YouTube Blocks Game Videos, Industry Offers Help

By Graham Smith on December 11th, 2013 at 7:00 pm.

:/

It’s a bad day to be the producer of game videos on YouTube. Dozens of YouTubers are reporting that they’ve received copyright claims against tens or sometimes hundreds of their videos.

The copyright claims seem to be coming not from game publishers, but as a result of tightening of restrictions to how you’re allowed to monetize videos. In fact, numerous game publishers – including Ubisoft, Blizzard, Deep Silver and Capcom – have reached out to offer help against the claims.

This gets complicated quickly and is the tip of the iceberg as far as the potential problems of distributing game videos on YouTube goes. If you play games, there’s a good chance you spend a portion of your time watching other people play games, as a source of advice, criticism, journalism and entertainment. It’s probably worth being aware of some of the issues surrounding the scene, then.

This story technically started last week, when YouTube announced a change in the way videos belonging to Affiliates[1] of Multi-Channel Networks[2] would be reviewed before monetization. The new system would potentially leave your videos in limbo for days while they were checked. That’s a significant change to the process, especially if making YouTube videos is your business.

There’s a larger problem: videogame channels are almost entirely dependent on third-party materials. If a videogame publisher hasn’t explicitly granted you permission to record their game, there’s no guarantee that you can monetize the content within the video without YouTube putting a mark against your name. Worse, if that game has music, and that music is released on a soundtrack album, then you might find that YouTube’s Content ID process automatically matches that audio against a record company’s catalogue.

This is essentially what has started happening, as reported by CVG. TetraNinja (480,000 subscribers) has had 350+ previously uploaded videos blocked thus far under the tighter restrictions. TheRadBrad (1.9 million subscribers) is experiencing the same. The list of affected YouTubers keeps growing.

For their part, the games industry at large seems to be doing what they can to help. As noted above, Ubisoft, Blizzard and more have all made public statements via Twitter, their own sites or elsewhere, offering to clear the automated copyright claims as fast as they can and offering instructions for how affected producers can get in touch. Here’s Bossa Studios, the developers of Surgeon Simulator 2013, giving their permission to monetize footage of their games.

All of this serves to highlight both the ways the games industry has changed just over the last three years, and the enormous risks and problems that exist within the system that’s built up within YouTube.

Whatever you think of the rise of the YouTube star – and some people sure don’t like it – the rise is undeniable. Producers of YouTube videos are making big money (how many people do Yogscast employ now?) from enormous audiences.

Those huge audiences have been around for a while now, and now the industry has caught up. Nintendo aside (maybe), games publishers and developers recognise the power of popular people playing their games. There are reasons to be worried about that increasingly cosy relationship, but in theory it’s a good thing for all involved, including viewers.

But if you’re a creator of YouTube videos, surely you need to be concerned about the stability of your business.

I’ve worked at a website where erroneous copyright claims were made against our videos. If you’re dependent on YouTube for making money from video content, that’s disastrous, as even a single strike against your YouTube account can limit the account’s functionality within the site and impact anything from the length of videos you’re able to upload to your ability to monetise those videos with advertising.

Theoretically there’s a process in place for you to get those copyright claims removed, but it’s flimsy. Often claims are made against your account by automated systems, not people. Often claims are made against your account by people who are hard to contact, or who don’t speak the same language. Often speaking to Google themselves, whether or not you have an existing business relationship with them, is like screaming into a well and hoping something echoes back.

The system is also open to abuse from those who want to use copyright claims maliciously, as demonstrated within the game community just last month when Videogamer.com‘s Matt Lees made a video criticising Microsoft for hiring contentious YouTuber KSI. A copyright claim was filed against the video for using clips from content produced by KSI.

Those clips were used in service of criticism, for which copyright law makes allowances. That didn’t stop the video from being instantly removed and a strike being placed against the Videogamer.com channel. Even though the video was quickly re-uploaded without the supposedly infringing examples from KSI’s videos, YouTube’s rickety system for resolving or verifying claims meant that it only took a few clicks for someone to remove criticism, bury something, and essentially punish those who dared to be critical.

The copyright claims happening now are the result of an algorithm and an automated process, and so we can’t necessarily blame individuals or companies. But as a source of business, and as a medium for criticism, YouTube is fragile. It’ll continue to be that way for as long as people continue to upload 100 hours of video to the service every minute, and for as long as a portion of that vast content is copyright infringing and legitimately needs removing.

I’m not sure I’d call the current system a bubble. YouTube is where the viewers are. It’s still much better than any rival video service. Other video players which games websites might build into their own site tend to offer a horrible user experience. But I guess for the first time in a long time, I’m relieved that I only write about games, even if scratchy, unpleasant ASCII is never going to make me as famous among a brood of idiot children as screeching incomprehensibly into a microphone while pretending to be scared by some fucking horror game[3].

I’m relieved because any time there’s a business structure that’s dependent on the flighty whims of another company or industry – even one as tangential to gaming as Google – it introduces stresses and pressures that serve to warp creative content. I’m concerned because as a viewer, that’s important for everyone to know about, especially if you’re reliant on that creative content as a source of, as above, advice, criticism, journalism and entertainment.

Footnotes

[1] Multi-Channel Networks are conglomerates of different YouTube channels, and include popular sources for game content like Machinima.com, RoosterTeeth and Polaris. MCNs offer popular YouTubers an easier route to making money from their videos, by helping to manage monetization, promotion and other business-related services.

[2] There are two types MCN channels, “Affiliate” or “Managed”, and in each case the MCN performs different duties. The changes announced last week were for Affiliate channels, and introduced a kind of random copyright check, in which certain videos would be pre-screened by YouTube for copyright approval before being uploaded. The more your uploaded videos passed the check, the less often your videos would have to go through the pre-approval process.

[3] Alright, so I slipped that in there at the end, but actually this kind of YouTube-related snobbery is already old, boring, and no longer reflective of the breadth and quality of videos being produced on a daily basis. Whether you want to watch Let’s Plays, gaming news or opinion, there’s a lot of great stuff out there. Check out Matt’s other videos for starters. Also, I regularly lose entire evenings flicking through Twitch livestreams “in the background” of whatever I’m meant to be doing, whether its Salty Bet, miscellaneous esports tournaments or whatever else. So before you go slamming the entire field, maybe consider that you just haven’t found the material among the hundreds of millions of videos that’s right for you[4].

[4] Or maybe just slam the entire field because it’s funny and you’re a prick, like me[5].

[5] Are you a popular videogame YouTuber, streamer, or do you work for an MCN? Get in touch! Either to correct me on the mistakes or misguided nonsense I’ve written above, or if you’d like to be interviewed for an inside perspective on how this all works.

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Top comments

  1. larsiusprime says:

    For what it's worth, some of us developers have banded together to create a crowdsourced list of those of us who explicitly allow LP's

    http://letsplaylist.wikia.com/wiki/%22Let%27s_Play%22-friendly_developers_Wiki#Master_List

    This is important because even if a dev allows LP's, google sometimes won't accept that as a defense against fraudelent or mistaken claims without explicit written permission on the dev's site. This wiki aims to be a comprehensive directory to such permission links.

    EDIT:
    ....aaaand we're a twitter hashtag now. Cool :) #WhoLetsPlay
    https://twitter.com/search?src=typd&q=%23wholetsplay
  1. wild_quinine says:

    Copyright is so, so terribly broken.

    It largely achieves the opposite of its original intent these days, locking content up until it is lost, as opposed to expanding the public domain.

    Well worn exceptions for critical discussion are tossed out to avoid the threat of legal action – takedown first, slow process of considering putting it back up second, with absolutely no comeback for demonstrably fraudulent takedowns.

    The people who benefit most from copyright are effectively buying extensions, and meanwhile global copyright agreements are shifting us towards the largest, not the lowest common denominators, pushing useless maximalisation through the back door and ensuring that it’s damn near impossible to ever climb down again.

    Art and culture define us more than anything else. It will come to a head, and it will be resolved.

    But we have the misfortune to be living in the shitty time right before things go that one last step too far and we have to reclaim them.

    • Baines says:

      Copyright and patents are both broken. Corporations have the money, power, and reason to bend, break, and rewrite the legal system to favor them.

      Wasn’t it claimed that Disney was involved with US copyright law changes in order to delay or outright prevent their stuff from entering the public domain?

      • HothMonster says:

        Yes. The last ~5 time Mickey has been about to enter the public domain the laws were modified to extend copyright as a whole. The 1998 extension is often jokingly referred to as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act. Because of that law NOTHING will be eligible to enter the public domain in the US until 2019. You can rest assured that Disney will get that extended before then.

    • Kubrick Stare Nun says:

      Youtube is terribly broken, almost everything that gets blocked is perfectly legal fair use. If Google stopped bending over for copyright trolls this kind of thing wouldn’t happen.

      • HothMonster says:

        You can’t completely blame youtube. They don’t have the staff to check the content as it comes in (obviously with that upload rate) or the legal staff to pass judgement on the claims that are presented to them. They have to err on the side of over-compliance or risk one of the many law suits brought against them being successful.

        I lay most of the blame on the US legal system and the fact that while a false copyright claim is suppose to be punishable as perjury that never happens and people are happy to let a bot find a list of “offending” videos and just sign their name to it as if they verified that those videos actually violate their copyright.

        tl:dr There is no punishment for false claims but youtube would be tarred and feathered if they ignored a valid claim.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          Exactly.

          When people were talking about how bad the DMCA was, the whole one-click reporting of copyright material was one area where a lot of people said there was likely to be abuse. And now it has become horrible abused by companies. Not just to screw over Let’s Play folks and such, but also to silent legitimate complaints and bad reviews of their products.

          Meanwhile, how much piracy has the DMCA really stopped? Pirate Bay is still around. Hell, they’re actually bigger now than they ever were. Movies are still making record profits. Albums sales are going way, way, way up right now and they’ve never really shown any significant downtrend. Video games? The industry has never seen such growth and sales are through the roof.

          The fact is, the DMCA was a hoodwink for these companies to gain further control and power over communication mediums in the guise of preventing and eliminating piracy. Which is about as likely as the War on Drugs is likely in succeeding in the eliminating of drugs and drug use.

    • Syphus says:

      I honestly want to write a very long-winded response to this. But you are simply taking a small segment of copyrights and claiming that the whole system is broken, when in fact a lot of it works very well. I think you are misunderstanding the intent and workings of the system based on the small segment of copyright and patent trolls who abuse it.

      (I used to work in a job where Copyright and IP Law in general where forefront of my job every day.)

      • Nick says:

        or the large segment that hold back medical science with patents.

        • Serenegoose says:

          It’s frankly base entitlement that people expect medical science to ever end in a cure. I suggest you take a long hard look at how the world works – massive medical companies are invested in ensuring that most care alleviates symptoms to a degree, but doesn’t actually cure them, which is only logical really, because otherwise they’d go out of business. Take your socialist agenda elsewhere.

          Oh gosh. I think I need a shower after saying that.

          • fish99 says:

            ” I suggest you take a long hard look at how the world works – massive medical companies are invested in ensuring that most care alleviates symptoms to a degree, but doesn’t actually cure them, which is only logical really, because otherwise they’d go out of business. ”

            And you think that’s a good thing?

          • Serenegoose says:

            If I did, I probably wouldn’t say that I felt like I needed a shower after saying it.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            Don’t forget about all that money the medical companies spend on payola, bribery, premature marketing, and lobbying. Those things are just as essential in a capitalistic economy as actual “investment”.

          • Geebs says:

            You are terribly, horribly wrong about this. We’re about to hit the point where being the first in a given market actually becomes suicidal for the pharma company that does it, because of the very short lead they get on “me too” molecules. If you look at cost of R&D versus number of new pharmaceuticals making it to market (they look at 10,000 molecules per single one making it to market) it’s actually scary.

            But yeah, fight the power or whatever the kids are saying these days to be “down”.

          • Baines says:

            Geebs, that’s why a company tried to patent some cancer genes. If it had worked, they’d have been able to control any tests for those genes as well as any gene therapy to treat them. That was apparently enough for the US Supreme Court to say “No” to companies being able to patent the human genome. (By the time that ruling was made, something like 40-60% of the human genome was already patented.)

        • UncleLou says:

          Patents are most likely the biggest motor that drives medical science.

          • Universal Quitter says:

            Yeah, the world kinda caught a tiger by the tail with that one. Oops.

      • wild_quinine says:

        you are simply taking a small segment of copyrights and claiming that the whole system is broken, when in fact a lot of it works very well.

        A lot of my car works very well, but the engine has blown a gasket and the brakes only work half the time.

        Is my car broken? Does it need to be fixed?

        Would you feel comfortable selling it under the heading “a lot of it works very well?”

        • UncleLou says:

          That’s not a fitting metaphor, because copyright isn’t one big entity that doesn’t work entirely because some parts don’t work. Here’s a better one: thousands of people die every year in traffic accidents. Should we abolish cars?

          • wild_quinine says:

            Did I say we should abolish copyright? It’s broken, so fix it if it can be fixed. But definitely consider alternatives as well. If there’s a better solution than fixing it, then sure, abolish it and use the better solution.

            Or would you propose a more dogmatic view?

          • WrenBoy says:

            Cars improve the quality of life of everyone in society. The improvement is so large that its unthinkable to get rid of it despite the price. The price is also shared mainly among those who benefit the most.

            Copyright seems to benefit the few to a disproportionate extent and the price is shared by the many who benefit to a much smaller extent. Its arguable that we dont even need it.

          • BlueTemplar says:

            Cars (the overwhelming majority with internal combustion engines) also cause climate change, air pollution, obesity, and make the society way too reliant on oil, a quickly depleting resource. So I very much hope we’ll see at some point a discussion over how much exactly we need them and in what form.

          • WrenBoy says:

            @BlueTemplar
            I would say they cause more cancer than obesity.

          • malkav11 says:

            Frankly, no, cars are not a huge improvement in our lives, and yes, we should abolish them. But that would require, at least in the US, such a massive expansion and overhaul of public transportation systems and such a massive reorganizing of the layout of cities that it will never happen.

            (If our cities were laid out in such a way that residential areas universally had convenient walking and/or biking access to key support services and there were regular, affordable and comprehensive public transit services out to more specialized services/employment, and we had a serious high speed rail network countrywide, all of which is certainly possible in the real world and as far as I can tell is how much of Europe is set up, my feeling is that our lives would be substantially better and more affordable than they are with our current congested, fossil-fuel intensive reliance on cars. But the time when we could have made sure that happened was almost a century ago.)

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          darkChozo says:

          To play analogy pedant here, that comparison only works if the copyright system’s issues are vital to the system’s functioning as a whole as brakes and an engine are to a car. Replace “brakes don’t work” with “cup holder is missing” and what you’re saying makes a lot less sense.

          Of course, the issue is whether copyright problems are more like missing brakes or a missing cup holder, which is something that’s very much debatable either way.

          • wild_quinine says:

            See my response to skalpadda, below.

            I think copyright as it stands is achieving, by and large, the opposite of its intended effect.

            So it’s more of a brakes and engine issue, in my opinion.

            But I’d be happy to hear more from Syphus about the parts that work.

      • jalf says:

        So, you’re saying that from the perspective or whom copyright and IP law paid your monthly wages, the system works very well?

        Gosh, there’s a surprise. ;)

        I’m sorry, but I think your view might not be entirely unbiased — just like the views of someone whose entire interaction with copyright law is trying to watch videos that Youtube has taken down.

      • Premium User Badge

        skalpadda says:

        No, there are fundamental flaws with copyright laws that leave them open to abuse – fair use protection is very flimsy, for example. Some aspects are plain nonsensical and don’t make sense within the original idea of copyright, such as the insane extentions of the timespans: lifetime +70 years, or 95-120 years – how exactly does that gel with the idea of copyright as a means for just compensation and encouragement for individual creators?

        It’s broken, battered and abused – a system set up to reward rights-hoarding rather than creativity and innovation. The fact that many creators choose not to be dicks doesn’t mean it isn’t fundamentally flawed.

        • wild_quinine says:

          It’s worse than that, and I’ll explain how. The following is written particularly from the US perspective which is the most prevalent copyright perspective on the internet.

          The goal of copyright is not to provide “a means for just compensation and encouragement for individual creators”.

          Don’t get me wrong, copyright does attempt to do this. But that’s not the point of copyright, that is the *means* it uses to achieve the overarching goal.

          The goal is not to reward artists, but to give us, the public, a larger and more useful public domain. The overarching goal of copyright is to incentivise creation.

          By granting creators a limited monopoly on their work, they are in theory better able to profit from it, which in turn drives them to create more. (Originally, copyright terms were shorter. It is debatable whether Life + 70 years copyright terms are incentivising in any real way.)

          The real problem is that copyright is not significantly increasing the public domain, any more. In fact, it is limiting it. It is limiting the public domain in two significant ways:

          1) by extending copyright terms every time major works are about to enter the public domain
          2) the chilling effect of long copyright terms on ability of creators to rely on a public domain base

          The second point is important. If you don’t know if something is out of copyright, it’s not safe to assume that it is in the public domain. And copyright terms are so long, that by the time it would be safe to use it, there may be no reliable record of the fact that it has entered the public domain. In many cases, there may not even be any existing copies of the work.

          Net result? Works created now are very likely to be lost entirely before they enter the public domain.

          In other words, copyright is by and large achieving the exact opposite of its intended effect.

          • Blackcompany says:

            Perhaps I misunderstand here, but…what, exactly, is the point you are trying to make?

            You claim copyright is not doing what it should. You list two reasons you believe this. One: Extended Copyrights. You claim this is bad. For utterly no reason. Two: Failing to enlarge a ‘public domain base.’ Whatever that is.

            If I am understanding you, your basic accusation is that copyright is broken because it keeps original works from entering the public domain for a very long time. That it does, in essence, keep exclusive works exclusive for very long periods of time.

            Which is an odd, because, well…that’s what it is intended to do.

            The problem I perceive here – and I readily and respectfully submit that it is my personal perception – is this: Your entire argument is predicated on a belief that original works unique to their creators should remain exclusive to said creators for a shorter period of time before becoming, essentially, public property. This is not entirely an invalid belief, but it does have problems and limitations.

            Firstly, in the event that copyright protection lasts too brief a time period, we effectively remove incentives for the creation of original works. If an author writes a book or screenplay, and ten years later, another person is allowed to trade off of their work without any contribution to the original author, is this right or fair? Does this enlarge the public domain by allowing such an act? Or will it shrink that domain in the longer term, as fewer and fewer prospective creators see fit to make the effort, since their work will, in a short time, effectively be free to everyone anyway?

            I share your concerns about lost knowledge. But I also believe we must work to find a solution which ensures knowledge is not lost while also protecting original works from infringement and thus, removing the incentive once available to prospective creators. While we might be concerned that one far off day something may be lost, there technically exists no legitimate reason why an original creation must EVER become freely available as part of the public domain. Someone works hard to create things, and should be offered incentive to continue doing so. We must protect the incentive as well as preserve the knowledge the incentive drove a person to creation, or knowledge will be lost not through attrition, but because we removed any incentive to provide it.

            Suffice to say…I don’t envy those tasked with walking this tight wire, in the near future.

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            skalpadda says:

            @Blackcompany: Death of the creator +70 years. Alternatively 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation. I doubt many creators would be held back from creating works because their great-grandchildren couldn’t keep collecting royalties. It isn’t about enabling and rewarding creators any more; it’s about protecting corporate assets.

            I don’t think wild_quinine is entirely correct in his assertions of a wider public domain being a goal in itself in the creation of copyright law. The purpose was originally to regulate printing and later spread out to other arts and from the very start until today the main stated goal of intellectual property laws has always been to enable creators to benefit and receive compensation for the time and money invested in works so that they can keep being creative (by extension benefiting society as a whole). Assuming it works it would have the effect of making more things drop into public domain eventually simply due to the larger volumes of work being created but I’ve never heard that stated as an aim of legislation.

          • BlueTemplar says:

            The US Constitution does explicitly say “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” Notice that the goal is “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts”, the “limited” in “securing for limited Times”, and the fact that the text mentions Authors and Inventors, but nowhere speaks about rightholders that were not the creators.

            Also, AFAIK, copyright was introduced to protect authors from publishers, not publishers from readers!

            And finally, the optimal duration of copyright has been found to be 14 years (after release, not after the death of the author), which ironically is what the original length was in the USA :
            http://arstechnica.com/uncategorized/2007/07/research-optimal-copyright-term-is-14-years/

          • wild_quinine says:

            @Blackcompany.

            While we might be concerned that one far off day something may be lost, there technically exists no legitimate reason why an original creation must EVER become freely available as part of the public domain.

            I am genuinely not exaggerating when I say that this is the wrongest paragraph I have ever read on the internet.

            The only reason any work of art is not in the public domain is copyright. Got that? That is the ONLY REASON. Without copyright, every work of art ever released is de facto public domain.

            Go back more than a few hundred years? Nothing *but* public domain.

            Copyright law didn’t start putting the occasional bit of art into the public domain as a nice bonus. Copyright law is the only thing taking art *out* of the public domain, and that is with the promise that it’s worth it in the long run, because when we get it back, we get a lot more of it.

            If we never get our return on investment, what’s the point of having the law at all?

            (So if you want to be ‘TECHNICAL’, then the reason an original creation must enter the public domain is every copyright law in existence, all of which are time limited. But I suspect you don’t really mean ‘technical’, do you?)

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            jrodman says:

            I’d say that’s a bit of an overreach.

            When copyright was coming to exist, the printing press was a longstanding thing, but trivial duplications of things like paintings or sculptures wasn’t possible. The goal was basically to secure a form of livelihood for authors and inventors.

            Since then, we’ve had copyright. It’s unclear what the “default state” of creative works should be, especially those it wasn’t designed for. I think that’s a kind of thought experiment gone a bit overboard.

            I agree with the basic point though; it’s *very* pertinent to remind people that copyright was created to ensure the enriching of the public at large, not the rightsholders of works. You can make an argument in the present that the current system is somehow better with these enormously long terms, but you can’t make the argument that it’s simply valid because it exists, since it isn’t serving the original intent, and it isn’t serving the public at large, so by default the system is harmful and should be changed.

          • sophof says:

            @jrodman

            “When copyright was coming to exist, the printing press was a longstanding thing, but trivial duplications of things like paintings or sculptures wasn’t possible. The goal was basically to secure a form of livelihood for authors and inventors.”

            This is exactly the misunderstanding all this mess is based on. It is what all the nonsensical extensions etc. are based on. It is not in the direct interest of society to secure a specific form of livelihood for anyone. If it was we would protect any nonsensical thing. We could create a law protecting people selling bottled air under the very same logic.
            We protect authors and inventors as a [b]means[/b], not as a goal. The goal is to ensure a large collection of art and innovation because that is how society will profit from this. It might sound like semantics, but it is an extremely important distinction since making the means the goal, is clearly and demonstratebly impacting the original goal.

            We’ve ended up with a perversion. Worse, copyrights and patents have somehow been internalized as a moral code, making it even more of an uphill battle.

          • wild_quinine says:

            Sophof, this may be the single most informative comment on copyright I have ever read. The fact that it is also direct, communicative and concise is worthy of my utmost respect.

          • wild_quinine says:

            @jrodman

            On the subject of default states:

            Copyright is *for* the public domain, it’s an *exception* to the pre-existing state of public domain, and it’s deliberately time limited so that all things *return* to the public domain. The public domain is the default, and whether copyright is a good thing or a bad thing, it is copyright which is the adjustment to this state.

            Copyright is not a fundamental human right, nor is it a legal formalisation of a moral principle (such as laws against murder).

            It is simply an economic arrangement for incentivising creation. It is contingent on circumstance, rather than a normative rule.

            As such, it is only ‘wrong’ to copy a work of art during the period in which it is in copyright, and even then it is only wrong because copyright says that is the case.

            And why does copyright make it wrong at all for any period of time?

            Let’s come full circle: it’s for the benefit of the public domain.

        • wild_quinine says:

          Bluetemplar pretty much nails it.

          I did say originally “The following is written particularly from the US perspective”. The quote templar provides is known as The Copyright Clause, and it is the entire and only basis of Copyright in the US, and is part of the constitution. It is the whole rationale in US law for copyright.

          Rewarding artists is not the purpose of copyright, it is the means by which is achieves the purpose. The purpose to to expand the public domain. (a.k.a. ‘promote the useful arts).

          Don’t turn this into another us vs them internet argument, folks – look it up, the facts are right there. This is not AN interpretation, it is THE interpretation, and US copyright law is the dominant copyright force on the web, like it or not.

          (Note: It is true that the first laws providing something akin to copyright in Europe were based on other rationale. But the right of the author to profit was not amongst the motivations there, either. They were actually introduced as a tool for censorship. So by all means, trumpet those archaic foundations of IP law if you prefer)

      • KDR_11k says:

        The duration alone is pretty damn broken. 95 years after the death of the author? Most works are practically abandoned by their creators within five years and with no legal means to reproduce them the number of available copies decays over time with a high chance that all legal copies have decayed before the copyright expires. An extreme example would be the Capcom arcade systems (CPS2?) that use a battery-powered RAM to hold the decryption key for the ROM. That was some proto-DRM nonsense back then but either way, if that battery dies the copy of the game becomes unusable. The only recovery is to install a hacked copy of the game data. Which is of course illegal though in practice not enforced.

        Then there are fun things like works which involve several copyright holders like most licensed games or games with licensed music or whatnot where it’s effectively impossible to get all those needed licenses back together to create new legit copies of the work.

        Fortunately there are enough people who disregard copyright law and actually preserve all those works by finding ways to create new copies. If we expected the copyright holders to maintain those works until they expire the works would never make it to the expiry date intact.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It continues to be advantageous to invest resources in developing new intellectual property.

      Sorry. Copyright is most working. Its being badly abused, and software patents in particular are fostering repression rather than innovation, but this is not a “terribly broken” system. If it were, nobody would create anything, save the odd long-haired hippy strumming on their guitar.

      • wild_quinine says:

        this is not a “terribly broken” system. If it were, nobody would create anything

        This is easily falsifiable. Copyright has only been around for a few hundred years. Are there any works of art more than a few hundred years old?

        • LionsPhil says:

          Cheap and easy mass duplication is even more recent. A sculpture or oil painting has no need for the protection of copyright law, since the artifact itself holds the value.

          (Yes, there is some degree of flippancy to the comment. People quite clearly do create things for the love of it, as RPS rounds up every Sunday. But we’re not in a post-scarcity utopia yet, and we still need to lock away some value to exchange it for rent money. This is working, because not every software development house in the capitalist world has gone bust.)

          • BlueTemplar says:

            Before copyright, artists lived of their work thanks to the system of patronage. What makes you think that system couldn’t possibly work today with reliance on “likes” and micropayments?

          • wild_quinine says:

            The problem with patronage was that it required one rich person to like what you were doing.

            Just as technology has provided very good tools for accurate, cheap, and fast reproduction, so it provides very good tools to crowdfund where previously such a thing would have been impossible.

            But I’m not trying to suggest that crowdfunding should unequivocably replace Copyright. Far from it – only to say that technology has presented many more opportunities than it has taken away.

          • BlueTemplar says:

            Also, this :
            http://www.patreon.com/

          • sophof says:

            You are basically reversing the burden of proof here. Copyright law is not the natural state, it needs to defend its existence. Arguing that the lack of it needs to be defended is a fallacy. It can be easily shown that the law is directly impacting that which it should be protecting, there really is no more room for debate after that imo.

            How it should be changed, that’s where the debate is…

        • Premium User Badge

          Llewyn says:

          Edit: Actually, forget it. There’s no mileage in arguing about this on an unrelated forum on the internet.

      • Blackcompany says:

        Agreed, LionsPhil. We think the video game industry is a copy cat industry now? Can you imagine what games would look like without any copyright laws at all? I hesitate to suggest anything quite this drastic, but there is exists a cynical part of me which believes that the industry would have cannibalized itself. Gorged on short-term profits by way of copy cat games, and collapsed entirely.

        I reason this way because, well…they still aren’t very far from it. Though admittedly, that theory does underestimate the desire of gamers to essentially purchase the same items over and over again, apparently….

        Either way, copyright is not as broken as some suggest. If it was, as LionsPhil said, the creation of new Intellectual Property would cease due to lack of incentive. And that clearly is not happening.

        • Premium User Badge

          skalpadda says:

          Game mechanics aren’t covered by copyright laws or patents (thank god). Making clones is perfectly OK as long as you change names, art and write (or license) your own code. The driving forces behind new mechanics and genres are player demand and designer creativity.

          edit: Point being enough people will still keep on making new stuff even though they won’t have the exclusive rights to them for two lifetimes, because they want to make cool original stuff and other people are prepared to pay them to experience their cool original stuff.

          • Baines says:

            Game mechanics aren’t covered by copyright or patent law? Tell that to Namco, Sega, Atari, Magnavox, or any of the other companies that hold patents of various game mechanics. Ownership that has been upheld by courts.

            Made a Pong game? Magnavox could sue you for patent infringement. They did successfully sue and/or settle with Atari, Activision, Mattel, Coleco, and others over the years. Nintendo tried to get the patent invalidated and failed.

            In the past, when Atari needed money, it would go around to other video game developers with a list of patent violations. I want to recall that some of their patents were extremely basic stuff like displaying a score onscreen while a game was in progress (as opposed to only showing the score afterwards.)

            Sega sued Fox for violating their patent for Crazy Taxi’s gameplay.

          • Premium User Badge

            skalpadda says:

            Technical solutions and inventions can be patented (in some countries), game mechanics and rules cannot.

          • Baines says:

            Game mechanics have been patented, have been successfully used to negotiate out of court settlements/extortions, and have been successfully upheld in court.

            No, the patent system isn’t supposed to work that way. But it has been successfully twisted and abused to do just that. (Take, for example, the Crazy Taxi patent, which uses terms like “A game display method for displaying a game in which…” That wording is used for a reason, because you can patent a technique for displaying a game. But the patent goes on to describe the mechanics of Crazy Taxi, such as having a floating arrow showing you where to go, having pedestrians avoid your car, and being able to drive around a city without staying on tracks. The case was settled out of court, so we don’t know if Sega’s claim would have been upheld, but Fox most likely settled because they realized it was a possibility.)

        • wild_quinine says:

          Either way, copyright is not as broken as some suggest. If it was, as LionsPhil said, the creation of new Intellectual Property would cease due to lack of incentive. And that clearly is not happening.

          How much were you paid to write the comment above?

          What’s that? *Nothing?*

          Why did you write it then? Oh, you thought you had something to say. Soemthing interesting, or valuable to contribute.

          I wonder if artists ever feel that way.

      • malkav11 says:

        Again, who’s arguing that copyright doesn’t serve a valuable purpose? I think most of us (probably not all, because there are certainly “information has a right to be free” folks with an inflexible ideology) would agree that having some sort of protection for creative works that provides the creators with the ability to earn a living off them is a desirable thing and one that current copyright laws do typically offer. The problem is, they then go on to do a great deal of other things that are not necessary to that goal and are in fact harmful in a variety of ways to the interests of the public, not to mention other creators etc like we see in the subject of this article. To me, these additional, unnecessary consequences are a real good sign that the system is not working properly. I.e., is badly broken.

    • Danley says:

      But it’s not even about public domain. Content is getting locked and lost that would have made money for the content creator but the same people who freaked out about VHS destroying the profits of Big Media are making the decisions now. It’s going to take a better grasp on their part of how people consume content using new media, and a realization that the perpetuation of it leads to new sales and not vice-versa.

      But then again this is coming from someone who thinks that capitalism is an outdated feudalistic mentality that’s actually getting in the way of much, much more prosperity for those who benefit from the system now. Everyone in history who has hoarded wealth has sowed the collapse of the culture around them, which was the source of their wealth in the first place.

  2. Loyal_Viggo says:

    Youtube? Never heard of it.

  3. Lagwolf says:

    I went through this with my band’s music. I had to get CD Baby onto YouTube to let me post my band’s music videos.

    • fish99 says:

      I had issues with CD Baby, a C64 remix of mine was content matched against one of their artists or tracks, but they removed it when I contacted them. Kinda shitty it happened because they don’t even own the copyright to the music in question, and I didn’t appreciate seeing ads on my video when my channel isn’t even monetized.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Adamustache says:

    This policy of removing videos first, and looking into it later seems so backwards to me. I get that legitimate copyright holders should be able to protect their content, but way too much power is being given to that one side of things.

    • KDR_11k says:

      That’s what the US lawmakers decided on when they created the DMCA with plenty of lobbying from the big movie and music companies.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      Yeah, this is bordering on the illegal/unconstitutional. Don’t things like “innocent until proven guilty” and “burden of proof” mean nothing to them? Of course since YouTube is a private service they can use whatever rules they want, but Google here REALLY crossed the “Don’t be evil” line…

      • Grygus says:

        Google is just obeying the law. The DMCA would perhaps not get passed today, but people were much less aware of content ownership issues when the web was young.

        • Snakejuice says:

          “just obeying the law” holds about as much merit as “God told me to”. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the State is the God of the modern age and just as with religion in the past horrible acts are being committed by ordinary people in the name of the State every day.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        Youtube/google are not “the law” thus can consider you guilty until proven innocent. TAX authorities also get exemption in some instances.

    • HothMonster says:

      False claims are supposed to be punishable by perjury but that never actually happens, sites do get in trouble for not complying though so while the letter of the law gives balance to the system in practice it is very broken.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      “…looking into later”

      hahaha

    • frightlever says:

      First off, I’m for less strict copyright laws, including scope and duration, and I don’t think you should get a patent on anything but a working product.

      But Youtube isn’t a public service, it’s a business. They can’t do right, for doing wrong. They have to be proactive or they’re accused of encouraging copyright infringement.

      From the article above:

      “Those clips were used in service of criticism, for which copyright law makes allowances.”

      Copyright law is actually immaterial, when you’re agreeing to Youtube’s terms of service. Youtube has to enforce copyright law, but that doesn’t mean they have to stop there. They can, and clearly do, go above and beyond this. Shouting about the rights and wrongs of it is pointless when Youtube isn’t charging uploaders to use the service. They can do what they want.

      If you want to make a business off the back of Youtube you’re going to have to accept that it’s a house of cards because Youtube literally owes you nothing.

      Edit: Also, Devil’s Advocate here, but what happens when a developer or publishers gives tacit permission for people to monetize their game content and then six months later they get bought over and policy changes? I got no idea how the law handles situations like that where there is either an unspoken agreement (insofar as a copyright claim is not pursued) or an informal agreement (which an expensive lawyer at the new company will probably loophole to death.).

  5. Baines says:

    This unfortunately isn’t a big surprise. YouTube has increasingly been becoming an awful place for videos, but no one has made the move to form a viable alternative. (Places like Vimeo have their own issues.)

    • Stan Lee Cube Rick says:

      Indeed. Another day, another reason to ditch Youtube. (and Google)

  6. larsiusprime says:

    For what it’s worth, some of us developers have banded together to create a crowdsourced list of those of us who explicitly allow LP’s

    http://letsplaylist.wikia.com/wiki/%22Let%27s_Play%22-friendly_developers_Wiki#Master_List

    This is important because even if a dev allows LP’s, google sometimes won’t accept that as a defense against fraudelent or mistaken claims without explicit written permission on the dev’s site. This wiki aims to be a comprehensive directory to such permission links.

    EDIT:
    ….aaaand we’re a twitter hashtag now. Cool :) #WhoLetsPlay
    https://twitter.com/search?src=typd&q=%23wholetsplay

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      Now let’s see Ubisoft, EA, Blizzard, Valve, and so on join this list.

      Oops, they already did? This isn’t all studio-added info is it?

  7. aliksy says:

    Ehh. Copyright needs a big overhaul. You shouldn’t be able to claim someone else’s work as your own, but derivative works are important. Looser copyright gives us interesting things like that salty bet site, or total conversions of Doom into Aliens, or those early disney films

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      Definitely; popular culture operates in the creative sphere by means of accretion, not isolation.

  8. Premium User Badge

    darkChozo says:

    One thing worth noting is that Content ID matching is not the same as a copyright claim. Copyright claims work on a strike system and are srs bsns; get three of those and your channel is shut down. Content ID matches are less severe but allow companies to take all ad revenue generated by the video, which is obviously an issue for people who make their living off that revenue. This latest sweep was almost entirely Content ID matching, meaning that these Youtubers are losing ad revenue on some significant chunk of their videos.

    Both systems are pretty screwed up and open to abuse, though.

    (note: the above is compiled from following various Youtube people through various channels and may be entirely wrong)

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Ever see the banks or an authority make a mistake that acts in their favor?

      What reason do they have to fix it? Oh, the customers/people might get angry? Ok, they’ll fix it.

      What reason do they have to fix it quickly, while all that money sits in their account? Hmmm…

      • frightlever says:

        Youtube makes money off ad-views on the back of popular videos. It is not inherently in their best self-interest to pull the videos off a guy who has 1.5 million subscribers. Your argument, while largely accurate with regard to banks and traditional businesses, holds no water when it comes to Youtube.

  9. lordfrikk says:

    It’s funny how YouTube is acting against the wished of the copyright holders. “What do you mean you DON’T want the video taken down?!”

    • Kadayi says:

      The whole system is automated, so it’s generating the notices based on existing content and then it’s a case of those who have been given them to contact the copyright owner. Different publishers have different views on what they deem acceptable, and allow the uploader to monetize. I think in large part the people who do tutorials, how tos, previews and reviews etc will probably come out OK from this, because they’re creating a lot of personal content, often for people who already own games or have an interest in a game (consider epicnamebros Dark souls vids for example). Less so the people just doing personal lets plays I imagine though.

  10. Kinch says:

    Well, stone me but… finally, YouTube! ‘Let’s plays’ need to go away. Seriously.

    I love *original* content on many YT channels but frapsing game footage, adding more or less funny commentary and then monetizing it is a broken concept. I’m surprised people were trying to build their careers on it.

    • Serenegoose says:

      Why do they need to go away? In what manner have they impacted your life in a negative manner? Did they kill your family? Were you tied up in a basement and forced to watch them?

      • Kinch says:

        Yeah, yeah, careful with the stoning. No need for the veiled insults. ;)

        I don’t feel like going into details because I’m not an Internet crusader of any sort but…
        I just think they’re garbage, redundant content. They should not exist because it’s not right to take someone else’s content and call it your own just because you added a voiceover. I’ve been intentionally avoiding them on YT because I still want to have fun in games and not have them spoiled – even by the best YouTubers out there like Jesse Cox.

        Reviews and shutting down criticism is a different matter, of course. Using the ContentID system to shut down any critique is wrong – and fortunately usually meets with a huge angry backlash.

        • Serenegoose says:

          Certainly no veiled insult, just expressing disbelief quite openly. I’ve never veiled my insults :) I understand the perspective, to some extent. But I’ve never met anybody who’s ever watched a let’s play of a game they probably planned to buy, but settled for watching a video of it. The idea that anybody is being deprived of revenue has absolutely no grounding for me. I’ve seen a lot more comments of the ilk that watching the videos has encouraged people to go buy the game, since with the death of demos and trailers being actually worthless, there’s remarkably few ways to actually figure out if you’re interested in a game. Now youtube wants to demolish that too, and I don’t see the benefit for me in there at all.

          • Kadayi says:

            Whether income may or may not have been lost as a result of someone viewing an entire lets play is actually secondary as to whether the actual broadcast of the entirety of a game falls under fair use of that material and that’s actually what is the crux of the matter.

        • dE says:

          What stones, what veiled insults? Are we reading the same post? Doesn’t look like it.

          Anyways, here’s a flipside for you:
          The so called garbage content is advertisement for the game. Games like Crusader Kings II profited greatly from folks like quill. Minecraft wouldn’t have taken off or at least taken much longer to reach that point, without a lot of youtube videos showing of gameplay (like the Yogscast). Since you mentioned Jesse Cox, are you aware he’s
          occasionally paid by companies to do, what you call garbage content? And that many youtubers actively promote indie games on their channels?
          A whole lot of “garbage content”, eh?

        • aliksy says:

          You don’t like it so it needs to go away? The fuck. What the fuck kind of self-centered attitude is that?

        • Premium User Badge

          darkChozo says:

          I just think they’re garbage, redundant content. They should not exist because it’s not right to take someone else’s content and call it your own just because you added a voiceover.

          What about multiplayer games? I don’t think people are watching pro Starcraft plays or 1337 noscope 360 headshot montages to see game assets. What about something like Minecraft? The game provides the tools for people to build 200-foot golden penises on film, but it’s the players that actually create those massive phalluses.

          For a lot of games, it’s ambiguous as to how much of the play is the game and how much is the player. Unless you’re talking cutscenes or something like Dear Esther, it’s hard to assert that it’s entirely the game dev’s content with a voiceover.

          • Kinch says:

            I agree about Minecraft – this game would go unnoticed if not for the community (Yogscast are just as important here as Mojang, IMO). But there are so many (really a lot) channels that only do easy content, AAA games, all the brand new titles which always have roughly the same playthrough – 50 episodes of Bioshock Infinite, 50 of Saints Row, 50 of GTA V, et caetera. Is this really fair use and being creative, or simple an easy way to earn ad revenue?

          • Premium User Badge

            darkChozo says:

            Well, it’s a spectrum. Something like Saint’s Row or GTA can have a ton of player involvement. For every GTAV LP that is episode after episode of “this is mission 1, this is mission 2″ there’s a GTAV LP that has episode after episode of the player doing car tricks or beating up pedestrians. Bioshock is way more linear, but even that could have a let’s-show-off-this-game-with-informed-commentary LP, or a skill/speed run, or some crazy machinima or what have you.

            It’s hard to make any concrete statement because, well, you’re right that there are a lot of zero-effort LPs out there. Someone who plays through a game normally with minimal or inane commentary isn’t really adding much to the game. But that’s certainly not every LP, and most of the more popular LPers sell their videos on the basis of their personalities and their method of play as much as the games themselves, for better or for worse.

        • TechnicalBen says:

          Don’t dare record any real footage then.

          You made that tree? I think not. That road? That house? Better have copyright for that colour of Dulux paint on the wall behind you!

          As soon as there is an interactive aspect, there is a unique part. Even other forms of art have criticism, comment etc.

        • Freud says:

          That’s how I feel about broccoli.

    • dE says:

      I fail to see how Let’s Plays hurt you that they “need to go away”, but I guess you’ve got your reasons. I like Let’s Plays as decent tools to look into how a game plays out. Not just in the initial stages but also in later stages. If the Let’s Player sounds bored out of his/her mind, it’s a sure sign those 94% metacritic ratings were a bit extreme.

      • Kinch says:

        Metacritic is just as broken as YT let’s plays. Which is why I read RPS or GiantBomb, and watch Rev3Games.
        Why would I believe a YouTuber that a game is really worth playing if I know they sometimes get paid to promote games in some way? It’s even worse than arbitrary 1-100 ratings on some fairly popular website. I’d rather play a demo and see for myself. If the game’s fun, I’ll buy it (or wait for a sale) and then play it – not watch an LP.

        • dE says:

          Don’t trust what they say. Listen to the tone of their voice, to the words they use and how they use it. Also see the game in action without some marketing department cutting it into flashy pieces. You can even check back later into the game to see if the later levels look just as interesting and if the tone changed. That says a whole lot more than reviews that try to put their emotions into abstract words or the ready-made trailers.

          And yes, metacritic is broken, yadda, yadda, yadda. Wasn’t even my point. My point was that a let’s player with similar tastes to me, seeming genuinely bored out of his mind in a game that received nothing but praise (Bioshock Infinite), made me stay away from the game.

        • Premium User Badge

          darkChozo says:

          Trusting a Youtuber’s opinion is basically the same as trusting anyone’s opinion on the Internet. If you have any doubt, find a second opinion. If you find people who seem honest, consistent, and properly opinionated, then give them a little more trust. But still, find a second opinion.

          One advantage to gameplay videos, especially long-form gameplay videos like LPs, is that it’s a lot harder to hide flaws in a game in video than in text, intentionally or otherwise. Fact of the matter is that a shitty game will often look like a shitty game when you play it through and capture everything.

          • Kadayi says:

            I tune into Giantbomb quicklooks a lot. They give enough flavour of a game for you to see what it’s about and also they’re experienced gamers and give you a handle on how it plays.

        • BlueTemplar says:

          Metacritic has some uses. Look at the following list :
          http://www.metacritic.com/browse/games/score/userscore/all/pc?view=condensed&sort=desc
          Don’t you think that the overwhelming majority of these games merit their high scores?
          Now the sad thing is that I had to hack the url to make metacritic sort following the userscore rather than metascore.
          And there are lots of great, obscure games (like this one : http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/sword-of-the-stars-complete-collection ) that won’t appear on those lists since they never got a metascore.
          Then you have excellent games (like http://zero-k.info/ ) that are not even listed on metacritic, usually because they’re not commercial.
          And for some unfathomable reason Metacritic still doesn’t have an Android section.
          Also, external sites like Steam usually only give the metascore, without the userscore.

    • GROM says:

      You mean like those gaming magazines that review games with added screenshots and some witty writing of their opinion. what idiots would believe you can make a living doing that right?

    • DatonKallandor says:

      Don’t watch if you don’t like it.
      And you clearly haven’t watched it if you think there’s no work and value in Let’s Plays.

      Research Indicates LPs are stuff you could show in History Channel as they are and they’d fit in perfectly.
      Chip Cheezum LPs are basically a sitcom as funny as anything on TV at the moment.
      And there’s loads more good LPs out there.

      Just because there’s a lot more bad ones than good ones doesn’t mean the medium needs to “go away”. If that were true we wouldn’t have TV. Or, in fact, the INTERNET.

    • Premium User Badge

      FriendlyFire says:

      Is this another “well this is fine because I don’t like it anyway” post?

      Hint: never, ever let a judgment of value enter into whether you think something is wrong. This new fiasco is terrible news for everyone. That it’s affecting LPs or the best video reviews ever made is entirely irrelevant and shows your lack of thought on the subject. They’re not making a distinction here, this isn’t about quality (which is entirely subjective anyway).

    • Pow pow LAZERS! says:

      LP’s don’t need to go away, just the option to monetize from them.

      • Zyrusticae says:

        And why, pray tell, should that happen?

        I really have to take issue with people who believe some professions simply don’t “deserve” to make money. As far as I’m concerned, if people are paying for the ad space, let them benefit from it! As long as we have a society where people make loads of money contributing NOTHING AT ALL (see: the entire financial sector), people have no room to complain about the folks making money off of Lets Plays.

    • Wulfram says:

      I disagree that they need to go away, but I do think the publishers/developers have a moral right to make Let’s Plays go away, or to claim the revenue associated with them if they think it’s the right thing for their business.

      Reviews and other stuff that does more creative things with a more limited amount of footage are different, of course.

    • sophof says:

      Yeah, like gay-marriage right. How dare these people do something they love but I don’t like and doesn’t impact me in any way. It really should just go away!

      Such reasoning disgusts me. The fact that you also marter yourself pre-emptively to try and head of (I assume) exactly this kind of criticism makes it even worse.

  11. Kubrick Stare Nun says:

    I make The Cynical Brit’s words my own:

  12. Sakai says:

    I have hard time uderstanding what the hell is Youtube trying to do. I mean, i’ve been watching videos on it for years now, and not once after any update i though “huh, that was a nice update”. Quite the opposite really, it seems like they actively trying to kill their own site.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      That’s because it’s not for you or us. It’s for Google and the people paying Google (advertisers).

  13. Ayam says:

    Not a big youtuber, don’t monetise the vast majority of my videos but even on an unmonetised video of Dead Space 3 a non-EA-affiliated firm have successfully raised a copyright claim against me. The appeal options on youtube are terrible, there’s nothing specific enough for my situation. It’s not a strike against my account (you can have 3 strikes before you’re done and strikes last 6 months) but it means the advertising options are completely in their hands.

  14. kwyjibo says:

    Fair use does not extend to the extent that anyone can record gameplay video and make money off it without permission. There needs to be a centralised permissions database for games that allow Youtube monetisation.

    • Premium User Badge

      darkChozo says:

      AFAIK, the copyright status of gameplay footage in general is something that has yet to be tested in court. What the law actually requires (which is distinct from what Youtube enforces) is rather ambiguous right now.

      • kwyjibo says:

        Just because something hasn’t been tested in court does not render it ambiguous.

        If you sample a snapshot of music, and then monetise it, you owe someone some fucking money. That has been tested in court. And now you’re sampling a lot of music and footage.

        • hotmaildidntwork says:

          Yes, but it’s unlikely that anyone is there for the music and the relevant footage is being produced by a combination of the game producers who made the environment and the recorder acting within it. There’s room there for argument to be had, and until it has been everybody is pretty much acting on their own volition.

        • Premium User Badge

          darkChozo says:

          I’m well out of any area of credibility here, but that is the kind of leap of logic that a judge needs to make for it to hold any legal weight. Anyone can guess at how things would go in a court, but until a game company actually sues a let’s player or something similar, we can’t know for sure.

          (though the video game music argument is somewhat compelling. But what about gameplay footage without music?)

        • malkav11 says:

          There is a meaningful difference between watching someone play a game and playing that game. Distributing the game without permission is clearly illegal. There might be an argument that distributing footage of it should be too, but frankly I think it would be an unwise call.

          Music and video content are different because whether you’re seeding pirated MP3s/Bluray rips or putting them on Youtube is mostly a difference of codec quality, the actual content is identical in form.

    • aliksy says:

      It probably should.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Indeed. Surely a LP video is something like a derivative work?

      • Ninja Foodstuff says:

        It really should be considered a performance. I mean for fuck’s sake we don’t pay royalties to clothes companies if we feature their jacket in a video, or owe Sony money if we film it using their brand of camera.

  15. dE says:

    The odd thing is, this is something that has loomed on the horizon for a while. There were signs written on the wall (Garry’s Incident and others), there were looming damocles swords being reached for (Nintendo, Sega). I can’t imagine that Content creators are actually surprised that this has come to pass. It was foretold by previous incidents.

    On the other hand, I’m happy this is happening. Not because I wish ill on the content creators, but because this system actually needs some stability. This is making sure a lot of ground is shaken, people are getting vocal about this. Youtube may not care about them but companies getting on their back about how they’re cutting off their customers, they will care about that.

  16. beauwyselaskie says:

    Abby. although Denise`s story is flabbergasting… on wednesday I got themselves a Land Rover Defender from bringing in $9333 this last month an would you believe ten-grand this past month. it’s by-far the most-comfortable job I’ve ever had. I started this 9-months ago and pretty much straight away startad earning over $87… p/h.
    try here……. http://goo.gl/iITlPP

  17. DuneTiger says:

    I uploaded a video of the Last Express which got flagged because the game itself licensed music from Universal. ContentID was sensitive enough to pick up maybe 10-15 seconds of the song (before I left the room it was playing in) to ensure that the monetization of that video goes to Universal. Joke’s on them, though, because I make no money off anything I do. I do it for fun.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      You realise this means they’ll add advertisements to your videos now on behalf of universal etc?

      • Premium User Badge

        Stellar Duck says:

        I once recorded some stuff from BF3. It was basically me blowing up some tanks with C4 because I wanted to show off to a friend. There was some commentary by yours truly but no music or sound other than what is in the game. It got flagged and I opted to let them add ads.

        I bet they’re making top dollar on the 4 views the video has.

  18. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    If rumours are to be believed, Google are struggling with Youtube internally – not just how to run it properly longterm but they are seriously questioning their own decision to take it on in the first place.

    God knows what Youtube will look like 5 years from now. This is nothing.

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      Before youtube bought them I was hoping for them to fold. I’m all for videos and shared content but their model seemed to be:

      * Make a huge video site
      * ????
      * PROFIT!

      The putting of weird flash blobs on pages all over the place was an attention grab without any clear path towards profitability for the company nor for ultimately fair stewardship of cultural content. It should have failed when they ran out of money instead of being given many additional years to invent machievellian schemes to monetize everyone’s data.

      Let me compare — this would be like if google owned the web. And let us sharecrop on it. Sure, Google may be the giant in advertising on the open web but they don’t actually control it. With youtube it’s a closed ecosystem that is controlled by a single un-answerable party. And they’re going to have to do evil things to make it profitable because the bandwidth and storage are not anywhere close to reasonably affordable. Youtube makes crawling the whole web look cheap by comparison.

      The best outcome possible to my mind would be for youtube to ultimately become unpalatable enough or unprofitable enough that we go back towards a decentralized model for video hosting. Heck, maybe that will create technical pressure to actually provide a better solution than flash blobs for playback.

  19. Premium User Badge

    jimbobjunior says:

    It’s tricky. But the majority of gaming videos I watch, I watch for the narration/reviews. That the game is being played is incidental. Those videos, I feel, fall under transformative works i.e. I’m not watching them as a substitute for the original material.

    However, there are videos that are essentially someone playing a game from start to end that adds nothing at all.

    I doubt it will be resolved til someone with deep pockets takes it to court.

  20. rocketman71 says:

    IP law is idiotic and cruel, YouTube is shit, Google is evil.

    Also, the sky is blue.

  21. Spakkenkhrist says:

    Let me guess, reporting copyright infringements on youtube?

  22. Premium User Badge

    melnificent says:

    So if you use any game footage in a youtube video prepare to be in trouble.

    I wonder which letsplayer/youtuber will be the one to test this in the courts.

  23. Delusibeta says:

    Quick note: the two tiers of MCN channel are Affiliate and Managed, as noted. Affiliate gets exposed to Content ID claims and has to manually contest them, while Managed channels will get them automatically waived. The big “but” is in the copyright strikes: Affiliate channels each individually get three strikes, Managed channels share three strikes throughout the network. Hence, for Managed channels, copyright strikes is a Big Deal, and also means that networks can’t hand out Managed status willy-nilly.

  24. Pow pow LAZERS! says:

    Oh no, LP’ers wont be able to leach of other peoples hard work, how awful!!1

  25. Megakoresh says:

    This is really fucking awful. This is what happens when someone gets an absolute monopoly. The Google’s strategy of “Winning by delivering a better product” doesn’t work when there’s nothing to compare that product to. I am not sure what is the thought behind these decisions (Did they decide they would rather not pay the popular youtubers and make money of smaller videos by making it almost impossible to produce good quality content freely?), but it most certainly is not backed up by any user experience analysis and just plain common sense.

    What would happen if someone like TotalBiscuit, or indeed the entire Polaris network went under? They mostly produce very entertaining high quality content. All that content will be gone. I am not even talking about obviously destroying the lives of all the people who work there, but millions of viewers will be deprived of honest, transparent and easy information, which servers to make the games industry and online markets a better place.

    The attitude of Google in the last few years of Youtube policies and behaviour is disgusting and absolutely anti-consumer. It demonstrates a complete absence of understanding how these videos work, or what’s even worse, willingness to sacrifice integrity of the service (it’s freedom, allowance of transparency and honest feedback) in order to make more money.

    They are not going to read this blog and they are not going to read this message, and if they did, they wouldn’t care anyway as they haven’t for several years now. So I think people should stop taking this crap and grow this into a bigger discussion. This, if anything, is worthy of preaching or spreading the topic in any other way. Talk about this instead of contrived crap like “misogyny”, “violence in games” or any of the other non-existent subjective crap people tend to pay attention to. This is real. This is affecting everyone and this is objectively bad, just like any censorship.

    • wild_quinine says:

      It doesn’t benefit Google to take down pirated content any more than it benefits the Pirate Bay to take down pirated content. And that’s for stuff that actually is pirated, not these playthrough videos.

      Google take down videos when copyright claims are filed, because the consequences of not doing so are more significant than the benefit of leaving those things up.

      They take down videos before verying that they are infringing for the same reason.

      Google are by no means a benevolent company, but it’s not their ‘monopoly’ that causes this behaviour. It is actually down to their relative *lack* of power.

      • Premium User Badge

        darkChozo says:

        It’s worth noting that Content ID matching is almost entirely Youtube’s doing, and is certainly not something that is mandated by DMCA or similar laws. At best, Content ID matching might be an attempt to bypass DMCA by cutting a deal with copyright owners instead.

        That’s not to say DMCA-style copyright is at all okay (hint: it’s not), but Youtube/Google are far from blameless here.

      • programmdude says:

        Why can they not just take them down for the US? US copyright law was broken, the US can’t see it. In countries with slightly better copyright laws, can see it. Problem solved. Or at least averted.

  26. realitysconcierge says:

    You’d think that youtube would cater more to its number one channel and ones like it o.O

  27. Synesthesia says:

    What a jolly good year for free speech! Merry christmas!

  28. mxmissile says:

    here’s and idea, “don’t use youtube”, kinda makes sense, obviously it’s a complete fail platform now, so do what any somewhat intelligent human being would do, move somewhere else, it it’s seriously broken, they will fix it if you all leave

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      And, pray tell, what makes you think things will fair any better once everyone moves to Vimeo or Dailymotion? It’s not like it’s very hard for companies to find people posting this content onto other sites and do the same thing.

      • Muzman says:

        My question would be ‘what else is there?’ Blip just recently cut back on everything that wasn’t big news. Vimeo has a very strict policy on content that isn’t essentially yours in every respect. Game videos are specifically verboten (even though there’s some grey area. People have pointed out that they enforce it on games prejudicially despite the t.o.u being generic and some other things technically running afoul of it that they let go. But they’re fancy artiste types).
        Dailymotion is what? Boob clips from films and other stuff that’s the anti-youtube?.
        If youtube really screws the pooch on this I could see Twitch swooping in and picking up the slack, but not just yet.

      • BlueTemplar says:

        Well, it looks like that decentralized peer to peer alternatives are appearing :
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribler
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BitTorrent_(company)#BitTorrent_Live_.28beta.29

        • Premium User Badge

          jrodman says:

          It depends what your goal is.

          Are you trying to share creative works?
          Or are you trying to make money by sharing creative works?

          The decentralized video distribution software systems aren’t going to run the payment systems, so people doing say.. video video-game reviews as a living.. would have to scramble.

          Youtube has them locked in for now.

          • BlueTemplar says:

            Between Flattr, Patreon, Bitcoin and Paypal, there are potentially plenty of ways to make money by making creative works.

    • malkav11 says:

      People were doing it on other sites before, they’re doing it on Youtube now because those other sites fucked things up way worse than Youtube while Youtube’s policies, quality and options were actually relaxing and improving. There is no other site that’s viable for Let’s Plays at the moment.

  29. huldu says:

    You should buy our games not watch someone else play them for you. It hurts us game developers that you don’t buy our games. We have families to feed and you’re stealing from us when you’re not buying our games. We put our life into making games for people to enjoy and this is how you repay us?

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      I use Let’s Play videos to determine if a game looks like something I’d enjoy. Since the vast majority of industry decided to nuke the concept of demos a long time ago, nowadays a Let’s Play video is the only way to get any real insight into a game before purchase.

      • Premium User Badge

        Stellar Duck says:

        Well, that, or pirating it. An LP is certainly the faster way of getting an idea if a game is worth my money.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          Faster and safer. Not only because of the occasional virus, but also because of having to worry about my ISP flagging me for a violation or even being taken to court y by some overly litigious company or trade group. Even though the ISPs and various trade groups, like the MPAA and RIAA, have worked out a truce in America (5 strikes before any kind of legal action can be taken, after 3 trikes your internet speed will be severely limited until you personally respond to a message acknowledging that you’ve been flagged), I’d rather not push my luck. So, I either play the demo (which are becoming more and more rare) or I watch a Let’s Play.

    • programmdude says:

      I hope you are trolling. While lets plays are ambiguous, reviews are certainly not. Every game (slightly good or above) has benefited from reviews and word of mouth. Reviews and lets plays aren’t that different from each other, once one gets blocked the other is only a matter of time until the next does.

  30. Strangerator says:

    So what’s to stop YouTube content creators from embedding links at the end of each video, where it just says, “to enable us to continue making videos, click here”? Sadly, I think the only way this ends is with tons of video content being ripped from YouTube, no footage/music/anything from games allowed. People will be forced to get all video game content from those big bloated sites who never say anything risky and only cover the biggest budget games in any detail.

    For those who don’t get why you’d watch people play a game and mock it the whole time, you probably also didn’t like Mystery Science Theater 3000. I personally enjoy watching certain YouTube personalities give some bad games a good lambasting every now and then (or even games who take themselves too seriously). Sometimes I just want to watch people point out the silliness in games and laugh along with that. These people entertain me, and I see no reason they shouldn’t be paid like any other entertainer. The game is not providing its own commentary. I wouldn’t buy said terrible games if the LP didn’t exist (e.g. Cabela’s African Adventures).

    • LionsPhil says:

      Presumably, though, MST3K—which was licensed for money to TV channels—also had to pay licensing fees to the copyright holders of the films it riffed upon.

      • Universal Quitter says:

        MST3k used public domain movies, which was why they almost invariably sucked. Now they just do audio commentaries and give everyone the finger.

        Is there really no room for altruism anymore? Yeah, you can technically squeeze blood from a turnip, but is it really worth the time and effort? And is it worth it when people start noticing you squeezing turnips in a field, in the middle of the night, with a crazed, vindictive expression on your face?

        I may have muddled that analogy up a bit, but my point is that large, successful markets should create new markets and, I ask, if those new markets do not compete, and in fact bring some benefits to the original, what reason is there to crush them?

        It just seems so incredibly bastardly. Are there asshole shareholders or something, asking why they aren’t getting any of this “YouTube money?”

        If businesses relied on money they’ve made instead of money they fucking borrow, maybe we wouldn’t have goddamn problems like this. I see why a small company needs investors. I don’t see why a large, multinational, multi-billion dollar corporate giant needs investors.

        One form of investment creates opportunities, but the other looks suspiciously like taking advantage of them.

        /rawr

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          “It just seems so incredibly bastardly. Are there asshole shareholders or something, asking why they aren’t getting any of this ‘YouTube money?'”

          That’s what I imagine.

          “Holy crap!?!?! This kid makes $20 a day streaming our game, Mr. Baddy’s Beat Up Bonanza Crush Down: Extreme Graphics Pay-To-Win Edition? Wait a minute… I could be using that money to wipe my ass! Sue them! DMCA takedown! GET ALL THE MONIES!!!”

        • programmdude says:

          Turnips have blood? I have been going about it all wrong…

        • Bull0 says:

          Not sure they were public domain movies. Joel did an AMA recently and said they were just the easiest movies to get the rights to. The point stands, they weren’t using other peoples’ material for free to make entertainment content under a guise of fair use for purposes of criticism.

  31. Geen says:

    Dear god, the YouTube commenters make me want to kill myself.

  32. Universal Quitter says:

    You know, you guys do Let’s Blather, occasionally, so it’s silly to see someone here equate YouTube gaming channels with PewDiePie. You should be above this.

    Yeah, the footnotes clarify that it’s supposed to be a silly sentence, but even that was somewhat disorienting, reading like Clint Eastwood interviewing that empty chair.

    Also, what was that shit about copyright claims basically just being the “algorithm’s” fault? Who do you think programs the damn machines? Fuckin’ elves? I know you went to college, so you have to understand that computers do what we program them to do…

    YouTube’s software didn’t mathematically derive the conclusion that it would broaden the criteria for what is considered pirated content. Those are parameters, which would need to be changed by someone.

    A human did that. And humans can and will be blamed for things, whether people like it or not.

  33. captain nemo says:

    It’s funny to see Ubisoft abandon it’s anti-consumer stance for a change…

  34. DigitalImpostor says:

    With each change made it seems like YouTube is making itself less useful.

  35. Muzman says:

    On the other matter; we forgive you for making fun of “Pewds”. It’s fine, really. We’ve all been there.

    As an aside I was recently involved with people attempting to come up with original web series content aimed at children/teens. The government funders had got wind that the web might be an important thing and there’s this youtube business they’ve heard about so they should lurch clumsily and with gusto in its direction. But they still wanted one accountable foot in the old world of children’s television; massaged to death subjects laced with positive messages and carefully neutered of anything controversial, productions with more oversight than actual workers.
    After a few meetings trying to navigate this level of second guessing yourself over the touchy subject of ‘youth’ and the internet and still be required to create something “fresh and now and “viral”” and other shite, I had to give them a reality check. I sent over some choice cuts of Pewds at work with note along the lines of “THIS GUY IS THE MOST WATCHED PERSON ON EARTH. HE HAS OUR DEMOGRAPHIC BY ITS NASCENT PUBES” or at least that’s how it read in my head.
    Despite continued funding enthusiasm for this area (on paper at least), my collaborators wisely chose a different concept direction.

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      I suppose I should look him up at some point. All this talk about that guy, and I feel left out, not know who he is.

      He’s not one of those terrible people who play CoD while yelling like a tosser? I really, sincerely hope not.

      Edit: Oh, wow. I’ll leave this to the kids. Not my thing. At all.

  36. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    ok so here’s my take on it. I have a channel that has gameplay only for Mac versions of games. My reasoning behind it is that Mac versions of games don’t always look as good as perhaps they should, and at the very least, you never get to see footage from the Mac version. The channel has a reasonable number of views, but during the past year I have to turn the music off when recording for most games, as it has a tendency to generate nasty emails from YouTube about copyright violation.

    It’s a stupid system. I don’t make any money out of it, and there’s a considerable amount of effort involved. I turned the comments off a long time ago too.

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      I like the sound of your channel.

      “I turned the comments off a long time ago too.”

      Especially this part :-D

  37. racccoon says:

    I’m all for YouTube and what it has tried to achieve, the problem is now YouTubers are making buckets of money! good on them, but..its taking away a copyright from a owner for personal reward.

    YouTube you needs to back step to no monetary rewards.

    If you do want to make money from copyrighted material.
    You must first gain a contract agreement with the owner of the copyrighted material way before you can go ahead and release it to the mass’s. You did agree to this when you started playing.

    In a nutshell:
    Post your game video freely with no money gain, = fine and dandy. its still a fine line, but wearable.

  38. Dave L. says:

    And of course this would start to happen shortly after I start up my own attempt at a Let’s Play series ([shill]Games That I Worked On: Red Faction: Guerrilla Watch it. Or don’t. The sound quality is frequently terrible and I’ve almost run out of stuff to say. [/shill])

  39. A Dangerous Sloth says:

    Just another case of technology moving faster than the law making process. If technology is truly exponential then we are going to have some serious issues if the legislative system is still just as slow 25 years from now.

  40. sophof says:

    This would actually be the perfect time for Twitch to swoop in and corner this market. Too bad that site is horrible from a performance and interface perspective…

    • Bull0 says:

      They went on a big banning drive recently over users complaining about one of their admins too, which doesn’t make it a hugely attractive option for this kind of commercial use

    • LionsPhil says:

      Thanks, that was interesting.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      Yes, extremely interesting, thank you, especially this part :

      “The Content ID Claim system, however, doesn’t follow this procedure. Instead it allows content owners (or even fraudulent claimants) to hijack and monetize user-generated content even if the user’s inclusion of the underlying work constitutes nominal or fair use. This is, obviously, very different from removing potentially infringing content. Ironically, it facilitates a system whereby the original content owner becomes an infringer.

      Wait, what?

      You may be asking yourself that after reading that last sentence, but remember that separable elements of a derivative work may themselves be the subject of copyright protection. Furthermore, if the use of the underlying content is nominal or fair use, the entire derivative work product is protected under copyright. By claiming rights to that work, continuing to distribute it, and in turn generating ad revenue from that work, the underlying content owner has in effect become the infringer—not only that, but they’re building up a pretty substantial damage claim on behalf of the user who created the Let’s Play video in the first place.”

  41. Chalk says:

    There is more going on here than most people realise. I run a small record label selling CDs and MP3s in a niche genre. I can speak with some experience as to what is going on here, the automated system is only a part of the problem.

    The other aspect of this is somewhat deeper and more convoluted, and it is do with with the process of how music is delivered to the large digital stores like iTunes, Amazon, Zune and so on.

    Here is a brief run down of the process:

    1) Mr Musician Creates Music
    2) Mr Musician signs up with a digital distributor, like CD Baby, IODA etc.
    3) Mr Musician uploads his music to digital distributor.
    4) Digital Distributor feeds this content into the stores like iTunes etc.
    5) Digital Distributor creates a digital finger-print that is sent to YouTube.

    What this means is that if someone now uploads a video to YouTube using Mr Musician’s music a number of things will happen:

    1) The video will get flagged for matched third part content.
    2) The video may get a “Buy Mr Musician’s music from iTunes” link.
    3) Ad revenue earned on the video will be paid to the Digital Distributor.
    4) Mr Musician will receive his cut.

    But here is the problem; if Mr Musician isn’t a musician but is instead a ‘content creator’ – by that I mean he makes MP3′s licensing existing music strange things will happen.

    Here is something that happened to me:

    1) I took a piece of music from the public domain. This was 100% free, and 100% allowable to be used anywhere in the world for any purpose, including commercial and monetization.
    2) I created a CD and MP3 using this public domain track.
    3) I uploaded this track to my digital distributor.
    4) Digital distributor sent this to iTunes etc.
    5) Digital distributor created a digital fingerprint of the track and sent it to YouTube.
    6) A while later, Mrs Jones created a video on YouTube using the public domain track. Her video is content flagged for using “my” music. The ownership is claimed by my digital distributor (even though they don’t own the rights to it either – they merely distribute it and have no legal rights to it at all).
    7) Both my Digital Distributor and myself now get a cut of Mrs Jones ad revenue, and she gets nothing. I have no ability to release this music to her.

    Crazy situation is that I could also upload a video to YouTube using my own track and it will also get content flagged.

    The situation is actually larger than just YouTube and Google. They are using a system that has been built up over the past few years by companies like Apple, and their distribution partners such as CD Baby, IODA (now The Orchard), IRIS, TuneCore and many, many others.

    It is a big snowball that has been rolled up to the top of a huge fucking mountain, gathering up all content in its path.

    When Ubisoft create a Soundtrack album for their game, if they use a digital distributor to send that album off to iTunes, such as IDOL – then IDOL will be the ones that flag your YouTube video and Ubisoft will never even hear about it.

    So the big snowball has gathered up everything it possibly can and now it has caused an avalanche.

    Problem is, this is bigger than YouTube, Google and iTunes. This whole system is what the entire online digital music industry has been built upon. Not many people are aware of this yet, as it has been going on quietly in the background. YouTube merely plugged the affiliates right into this same system, which has served to highlight how messed up it is.

    These digital distributors such as IDOL have been making millions and millions from this process. Think about it, all they do is take the album, upload it to iTunes and then they get around a 20% cut of all sales made! And they have largely done this with an invisible hand that is being enforced by YouTube’s content matching system.

    It is allowed to continue because it serves the interests of the music industry. It is all managed for them by third parties without them having to get involved.

    But it seems the likes of Deep Silver, Ubisoft and Capcom didn’t realise the net effect of what they have signed up to. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

    I have posted this info in other places too, as it needs to be seen.

  42. vexytube says:

    Thought I’d throw you guys my thoughts on it (video form)