The examples of such data now include faces, in addition to usernames.

Revenue payments from YouTube are now "royalties" from a tax perspective

Starting November 18, 2020, any payments you may be entitled to receive from YouTube under any other agreement between you and YouTube (including for example payments ​under the YouTube Partner Program, Channel memberships or Super Chat) will be treated as royalties. If required by law, Google will withhold taxes from such payments.

According to YouTube, US Partners are not likely to be affected by this change if they provide valid tax information.

Creators outside the US who are monetizing their content "may be required to submit tax information in AdSense and may be subject to U.S. withholding taxes if required by law."

There will be more details about this change before it goes into effect in 2021.

Update March 2021:All monetizing creators must submit tax information in AdSense by May 31, 2021.

Right to monetize

You grant to YouTube the right to monetize your Content on the Service (and such monetization may include displaying ads on or within Content or charging users a fee for access). This Agreement does not entitle you to any payments.

YouTube will be "slowly rolling out ads on a limited number of videos" from channels that are not in the YouTube Partner Program. Creators will not receive a revenue share from those ads.

This is by far the most controversial change.

A few more details: 

• The eligibility requirements for the YouTube Partner Program have not changed. Your channel still needs at least 1000 subscribers and at least 4000 hours watch time in the past year to be able to apply for Partnership.

• YouTube says they will only be "slowly" or "gradually" introducing these new ads.

• YouTube will "monitor the impact" on creators. (Source: The Verge)

• YouTube will only place ads on advertiser-friendly content.

• YouTube will not show ads on videos on channels that were not approved or were removed from the YouTube Partner Program due to the non-compliant content.

• "Charging a fee for access" refers to YouTube Premium, Memberships and the like, not putting ad-supported content behind a paywall.

• YouTube hasn't forgotten the advertisers.

This is part of our ongoing investments in new solutions, like Home Feed ads, that help advertisers responsibly tap into the full scale of YouTube to connect with their audiences and grow their businesses. Advertisers will continue to have full access to our brand suitability controls. Over the past three years, we improved our ability to identify appropriate placements for advertisers, in part by working closely with our advertising partners and industry organizations
There should be more information about all these changes in the coming months.

Learn more