YouTube terms update lets Google show ads on unmonetized content

YouTube terms update lets Google show ads on unmonetized content

YouTube has updated its Terms of Service, and some of the changes have left users fuming. Parent company Google seems to be on a roll of taking away things and replacing them with not-as-good things, as the recent Google Photos debacle showed us, and the YouTube changes follow the theme.

As we reported yesterday, the company has confirmed that it will be allowing a beta test of audio-only advertisements aimed at anyone using the service for background music. But there’s more to unpick here too. Firstly, YouTube has strengthened its policy about data collection from YouTube visitors. It now specifically mentions facial recognition data which has always been covered but not explicitly stated.


But the biggest change outlined in today’s blog post is the least palatable. As part of the changes, Google has confirmed that it will experiment in adding advertising to videos uploaded by those who aren’t in the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). In other words, if you aren’t monetizing your YouTube content, Google now reserves the rights to use the advertising space for its own purposes, and you won’t get a penny.

This is particularly galling if you’ve uploaded a video without adverts because you wanted to spare your followers from adverts. By changing this clause, Google can now override your good intentions to make a few extra quid, and that doesn’t feel very sporting. Google will ensure that this only occurs on brand-safe videos, but the only real way to opt-out is to opt-in to YPP. Google ads that there will be no changes to the suitability controls available to advertisers and adds that the criteria for YPP remain unchanged and users will be able to opt-in to the scheme if they qualify.

Finally, YouTube has clarified its rules for complying with US taxes. The good news is that it has confirmed that providing that AdSense has up-to-date tax details for you, there should no longer be an issue about taxing your earnings, and as such, Google’s long-standing threat to skim payouts for taxes if required has been diminished. Google adds that creators outside the US will have more details about their tax relationship with YouTube clarified during 2021.

So it seems that the real losers here are the end-users. Creators can choose to opt-in to YPP, register their tax details with AdSense and there’ll be business as usual.  But for casual visitors, it looks like 2021 is going to see a lot more in the way of ad-heavy YouTube videos, with Google profiting from those videos that go ‘unclaimed’.

You can read the full, revised terms and conditions here. They’ll come into force from “mid-2021” outside the US.

About author

Chris Merriman
Chris Merriman

I am the UK News Editor at XDA Developers. I’ve been writing about technology for over a decade for the likes of The Inquirer, where I was Associate Editor, Computer Shopper UK, and IT Pro. I’ve also appeared on Sky News, BBC, Al Jazeera and recently left a long-running weekly tech news spot on TalkRadio UK. My love of technology comes from my family who hail from the pioneering days of Silicon Valley - in fact my Grandfather worked on Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. I’ve been using smartphones (and reading XDA) since the HTC Canary in 2003. I’m also a smart home obsessive. You can find me tweeting as @ChrisTheDJ.

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