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Downloaded YouTube Shorts clips will soon include watermarks

YouTube Shorts that are shared to other platforms will soon sport a new feature: a watermark.

On Wednesday, a reply was posted to a YouTube Help Community page titled “New Features and Updates for Shorts Viewers & Creators.” The reply was posted by a Community Manager and contained a product update announcement regarding Shorts that essentially said that watermarks would be automatically added to Shorts that are downloaded and shared to other platforms.

The reasoning behind rolling out this new watermark feature was also included in the reply post:

“We’ve added a watermark to the Shorts you download so your viewers can see that the content you’re sharing across platforms can be found on YouTube Shorts.”

But since Shorts is basically YouTube’s answer to the wildly popular short-form video content from a particularly fierce competitor (TikTok), we have to wonder if there’s more to it than that. Are the watermarks just a way to remind viewers on other platforms that more of the same content exists on YouTube? Or is it a way to get creators to prioritize producing more original content rather than relying on cross-platform sharing of the same posts?

Honestly? It could be both. Watermarks do offer a way for platforms like YouTube to promote itself on other apps.

But for TikTok’s competitors, there’s also been a push for more original content on their own platforms. Instagram has already said that it would adjust its rankings to value original content more, meaning original posts would then get more attention than content reposted from other apps. A watermark that reveals that your post was reposted from another app (like YouTube) could then possibly hurt that post in the rankings on Instagram. Watermarks could then, in this case, act as a deterrent for creators wanting to repost content from other platforms.

The new watermark feature for YouTube Shorts is expected to roll out on desktop in the next few weeks and is slated to be available on mobile “over the coming months.”

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