Brandon Strader

OCR monetizing mixes on YouTube

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Alrighty then.  I'm finished posting on this issue.  I'm hoping you are right zircon, and we are making a mountain out of a molehill.  

I do think it's time to do some budgeting and create some projections and some financial statements, and get the non-profit status underway.  I'll do whatever I can toward that end.  I remain faithful to OCR.

I just read your newest reply.  Good point.  Maybe there are other ways for OCR to make money.  Maybe we can start a new thread to brainstorm ideas.  Here's one.  My son's school does this thing every year called Apex Fun-Run.  They raise $50,000 or more every year.  It's the most obnoxious thing ever but it works for schools.  Yes, I'm kidding about doing a fun-run, it's the worst thing ever and I boycott it every year.  But what other ways could we raise funds, predictably and continuously?  Thinking caps, everyone.

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5 minutes ago, zircon said:

Again: How does OCR keep running in that scenario? 

Sell it to Doug Arley or Jake Kaufman for the pittance it'll be worth when Google Ads and Patreon go out of business

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This is a question of ethics, not just legality, and some people just aren't going to see eye to eye on this. Justifying your current actions with past behavior that you've gotten away with doesn't mean it's right, but it would help you build a case in court against the copyright trolls.

It really comes down to what people consented to in the first place when they gave you that free music for distributing. I don't like that this was basically done without telling anyone. I know there was an explanation given after it was discovered, but it feels more like back pedaling. Even if this isn't the case, it seems like this was done simply to gain momentum and justify it with "it's already been like this for X months so we're not changing because it took you this long to notice," instead of being up front about it and getting the artists's permission. Easier to ask forgiveness than permission, right? How about artists get the choice to opt-in? Some people aren't comfortable with their work being monetized at all, regardless of the purpose.

I'm done here.

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11 hours ago, zircon said:

 Nobody wants to go to court. Legal proceedings are costly, both in terms of time and money, for all parties.

Does OCR have a legal defense fund utilized from ad revenue? I feel this has implications in the ethical debate. Zircon youre correct, no one wants to go to court. However those without the means to challenge a legal accusation of Infringement loses automatically, I don't have the time or resources to fight it so basically the content comes down. If OCR says when someone calls for a takedown of a Remix "No, this is fair use we accepted it, we published it and we plan to prove that in court using our resources" then any monetization anywhere, is strongly in my favor, because OCR is going to stick up for me or whomever is being accused of Copyright Infringement and the argument that it's unlikely any copyright holder probably won't do anything doesn't help. Disney ( although they are very litigious) sued a daycare because they had a character painted on a wall. I can't know what each copyright holder will do. Over 1000 different games and we can't be sure what any copyright holder will do. 

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1 minute ago, YoshiBlade said:

Does OCR have a legal defense fund utilized from ad revenue? I feel this has implications in the ethical debate. Zircon youre correct, no one wants to go to court. However those without the means to challenge a legal accusation of Infringement loses automatically, I don't have the time or resources to fight it so basically the content comes down. If OCR says when someone calls for a takedown of a Remix "No, this is fair use we accepted it, we published it and we plan to prove that in court using our resources" then any monetization anywhere, is strongly in my favor, because OCR is going to stick up for me or whomever is being accused of Copyright Infringement and the argument that it's unlikely any copyright holder probably won't do anything doesn't help. Disney ( although they are very litigious) sued a daycare because they had a character painted on a wall. I can't know what each copyright holder will do. Over 1000 different games and we can't be sure what any copyright holder will do. 

Again, Youtube provides mechanisms to handle copyright strikes.  It would be incredibly stupid for a copyright holder to go to court when they can just issue a takedown on the video, at which point they get all the revenue from the video.  Again it's incredibly stupid to waste money on court when submitting a takedown will have the exact same result, taking the video down and giving the owner of the rights the money generated.

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29 minutes ago, Kenogu Labz said:

Legal agreement is binding 'consent' (good golly do I hate the modern misuse of that word).

As I've said like 4 times before on this thread, invoking back-handed legal tactics on your community members is the best way to kill member retention and damage your reputation. OCR is not just a business. It's a community; furthermore, its community is its business, and appeasing the desires of its community at least through compromise is a necessary factor in keeping the business running smoothly. Without a thriving community, there's no content being produced. It doesn't matter what objective facts you throw around; if people feel cheated, and there is no attempt to remedy that, either through solution or productive discussion, they will pack up and leave. This isn't directed at staff members, because they already know this. This is directed at people who think "sorry, but we're allowed, it's in the fine print" is a valid defense.

That's why this thread exists, to remedy those concerns. Not to make fun of them.

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2 minutes ago, Neblix said:

As I've said like 4 times before on this thread, invoking back-handed legal tactics on your community members is the best way to kill member retention and damage your reputation. OCR is not just a business. It's a community; furthermore, its community is its business, and appeasing the desires of its community at least through compromise is a necessary factor in keeping it running smoothly.

Understood, and agreed.  Was simply responding to Garde:

Quote

It really comes down to what people consented to in the first place when they gave you that free music for distributing.

They consented to exactly what is listed in the OCR submission agreement.  Whether they now wish to re-evaluate the extent of that agreement is a different matter.

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ReMixer has jar of peanut butter, has jar of jelly.

OCR wants to be a cool guy.

There's bread laying around...

OCR asks for jars of peanut butter and jelly. Uses bread.

OCR makes yummy PB&J, cuts it in half.

OCR Gives half to ReMixer and half to Remixer's best friend, Listener.

Sandwiches are good, ReMixer and Listener happy.

OCR doesn't eat, but OCR is happy too.

The bread runs out.

Listener has extra bread.

OCRemix allows listener to continue eating sandwiches...

...but asks listener to first contribute a slice of bread before each sandwich.

ReMixer sees OCR using his peanut butter and jelly as bargaining chip in order to acquire bread.

ReMixer accuses OCR of taking advantage of ReMixer's tasty spreadables for personal bread collection

OCR is sad.

OCR eventually asks ReMixer how they should keep make sandwiches...

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26 minutes ago, Kenogu Labz said:

Understood, and agreed.  Was simply responding to Garde:

They consented to exactly what is listed in the OCR submission agreement.  Whether they now wish to re-evaluate the extent of that agreement is a different matter.

According to DJP on Facebook earlier, nobody consented to what is happening because the content policy was designed (in 2007 - important point!) to allow them to weasel any number of things into its meaning due to its vague language, before each money making platform existed.  Is my paraphrasing loaded enough? Dunno if it is. You can sweet talk the most reprehensible thing into sounding acceptable with the right language. Not my style. 

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I’ve read through the whole thread and taken it all in, and this is what I’m getting from all this.

 

The staff tested the waters on this to see how intrusive it was. Fine but surely a month, hell, even 2 weeks, is PLENTY of time to figure that out. The fact it wasn’t made public until it was noticed by non-staff 2 months later is a problem because it is borderline deceiving and honestly, puts a barrier of trust between the community and the staff. The fact that this was done with something so polarising is even worse, which is what I think most people have an issue with. 

 

The making money off music argument - some people view it differently, and at the end of the day, we’re all going to have to accept that, and deal with those consequences. If everyone is willing to accept that, then sure. 

 

Legally, Staff are saying its not going to make a difference based on stuff that honestly… its subjective at best. There is no absolute guarantee that this isn’t going to come and bite ocr back in the ass in some form. As a staff member and highly prolific remixer, you understand my concern there since I don’t think this makes it entirely your choice. The content isn’t entirely yours. You can say “well it’ll be ok, we’ll deal with it” but what if something unprecedented happens and it involves more than just the higher ups of the staff? 

 

Basically, we’re all taking a risk and I think it should be our choice to say if we choose to carry on with that risk. At the very least, allow people who disagree to have their remixes removed maybe? Might seem drastic but some people might feel that strongly about it.

 

Not to mention this is just a backup. DJP said Patreon is covering everything atm so this is potentially needless worry. 

 

As you all can gather, this is massive topic of discussion and I think further thought is required here. Just my two cents. Going to bow out now, I’ve said enough :P

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1 hour ago, Garde said:

It really comes down to what people consented to in the first place when they gave you that free music for distributing. I don't like that this was basically done without telling anyone. I know there was an explanation given after it was discovered, but it feels more like back pedaling.

Alright, I think I'm caught up on the thread.

I want to respond to the above comment from @Garde first because I've already apologized, and while apologies are nice, the simple fact that I made one at all DOES indicate that I agree that this could potentially have been handled better... ideally, our "experiment" would have been shorter, and we would have stuck with the original plan to make an announcement after the first week, kick off a discussion, and time that to coincide with 501c3 filing status and/or updated artist pages, where we hope to emphasize artist promotion more. Filing for 501c3 means having at least SOME of your ducks in a row, and while @Chimpazilla put some materials together that I've reviewed, most of my OCR time these days is consumed with posting mixes, coordinating albums, and trying to work on several different projects to improve the site, all at the same time. I'm not going to lie, being a father of two has affected the time I can devote to OCR, but I'm still doing everything I can. We were always intending to discuss this with artists BEFORE enabling the back catalog, and I want to emphasize this... the number of videos on our channel with ads enabled right now is less than half a percent of the total videos. That's not an explanation for not telling anyone about the experiment (which is more about observing the effects in a normal context), but it does hopefully support & make clear that our intention was to wait for this conversation to take place BEFORE enabling 99.5% of the rest of the videos.

It might FEEL like back-pedaling... I get that, I do... but if you think about this point, and actually believe we were never going to tell anyone, then why have we NOT yet enabled ads on 99.5% of the videos?

Okay, I did want to clear that up, because at least on the surface it's a legit point.

Now, the current concerns seem to break down along these lines, with the following explanations:

  1. This isn't right, because OCR staff shouldn't make money off the mixes.
    • We don't; our 2007 content policy stipulates how funds will be used (site operation and promotion), and banner ads have been in place for over a decade.
  2. Artists should have been informed prior to ANY videos being enabled with ads.
    • We apologize for this being a surprise, but we DID want to observe the impact of ads for a small percentage of mixes in a neutral setting before discussing this with artists and then, eventually, enable it for 99.5% of the rest of the videos... we also wanted to time that discussion/announcement with 501c3 filing, which in retrospect has delayed things for too long.
  3. YouTube ads are different from website ads because they feel different, play before the actual music, are embedded, etc.
    • A video ad IS different from a website ad in terms of the medium, but the end result is often the same. Having to "skip" an ad CAN feel more intrusive - which is exactly why we wanted to monitor the impact with a "test batch"...our observations have been that very few noticed or were adversely affected by this change. It's worth noting that we do not enable "unskippable" ads, and NEVER will. They are Satan. We've also never enabled certain types of website ads that are more obnoxious - "pop-unders" and full-page timed skippable things.... uhh, because we hate them.
  4. YouTube ads aren't covered by the current content policy, or it's not clear.
    • When we worked with artists back in 2007 on our content policy, we very intentionally tried to make it "future-proof" by using flexible language, where it made sense. Regarding ads, we used the phrase "advertisements presented in the context of submitted material" - I personally feel that is clear enough to convey that we were NOT just talking about banner ads on websites, that it meant ads could be presented before, after, alongside mixes in a video, on a stream, or on whatever technology the future throws our way - VR, 3D, augmented reality, whatever. Who wants a policy that's out of date every time a new & relevant technology comes out? Nevertheless, it has been proposed that the content policy should be modified to clarify this point. This would not be a modification of substance/meaning, simply one of enhancing the clarity with real-world examples. I think this could definitely make sense.
  5. YouTube ads expose OCR and/or artists to additional legal risk.
    • First off, you should know that I've poured tens of thousands hours into OCR and will thus always seek to protect it. I do appreciate the concern, but I don't appreciate the idea that I would somehow intentionally pursue a reckless course of action just to enhance revenue potential to support site operations. As @zircon has repeatedly indicated, YouTube makes it very easy for IP owners to assert their rights without going through traditional legal channels, and this happens quite often.
  6. OCR should be more transparent about how it handles its finances.
    • The best thing we can do right now is get the 501c3 ball rolling. As many have pointed out, a 501c3 organization can still be corrupt, can still compensate its employees, etc. - simply having this status doesn't mean we couldn't be the evil, maniacally deceptive people that @Brandon Strader suspects :) But it's a good faith step in the right direction, it will involve something kinda-sorta like an audit to attain, and it will lay a foundation for decoupling OCR from, well.... me. Right now we're a sole proprietorship LLC, and while all OCR funds are kept in separate accounts, those are still MY accounts, and it all ends up on MY taxes. Attaining this status may actually be rather expensive for us, so when people ask what on earth we could possibly need a budget surplus for, this type of thing is a great example. It's also worth mentioning that while most of the cost is upfront, there is also a cost associated with MAINTAINING 501c3 status from year to year.

I think that covers everything.

If people feel the above six points are incomplete, I'll be updating this post with anything additional that isn't covered.

 

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Re:  Who wants a policy that's out of date every time a new & relevant technology comes out? 

I don't know, actually, because you see policies from games in particular constantly updating and having to get you to agree to them again. I don't think regular policy revisions are actually that wild an idea, and like you said, not in substance/meaning, but in clarified language, with new up-to-date examples.

 

As for 501c3, I'm genuinely interested right now. Is it on the table? Is a specific amount of funds being waited for, or is there a hangup in terms of someone having to complete some necessary tasks? Curious as to the progress on this.

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Will the music that is monetized be licensed, and royalties given to the copyright owners. And will we be able to opt out of monetization with our collective works, including entire albums. Would any amount of response across OCR, Facebook, heck even theshizz, have any impact whatsoever in changing the outcome of this situation. 

I'm  going to bed. Will check this and hopefully countless more answers in the P.M.

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Dave, as usual you do a far better job than any of us could -- and I feel your pain with regard to parenting and a loss of free time.  That's largely why I haven't been around as much lately :)

I don't think you and the team need more help than you have, but feel free to reach out whenever.

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Didn't the OCR YouTube channel get shut down like 5 years ago and y'all cleared that up without a problem. Looking back it was a bit before YouTube's Content ID problem got really out of control, but still. It's not like we haven't had issues with YouTube before and that was all resolved.

All I'm trying to say is y'all have had issues with YouTube before and those were resolved. This may be the optimist in me talking but I think there's no reason to assume that if issues came up on the YT side of the things again, they wouldn't be able to be resolved in the same manner that the previous issue was resolved: talking it through with YouTube and explaining your side of things in a satisfactory manner.

Personally I may not be involved in any mixes (aside from writing lyrics on the Sturm track on BadAss 3) but I understand why y'all are doing this. Do what you gotta do.

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It feels to me like the entire tone of this conversation has been sour and combative from the start, and that has handicapped it extensively.

I've been on the sidelines of OCR going nigh on 10 years now, if my guess is correct, and around 7 years of meager periodic participation.  During that time, I've observed a lot of DjP: what motivates him, how he thinks, what he's concerned about and studied.  I know he's spent a while learning about Fair Use and the morass of copyright law surrounding it, enough to hold some level of competence in discussions regarding it, especially where OCR's welfare is concerned.

So, when this point of discussion comes up, my first thought is: "Hey, they're probably looking for more ways to support and expand the site."  Because I know the motivations and inclinations of those involved, my sense of risk in this move is low.  My presupposition - based on my prior knowledge of the people and circumstances - is positive.  Then the change can be questioned and discussed gently and with the trust that best intentions are in mind on all sides.

What concerns me more than anything in this conversation is that DjP is being marked out as a money-grubbing scammer, who's using the hard work of this site's musicians just to make a buck, which... doesn't fit with anything I've seen over the last several years.  So why does that presumption underlie the entire conversation at hand?

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People need to calm down.

On one side, OCR's test with YouTube shouldn't have been that long and maybe should have been more limited. On the other hand, no harm was intended so people directly attacking @djpretzel should down their tone a bit (as maybe none of your mixes were monetized, so calm down). Both sides have good and bad arguments, but let's not get sour and directly attack people (it goes for both sides).

Also please remember that, as @zircon said, YouTube allow stuff that's not always legal (IP strikes without proper legal channel, upload of copyrighted stuff, etc. -- I wrote a technical file on YouTube and IP Law for my Master's Degree a few months ago, so I'm still fresh with that kind of stuff). YouTube is on its side only so you never know what the heck can happen with it.

An answer shall be figured out, with time, patience, and discussion. Maybe OCR's 2007 policy should evolve, maybe it won't. Maybe it's time for some big change, maybe not. Maybe more staff could help on that since djp's time for OCR is limited (@Chimpazilla suggested she could help, so why not). But for now, let's try to stay focused and civil. You can express your opinion and it's fine, but don't jump to someone else's throat without reading their point of view/arguments.

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27 minutes ago, Neblix said:

I don't think regular policy revisions are actually that wild an idea, and like you said, not in substance/meaning, but in clarified language, with new up-to-date examples.

Neither do I, w/ regard to a plain language TL:DR; section that focuses on examples and what not.. if the actual substance/meaning were to change, then that wouldn't be retroactive, and managing the crossover point becomes logistically taxing, but just updating with practical examples & clarifications does seem fine.

27 minutes ago, Neblix said:

As for 501c3, I'm genuinely interested right now. Is it on the table? Is a specific amount of funds being waited for, or is there a hangup in terms of someone having to complete some necessary tasks? Curious as to the progress on this.

It's on the table more now than it's ever been in the past, and yes, we intend to proceed and make it happen this year. I've been looking at something like this website, which may make things cheaper for us. First things first, we need a FEIN. Some of these things take time just due to the paperwork involved, but it's long overdue and I'll be more comfortable with everything when it's done.

9 minutes ago, Lucavi00 said:

"We don't like any of you but we sure do like the money you bring in for us."  -DJ Pretzel 2016

Is this one of those things where you *want* to be banned?

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2 hours ago, Brandon Strader said:

Sell it to Doug Arley or Jake Kaufman for the pittance it'll be worth when Google Ads and Patreon go out of business

So, I figured this would come up at some point, and I don't think many people are arguing the profit angle so much, but let me chime in with my experience:

First of all, as far as I know, I'm the one of the only people doing this "game arrangement community" type of thing anymore. Jake has his own business going on and doesn't have time to worry about game arrangements too much. Most other people got out, or handed off to me. Arguably I don't even do too much anymore, at least visibly. We're constantly working on things, but 2 things keep anything from moving forward at a decent pace: time and money.


Right now, my yearly operating costs, on the low end, are about $1,000. Between servers, web services, domains, etc, I spend about $1,000 per year. Like OCR those go through a sole proprietor LLC which comes out of my taxes. $1,000 a year isn't that much, but that's still a flat screen TV I put into, basically just hosting things, every year.

Obviously OCRs operating costs are way more than that, and yes, apparently they're making more money than it costs to run the site, but that, in no way, means they don't need more money.

Do you know what I would do if I had more money? I would put it back into the site, which is what Dave does. Advertising, event presence, etc. More importantly than that, I would outsource my job in a second, if I could afford it.

Every hour I have to work on any one of the sites, is an hour I can't spend doing something else. Whether it be working on a freelance project, or just actually not working on anything for sanity. If I made a huge surplus I would hire people, paid people, that would work on maintaining sites, updating sites, adding new features to sites, for me, as a job, so I could do my own job which is a thing I get paid to do separate of this that pays my bills.

Real scenario if I had to get control of OCR and Patreon and ads weren't a thing? It would close. Simple as that. I wouldn't be able to cover the operating costs, the government would desolve the LLC for not being a profitable company, and I would eventually drain my own bank accounts trying to keep everything afloat.

tl;dr: It's very easy as someone on the outside, or someone who hasn't managed a project like this, to say "Well it costs X so you should get paid X to keep it up", and sure that's true...if X is the only cost ever, and if absolutely no work or time goes into growing or maintaining it. At the moment it requirements more time or man power, then you are operating at a loss. That an opportunity cost

I have no comment on the legal issues because I don't know anything about fair use or copyright law.

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It seems like things are simmering down since DJP weighed in. Basically, this is what I've got:

What OCR has always done is illegal, depending on who you ask. Monetizing on YouTube is not any more, or any less, illegal. Monetizing on YouTube at least allows a non-court method for publishers to resolve matched content.

OCR staff does not pocket the money, rather, all revenue goes into the site. We have no proof or reason to think that OCR staff are lying about this, but of course there is always the possibility (501c status and the associated transparency seems intended to assuage mistrust).

Neither ReMixers nor the publishers/rights holders/creators of the original compositions will receive any revenue generated by OCR ad content. This is how it's always been, and YouTube monetization doesn't change that. The language of the terms has always been broad in order to encompass future platforms of ad revenue, and YouTube falls under this. However, many users would like to have more specific language about what platforms are generating the revenue.

OCR will and always has been at risk of legal action, since it does and always has generated revenue from other parties' (the publishers/rights holders) work without seeking consent or obtaining licenses (with the exception of some projects, I believe?). OCR staff believe that, due to the currently unofficial non-profit method of operation, the lack of prior legal trouble even exposed as it is every day to publishers, Fair Use, and the additional support of YouTube's content ID system and it's MPN, both OCR staff and OCR community members are reasonably protected from legal action. At the very least, YouTube monetization does not increase the risk, and as stated above, at least allows a non-court method for matched content resolutions.

Despite some community members' resistance to the strategy, OCR will move ahead with YouTube monetization in order to secure additional funds for the site's continued operation and growth.

-------------

This is all, of course, aside from the differing feelings that OCR members have expressed in terms of having their content generate revenue, the ease and unease of accessing and enjoying content with ads present, the way in which the "experiment" was conducted, the transparency of financial strategies and information, and more.

In short, OCR management are going to do what they decide they need to in order for the site's continued existence and improvement within the bounds of the website's terms, regardless of the feelings, criticism, or different views on what is fair or unfair, morally right or wrong, etc. by the community.

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