Earlier this year many gun channels on YouTube reported that their videos were suddenly disqualified from receiving ad revenue. This change in policy happened without warning and the rules established by YouTube were vague to say the least. In the hopes of appeasing both advertisers and content creators, YouTube attempted to clarify its rules. But if you read YouTube’s guidelines you’ll notice that they remain incredibly vague.
A lot of people have been screaming about free speech but that’s irrelevant. YouTube is a private entity and therefore can make whatever rules it wants. The real issue here is relying on a third party for revenue.
There are two ways content creators can guard their income from arbitrary rule changes made by their hosts. The first is having a contractual agreement where the host can face penalties if they arbitrarily change the terms. The second, and this is the one I generally prefer, is to host their own material on their own systems. This is what I do with this blog (and every other service I rely on). If you own everything you get to make the rules. If, for example, I decided to monetize this site, there would be no way for a third party to cut of my revenue by changing the rules.
YouTube looks like a sweet deal because content creators can put their material online without facing the costs of hosting the material themselves. But there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. The price content creators pay for using YouTube is being entirely at the mercy of its one-sided user agreement, which can be changed at any moment without prior notice being given. Content creators can scream about free speech or censorship or whatever else makes them feel oppressed. But they only have themselves to blame because they put themselves into a position where their revenue source could be cut off by a third party at any moment.