The Unfair Treatment of Content Creators When it Comes to Content Rights.

Key points:

  • Content creators in the Creator economy often face unfair treatment regarding their content rights, including stolen content, unfair contracts, and limited control over distribution and monetization.
  • Stolen content is a significant issue, with an estimated $29.2 billion in lost revenue annually due to online piracy, and 22% of creators reporting their work had been stolen.
  • Legal cases such as the famous “monkey selfie” dispute and a recent case involving TikTok star Addison Rae demonstrate the complexities of copyright ownership and the importance of proper licensing and permission.
  • Web3 technology has the potential to solve many of these issues, providing creators with greater control over their content and the ability to monetize it directly through decentralized platforms and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
  • Decentralized platforms can also provide a more transparent and secure way for creators to license their content, ensuring that they are fairly compensated for its use.

In the Creator economy, content creators are often faced with unfair treatment when it comes to content rights. From stolen content to unfair contracts, the industry can be a minefield for creators.  Let’s explore the reasons why content rights are not fair to creators, including statistics and legal case examples.

Why content rights for the creator economy are not fair to creators

  • Lack of control over distribution: When creators upload content to social media platforms, they often have to agree to the platform’s terms of service, which often include granting the platform a broad license to use and distribute their content. This means that even if a creator’s content goes viral and generates millions of views, they may not be able to monetize that success outside of the platform.
  • Limited ownership rights: While copyright law grants creators certain rights over their works, those rights can be difficult to enforce in practice. For example, creators may have a hard time proving that someone else has infringed on their copyright, especially if the infringement occurred in a foreign country or on a platform that is not responsive to takedown requests.
  • Difficulty in monetization: Many creators struggle to monetize their content in a way that is fair to them. For example, creators on YouTube may earn revenue from ads that run on their videos, but they often have little control over which ads are shown, and they may only earn a small percentage of the ad revenue generated. Additionally, creators who sell merchandise or products related to their content may have to deal with counterfeiters who steal their designs and sell them on other platforms.

Unfair Contracts (Favoring Web2 Platforms)

Another issue facing creators is the use of unfair contracts. Many platforms and brands require creators to sign contracts that are heavily skewed in favor of the company. For example, some contracts may give the platform ownership of the creator’s content or require the creator to give up their right to sue the company. This leaves creators vulnerable and at a disadvantage when it comes to protecting their intellectual property.

Stolen Content  (a $29.2 Billion dollar issue) 

One of the biggest issues facing creators is stolen content. The rise of the internet has made it easy for anyone to copy and distribute content without permission. According to a report by the Motion Picture Association, the global economic impact of online piracy is estimated to be $29.2 billion in lost revenue annually. This means that creators are losing out on a significant amount of income due to stolen content.

Statistics on content theft

  • In a survey conducted by the Copyright Alliance in 2020, 22% of respondents reported that their creative work had been stolen and used without their permission. The most common types of infringement reported were online piracy (63%), unauthorized use of photos or images (60%), and infringement on social media platforms (44%).
  • According to a study conducted by the European Union Intellectual Property Office in 2019, the global value of counterfeit and pirated goods was estimated to be $509 billion in 2016. This represents a significant loss of revenue for creators and legitimate businesses.
  • In a report published by the Digital Citizens Alliance in 2018, researchers found that the top 30 YouTube channels dedicated to music piracy had a combined total of 180 million subscribers and generated more than 1.3 billion views

There have been several legal cases in recent years that highlight the unfair treatment of creators when it comes to content rights. One such case involved photographer David Slater and a selfie taken by a monkey. The image went viral, and several companies used it without permission, leading to a legal battle over who owned the rights to the photo. In the end, the courts ruled that the monkey could not own the copyright, but Slater also could not claim ownership since he did not take the photo himself. This left Slater without any rights to the image, despite being the one who set up the camera and arranged the shot.

Another example is the case of TikTok star Addison Rae, who was recently sued by a photographer for allegedly using his image without permission. The photographer claims that Rae used his image in a sponsored post for a clothing brand, without obtaining the proper license or permission. This highlights the issue of stolen content and the importance of proper licensing and permission when using others’ work.

  • In 2018, photographer David Slater settled a legal dispute with animal rights group PETA over a selfie taken by a macaque using Slater’s camera. PETA argued that the macaque should be considered the copyright owner of the photo, while Slater argued that he owned the copyright. The case raised complex questions about copyright ownership and animal rights.
  • In 2020, a court ruled that a YouTuber who had uploaded videos of himself playing the video game “Grand Theft Auto V” was not protected by fair use doctrine. The court found that the YouTuber’s videos were not transformative enough to be considered fair use, and that they had a negative effect on the market for the game.
  • In 2021, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Google’s use of Java APIs in the Android operating system was a fair use under copyright law. The ruling was seen as a victory for fair use advocates, but it also highlighted the complexity of copyright law in the digital age.

Web3, potential Solution?

Web3 has the potential to revolutionize the way content creators protect and monetize their work. With decentralized platforms and blockchain technology, creators can have greater control over their content and how it is used. One example is NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which allow creators to prove ownership of their digital assets and sell them as unique pieces of content. This gives creators a way to monetize their work directly, without relying on third-party platforms or middlemen. Additionally, decentralized platforms can provide a more transparent and secure way for creators to license their content, ensuring that they are compensated fairly for its use. As the Creator economy continues to grow, it is important that creators have access to the tools and technology they need to protect their rights and succeed in this industry.


In the Creator economy, content creators are facing significant challenges when it comes to content rights. Stolen content and unfair contracts are just two examples of the ways in which creators are being treated unfairly. As the industry continues to grow and evolve, it is crucial that creators are given the protection and rights they deserve. Only then can we truly support and encourage the growth of the Creator economy.


Comments 1
  1. Interesting and educative about unfair treatments towards content creators.

    This is more reason why we need to embrace the web3 trends and give creators the power to have control over their content.

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