Merchandise has become an increasingly important revenue stream for these top digital stars, almost all of whom (No. 1 being a notable exception) are in their 20s and 30s. Each of the 10 on our list now has a line of merchandise, whose blossoming sales help account for that 42% income increase from a year ago. “I’ve built this huge community, and we’ve made a lot of people laugh,” says Fischbach, who sees Cloak as the first step toward an empire built on assets more tangible than video uploads. For now, though, all those gaming clips serve as a force multiplier for the man known as Markiplier. Like any savvy businessman, he’s thinking ahead. “I’m not going to be able to make videos on YouTube forever,” he says. “I need to plan for the future.”
In August 2008, a US court ruled in Lenz v. Universal Music Corp. that copyright holders cannot order the removal of an online file without first determining whether the posting reflected fair use of the material. The case involved Stephanie Lenz from Gallitzin, Pennsylvania, who had made a home video of her 13-month-old son dancing to Prince's song "Let's Go Crazy", and posted the 29-second video on YouTube. In the case of Smith v. Summit Entertainment LLC, professional singer Matt Smith sued Summit Entertainment for the wrongful use of copyright takedown notices on YouTube. He asserted seven causes of action, and four were ruled in Smith's favor.
The second involves YouTube’s annual year-end “Rewind” video. The 2018 video, released on December 6 and described by YouTube as “a who’s who of internet culture,” omitted a number of popular YouTubers, most notably PewDiePie. In response, PewDiePie’s followers started a campaign encouraging people to vote down the video, with the result that within a matter of days, YouTube’s 2018 Rewind video has rapidly overtaken an eight-year-old Justin Bieber single to become the most disliked video in YouTube history, surpassing Bieber as of early Thursday morning at 9.8 million dislikes and counting. By Thursday afternoon, the dislikes had topped 10 million.
An independent test in 2009 uploaded multiple versions of the same song to YouTube, and concluded that while the system was "surprisingly resilient" in finding copyright violations in the audio tracks of videos, it was not infallible. The use of Content ID to remove material automatically has led to controversy in some cases, as the videos have not been checked by a human for fair use. If a YouTube user disagrees with a decision by Content ID, it is possible to fill in a form disputing the decision. Prior to 2016, videos weren't monetized until the dispute was resolved. Since April 2016, videos continue to be monetized while the dispute is in progress, and the money goes to whoever won the dispute. Should the uploader want to monetize the video again, they may remove the disputed audio in the "Video Manager". YouTube has cited the effectiveness of Content ID as one of the reasons why the site's rules were modified in December 2010 to allow some users to upload videos of unlimited length.
YouTube allows users to upload, view, rate, share, add to favorites, report, comment on videos, and subscribe to other users. It offers a wide variety of user-generated and corporate media videos. Available content includes video clips, TV show clips, music videos, short and documentary films, audio recordings, movie trailers, live streams, and other content such as video blogging, short original videos, and educational videos. Most of the content on YouTube is uploaded by individuals, but media corporations including CBS, the BBC, Vevo, and Hulu offer some of their material via YouTube as part of the YouTube partnership program. Unregistered users can only watch videos on the site, while registered users are permitted to upload an unlimited number of videos and add comments to videos. Videos deemed potentially inappropriate are available only to registered users affirming themselves to be at least 18 years old.