YouTube channel monetization policies

Updated January 2020: There are no changes to our policies or enforcement with this article update
We updated this article for clarity and to give more detail around our monetization policies for channels. If you want to join or remain in the YouTube Partner Program, you’ll need to follow these policies. 
The policies in this article apply to your channel as a whole, and not just individual videos. If you want to learn about when you can and cannot turn on ads for individual videos, you can check out our advertiser-friendly content guidelines. 

If you’re monetizing on YouTube, it’s important that your channel follows YouTube monetization policies, which include YouTube’s Community Guidelines, Terms of Service, Copyright, and Google AdSense program policies. These policies apply to anyone in, or looking to apply to, the YouTube Partner Program. Learn more about why we enforce channel monetization policies.

If you want to monetize videos with ads, they must also meet our Advertiser-friendly content guidelines.

Here’s a quick overview of each major policy. Make sure you read each policy thoroughly, as these policies are used to check if a channel is suitable to monetize. Our reviewers regularly check to see if monetizing channels follow these policies. Learn more about how we enforce our policies.

What we check when we review your channel

Our reviewers check content that best represents your channel against our policies. Since our reviewers can’t check every video, they may focus on your channel’s:

  • Main theme
  • Most viewed videos
  • Newest videos
  • Biggest proportion of watch time
  • Video metadata (including titles, thumbnails, and descriptions)

The above are just examples of content our reviewers may assess. Note that our reviewers can, and may check other parts of your channel to see if it fully meets our policies. 

Follow the YouTube Community Guidelines

These guidelines help keep YouTube a great community for viewers, creators, and advertisers. Content that violates YouTube’s Community Guidelines is not eligible for monetization and will be removed from YouTube.
Anyone on YouTube needs to follow our Community Guidelines. Monetizing creators should know that our guidelines don’t just apply to individual videos, but to your channel overall. Below are the Community Guidelines that are most relevant to channels that can already, or want to monetize: 

Keep in mind that any content you post must follow all our Community Guidelines.

Follow AdSense program policies
AdSense allows YouTube partners to get paid for monetizing their videos. Make sure to follow the AdSense program policies and YouTube’s Terms of Service. AdSense content policies are extensive and include quality guidelines from the Webmaster/Search Console policies. We’ve highlighted some of the most relevant policies for YouTube creators below.

Repetitious content

Repetitious content refers to channels where the content is so similar, viewers may have trouble spotting the difference between videos on the same channel. This policy is based on the Search Console portion of AdSense program policies. We’ve put it in a context that’s more relevant for YouTube creators.

This policy applies to your channel as a whole. In other words, if you have many videos that violate our guidelines, monetization may be removed from your entire channel.

What is allowed to monetize

This policy makes sure monetized content offers viewers something appealing and interesting to watch. In other words, if the average viewer can clearly tell that content on your channel differs from video to video, that’s generally OK to monetize. We know many channels create content that follows a similar pattern. What’s important is that the substance of each video should be relatively varied.

Examples of what is allowed to monetize (including but not limited to): 

  • Same intro and outro for your videos, but the bulk of your content is different
  • Similar content, where each video talks specifically about the qualities of the subject you’re featuring
  • Short clips of similar objects edited together where you explain how they’re connected

Content that violates this guideline

When a channel’s content consists of very similar content, that can frustrate viewers who come to YouTube for appealing and interesting videos. That means channels where content is only slightly different from video to video are not allowed to monetize. In other words, your channel shouldn’t consist of content that’s automatically created or produced using a basic template. 

Examples of what’s not allowed to monetize (this list is not exhaustive): 

  • Content that exclusively features readings of other materials you did not originally create, like text from websites or news feeds
  • Songs modified to change the pitch or speed, but are otherwise identical to the original
  • Similar repetitive content, or mindless content with low educational value, commentary, or narrative
  • Templated, mass-produced, or programmatically generated content
  • Image slideshows or scrolling text with minimal or no narrative, commentary, or educational value

Reused content

Reused content refers to channels that repurpose someone else's content without adding significant original commentary or educational value. This policy is taken from the AdSense Search Console portion of AdSense program policies. We’ve put it in a context that’s more relevant for YouTube creators.

This policy applies to your channel as a whole. In other words, if you have many videos that violate our guidelines, monetization may be removed from your entire channel.

What is allowed to monetize

The spirit of this policy is to make sure we’re monetizing original content that adds value to viewers. If you put a funny or thoughtful spin on content you didn’t originally create, you’ve transformed the content in some way. It’s generally OK to have this type of content on your channel, but individual videos may be subject to other policies like copyright. In other words, we allow reused content if viewers can tell that there’s a meaningful difference between the original video and your video.

Note: While these examples do not violate the reused content monetization policy, other policies, such as copyright, still apply. 

Examples of what’s allowed to monetize (including but not limited to): 

  • Using clips for a critical review
  • A scene from a movie where you’ve rewritten the dialog and changed the voiceover
  • Replays of a sports tournament where you explain the special moves a competitor did to succeed (or fail)
  • Reaction videos where you comment on the original video
  • Edited footage from other creators where you add a storyline or commentary

Content that violates this guideline

Taking someone else’s content, making minimal changes, and calling it your own original work would be a violation of this guideline. This policy applies even if you have permission from the original creator. Reused content is separate from YouTube’s Copyright enforcement, which means it’s not based on copyright, permission, or fair use. This guideline means sometimes, you may not get claims against your content, but your channel may still violate our reused content guidelines.

More examples of what’s not allowed to monetize (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Clips of moments from your favorite show edited together with little or no narrative
  • Short videos you compiled from other social media websites
  • Collections of songs from different artists (even if you have their permission)
  • Content uploaded many times by other creators
  • Promotion of other people’s content (even if you have permission)

Creator influence on YouTube

The success of your channel and the YouTube Partner Program is dependent upon the willingness of advertisers to associate their brands with YouTube content, and the earnings of all YouTube creators are negatively impacted when advertisers lose trust. 
We don’t allow egregious behavior that has a large negative impact on the community. This policy means you should be respectful of your viewers, your fellow creators, and our advertisers -- both on and off YouTube.
If you violate this policy, we may take action ranging from temporarily turning off your monetization to terminating your accounts.
Learn more about Creator influence on YouTube
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