Nintendo Flexing Copyright Clout on YouTube Let’s Play Channels
Nintendo is reportedly issuing “content ID match” claims on Let’s Play videos featuring their game franchises, according to prolific YouTuber Zack Scott, who is currently playing Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon.
Scott noted that Nintendo made content ID matches against a number of his videos, thus preventing him from monetizing those videos on YouTube.
In a Facebook post, Scott wrote the following message as an open letter to Nintendo:
I just want to express my feelings on the matter of Nintendo claiming not just my YouTube videos, but from several LPers as well.
I’m a Nintendo fan. I waited in the cold overnight to get a Wii. I’m a 3DS ambassador. I got a Wii U at midnight when I already had one in the mail. I’ve been a Nintendo fan since the NES, and I’ve owned all of their systems.
With that said, I think filing claims against LPers is backwards. Video games aren’t like movies or TV. Each play-through is a unique audiovisual experience. When I see a film that someone else is also watching, I don’t need to see it again. When I see a game that someone else is playing, I want to play that game for myself! Sure, there may be some people who watch games rather than play them, but are those people even gamers?
My viewers watch my gameplay videos for three main reasons: 1. To hear my commentary/review. 2. To learn about the game and how to play certain parts. 3. To see how I handle and react to certain parts of the game.
Since I started my gaming channel, I’ve played a lot of games. I love Nintendo, so I’ve included their games in my line-up. But until their claims are straightened out, I won’t be playing their games. I won’t because it jeopardizes my channel’s copyright standing and the livelihood of all LPers.
So, What the Hell are Content ID Matches, Anyway? Note that content ID matches are different from ‘copyright strikes,’ which YouTube issues a channel after processing a verified request for the full removal of a video by the copyright owner. If a channel receives “three strikes,” YouTube suspends the channel and deletes all of its videos.
Content ID matches are less severe. When a publisher issues a content ID match against a video, it allows them to monetize that video with in-video ads, block it in certain countries, or even block it from playing worldwide. If a video is blocked worldwide as a result of a content ID match, the associated channel can lose its “good standing,” and as as result lose access to certain YouTube features.
Based on Nintendo’s statement to Game Front (below), it would appear they are not opting to block videos from playing outright, but rather monetize videos over a certain length with their own ads.
Scott is not alone in his complaints, which have since been echoed by a number of other YouTubers, as well as Thomas Was Alone creator Mike Bithell.
Nintendo issued Game Front the following statement:
As part of our on-going push to ensure Nintendo content is shared across social media channels in an appropriate and safe way, we became a YouTube partner and as such in February 2013 we registered our copyright content in the YouTube database. For most fan videos this will not result in any changes, however, for those videos featuring Nintendo-owned content, such as images or audio of a certain length, adverts will now appear at the beginning, next to or at the end of the clips. We continually want our fans to enjoy sharing Nintendo content on YouTube, and that is why, unlike other entertainment companies, we have chosen not to block people using our intellectual property.
I think Nintendo is shooting themselves in foot with this decision. Lets Play is no different than a fan tribute, a review, fan-fic, or a song cover. This is fan-interaction that gives Nintendo free publicity.
However to be directly confrontational with those same fans, and slapping on the wrist because they love your product; is just gonna drive away that fanbase.
Legally, they did nothing wrong. But they did make a huge mistake with the fans.