YouTube Drops the Hammer on Casual Creators

Screen Shot 2018-01-17 at 11.53.58 AM

Got an email from Youtube today saying they are raising the bar on monetized channels. New minimum levels are 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours watched in a 12 month period. Pretty low overall… but it’s a hurdle for new/casual creators.

I have (had) 2 channels that are (were) monetized. One was for my show from a few years ago. It saw decent traffic when it was active, but no new content has been posted in years. I was just leaving the episodes online so people could find them. Most people see them on Amazon Prime, not Youtube. That channel is losing monetization. it will never reach the new bar for views or subscribers.

My other channel is more active, but I’m not sure I’m seeing 4000 hours of viewing annually. I’ve got several thousand views on some videos. I do not have 1000 subscribers. So, that channel will be de monetized soon, I’m sure.

This move really hits casual creators. I’m never doing a daily Vlog. I’m busy, and only post occasionally. I have chosen YT as the outlet for that because it is the 2nd largest search engine in the world and every month my stupid, little videos give me a very small amount of money. (Think fast food lunch, or afternoon Coke.) But hey, free money. And maybe someone can use the content, or is entertained.

So I put up with the overzealous content ID system, and the trolls and the ugly interface and the compression.

Youtube says that 99% of the channels affected by the new changes made less than $100 last year. They make it clear that their priority is for channels making a living off Youtube. Casual creators like myself are not considered.

I get why, to some extent. Youtube wants good, new, and consistent content to keep people coming back. more people means more advertisers. And after some advertisers to mad about being sown on some weird/bad videos, they have been working to protect that ad revenue. I can see why they would want more growing channels with larger audiences, and less small channels.

I don’t have consistent content I post every week, but a few videos on my channel have been really helpful to viewers. A few simple tech tips about how to use old lenses on modern cameras, and testing video gear, etc., have really helped some viewers. Or so they say in my comments. Youtube is removing the incentive to make any more of these. Or at least, the incentive to post them on Youtube… (Vimeo anyone?)

I wonder how this move will affect the ecosystem. Less casual creators, more intentional channels. Could be good, but will it, overall, lower the volume of video uploaded? Will that make it easier to have content noticed? What will be the fallout, if any?

Personally, what stops me from switching to Vimeo? Is the search function on YT worth it? I’m not sure. Let’s see how things progress.

Advertisements

What to Do When a Copyright Claim is Initated on Your Youtube Video For Music You Have the Right to Use

If you use music from royalty free libraries or websites on videos for your Youtube channel, there is a high likelihood that you will eventually get an email with the subject “[Youtube] A copyright claim was submitted for content in…”

Don’t panic. It’s not personal. No one is targeting you. And while it’s annoying to be accused of stealing music, the Content ID system is automated.

Here are the steps to fixing this.

Read the email. In most cases you are in no danger of having your channel shut down, or even seeing the video take down. Most of the time the claimant just places ads on your video and has the money sent to their account. That’s an annoyance, but any money that is collected while the claim is in place will revert back to your account once it’s removed. Still, I normally take the video out of public view, setting it to “unlisted” so only people with a link can see it.

Note the content that has been claimed. Who is making the claim, etc… Is it AdRev? If so, then your dispute process is very easy.

Check your content. Do you in fact have the rights to use it? I’m sure you do. But dig out the library you took the music from, find the name of the track. If you can find the receipt, even better.

Research the claimant and the company making the claim. Every single time I have been flagged for copyright on my monetized videos it has been an individual making a fraudulent claim through a 3rd party. There is a guy in Denmark or somewhere that has claimed dozens of tracks from Digital Juice‘s library, and he uses AdRev to make copyright claims online. He does not own the content.

The last claim I had was from a Canadian using a French Canadian company, so much of the communication was in French. (Thank goodness for Google Translate.) This gentlemen had exported a Digital Juice audio track and added ambient waterfall and bird noise. Then he put that track on an album that is available through iTunes and Spotify. His record company was policing the content they think he owns. So a video using the same track (which I purchased from Digital Juice just like he did.) was claimed.

Contact the company making the claim. You’re first instance will be to start a dispute through the YouTube process. That process can take 30 days. And YouTube is just acting as the intermediary between you and the company. I normally go to the company first, and then start a dispute in a few days. I find that the claims are released wishing a few days.

If the claim was made by AdRev, just go to their website, and scroll to the bottom and click “contact us.” They get so many emails about this they have their contact page set up to hear your dispute. They have now added a place to upload a copy of the license for the music in question. in the past, regarding the Digital Juice tracks, I have just explained the origin of the music and reminded them that the person making the claim does not in fact own the copyright. They know this, they have heard it many times. But they still keep him as a customer and make fraudulent claims against legally used music. In every case so far (so far) the claim has been released within 24 hours. I have had to dispute music like this over a dozen times with AdRev. (One caveat, if you are using a MusicBed track, the account rep from MusicBed must contact them, otherwise they won’t release the claim.)

In other cases, with different companies, I have simply emailed and explained the mistake. I outlined where the music in question was taken from, what library and what track title. I explained the rights to use the music as it was in the video had been purchased from the company owning the library. And pointed out that the person making the claim did not in fact own the rights or have the legal right to claim the music as his own work. And asked for the claim to be released.

In the case of the Canadian, I also pointed out the differences in the audio. I had not used all of the stems from the Digital Juice tracks, and had not added the ambient noise. It was literally impossible for me to have stolen his recording and used it in my idea. the audio in my video did not actually match his. The claim was released the same day.

File a dispute through Youtube. I almost always file a dispute through the Youtube process if the claim is not released after the initial contact. Once you file a dispute, the company making the claim has 30 days to respond. If they don’t respond, the claim is removed. If they do respond and do not release the claim… well, I’ve never had that happen.

Every single time I have ever contacted a company and explained where I got the music and why I legally have the right to use it, the claim has been released. According to Youtube, if the claim is not released, you can appeal. There is another 30 day period. If the appeal is rejected a 2nd time, and the claimant requests a takedown of the video your account will get a copyright strike.

Most of the time you won’t get to this level. I never have. You can find horror stories online, but normally companies are not that difficult to deal with.

For whatever reason, some people think that buying Royalty Free music and using it in some sort of creative work means they have the exclusive right to use the track. They don’t, but their misunderstanding means you may have annoying claims on your videos. Stay calm, and politely state your case. Most of the time you can get them released without too much trouble.

Getting Paid via Amazon Video Direct

IMG_7243I got my first very small payment from Amazon Video Direct. It’s small because of my content, not because of anything Amazon did. I see people complain about the $75k limit Amazon imposes on their payments. I would love to have the problem of hitting that limit. If you have a film that is generating that much revenue, you don’t need to be on Amazon Video Direct, you need a different (larger) distribution option. But for most of us, this is just fine.

But I got paid. And I got paid more than I did on Youtube. On Amazon I have a total of 13 videos, all dramatic content. No DIY or how to videos. I have over 100 videos on 2 accounts over at Youtube. Those 13 videos in the month of June earned more than the 100 on Youtube. The next month was even better, so I will see a “larger” small payment. The July payment will be larger than any month ever in Youtube payments. Part of that is because this content is new to a new audience.

The evidence from these past few months is that the Amazon outlet has the potential to bring in more even than Youtube, in general. If you can generate short content on a consistent basis, you could see a steady stream of small payments. The video that has been watched more than any other in my library is a 2 minute comedy short. I have no idea how people are finding it. I have promoted the others to my network more than this one. But it is, organically, doing better.

It’s a bit of a hassle to jump through the hoops to get content on AVD, but it looks to be a real outlet to get your content in front of another audience, and to get paid something for it.

Help! Some Company Called AdRev has a Copyright Claim on My YouTube Video! – How to Remove AdRev Claims

First, don’t panic. It’s not that big of a deal. It’s annoying, but your video is still viewable. But now there are ads on it, and that money goes to whoever owns the copyright (through AdRev) instead of you.

Now, I know you already have a license to use this music track in your video. Because you wouldn’t, ever use a song you don’t have permission for, right? If you are not sure about what I’m saying, do a search on how to legally use music in videos. This music is someone intellectual property. You should not use it without permission.

Since you have the license to use this music in your video, let’s get about the business of removing this copyright claim. And make no mistake, it is a business. It might feel personal, and you might want to rip off someone’s head and scream down their throat, but that won’t get the claim removed any quicker.

How did they pick your video?

They didn’t click through your Youtube channel and listen to every song. Companies like this use computers to scan the audio in the millions and millions of Youtube videos. if the computer hears part of a song in it’s catalog, it automatically places a claim on your video.

They do not send an email asking if you have a license to use it. this company uses Youtube’s own policies and that of the Digital millennium Copyright Act to pad their pockets. What that basically means is that when they identify a music track that they manage, they place a claim automatically. And you, and the person accused of infringing on the copyright of the music must prove that you have a license to use it. It’s guilty until proven innocent. Youtube is afraid of being known as a place where pirated music lives freely, so they, in my opinion, go too far with regard to copyright claims.

Youtube always sides with the person or company making the copyright claim. If you use the Youtube dispute option, it can take 30 days for things to be resolved. For a month AdRev will collect any money made from people viewing the video. Money that should be going to you. Money that they will pass on to the copyright owner, after they take their cut. For most of us, that’s a few pennies we lose. For a company that manages millions of songs, that adds up to real money. It’s not right, but that’s how AdRev stays in business.

How to dispute the claim quickly.

Luckily, AdRev is a company that does this all the time, so they already have a mechanism in place to resolve their mistake.

First, log into your youtube channel and copy the URL for the video. Copy the long one from your browser, not the short one from the “share” tab.

Then go to AdRev’s website. Scroll down to the bottom, and click on the “Claimed Video?” link at the bottom.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 8.40.49 AM

That takes you to a form.Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 8.41.00 AM

Here is where you enter your information, and paste that URL to the video with the claim on it.

In your message, tell them that you have a license to use the video. You will need to explain where you got the music and license, and then ask them to release the claim.

The level of detail you need to use may vary. The first time I got a claim I gave them date and time of when and where I purchased the music library which had the track in it, and included a link to the license agreement for using the track. In other claim disputes I simply said where and when I bought the music.

Once I simply said I had a license without giving details and they asked for more information. So you need to give them something that shows you have the right to use the music. At the very least you need to identify where the music comes from. For instance, I have had tracks from Killer Tracks libraries claimed, and when I identified the source as Killer Tracks and said when we had the license to use the music, the claim was released. Each interaction may vary, since a real person is doing the review.

In the past 4 months I’ve had at least 11 claims from AdRev on music that I have licenses to use. It’s bordering on harassment. But each time I have gone to their website, disputed the claim and had it removed.

The most troubling part of this whole thing is that sometimes people use AdRev to make copyright claims for music they do not actually own. For instance, 5 of my claims have been for tracks from Digital Juice libraries. A man in Slovenia hired AdRev and listed some music tracks that Digital juice created as his own content. Digital Juice does not employ AdRev in anyway. I used one song as the bed for a promo for my show Peculiar. That one song has been tagged 3 times. Every time I have to go to AdRev and tell them that this is not owned by that guy, but is in fact owned by Digital Juice, and I have a license.

So, AdRev knows that there is a disagreement about who owns what with regard to these tracks, because I, at least, have told them every time. But they still have that song in their tracking catalog and still claim it for the guy. And they still get their own cut from each view of the claimed video.

Bad business, all around. It’s annoying. But normally it’s easily settled. Often the claim is released the same day you dispute it with AdRev.

What about songs I made in Garage Band?

I know this happens sometimes. It has happened to me. Garage Band is a fun program that comes with loops that you can use in your own musical projects. Sometimes people use those loops to create a song, and then want to protect their work. Sometimes Youtube or a company like AdRev will scan your video, hear the same loop that is part of their own client’s song, and make a claim. These can be harder to dispute. if this happens, explain that the music in question contains loops from Garage Band, and that the Content ID system has erroneously identified a part of your own work as belonging to the other person. The hope you get a reasonable person to review the dispute. When it happened to me, the dispute was released within a couple of days.

What issues have you had with copyright on Youtube?

Youtube, Copyright, DMCA and AdRev

CopyrightThis morning I got a copyright claim notice from Youtube about a video I created using a song from a Digital Juice library.

That sounds worse than it is. First, I used the content legally. I purchased the right to use it in this fashion. So the claim will eventually be dismissed.

Second, even if I did “steal” the song, Youtube won’t pull it, they just place advertisements on the idea and give the money to the people who own the rights to it.

It’s annoying because I didn’t use it without having the right to do so. And now, for a while at least, I won’t get the revenue (however small) from any advertising on that video. It’s also annoying because the claim came through a very slimy company called AdRev. And a concern because Youtube takes copyright violations very seriously from it’s partner channels.

AdRev is a company that exists for the sole purpose of generating advertising revenue from Youtube content. Their selling point is that they can help content creators to monetize use of their content on “unauthorized, unofficial, and fan videos using your music.”  For a cut of the revenue, their computers scour the massive content on Youtube for music that matches their client’s library. Then they exercise their Digital Millennium Copyright Act  (DMCA) muscle and inform Youtube that a copyright infringement has occurred, and they would like to collect the money from any advertising on that content.

They do not contact the Youtube channel first, they just hijack the ad revenue, forcing the channel owner to prove they did not steal the content. In this (civil) case, guilty until you can prove your innocence. This isn’t the first time I’ve had this same company file claim (erroneously) on a video. Every time I have been able to get the claim removed. But it’s a hassle.

While legally they do not have to contact me before filing a claim, ethically, they should. It’s a slime-ball maneuver to steal my ad revenue this way. It’s not like I’m taking radio hits and using them as music beds. These are royalty-free, buy-out music tracks that are designed expressly for use in projects and videos like this one. It is highly likely that anyone using them will have the license to do so, because they are created and sold for this purpose.

I have mixed feelings about the DMCA in that, as a content creator, I’m glad that I can easily dispute the use of my copyrighted work. I do not like that without a hearing of any kind, companies like Youtube will immediately divert the ad revenue from a given video to the people claiming to own it. In my case, we’re talking pennies. But this is big enough business that companies like AdRev exist. They make enough from this sort of thing to keep on doing it.

A larger concern for me is that I am a Youtube Partner, and in order to maintain that status (and access to higher dollar ad sharing, etc…) I have to stay in good standing with Youtube. Part of that means no copyright violations. I don’t make the huge money from Youtube video ad revenue. This video won’t pay out a whole $1 in the month this dispute will last. But it’s still something from the effort involved in creating the content.

I know I didn’t violate copyright. But now I have to send proof that I can use this music track the way I did.

Youtube always initially sides with the people making the claim. They will immediately divert any revenue, or place advertisements on any content with DMCA disputes. They do not want to get sued by content creators, music studios, movie studios, etc… The last thing Youtube wants is to be thought of as place where people can violate copyright law. They are super strict, and err on the side of “don’t sue us”. That’s great if you have had your content stolen. Bad if someone makes an invalid claim against your content.

How do I get the claim removed?

This time was a bit different than previous claims, since the company I bought the music license from has undergone some changes in recent years. Previously, the simplest way to get the claim removed was to contact the rep for the music company, and they contacted AdRev to get the claim cleared. Since Digital Juice has switched to a subscription model, I am not sure how much action they will take on “legacy” customer’s behalf. I decided to attack this from 3 directions.

I gathered the details of the purchase (dates, order ID, etc…). I emailed Digital Juice’s customer service, filed a dispute with Youtube over the claim, and emailed AdRev directly. In all three instances I outlined the facts, and provided details about when I purchased the license for the track and copied the end user agreement for the content which says I can use it this way.

So, this can play out 3 ways. Digital Juice may contact AdRev and get them to remove the claim. AdRev may process my complaint and remove the claim. Or, after 30 days, Youtube should resolve the dispute in my favor.

UPDATE: That was quick.

Email from AdRev saying the claim was released. And an email from Digital Juice saying that the claim from Ad Rev is not from them, and they provided me with documents proving they own the song, and that I can use it.

It all sounds very fishy to me. The claim was removed.

I sent this reply to AdRev:

“Just so you know, Digital Juice provided me with information proving they own this copyright, and no one else. And they were not the ones who hired you. Someone is using your company to file fraudulent and inaccurate infringement claims. You guys should look into that. “

AdRev responded with “the claim is now removed” again.

New Facebook Page Post Reach is Horrible- How Bad is It?

Recently an Ad Age article said Facebook has now admitted that the organic views of fan pages are dropping. Significantly. In fact, Facebook suggests that the best way to “maximize” delivery of your content is to pay them. Fan pages, to them, are not communities of people who like and want content from a brand. They are ways for businesses to advertise more cheaply and effectively through Facebook in a “social context” format.

For small businesses, non profits, and generally anyone who has a fan page that isn’t specifically about selling something, this is bad news. Previously you could assume that people who became a fan of your page had a decent shot at seeing the content they signed up for. Now, only a small percentage of people see the content.

The only way to bypass the Facebook imposed limitations is to post something that your fans engage with so much that their behavior through likes and shares and comments causes the post to propagate beyond the limitations. Of course, it will be seen through those networks, not by the people who have already signed up. So, while it’s great if you have a post that generates huge engagement, the people who do the engaging and see the post through those social feeds may not be your current fans.

I wanted to see just how bad it was. My largest fans page is for my show Peculiar. I currently have 697 fans. (Crossed 700 during this experiment) Before these changes, I would normally see 60-75% of fans through organic views. That is, I’d post something and 65% or so of my fans would see it in their timeline. How bad are the new algorithms?

My page is a fan page for a TV show, with 700 fans. Many of the posts are video links to the show’s Youtube page.

For the experiment I used an event I ran during the holidays. We had the #10daysofPeculiar event on Peculiar’s FB fan page, where we brought back episodes of the show, posting one per day. With other extras posted in the afternoons. Half the videos we posted are not normally available online. I was aware of the new post reach issues, and wanted to help make sure fans didn’t miss the chance to see the episodes. So I boosted a few posts. I only spent $5 per boost, but with under 700 fans, that more than covered them. I selected showing the post to people who like the show and are friends of people who like the show. Here are the results. Number of views per day across all posts:

Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 11.08.36 AM

Guess which days got “boosted posts” and which days didn’t. You can see more detailed list of each post at the bottom of the post. I spent a total of $25 during the multi day event. Total organic views hit 956 over 12 days while views I paid for hit 7040, (over only 5 days of “boosted posts).

OK, I know, I did this over the holidays. I tried not to be too concerned with the views on Christmas Eve and Christmas. But the huge disparity between “boosted” posts and organic post is revealing. Even so, post engagement via likes and shares wasn’t that different. (That says more about my content than Facebook’s policies.)

The frustrating thing for many fan pages is that their fans have NO IDEA this is happening. Normally, once someone clicks like on your page, they don’t come back. They expect your content to show up in their new feed. If they see less, they just assume that your are posting less.

Then there is the issue of balance, where your are not supposed to post just ads. You need to engage your audience. Ask questions, give them value and content for free. So that when you do advertise or make an “ask” they will be engaged enough to respond. I am not the best at this. But these new algorithms mess that up badly. If you only “boost” posts that have advertisements in them, then the only posts that most fans see are the ones asking for money. Less than 25% see the other engagement posts. So you won’t see the same number of fans response when you sell something, or ask them to do something.

That stinks.

Facebook users probably don’t know, and if they did know… on the surface at least, they would likely think this was a great idea. Less ads, more content I want. They may not realize that this new system is set up to either pepper their feeds with sponsored posts, or reduce the content they want drastically. And Facebook? They are just trying to stay profitable. They have shareholders to think about now. Larger brands with big budgets won’t notice much.

In the mean time, people like me are looking for other ways to reach our fans on a consistent basis.

I am launching an email newsletter for Pup Tent Media, my production company. I will have the content for my various FB pages there (Peculiar, Flawed, and any new ventures…), send it out once a month. At least then, I know people who signed up for the content will see the email, even if they don’t open it. They at least have the chance.

To make sure you never miss the information about Pup Tent Media’s projects, sign up now!

Details of the #10DaysofPeculiar Posts:

Dec 20: Text post received 158 organic views, 6 page likes.

Dec 20: New Event, 19 organic views, 1 like, 11 people from those invited “attending”

Dec 21: New Cover Photo, 3 likes, 6 people saw it.

Dec 21: Video link, boosted post, $5 budget. 26 organic views, 760 paid. 6 likes

Dec 22: Video link, boosted post. $5 budget. 33 organic views, 1110 paid views. 3 likes

Dec 22: Video link, 37 organic views, 3 likes

Dec 23: Video link, boosted post, $5 budget, 34 organic views, 1391 paid views, 7 likes

Dec 23: Video link, 37 organic views, 3 likes.

Dec 24; Video link, 46 organic views, 3 likes

Dec 24, Text post, 95 organic videos, 4 likes

Dec 24, Video link, 53 organic views, 3 likes

Dec 25, Text post, 83 organic views, 4 likes

Dec 25, Video link, 31 organic views, 2 likes

Dec 26, Video link, 61 organic views, 4 likes

Dec 27, Video link, 41 organic views, 2 likes

Dec 27, Text post, 50 organic views

dec 28, Video Link, 81 organic views, 5 likes

Dec 28, Video link, 114 organic views, 7 likes, 1 comment

Dec 29, Video link, boosted post, $5 budget, 26 organic, 1935 paid views, 6 likes, 1 comment

Dec 29, Text post, 121 organic views, 4 likes

Dec 30, Video link, 54 organic views, 4 likes

Dec 30, Video link, 42 organic views, 4 likes

Dec 31, Video link, boosted post, $5 budget, 20 organic views, 1844 paid views, 6 likes

Caught in the Middle

I think I’m experiencing what many Christian filmmakers go through: The struggle between making the show you think you should make and making the show you think people will like/support with money/allow to be on their station and making the show somewhere in between.

I know, we shot the pilot for next to nothing. And the next 5 episodes will be shot for not a lot more. We have the capability to do that, but long term that’s not going to work. We have to come up with donors, investors or sponsors. Or some combination of the three.

It’s appealing to think about the established Christian TV model. Make a heartwarming, if somewhat cheesy, story attached to a non profit and watch the donations pour in. But that model is doomed. There’s some life left in it, but it’s not a long term solution. And really, who wants to make shows like that?

Or you could just do what you want. Don Miller and the people who made “Blue Like Jazz” did the movie they wanted. When I was watching I wasn’t sure I liked it. I really thought the main character was a coward. Then at the end, they totally got me. I finished the movie thinking this was the first Christian themed movie that a non Christian might watch without being coerced into it by their Christian friends. It had a lot of content that makes Christian movie watchers/makers uncomfortable: swearing, drugs and alcohol, and a main character who is a lesbian. And then it didn’t go on to condemn or show life transformation on all those people. We finish the movie with the lesbian still being a lesbian. Not a common Christian film.

Of course, it wasn’t accepted by a lot of Christian viewers. Not a big problem when you land distribution through a secular company. That would be a major problem for my show. We have the Youtube channel, but if we want to get broadcast, then we are looking at Christian TV. I don’t think many religious TV stations are going to broadcast anything close to Blue Like Jazz.

Of course, I’m not making Blue Like Jazz, or anything close to it. That’s not to say we are not dealing with issues that many TV shows shy away from. Last night we taped a scene which honestly answered questions about why God would send people to hell. One episode deals with sex and abortion. We’ve got bullying, cheating, politics, Christian sub-culture and even Halloween. But still, these are tame compared to Blue Like Jazz.

If you took Blue Like Jazz and put it on one end, and took the movie Courageous and put it on the other end, then placed my show in the spectrum in between. We would be so, so much closer to Courageous. Neither movie is bad, in my opinion, but both are aimed at different people. Both are telling different stories.

A few weeks ago I was in a meeting with someone about the show, and I had to describe the target audience. I said my goal was to make a show that 13-25 year old believers wouldn’t be embarrassed to watch. One they could tell their friends about.

That means that I can’t be super safe, and make a bland story, following the traditional model of funding and distribution for Christian TV. I want to deal with real issues, and show real people. But I can’t move too far down the continuum or I won’t be able to utilize any of the existing distribution channels. So I’m caught in the middle. But we are getting the show done.

We are working to tell a good story. In doing so, we are showing what it means to really try to live out your faith in the world. We are putting on display the life of a new believer who is trying to develop a biblical worldview. It’s a lot of hard work. And when we are done I am sure that some will say we should have gone farther. And some will say we have gone too far. But in the meantime we are doing our best to tell a good story and follow God’s call on our lives.

Godtube and Intellectual Property: Arrr! Where’s my Eye Patch, Peg Leg and Parrot?

I may start searching Godtube for maps to buried treasure. X marks the spot.

For fun the other day I headed over to Godtube to see how many of the highlighted videos came from Youtube. Of the eight or so I looked at, the only ones that did not have an exact counterpart of youtube were ones put up by Christian companies that sell videos. I hope that there are many original videos on Godtube, but I just don’t see them. What I see are tons of copyright violations.

Our own church was victim of infringement via Godtube. I’ve had friends who have had the same happen.

But, hey, we’re all believers, right? We are just spreading the Word! Does it matter if people watch the video on your channel or the Godtube channel?

I have a couple of questions about that:

1. If it’s just about spreading the Word, or making a clean place for the faithful to watch, who gets money for the ads? Is the person that stole the video sending it over to the person they stole it from? Somehow I doubt that.

2. Who is getting the social media information? Like number of visits, and demographics, and such? Is that information forwarded to the actual video owner? That would be another no.

3. Is the person who stole the video sending viewers back to the owner’s site for updates and to subscribe, and helping build the network of viewers and contacts that social video brings? Again, no.

The ad money generated on Godtube does not go to the owners of stolen videos. The thieves use the videos to build their own following. And since Godtube doesn’t have a way to contact channel owners, those who are violated have to complain directly to Godtube. (In their defense they were responsive when I contact them about our video, so at least there is that.)

Now, I’m under no illusions, I know that the same sort of piracy goes on at youtube. The same video taken and put on Godtube has been copied multiple times on youtube. But youtube isn’t call “Godtube” and isn’t populated by Christians. I expect people who claim the name of Christ to hold themselves to a higher standard.

I’ve never been a big fan of the idea of Godtube. It is the epitome of Christian subculture. The site is a Christian ghetto of copyright violations and marketing to religious people. It is the opposite of being salt and light in a dark world. It’s a bubble of religious content. And as far as I can see, much of the content has been stolen.

If the community at Godtube will not police itself, stronger measures should be taken to protect copyrighted content.

In the meantime, I’m considering adding a watermark to every video with our youtube channel address on it. So even if it is stolen, viewers know where it came from.

(Pirate flag image from free clip art resource.)

Wrong Worship Update

So, last week one of our team members threw a video up online of a sermon illustration. Next thing you know “Wrong Worship” is going viral. It got picked up by Michael Hyatt and ChurchMag. Then someone stole it and put it on Godtube (the irony). Then we saw a few other copies pop up on Youtube.

We had talked about making a standalone “infomercial” and this got us going on that. We wanted to let people use it for free. It’s available for download at www.firstorlando.com/worshipresources. Then I had the link put on the copy on on Godtube. I wanted to point people to the other resources and songs we have available. We have also put a few other songs and such on out youtube channel.

If you count Godtube, we have had over 225,000 views. Who knew?

Christians Don’t Believe in Comedy

I’ve come to the conclusion that Christians don’t believe in comedy. I think I’ve known this for a while, but it jumped out at me this past week.

It all started when the song “Friday”, by Rebecca Black, hit Youtube and stayed as a trending topic on Twitter for weeks. Here’s a taste. You don’t have to watch the whole thing, but look at enough to get the idea:

Good or bad, 92 million+ hits isn’t anything to sneeze at. It’s a fairly well produced independent video of a pretty poor song. For whatever reason this thing went viral, and has staying power, mostly from people making fun of it. It has inspired quite a few parodies.

I steadfastly refused to watch it until I heard about Community Christian Church’s parody. The talented crew created a parody that invites people to Easter services on “Sunday”:

I watched it, and laughed, and then went and watched the original and laughed more. They really nailed the feel of it. For a lot less money I’m sure. I know Eric Bramlett, the Creative Ministry Director there, from his work with the Exponential conference, which we host every year. I saw some of his twitter feed and read his blog, then listened to his Pop Culture Pulpit podcast on the subject.

After that I’m convinced that Christians don’t believe in comedy. If they did, a church having fun, making a funny video that happened to get a bit of circulation, wouldn’t be so odd that it confused people. The fact that so many people responded with viciousness and misunderstood the video shows that we really don’t do comedy. The church (Not Community Christian, Christendom, the organization that’s been built around the Body of Christ. That church.) does stupid things exactly like what these people thought this video was. Even the Christians on Godtube can’t just enjoy it. No, they fight about meaningless topics.

Christians don’t believe in comedy because we don’t do comedy. Oh, we do fund raising events with stand-up comedians. And funny skits in worship a couple times a year. But most churches don’t do comedy. We ignore it.

If anyone can name a live-action Christian movie that was actually intended to be a comedy I’ll send you $5. I’m serious. I cannot think of a single Christian film, aside from some animation, that was actually supposed to be classified as a comedy. I’ve seen some funny ones, but no actual comedies.

Why not?

God created the sense of humor. Why don’t we embrace it?

Well, for one, laughing doesn’t simulate the kind of emotional response people normally want in church. We want people to be serious, and engage in deep introspection, and be alert for the Spirit of God to move. Never mind that humor is one of the most effective ways to communicate difficult messages without offense. That’s not to say that you cannot offend with humor. It is very easy to mess up comedy.

And that may be the real reason we, the “Church” don’t believe in comedy. It’s hard. You have to know your audience, and be able to communicate something you find funny in a way that everyone else will find it funny too. It’s simpler to make people cry. When comedy goes wrong, it goes way wrong. It’s risky. It’s safer to stick with serious topics. No need in taking a chance on getting a nasty-gram in your email.

So, Christians don’t believe in comedy.

But we should. More churches should take chances and do comedy. You know why? God created it, and people like it. Check out an article on EW.com. It lists the tops shows by age group. Count the number of comedies listed… In the age groups we are losing fastest from the church, there are reality shows and then there are comedies. No dramatic shows in the top 6 for those ages.

Now count the number of comedy TV shows Christian produce…

We need to do comedy. The few drama groups and video crews and stand up comedians who follow Christ and do comedy cannot carry this for us. We should stop ignoring a whole genre of art. Let’s actually believe in comedy.