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Nintendo cracks down on fan-made videos
Nintendo cracks down on fan-made videos
May 16, 2013 | By Kris Ligman

May 16, 2013 | By Kris Ligman
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    16 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



Nintendo has begun to claim ad revenue for and apparently even shut down YouTube Let's Play videos showcasing its games, according to reports from users.

Gamasutra spoke to multiple affected parties, some of whom reported having their uploads outright removed.

"What seems to be happening so far is that Nintendo is trying to take down any recorded Nintendo games," says one source. "So far it's mostly been affecting bigger channels and mostly videos posted recently. The main problem is that no one seems to know why they're doing it or what their eventual goal is."

Nintendo addressed its recent actions in a statement obtained by Gamasutra, but the remarks contradict what some users are reporting:

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.

This sort of passive action has become something of a standard practice for media rights-owners to reassert ownership of intellectual property on YouTube without outright removing the content. But nowhere in Nintendo's statement does the company suggest that it is removing videos. In fact, it says quite the opposite.

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.

This was apparently not the experience of a number of uploaders. "As of now most YouTubers I know aren't willing to cover any Nintendo games," one writes to us. "YouTube and most networks are very strict with strikes so most of us don't want to risk it."

Whether by monetizing the videos -- therefore denying potential ad revenue to the YouTubers playing and recording their sessions -- or taking videos down entirely, the move is sure to sour some fans. Moreover, with the rise of Twitch.tv and other gameplay showcasing formats, Let's Plays, video walkthroughs and related content are growing into a significant way by which players engage with games. Let's Plays can also be a form of performance art, as seen with the recent exhibition in Chicago.

However, YouTube's monetization policy is fairly explicit when it comes to the exhibition of video game and software footage in user videos.

Without the appropriate license from the publisher, use of video game or software user interface must be minimal. Video game content may be monetized if the associated step-by-step commentary is strictly tied to the live action being shown and provides instructional or educational value.

Videos simply showing a user playing a videogame or the use of software for extended periods of time may not be accepted for monetization.

Regardless, for some Let's Players and other gameplay videographers, Nintendo's actions leave them worried and perplexed.

"We're moving into a console generation where at least one of the new consoles is supposed to have built in streaming," said one uploader. "During this same time Nintendo does something like this. They're basically denying themselves free publicity."

Updated: some minor word choice in the above article has been adjusted for clarification.

UPDATED (5/17/2013): We have followed up with sources quoted in this article and received some further clarification. It appears the video takedowns are not the result of action from Nintendo, but voluntary on the part of uploaders. Says one source:

The videos aren't actually taken down, they're just claimed by nintendo (sic). Meaning Nintendo monetizes and gets the add (sic) revenue from the videos. Most youtubers are actually taking down their own videos.


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Comments


Mega Zell
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More reason to not support them.

E Zachary Knight
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I do not like this move from Nintendo. These videos are not their creations in full. They are fair use creations of fans and Nintendo has no right to claim 100% of the proceeds from them. I do not believe that Nintendo has any right to any part of the proceeds. The Let's Players are the ones who created the videos, added commentary, criticism, critiquing and instruction on top of them. The Let' Players are the ones who chose the video segments, which order, which actions the character took etc. Not Nintendo. Nintendo did nothing but provide a canvas for them to work with. Nothing else. That canvas is worth nothing more than the cost of the game to the Let's Player.

For more in depth look at my views:

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/EZacharyKnight/20130516/192394/Wha
ts_All_This_About_Lets_Play_Videos.php

E Zachary Knight
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"If I make a video review of a movie or a podcast about an album it is clear, that I am not allowed to show/play any part I like in any length I want of the movie/album and if I plan to review a comic book online,"

That is not true. You can use enough of the original content as you need to make your point. The work simply has to be transformative enough to be fair use. I believe that a Let's Play is pretty transformative as it takes a game from one medium, the game, to another, a video. Along the way, commentary and other user created content is added.

As for comics, people scan and upload a number of pages of comic books all the time for review and commentary purposes. If you couldn't it would make it hard to fully review.

Granted, it is rare that you can use a work in its entirety and still be protected under fair use. It is possible, but it is the edge case. however, in the case of video games, there is no way that the entire work can be reproduced in a video as the actual game play portion does not translate.

Lars Doucet
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For what it's worth, we're building a list of game studios that *do* allow monetized Let's Plays over on this r/games reddit thread:

http://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/1egayn/lets_build_a_list_o
f_game_studios_that_allow/

With citations/links to permission statements, of course.

Lex Allen
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I went ahead and added my games to the list. Thanks for sharing.

Alexander Womack
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I know this sounds crazy, but I think the situation in these cases is bsckasswards- the videos are ads for the games, the company should be paying for the hits...not the other way around,

Freek Hoekstra
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never bite the hand that feeds you nintendo... all I can say...

Kevin Fishburne
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Nintendo's really in no position to be pissing off anyone at this point. A sad time; they're going the way of Sega.

Jonathon Green
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@Jeferson: Considering this is almost precisely what Sega did ... yes, they obviously are going the way of Sega.

Kevin Fishburne
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@Jeferson Soler

I didn't mean over this exclusively. The company lost money for the first time in its history lately. The underpowered Wii, while initially selling a shit-ton of units, ended its life cycle prematurely. The 3DS was a failure, and to date the Wii-U is a failure. Now they're stacking some pretty unappealing icing on top of that cake with this PR failure.

I don't like it at all, as I have a lot of love for Nintendo, but the writing's on the wall.

Kevin Fishburne
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@Christian Keichel

Well damn, man, I stand corrected. I hadn't checked the numbers obviously, but strangely all the 3DS articles I've read are about it struggling, poor sales, etc., so I developed the impression that it had failed. Either I missed the positive articles or have just learned there is a massive disconnect between stories the press picks up and reality. Or both. :)

Lex Allen
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It's really a dick move and shows how out of touch they are with consumers and social media. Showing let's play videos on youtube is not hurting them financially in anyway, and if they think they're going to make money showing ads on youtube, then they are undoubtedly living in la la land.

Jonathon Green
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Honestly, I don't blame money grubbing companies for being money grubbing companies - though obviously the entire thing is just morally bankrupt and of self detriment.

I blame Google and Youtube, a medium designed to allow for the distribution of public domain video, for not protecting the content producers itself produced and has made absolutely insane amounts of money off of. If anyone wants to talk about "riding coattails", they can get back on the short bus, big companies are not the only ones who own nice coats despite how hard they try to take them away from other people.

I blame legal institutions for allowing "fair use" policy to be stifled and caged by big companies, who are more afraid of losing out on the potential profit they can squeeze from their IPs, than they are about the wider environment which supports their industry.

This is truly the Modern world versus Medieval Feudalist corporate mindsets, where the big companies want to use monetising other peoples content as a stepping stone to sending everyone else back to the dark ages so they can play catch up with the digital and social age to make sure that they're back on top in whatever new era comes next - where the idea of having to pay these companies to publicly showcase what they've /already/ publically released is sanctum.

And the terrible thing is, is that current law and those who control it are stuck deep in the same dark places as big corporation so that every big fish will continue to eat small fish as a means to securing what they see as their domain - that which everyone else sees as public.

Games a medium need to be redefined by law, they are not books, they are not movies, and if they're close enough to being either then they're hardly games at all and should suffer the consequences of being mis-marketed and or poorly produced.

But unfortunately we live in a time where huge industries constantly press control over law with incessant lobbying and NO ONE is willing to outright stop them from exerting this control because they're too afraid of what might happen if these oppressive by design businesses cease to function. God forbid, little Jimmy doesn't get his next Mario 19 or Call of Duty 9.

The sooner we in the public domain drive these practices and thereby these companies into the ground via affirmative action the better our industry.

E Zachary Knight
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"I blame Google and Youtube, a medium designed to allow for the distribution of public domain video, for not protecting the content producers itself produced and has made absolutely insane amounts of money off of."

Google has its hands tied for the most part, thanks to the DMCA. The DMCA give a lot of muscle to content companies like Nintendo, very few protects for service companies like Google, and absolutely zero protections for the rest of us.

So direct your rage there.

Bruno Xavier
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AdBlock all day folks... AdBlock all day on...

Joel Bitar
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The only way this can makes sense is if nintendo are planning their own game-video network thing.
One could imagine that they've been looking at how Sony is building all this streaming/video sharing stuff into the PS4, and nintendo really likes that idea, but want to be able to manage and control the content much better.
And if they're able to remove revenue from users posting things on "alternative" channels, it might drive them to use official nintendo-channels instead. or something.
Dick move anyways.


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