New YouTube terms allow it to terminate channels if they’re not “commercially viable” [Correction]

By Sherif Saed, Monday, 11 November 2019 12:39 GMT

YouTube has updated its terms of service, causing some controversy.

Update: The line in question has actually been part of YouTube’s terms of service since last year, but the most recent update changed the wording.

“YouTube may terminate its legal agreement with you if the provision of the service to you by YouTube is, in YouTube’s opinion, no longer commercially viable.”

That line has now been changed to the harsher and clearer, “YouTube may terminate your access, or your Google account’s access to all or part of the Service if YouTube believes, in its sole discretion, that provision of the Service to you is no longer commercially viable.”

Original story: If you use YouTube, you may have recently seen a notification about an update to the service’s terms. While we often ignore these notices, YouTube’s recent update is worrying content creators.

The new terms of service go in effect beginning December 10. Under Account Suspension & Termination, YouTube lists an alarming reason for when it could terminate someone’s access to their Google account, or to YouTube.

“YouTube may terminate your access, or your Google account’s access to all or part of the Service if YouTube believes, in its sole discretion, that provision of the Service to you is no longer commercially viable,” it reads.

YouTube says in the following section that it will notify the user before the termination happens, and will provide enough time for the content to be exported from the site. But, the company may not do this if it believes doing so will violate the law or risk legal liability for it or its affiliates.

“We will notify you with the reason for termination or suspension by YouTube unless we reasonably believe that to do so: (a) would violate the law or the direction of a legal enforcement authority, or would otherwise risk legal liability for YouTube or our Affiliates; (b) would compromise an investigation or the integrity or operation of the Service; or (c) would cause harm to any user, other third party, YouTube or our Affiliates.

“Where YouTube is terminating your access for Service changes, where reasonably possible, you will be provided with sufficient time to export your Content from the Service,” it reads.

Needless to say, many of those whose livelihood depends on YouTube are worried that this could allow the company to essentially end their biggest source of income in an instant. While the terms include a link to an appeal form, the fact YouTube is able to do it at all is concerning.

Some interpret this clause as a deterrent for users using ad-blockers; a way for YouTube to legally be able to end their access if it can’t make enough – or any – money from them. The language, however, is vague enough that it could go one of several ways.

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