Every day, user-generated content (UGC) platforms are looking to support their creators, increase time spent on their site or app, gain new users, and keep everyone coming back for more. Whether it’s adding new filters, developing monetization opportunities for their creators, or adding privacy features, every UGC platform is on a mission to offer the best experience and differentiate itself from the crowd. These platforms are also juggling a complex web of stakeholders — including advertisers, rightsholders, and investors — that need to be accommodated but also incentivized. UGC platforms have the potential to become billion dollar unicorns, but the stakes are high and competition is stiff.
The stakes are high for creators too. The influencer business model evolved UGC into a secured financial path for anyone with Internet access. The creator economy has seen a record $1.3B in funding in the first few months of 2021 alone, and YouTube has paid out $30B to creators in the last 3 years. TikTok launched a $200M fund to invest in its top creators and Snapchat is making its creators millionaires through its TikTok rival feature, Spotlight. For those who make a living off their content, a takedown is a hefty fine. Despite being the life of a UGC platform’s inventory, they are only faintly heard on the sidelines surrounding copyright claims.
Despite all the focus on experience and monetization, UGC platforms still struggle with content removal for copyright infringement. Takedowns and copyright strikes make for a frustrating creator experience that overshadow any new compelling feature. On some UGC platforms, repeated copyright strikes can lead to demonetization which can be a heavy economic hit to all creators.
If the life of content is unpredictable, then what guarantees, if any, do creators have past the point of upload? The biggest benefit a UGC platform could offer its creators is the certainty that their uploads are permissible — enabling the confidence to create without fear of takedowns.
Of the 250+ global UGC platforms operating in this industry, very few have the resources to offer their creators certainty and confidence in uploading content.
Obtaining licensing agreements with thousands of rightsholders, identifying copyright use in billions of daily uploads, and attributing copyright to the correct rightsholders is a monumental undertaking that hinders even the largest UGC platforms, and there are limited solutions to help.
However, there are three key ways a UGC platform can improve the creator experience, which will in turn help the platform succeed, satisfy its stakeholders, and fairly credit rightsholders.
How to improve the creator experience
1) Reduce takedowns and copyright strikes
When creators don’t know what content they are permitted to use or how they can avoid copyright infringement, their content is always at risk of being taken down. But, if copyright is licensed prior to publication, the majority of takedowns will cease, as the upload will be pre-cleared for distribution. Utilizing a technology that prevents an upload from publishing — if it contains content a rightsholder does not want licensed — can further prevent takedowns by giving the creator the opportunity to remove the copyrighted content.
Of course, a rightsholder may decide at a later date to stop licensing a piece of content, but the majority of takedowns today are issued because content was never licensed. Licensing at the point of upload will greatly reduce this issue for creators.
2) Increase the amount of copyrighted material that creators can use
If a creator can upload any piece of copyrighted content knowing that it will be licensed (or flagged so they can edit their upload), they don’t have to rely on just pre-cleared libraries or catalogs that a platform has previously licensed. More songs and videos will be available for use if UGC platforms could license individual uses of copyright instead of needing to obtain blanket licenses from rightsholders. This added value for creators incentivizes them to use a platform that leverages micro-licenses at upload and enables them to create better content. When creators produce better quality content, it attracts more advertisers and more users, helping the platform generate revenue and making it more attractive to potential investors.
3) Protect “fair use” with dispute resolution tools
Currently, almost all licensing and copyright conversations are between rightsholders and platforms, with creators only seeing the end result. YouTube and Facebook both offer a path for a creator to dispute a copyright claim or takedown, but beyond this, dispute resolution hasn’t been adopted by many UGC platforms. By offering a dispute resolution system, a platform gives its creators a voice in copyright conversations.
If a creator disagrees with a claim made by a rightsholder or with the removal of their content, they could dispute it and try to reverse the claim and removal. Dispute resolution gives the creator an opportunity to defend their use of copyright or flag misidentifications. Access to a tool that allows a creator’s voice to be heard and their content to be defended shows the platform goes above and beyond to service its creators. The entire social media ecosystem benefits when creators are supported and empowered.
Join the new generation of UGC platforms
Focusing on the creator and improving their experience is the future of UGC platforms. When the creator economy thrives, platforms benefit. Empowered creators will upload high-quality, engaging content to a platform, which helps attract advertisers, gain new users, generate more revenue, and entice investors. Creators won’t stop using their favorite songs and video clips in their uploads, and rightsholders don’t want them to. If a UGC platform licenses its creators’ uploads prior to publication and offers a dispute resolution system, then the content supply chain strengthens for the better.
At Pex, we recognize content creators as a rightful stakeholder along with platforms and rightsholders. Our Attribution Engine was built with the creator economy in mind and equips UGC platforms with a modern copyright solution to improve the creator experience. Operating at the scale and speed of the Internet, Attribution Engine enables these platforms to license and manage content in real-time, prior to publication, and offers free dispute resolution for creators.
Reach out firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about Attribution Engine.