Do Censorship and Demonetization Matter When Picking a Video Distribution Service?

By Ed Laczynski on October 24, 2017

At Zype, we are often presented with opportunities to serve customers with *ahem* controversial content. Right wing, left wing, video with naked people in it, environmental, religious, pro-gun, anti-gun, sexy, iconoclastic, radical— you name it.   As a video distribution service, this is expected. After all, video is the most engaging medium we have and these are the most engaging topics to the audiences that care about them.

Recently, the discussion of censorship and "demonetization" has become top of mind in the video community.  Major consumer platforms and aggregators, like YouTube, have been caught in a tough position—serving their brand customers, while also serving publishers who have content that is controversial .

It isn't easy to build content policies in this marketplace and we are often challenged by our team, our customers, and consumers on the relationship between Zype and the content that our customers ultimately distribute on our platform. For this reason, it is important that we are transparent about how we think about the content our customers distribute on our platform - and what limits and guidelines we have.

We are a software company that serves the video content owner, who hopefully serves their audience well in part by using our software.

We are courageous enough to believe in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution - rights that in today's context demand that software companies shouldn't be in the business of deciding who gets to say what in the marketplace.

We are thoughtful about our duty to protect our customers and their data, as well as the general community we live in, in good faith.  If there are illegal activities connected with our service, we'll do everything we can to comply and support legal authorities.

In addition, we have a software as a service business model - which means we charge for software values - unlike alternatives that are either "free" or "revenue share" based.  This means that there is a market-forcing function that self-regulates content that our software distributes.  If one of our customers is doing something perfectly legal, but enormously objectionable to everyone, they won't be a customer for long as they'll be paying for a service that doesn't product revenue for them.

Therefore, we will strive to apply the following principles when faced with decisions about content:

We will focus on scalable software. This means our teams, who have their own biases and concerns around controversial content, aren't made to watch, manage, provide labor-intensive services for, or otherwise intermingle with any of our customer's content - controversial or otherwise.  We'll always respect our team.

We will put video content owners first. Video aggregators who license content for ad or transactional revenue share (e.g. YouTube, Facebook) ultimately have brand advertisers as their customer. There is nothing wrong with this, but they also have a strong economic motive to apply censorship to further the brand goals of their customers (and not the distribution goals of video publishers).

We will operate within the law. If there are illegal activities connected with our service, we will always cooperate with the legal authorities. Likewise, we'll protect our customers and their data in the absence of any valid legal challenges.

These principles are rooted in our core values and help to guide day-to-day operations at Zype.  Our core values also help inform our decisions about the types of customers we do business with and ultimately what content is distributed on our platform.

As video creation evolves and content distribution is democratized, we believe these principles will serve us well and help the broader ecosystem have a viable choice that puts content owners and their audience first.



CEO, Zype

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