Pre-screening videos would cost YouTube $37 billion a year

That's about as much money as Google, YouTube's parent company, makes every year.

Mar 3, 2020, 5:42 am*


Chase Hoffberger 

Chase Hoffberger

Every minute, YouTubers upload 72 hours of video. That’s three days worth of content every 60 seconds, 103,680 hours every single day. How much of that actually falls under the site’s embattled copyright guidelines? It would take an army of judges to find out.

That’s the conclusion freelance engineer and Techdirt insider Craig Mansfield came to last Wednesday after a chalkboard’s worth of chicken scratch and long division. Simply put, there is too much video content going onto YouTube every day for a small team of mere mortals to review every video posted.

The annual cost Mansfield predicted the operation would run Google, which owns YouTube? $36,829,468,840. Just a smidgen under $37 billion.

YouTube’s copyright guidelines mandate that all users confirm that they own the copyright or have the permission of the copyright holder before uploading any content onto the site. Not all cases are as mainstream and easily identifiable as the recent Rickroll complaint. Over 100 million videos violated this policy in 2010, the most recent year that copyright statistics were released.

What’s more, those mortals wouldn’t know what constitutes as copyright infringement and what doesn’t. The job requires judges, ones with a vast knowledge of cinematic and television history. And it would cost a fortune.

Mansfield determined that 199,584 judges, making a Silicon Valley industry average of $177,454 per year, would have to work 120 hour work weeks every single week with no paid vacation or holidays in order to keep up with the influx of new YouTube content.

The math on that brings YouTube’s supposed budget for this endeavor to roughly $3 billion, but that’s before paying attention to necessary overhead costs, the time it takes for a judge to assess whether or not the video is an infringement, and the time it takes to switch from one video to another. (Mansfield’s math gets really confusing here, but trust us: that’s a lot of time for a lot of people who all get paid a lot of money.)

The total—$36,829,468,840—is “a massive additional cost to expect from Google to cover a thorough analysis of all video being uploaded” to YouTube, Mansfield stated bluntly.

To put that figure in perspective, Google’s revenue for all of 2011 was just under $38 billion.

Something tells us Mansfield will have a hard time convincing Google CEO Larry Page to sign off this expense.

Photo via BelieveKevin

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*First Published: May 30, 2012, 1:59 pm