YouTube has a copyright protection system in place called Content ID. It scans uploaded videos and tries to match if the video contains copyrighted material such as being a TV episode or having copyrighted background music. If copyrighted material is detected, one result may be that YouTube places ads around and within your video. The revenue proceeds from those ads go to the copyright holder of the copyrighted material. This removes the uploader’s abilities to monetize the video. Recently, I came across an interesting manipulation of YouTube’s Content ID system.
While looking at screen recording programs (after the latest Java update killed my usual go-to site) I found ezvid. Ezvid is a pretty straight forward screencasting application for Windows. It allows you to record your screen and upload it straight to YouTube, which was exactly what I was looking to do for the 404 Tech Support YouTube channel. Other programs that I checked out were crippled in certain ways; they might add a big watermark, only record a limited time, or save it in a format that YouTube wouldn’t touch. Most of these problems could be solved by paying for the premium versions of the software or buying some of the bigger name applications like Camtasia or FRAPS.
Ezvid is free and seemed to work pretty well to record a demo video. Upon finishing editing and uploading the video, you might start to realize that Ezvid’s business model is everything but straight forward. They ask for a donation of $9 on the product website to support ezvid but nothing enforces that. When editing your recorded video, the application provide a drop-down to choose from a wide variety of different songs for background music. If you choose one of the provided songs, they are all registered with YouTube’s ContentID system. When you upload your video, YouTube will notify you that the background music is copyright protected. Badda bing, badda boom! Suddenly, ezvid gets to dictate the ads around and on your videos. They receive the ad revenue generated by any video created using their software.
One of the background audio options in the video editor is to choose your own MP3 but it always seemed to crash on me when I chose that option. I had planned to use an MP3 of silence but was never able to select the file. Ezvid’s explanation on their site for “how to turn off the music with Ezvid” recommends in the newest version of Ezvid a new soundtrack called “Silent Machine”. It is not silent and still includes enough of a fingerprint for YouTube to match the audio to protected content. After uploading a video created with Ezvid, you might receive the following notification:
Dear [your username],
Your video “[title of video]”, may have content that is owned or licensed by NATOarts, but it’s still available on YouTube! In some cases, ads may appear next to it.
This claim is not penalizing your account status. Visit your Copyright Notices page for more details on the policy applied to your video.
– The YouTube Team
Who is NATOarts? An organization with ties to Ezvid that benefits from funneling videos using their audio. This relationship and consequences are explained in the Ezvid End User License Agreement.
16. MONETIZATION ON UGC NETWORKS. Ezvid has licensed the Bundled Audio from NATOarts. Any uploads you make to UGC Networks (e.g. YouTube) may result in an automatic “claim” of the audio portion of your upload by NATOarts. This “claim” will not lead to strike against your account, however, you may be unable to claim and monetize this upload for yourself on the UGC network.
The business model is evil but really quite genius. It provides a free product with just enough restrictions to control the user and manipulates YouTube’s automated Content ID system. Ezvid managed to create a revenue stream from almost every video made with the software. That has to add up to way more than the $10-$20 they would be able to charge for the application.
For users that don’t want ads over and surrounding their videos or those that want to control the monetization, the moral of the story is that you get what you pay for. It might be worth shelling out for Camtasia Studio, Fraps, or other less devious alternatives.