Nintendo targets user YouTube videos

Nintendo claims monetisation rights on Let's Play videos, YouTubers respond

Nintendo has targeted fan-made YouTube videos featuring its content in an attempt to prevent their creators from earning any revenue.

That's the claim of Zack Scott, who is one of many YouTube users whose "Let's Play" videos have been issued with a "content ID match" claim by Nintendo. A "content ID match" claim is not as serious as an outright copyright infringement claim, but it does give Nintendo all monetisation rights on the videos, as well as power to block the content.

Nintendo issued a statement to Gamefront that indicates it has no plans to block content, only to use the videos as a platform for advertising. "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," the statement read.

However, with YouTube an increasingly legitimate way to make money, Nintendo's hard-line stance on its users' ability to do so could act as a strong deterrent. In a tweet, the indie developer Mike Bithell suggested that, without user-generated YouTube videos, his debut game Thomas Was Alone, would not have found an audience.

In a post on his Facebook page, Scott called Nintendo's stance "backwards," and emphasised that his videos are personal creations, popular due to his efforts and perspective rather than the game in particular.

"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.

"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."

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Latest comments (21)

Thomas Dolby Project Manager / Lead Programmer, Ai Solve9 years ago
On the surface of things this does indeed sound like a very backwards move with little understanding of social media. Let's Play videos are essentially free advertising for your game, and any attempt to directly monetise these videos to the detriment of their creators will just result in people not making videos of your games. I wonder if Nintendo really did much research into this before they started throwing these claims around.
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Caleb Hale Journalist 9 years ago
It'll be interesting to see how these gaming YouTube clips play out. Sony is sticking a button on its PlayStation 4 controller that lets you upload game clips to YouTube directly from the console, but I'm curious as to whether that luxury will also come with limits about a player's ability to make money off of them.

I agree it's good, free advertising to let people post clips of your game on YouTube (well, provided they aren't illustrating how broken it is). If a YouTuber can make a little extra money off doing it, I'd say that would give him/her the incentive to do it more often, leading to even more game exposure. Plus, the person is most likely to spend that extra money on more video games, so the cycle benefits the industry as a whole.
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Pablo Dopico Client Partner Console & MMO Gaming - EMEA, Facebook9 years ago
I think is a very complex subject, especially in the cases where the actual video creators have also contributed original content to those videos (oops, sorry for the double post).

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Pablo Dopico on 16th May 2013 2:58pm

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Show all comments (21)
Khash Firestorm Senior Programmer, MuHa Games9 years ago
My son prefers watching "play through" Rayman videos more than powerrangers or other tv series. He enjoy it and then he try to play the game passing the level with solutions he saw in the video. Nintendo have clinet (we have Wii U but still play old Rayman because new was suspended) and video makers have viewers. Those who put so much workt o make vide shoudl ern from adverts... and nintendo should be happy they have that type of comunity advertising their products in so proffesional way.

If they go and cut all of it they simply kills another line which keeps their consoles alive... i wonder why they do so poor decisions recently.
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David Radd Senior Editor, IndustryGamers9 years ago
This is an increasingly important form of entertainment for gamers, whether it's watching competitive matches or just watching some YouTube personality playing the latest indie game he heard about. It generates free advertising and good will; it's the reason why the PS4 has a "share" button and the next Xbox will likely have something similar. Right now, Nintendo needs more people playing their games and talking about them online and this isn't likely to help.
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Christopher Garratty Associate Counsel, Activision Blizzard9 years ago
Interesting how people here are saying that these videos are a hugely important way to reach consumers, and yet are surprised when Nintendo attempts to exercise some measure of control over such an apparently hugely important resource.

I've no idea what kind of revenue an LP would pull in. If it's significant across the entire spectrum of LP's I can't blame Ninty for going after it when their own revenue is not so hot.
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@Christopher Garratty Woods/trees.
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Doug McFarlane Co-Owner, KodeSource9 years ago
Umm . . . hey Nintendo . . . Youtube is making money off of your content!
Even if the uploader isn't.
To be completely fair, and legal, issue Youtube a "content ID match", for all "Let's Play" videos.
And then slowly slip into oblivion. Who makes these decisions?
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Christopher Garratty Associate Counsel, Activision Blizzard9 years ago
Your point <---

My head <----

This isn't Twitter Barry, you've got plenty of space to fully form and present your thoughts. Is it me that can't see the wood for the trees? The people expressing their surprise at Nintendo's actions? Or Nintendo themselves? In any case, could you expand on your point?
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Temi Web design 9 years ago
I am in (almost) full support of this. I once had my Youtube channel terminated partially because of one of these youtubers claiming copyright against it. The person made let's play videos and I made sure to communicate to him that what he did was stupid since his videos are borderline copyright infringement. That he could end up on the wrong end of something like this. Feel a bit vindicated that it is happening. I did get my channel back in good time but I learned something from that:

The youtubers are no better than these companies. They would do the same, that is how I see it. Users that complain about strict copyright laws would likely do the same if they were the ones in the position to do so, hence I really have no pity for them.

The videos are nice, but that they get to monetize themselves simply playing a game can be questioned. If this does become normal then all it will mean is that the let's play videos that do show up will be by people not doing it for money. There is also the alternative that nintendo pays a youtuber to create videos of their games for them, with their guidelines etc. That might be interesting and a start of youtube community relations where the developers show off more than the let's play creators can with just the boxed game. "youtube community manager"
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@Christopher Garratty. I suppose I mean that even in our industry not everything's about money and chasing it to the ends of the earth isn't automatically the wisest course. For instance it might lead you to doing something stupid like banning your fans access to youtube videos in some misguided attempt at protecting copyright. Woods/trees, nose/face etc.
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David Serrano Freelancer 9 years ago
This seems like this is another first sale doctrine issue the SOTUS will be forced to address. Players are not earning money by selling copies of the game in its entirety. They are earning money from sponsorships of videos of them playing , or attempting to instruct other players on how to play the commercial products they legally own. What Nintendo is doing is the equivalent of Adobe attempting to place a content ID match on every Photoshop tutorial and technique demo on YouTube.

But beyond the legal ambiguities... this is just ill-advised and poorly timed business on Nintendo's part.
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Alex Bunch Proof Reader, ZiCorp Studios9 years ago
This is from the same company that was fined millions for price fixing in the 90's and in the 80's threatened game stores if they dared stock opposing product. A hideous company masquerading under family entertainment.

These YouTubers aren't stealing copyrighted information, they are showing THEIR experience with the game, along usually with informative commentary. The fact it's a Nintendo game is secondary. Are we to have makers of footballs claim the rights over footage of schoolboy match clips? Maybe every car maker ought to get money if one of their cars passes in the background of a clip?

The sooner the Wii-U dies and hopefully tablets/phones kill off Nintendo for good the better in my opinion.
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Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus9 years ago
My take on this is that Nintendo does not care about the pennies that most LPs generate in advertising. This is a show of control over their IPs, with the added benefit of taking a swipe at fair use to boot. YouTube allows it, so frankly, they can do it.

It's also a superior option to what Sega did (basically, lift anything related to Shining Force or Phantasy Star), which generated a lot of negative PR. This is Nintendo's attempt to do a kinder, gentler form of coercion. This isn't about money, this is about exhibiting power.
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd9 years ago
It's interesting how almost every element of this story has been distorted in the version of events percolating through twitter and reddit. (I anticipate BoingBoing covering it totally inaccurately and one-sidedly soon, if they haven't done so already.)

Nintendo aren't taking anything down.

Recording gameplay of a current, high profile game and chatting over it absolutely is like pointing a camera at a TV or movie screen from a legal perspective. Nintendo have always been keener than most games publishers to uphold their IP rights. (Just as keen as Disney, Warner Bros. etc.)

The comparison to indie games is a faulty one. A video of a new, mainstream game being played through isn't primarily a discovery tool, it's an easy way to exploit something the video maker knows will be getting lots of traffic.

Professional sites aren't running afoul of this. A movie review in a newspaper is different from reprinting the entire script before it's out in cinemas in half of the world.

The monetisation aspect leaves a really bad taste in the mouth. This seems to me a lot like the 'justifications' that were being used to defend abandonware sites, or retailers aggressively pushing preowned games. Just because something can be done in a sensible, mutually beneficial way in some cases doesn't justify it being exploited.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 9 years ago
Compare the following two games which were released around the same time. "Love" by Quel Solar and "Minecraft" by Notch. Very similar games in many ways, but you probably never heard about one of them. Hint: it's the one without the massive Let's Play following and Youtube playlist of ingame oddities.

It does not matter, if Nintendo is right trying to ensure every penny earned off their IP ends up with them. Trying to stop people earning money playing games on Youtube is like trying to stop video game magazines in the 90ies writing about games. Sure you can do it, but don't expect to gain anything from it in the long term. There are a few game publishers who learned the hard lesson of Livestreams and Youtube mattering quite a bit more than they initially thought when they formulated their ambitions concerning the competitive online community.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 9 years ago
I have watched a lot of videos over the past three years for help in earning certain achievements on the 360 and some trophies on the PS3. I haven't needed them for any Wii games but that doesn't mean others don't. Hopefully Nintendo lets the videos stay as they are, provided the creators aren't making a ton of money off of them.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 17th May 2013 12:29am

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Richard stewart9 years ago
i have now learnt that people don't read youtubes tos which is the problem here
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Robert Tsao Game Designer, Bad Juju Games9 years ago
Nintendo is making headline after headline this week, but probably not for the reasons they'd hoped.
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Henrique Olifiers Gamer-In-Chief, Co-Founder, Bossa Studios9 years ago
This is very, very straightforward: videos containing Nintendo gameplay are free advertisement for Nintendo, who should be happy for it. Fans go through all the loops to create these videos, and in some cases broadcast them to a large audience of their channels. It's only fair such users make money out of the videos.

If Nintendo curbs this by keeping the revenues to themselves, what will happen is that some YouTubers with huge audiences, who rely on the income to keep their shows being produced, will simply avoid Nintendo games. Everybody loses: Nintendo misses on free press for their games, YouTube content makers miss on the revenue they need to keep their channels going.

Let me put this some other way: Would Nintendo charge Jonathan Ross or David Letterman for a feature on a game in their shows? Of course not, that would be 'good PR'. So why the hell do this to a YouTuber?
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Jamie Knight International Editor in Chief, Playnation9 years ago
yay! count on the EA guy to spot that some poor schmuck trying to entertain a few kids with his gameplay video's is a way to wring a few extra pennies out of the everyday gamer on the street.

if you guys are so interested in making a few extra shekels out of Lets Play video's then why not get some of your own 'talented' QA's to do them and take the entire paycheck? Why do you always have to be constantly on the look out for ways to dick over the average gamer?

I swear you guys are the very worst of everything in the videogame market. From ridiculous micro transactions to season passes and all.

Here's a tip for you, why not take the time out of your day to bother your ass to LOOK at some of the comments made by REAL gamers on some of these very games made by your company and see what they HATE and LOATHE about your companies exploitative business practices?

Oh, and here's another tip for you. Used games? Why not put the expense onto the RETAILER? Instead of punishing the gamer for having the sheer 'audacity' to want to recoup some of their hard earned cash after they beat your generic yearly dross in twenty minutes? ( maybe if you actually made a game with an interesting solo experience that lasts longer than it takes to boil an egg, or that doesn't look like every other game in its series with new hats, or "new super duper engine" that inexplicably makes everything look the same as the previous one, then maybe, MAYBE, people wouldn't want to sell them on would they? )

Why not include something into the barcode that logs every time its scanned and then you can charge the retail outlet at the end of each fiscal year ( I know that may not be a perfect solution, but that's just an example of trying to come up with something other than ripping off your customers by punishing them for buying a used game, or for not being able to afford a game on,launch day ( and lets face it, 50 a pop? for some of the rubbish on the shelves at the moment? They have a right to be disappointed ) Another one is charging them for content already on the disc, in the game or making them pay twice for a game before they can actually play it online? Something I still think is a legal grey area as it clearly states on the box that it has a multiplayer mode, although what it doesn't say is that you can't play it unless you pay EA another 40 for an season pass or another 15 if you didn't buy the game new )

This milking the gamer has to stop.

I shudder to think where it will lead in the future as the developers and publishers push ever harder for the lack of physical media and in trying to make this a DD only world ( Meanwhile at the EA monthly meeting...." how about we only stream their games to them? that way if the community numbers are crap we can just switch of the servers at any time and save a heap of cash? " +applause, whoops and cheers+ )

Tell you what 'Mr Corporate Greed'. Here's one for you, seeing as you are siding with Nintendo as they try to tax a few pennies from Youtube gamers, How about you get EA to do the same? Make it so that NO-ONE can publish ANY video footage, montages, playthroughs, commentaries or walkthroughs without them having to sign over part ( or all, even better, hey? ), of their monetization to you?

( lets face it, you have already done this to the vast majority of smaller indie websites and publications by refusing to issue them with trailers and only offering a link to your own Youtube channel so you can rake in that Google money....KERCHING! )

Then watch as the legions of viewers and the armies of Youtube video makers ( you know, the ones who can actually PLAY your games and make them look good? ), go across to PES for the football, 2K for every other sport and....wait for it....

CALL OF DUTY for their FPS fix!! ( oh the Humanity!!! The HORROR! )

Hey, wouldn't that do FIFA 329 and Medalfield of Battlehonour 56 the power of good?

Pssssssh! you people have no sense of reality. Keep charging gamers for every stupid thing and watch them drop your games like a Dead Space 3 micro transaction ( how did that work out for you by the way? )

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jamie Knight on 19th May 2013 5:40pm

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