Given recent facts coming to light, I wanted to update my opinion on this issue a little.
Primarily, It’s now clear that many of the copyright holders for the content getting flagged, are not in fact behind the flagging of the videos themselves. This is very disturbing, especially because that essentially implies that this automated system identifying and making these claims may have an issue, or may not have a clear enough separation for things the companies do not want flagged. Even if some of the claims are from the copyright holders, the claims aren’t being made with their permission. For example, many claims showing from Blizzard, are in direct conflict with Blizzards legally binding blanket copyright statement that essentially says anyone can make videos of their products and they will not pursue action unless it is done in a maliciously adverse way towards the company.
This all being said, I still can’t be mad if companies decide to enforce their copyrights when people make money off of portions of their product in a clear, obvious breech of copyright law. I however still do not agree that it’s the right move to make (again, I harken back to the overwhelmingly negative outcry when Nintendo did just that) and many companies agree with this sentiment. Here’s to hoping this is just going to be another annoying, yet passable step and our favorite YouTube creators can go back to making money giving us enjoyment.
Okay, so there’s been a huge fast burning flame going around the internet (strange for the internet, I know) recently in regards to YouTube. No, I’m not referring to the Google+ fiasco (stop trying to make it happen, Google.) I’m talking about the enforcement over use of copyrighted material for personal monetization.
I’m not going to waste your time reiterating what happened, but I will waste your time in explaining why YouTube is on the right side of this issue.
First off, stop assuming just because YouTube hasn’t ever done this in force before and that it’s been legal this whole time. Technically, yes, those of us who record 10 hours of videogame footage and just talk over it, then put it on YouTube and make money off of it, are in fact breaking copyright laws. What so many people do to make money on YouTube is illegal. There is, however, a largely clear-cut area over fair-use, so that news outlets or reviewers can use footage for the purpose of reviews or comment, but the line gets crossed when it’s a person just playing the game and having a good time doing it.
Think about it, you are taking something other people, investors, artists, writers, coders, etc. made, and re-distributing it for the purposes of making money for yourself, although you had NO HAND in creating it. If it doesn’t make sense to you why that’s not okay, we need to talk.
Luckily for so many of us, many developers and publishers have turned a blind eye to this, knowing the power of YouTube exposure, and how it’s ‘nerd-base’ is expanding, with YouTube themselves claiming the gaming sector of YouTube is growing faster than the site itself.
Let me be clear, is this a good move by devs and publishers to limit their exposure to try and capture a few more dollars? No. They will inevitably alienate large sects of audiences and cost themselves exposure that may cost more to create themselves than to just let a large internet personality do it for free. I do feel for people who’ve made a living of this, but it is abhorrent that so many people are so angry and upset that someone is finally calling them out for making money off of their content. What if I started to take other people’s let’s plays and had ‘Let’s Watch’ sessions with them on my channel and made some money? I’m sure I’d get one of these ‘pesky’ emails within hours.
Don’t get mad at YouTube though. They are merely enforcing their policies so that no one sues them and brings the entire site down, it’s not a personal vendetta that they rolling out from their gestapo internet guard towers. Chances are, (it may take a day or two) if you contest the claim made against you, the developer or publisher will retract it for you. Annoying yes, world ending, no.
Do I think this will become a long term problem? I don’t think it’s a problem now. This is just a YouTube automated system flagging videos that break the terms-of-use agreement. It is obviously not up to YouTube who gets in trouble, it’s up to whom-ever owns the content being used for profit. If a developer or publisher decides against allowing the publishing of content of their product for-profit, or not-for-profit even, then so be it. That’s the entire point of copyright rules. It’s their decision to make, not yours. There are millions of dollars in revenue at stake for not only YouTube, but some of these companies regarding how they share their content. Sure, the biggest YouTube stars may not take a large chunk from that profit, they may even help it along, but if the creator of the videogame doesn’t want anyone to earn money from showing their game in ‘Let’s Play’s’, they have complete legal standing to do that, and frankly, they also have my moral support. And don’t forget, some of the smaller YouTube broadcasters may be able to benefit from making sure no one steals their hard-made content.
My final word? I think these videos should be allowed. It is almost never a detractor from profits for companies, and it does nothing but retain interest in games over the long term, which is hard to do in this industry. However, will I ever get angry or annoyed when a company wants to enforce full copyright protection for their products? No. I can’t. It’s their rights to do so, and it is a vital right to hold up preventing people who want to negatively influence, or unrightfully earn profits from other’s work. Also, I do not think that people who post these Let’s Play’s and other videos aren’t working hard or contributing to the overall community, but technically the law says they didn’t actually involve themselves in the creation of the content, and therefore can not just profit from it unless warranted by the creators.