“Let’s Play” community threatened by Nintendo’s copyright claims
Frequent Youtube users may have woken to an alarming email, as Nintendo has begun to issue “Content ID” matches on Let’s Play videos containing their content. This means that any ad revenue from Youtube videos Let’s Play videos will go to Nintendo, not the users. Youtube enforces this through “Content ID” matches, which will identify any videos with the company’s (in this case Nintendo’s) content and enforce whatever action the company wants (ex. taking down the videos, giving ad revenue to the company).
Prolific Youtuber Zack Scott posted on Facebook:
I just want to express my feelings on the matter of Nintendo claiming not just my YouTube videos, but from several LPers as well.
I’m a Nintendo fan. I waited in the cold overnight to get a Wii. I’m a 3DS ambassador. I got a Wii U at midnight when I already had one in the mail. I’ve been a Nintendo fan since the NES, and I’ve owned all of their systems.
With that said, I think filing claims against LPers is backwards. Video games aren’t like movies or TV. Each play-through is a unique audiovisual experience. When I see a film that someone else is also watching, I don’t need to see it again. When I see a game that someone else is playing, I want to play that game for myself! Sure, there may be some people who watch games rather than play them, but are those people even gamers?
My viewers watch my gameplay videos for three main reasons:
1. To hear my commentary/review.
2. To learn about the game and how to play certain parts.
3. To see how I handle and react to certain parts of the game.
Since I started my gaming channel, I’ve played a lot of games. I love Nintendo, so I’ve included their games in my line-up. But until their claims are straightened out, I won’t be playing their games. I won’t because it jeopardizes my channel’s copyright standing and the livelihood of all LPers.
In a statement issued go GameFront, Nintendo said:
As part of our on-going push to ensure Nintendo content is shared across social media channels in an appropriate and safe way, we became a YouTube partner and as such in February 2013 we registered our copyright content in the YouTube database. For most fan videos this will not result in any changes, however, for those videos featuring Nintendo-owned content, such as images or audio of a certain length, adverts will now appear at the beginning, next to or at the end of the clips. We continually want our fans to enjoy sharing Nintendo content on YouTube, and that is why, unlike other entertainment companies, we have chosen not to block people using our intellectual property.
Currently, Reddit users who also do Let’s Play videos have posted about their experiences. Nintendo’s enforcement of copyright laws is within bounds both by federal law and through Youtube’s own policy – which states that “videos simply showing a user playing a videogame or the use of software for extended periods of time may not be accepted for monetization.” However, other popular gaming companies such as Valve and Blizzard allow players to monetize videos. It is uncertain how the Let’s Play community will react to to the news, or whether Nintendo’s move will push other game companies to show their hand on the issue.
The issue at hand is akin to music and the large amount of Youtube musicians who make money through posting cover songs. Much like games, each song has a predetermined structure. However, each play through or cover is unique to the users – ex. choices and the reasons behind them. Many Let’s Play videos contain commentary, an aspect of the game idiosyncratic and important to the community. Although Nintendo is within legal rights to use the Content ID feature, the oncoming backlash from the Let’s Play community promises a rocky future between the company and the players.