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Nintendo Opts To Earn YouTube Ad Revenue On Videos Featuring Its Games

by Mike Futter on May 16, 2013 at 02:48 AM

Over the past 12 hours, the internet has been abuzz of news that Nintendo has started exerting claims on user generated YouTube videos featuring its properties. The news comes via YouTube user Zack Scott Games who states,

I am a gamer/LPer at, and I can confirm that Nintendo is now claiming ownership of gameplay videos. This action is done via YouTube's Content ID system, and it causes an affected video's advertising revenue to go to Nintendo rather than the video creator. As of now, they have only gone after my most recent Super Mario 3D Land videos, but a few other popular YouTubers have experienced this as well.

Scott also posted his thoughts on his Facebook page.

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.

This was confirmed to GameFront by Nintendo in a statement. Nintendo became a YouTube content partner in February of this year and is taking advantage of YouTube's ContentID program, which automatically matches video and audio against a database of copyrighted material.

Whether Let's Play videos are derivative works and therefore subject to different consideration under the law is irrelevant in this case. (Derivative works are those that primarily use a copyrighted piece, but are an original work of authorship through modification or annotation. In this case, the commentary provided by the filmmaker might be consider annotation.) Nintendo is using YouTube policies to exert its claim, and those are not directly correlated to United States copyright law. It also bears mentioning that Nintendo could opt to fully block these videos under YouTube policies.

The issue then isn't whether Nintendo can do this, but whether it should. The backlash has been significant, and there are many voices on social media that feel Nintendo's action is alienating and discouraging. Whether that will translate into fewer Nintendo games showcased in Let's Play videos remains to be seen. Right now, all we can say is that this hasn't been the best public relations moment for the company.

Update: Nintendo has supplied Game Informer with a 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.

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[via Reddit]