Today is a little different. Today I wanted to put a challenge forward to everyone. A challenge to help shed light on MCN or Multi-Channel Network industry. A few weeks back, I did a line-by-line analysis of a contract used by a multi-channel network to sign up YouTubers. Check out that video https://youtu.be/XG9Vc4Ez7uw. To put it mildly, I was blown away by the absurdity of the contract. Over a 20 year law career, I’ve seen many one sided contracts. There is no emotional response when you see a one sided contract. That’s just part of the business. But the MCN contract I reviewed the other week was different. I’ve never seen a more absurd contract. I’ve never seen a contract more designed to take away value from another person while giving nothing in return. This was a land grab. An attempt by a company to tie up as many YouTubers as possible to agreements that automatically collected ad revenue earned by YouTubers while providing absolutely nothing in return.
So I came up with a challenge to fight this. This all started a few months ago when a YouTuber, a client, called to ask me to help him get out of an MCN contract. For those of you who are not familiar with MCNs, they create networks of YouTube channels. They bring in new channels under the claim that being part of a network helps individual YouTubers with exposure and ad-sense rates. In exchange for this benefit, a YouTuber passes all of his revenue from YouTube directly to the MCN who keeps from on average 30% and passes the reminder within 30-60 days back to you. It doesn’t take long to find YouTuber videos warning people to stay away from any single MCN. The horror stories are countless. Most focus on how YouTubers receive little to nothing in return for their 30% of revenue and are unable to get out of the contracts without hiring an attorney to file a lawsuit.
Sounds like a bad business. One that should have died long ago. Right? Unfortunately, many YouTubers continue to join these networks. Many even dream or aspire to be part of these networks. Few really understand what they are signing. A little research still find many YouTubers asking others for advise on which is the best MCN to join. I’ve seen posts about young YouTubers working hard on their channel just so they can be more appealing to MCNs. After publishing my MCN video, I began to realize how big of a problem this really is. How often YouTubers are encouraged and cajoled into signing contract that is designed to be hard to cancel and almost impossible to benefit from.
So I had an idea. I can do something. Maybe more than most people. I’ll put my money where my mouth is. Going forward, I encourage any one of you listening to forward me any MCN contract you have. This can be a contract you received directly from the MCN. A contract you found online. Or just a contract a friend showed you. You send me your MCN contract and I’ll review it for free on the Channel. If you’d like I can give you credit or I can keep you anonymous. Too many YouTubers fall prey to foreign companies masquerading as value adding MCNs. Maybe by putting up more and more content tearing apart these contracts we can do something about it together. ONE, we might save some YouTubers from joining unscrupulous MCNs. TWO, we might highlight some reputable MCNs that YouTubers can join. THREE, we might drive more MCNs to adopt better agreements that actually benefit YouTubers. What a concept.
So going forward … send me any MCN contracts you have. Feel free to refer this challenge to anyone who you think might benefit. And feel free to post links to this challenge to any site where you think people might want to participate. You can find my email down below. I wont do anything with these contracts until I contact you. I’ll ask you some questions to make sure that you are not violating any confidentiality provision you might have agreed to … and if you agree, I’ll shoot a video analyzing the agreement. That’s it. Pretty simple. And maybe together we can do something about fighting against people and companies that look to take away what so many YouTuber work hard to achieve.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave them down in the comments below. I love to respond.
Lior Leser, Esq.
Technology, Internet and Software Law
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