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Here’s Where Publishers Stand On YouTube Monetization And Copyright Right Now

by Mike Futter on Dec 13, 2013 at 10:53 AM

Following this week’s YouTube copyright catastrophe, we reached out to a number of publishers to find out where they stand on the matter. We were able to reach a number of publishers, and have also compiled public statements from others.

YouTube videos have been growing in popularity, especially with regard to Let’s Play content, for a number of years. What you’ll see in the list below is that many publishers haven’t codified their position.

For a more in-depth look at fair use, you can read an opinion piece we published. You’ve probably heard that term, but it’s important to understand what it means.

2K Games
Declined to comment

Unable to be reached for comment

Atlus USA representatives tell us that with regard to upcoming thriller Daylight, Atlus is "vehemently pro-YouTuber and encourage[s] all kinds of user videos." No blanket policy is in place for the rest of the publisher's catalog, and should YouTube users have concern about copyright claims, they should contact Atlus public relations at atluspr[at]atlus[dot]com.

We've inquired about the publisher's policy. 

The house of Warcraft tweeted out some good news for those YouTube users caught in the wave of copyright claims. 

The same tweet also went out from the official Diablo Twitter account (@Diablo).

Capcom is offering to help users clear false claims. The publisher tweeted out two things in support of YouTube monetization.

Capybara Games
Capy has a page on its site that explicitly grants permission for Let's Play, critique, and other monetized videos. Capy asks for a link back to its own site and other stores selling the game. For the full permission statement, visit the developer's website

Deep Silver
Earlier this week, Deep Silver issued an extensive statement on the subject of YouTube monetization. The publisher supports that community, and we spoke with director of marketing and public relations Aubrey Norris about the company’s approach to YouTube.

Devolver Digital
Earlier this year, Devolver Digital created a new website to answer the question of whether YouTube monetization of its games is acceptable. In short, the answer is yes.

Unable to be reached for comment

Hi-Rez Studios
The Smite studio has issued a statement on YouTube streaming and monetization. "We support and encourage you, as an individual content creator, to create videos using our game content AND monetize those videos as you wish," the developer writes. Additionally, it has offered to provide written backup to any streamer that finds their videos improperly claimed.

Interceptor Entertainment
Interceptor, developer of the Rise of the Triad reboot and publisher of Duke Nukem classic re-releases, is showing its understanding of public domain. Uncle Sam says it's ok to upload and monetize videos of the studio's games. 

Directed our inquiry to YouTube

Earlier this year, Nintendo starting issuing claims on YouTube videos featuring its games. On May 16, 2013, Nintendo issued this comment to Game Informer.

"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."

If you want to do Let’s Play videos of Nintendo games, you’ll likely be able to post them. Just don’t expect to make any money from the effort.

Some readers have suggested that Nintendo has quietly softened its policy. Until the publisher makes a formal statement about new rules, we must report their most recent, on-record statement on YouTube monetization. On-record comment trumps anecdote.

Oddworld Inhabitants
The studio behind Abe, Munch, and Stranger has come down definitively on the side of YouTubers. The developer not only allows, but supports the creation of YouTube videos, including Let's Play content.

"So as we’ll continue to push our content through our own YouTube channel, we have no plans to issue copyright claims to others," the developer writes. If you've been on the receiving end of an illegitimate claim, contest it and contact Oddworld here.

Riot Games
Riot has affirmed its commitment to the YouTube community via Twitter.

Robot Entertainment
"You may upload review and walkthrough ("Let's Play") style videos of Robot Entertainment's games, and may monetize (place ads on/next to) the videos," the developer of Orcs Must Die and Hero Academy writes on its website.  

We've inquired about the publisher's policy.

Unable to be reached for comment

Square Enix
A Square Enix representative told us that the publisher’s policy is different from game to game. We were given two examples. 

Square Enix’s policy posted on the Tomb Raider website prohibits commercial use, but allows monetization of videos through partner sites like YouTube, Twitch, and Ustream. The rules include some complexity regarding spoilers in relation to a game’s release, attribution, and music. 

The short version is that for games coming out of Square Enix’s western studios, you shouldn’t run into problems on YouTube. However, things are handled differently out of Japan.

The second policy we received is related to Final Fantasy XIV. Again, monetization via YouTube and other similar services is permitted. The specifics are slightly different. 

With regard to Square Enix, your best bet is to check the game’s website. Don’t assume that because one title is allowed that others will be.

When Nintendo registered itself with YouTube’s content database and began claiming monetization rights on videos featuring its games, some other publishers began to speak up. Ubisoft was one that made clear its rules around YouTube videos.

Ubisoft’s rules allow monetization of videos on YouTube and similar services. The rest of the rules are explicitly detailed and should be easy enough to follow:

  • Do not take assets from our games (e.g. voice, music, items) and distribute them separately.
  • Unless approved by us, the use of our content in videos must be non-commercial.
  • Do not charge users to view or access your videos.
  • Do not sell or license your videos to others for a payment of any kind.
  • Behave like a decent human being. Absolutely no racist, sexist, homophobic, or offensive content.
  • Please keep your videos focused on our games, and away from overtly controversial topics.

Furthermore, Ubisoft has addressed the issue of claims issued by IDOL, a music agency. Ubisoft works with IDOL and is currently in the process of clearing all incorrect claims.

Warner Bros. Interactive
We've inquired about the publisher's policy.

Following this week’s activity, Valve also took the opportunity to clearly detail its policy. Of course, the existence of the Source Film Maker sends a pretty clear message. Still, the publisher has taken the opportunity to make its intentions known.

Valve allows monetization on YouTube through the partner program. Just don’t ask the company to write an individual letter to YouTube granting you permission. Just point the service toward this page on the Valve website.

We'll be updating this list should publishers get back to us or update their policies.