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Paradox Interactive and Deep Silver Weigh In On YouTube Copyright Claims

YouTube has turned its guns on game-related content yet again, and this time the publishers are stepping up to back those YouTubers against automated copyright claims.

The grandaddy of all user-generated video content has got his ginger up and is currently rampaging after the kids running around on his lawn. YouTube is once again taking a stand against an interesting segment of the entertainment industry which has sprung up around one single, undeniable truth: sometimes it's more fun to watch someone else play a video game than it is to play it yourself.

While YouTube has split the community before over its distinctions on what videos may be monetized and by whom, a wide-scale scattershot approach like this against gaming has never been implemented in quite this way.

What's going on?

To keep things simple, every video whose content ID is flagged as being part of YouTube's database of "copyrighted works" (mostly music, trailers, and cutscenes) supposedly owned by other companies is immediately issued an automatic copyright notice. This, regardless of whether or not they are Let's Plays, game reviews, or video podcasts where discussing and playing the game is very much a part of creating a legitimate new piece of work. 

Perhaps this sort of thing was bound to happen sooner or later - the industry continues to change while copyright laws remain largely static, continuing to grow more and more outdated. The question is, what will happen now?

Perhaps this sort of thing was bound to happen sooner or later - the industry continues to change while copyright laws remain largely static, continuing to grow more and more outdated. The question is, what will happen now?

This large-scale copyright flagging appears to be affecting mainly videos with content from triple-A titles and big-name publishers. Thankfully, these are automated copyright claims and separate from the automated copyright strikes that are part of YouTube's 'three-strike' system which can lead to large-scale channel ban and deletion. 

On the whole, this has been something that has been bubbling under the surface for over six months now; a horrible rumor that most people hoped would never actually turn out to be true. And while it is affecting everyone, including some very strong, well-respected YouTube channels and networks, it appears to be something that YouTube has come up with on its own, without a call to action from any particular publisher. (This time, at least. I still remember, Nintendo.)

What are the publishers doing?

For the most part, most publishers are on our side, not YouTube's.

It is a baby industry, true, but that doesn't mean many publishers don't understand, positive or negative, when people are playing, reviewing, and otherwise putting those titles out there, it keeps them in other players' top of mind.

One can also argue that the incredible backlash that Nintendo experienced when it tried to blanket copyright claim against any and all YouTubers that used Nintendo game footage (e.g. TotalBiscuit's 2 hour video podcast containing perhaps a minute of Pokemon trailer footage) may have taught the others a valuable lesson already.

Paradox Interactive

Paradox Interactive, publisher of Magicka, the Europa Universalis series, the King Arthur series, and more, was one of the first to step up to try and help. Community Manager BjörnB posted this to Paradox Interactive's news page yesterday:

Hi! Since Youtube made some changes last night that seems to have affected some of the people who create Let’s Plays, we’d like to remind you about this thread that BjörnB made some time ago! If you run in to issues with Youtube, please use the attached legal document!

Original post:
Hello!

We have understood that many of you are having videos containing material from our games removed from Youtube because you need written consent from us.
Our legal department composed a letter which hopefully will be enough for Youtube, so feel free to use it
(see attachment in this post: http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/…ctive-material).

Please let us know if Youtube accepts it, or if we need to do something else.

Best Regards
Björn

You can download the letter from the link above. The publisher urges you to contest the copyright claim using the letter to back your case with. 

Deep Silver

Deep Silver, publisher of Saints Row 4, Risen, Sacred, and more, has always been popular for their friendly and accepting attitude towards Let's Plays and other uses of their content on YouTube, the publisher address other third parties that are claiming Content ID on publications that Deep Silver actually owns.

We have been working with YouTube to resolve various issues that have plagued the YouTube gaming community this week, as soon as we learned about what was going on.

It seems other companies like THQ, the original owner of big-name franchises like Saints Row, a certain YouTube channel named "4GamerMovie", and music companies involved with Metro, Saints Row, and Dead Island, are also trying to claim content that is now owned by Deep Silver.

For such properties, Deep Silver urges that you contact them via Twitter (@DeepSilver). The full post that Deep Silver links to on Twitter goes on to urge YouTubers to contest the claims, standing by them and their rights to using Deep Silver content in their videos.

Deep Silver has no intention of preventing players, who like to create gaming content on YouTube using our games, from doing so. Nor do we seek to block any videos of the kind. This includes Let’s Play, Walkthrough, Review, or other edited or commentated videos that are monetized by a player. Whether your opinion of our games is positive or negative in your YouTube video, it is not our right as a games publisher to infringe on your basic right to voice your opinion freely using a public platform.

Gaming giants Blizzard and Activision look like they are also taking similar steps to help keep gaming videos with their games in it in the hands of the players and their respective YouTube channels.

What now?

Perhaps this sort of thing was bound to happen sooner or later - the industry continues to change while copyright laws remain largely static, continuing to grow more and more outdated. The question is, what will happen now?

Will this lead to a growing tide of prominence in indie titles, which (for the large part) do not enforce silly laws like this on YouTube? After all, many viewers watch gaming YouTube viewers for the personality playing them, not just out of interest in the particular title. Will this simply mean jumping ship to entirely different platform, one that publishers are not able to police quite as easily?

One thing's for sure... the entire industry is not simply going to go away. It is only a question of how it will adapt.

Published Dec. 12th 2013
  • Miranda Kirk
    Featured Columnist
    I don't think that Youtube is going anywhere soon, I just think that people are going to adjust to these new restrictions. Youtube has hit a rough patch with just recently making people have a google+ account to comment, that caused an uproar too. However, I do think youtube should be careful or some people might start abandoning the platform like you suggested might happen.
  • Stephanie Tang
    Featured Columnist
    I would have liked the google+ integration if it had been implemented well. It hasn't. And it's rather upsetting to me to see more and more of my favorite channels turning off YouTube comments because of it.

    And yeah, maybe you're right and YouTube isn't going anywhere soon. But that will rely solely on how they continue to adapt, not on how they did before. The situation is always fluid. Once upon a time we had LiveJournal, Xanga, Myspace, MSN. The years haven't passed that quickly.
  • Ryan Kerns
    Featured Columnist
    Valve has taken a similar stance along with Naughty Dog and several others. This seems to be mostly instigated by Youtube... glad I don't monetize my videos so this hasn't affected me in the least.
  • Stephanie Tang
    Featured Columnist
    Yes, and I'm glad that they are.

    I don't have many videos, and I am not a YouTube personality in the least. My videos are in no danger of ever becoming monetized.

    But if they did, it would be because I put a lot of time, effort, and genuine work into them. If they are going to be monetized, it would be because I made them worth monetizing, and I would want to be paid for it.

    I don't know, I find it extremely frustrating that YouTube, which is one of the founding fathers of the user-generated content boom is now trying so hard to ignore the effects of it, and trying to rein it all in with policies that don't work and are simply wasting everyone's time.
  • Germaximus
    Correspondent
    I have never found it more fun to watch someone else play. Every single time I watch any gameplay I usually just want to go play myself. The only time I really sit and watch somebody play is if I'm too busy with other things to play my own games, or if I'm trying to win a contest. =p

    I think it's cool that developers are helping people keep their Youtube content alive.

    I don't think the copyright laws are outdated. I think this Youtube generation takes their position for granted and they need a real hard slap to the face.
  • Stephanie Tang
    Featured Columnist
    You clearly have not been subscribing to the right channels! A lot of people watch gameplay videos (regardless of what game they're playing) because they like the YouTube personality playing it and commentating as they do it. I have a soft spot for TotalBiscuit and Nerd Cubed, and I don't care whether or not they're playing a game I would personally play or not.

    Current copyright laws don't take into account an interactive medium like video games, and the unique position this places gamers and reviewers. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is already one amendment the US has had to make, and even that doesn't cover everything. The laws are outdated.

    Also, for the most part, many of the people being affected are those with monetized videos but who aren't network managed. That means they are generating content of their own, but are not allowed to keep the money due them (YouTube gets their cut regardless). Most of these videos are not violating anyone's copyright at all, and in fact all of it is quite legal under "fair use". YouTube is simply automating a process that no one needs, or wants, even the developers and the publishers. It doesn't care about "fair use" because that would require a more fine-tuned, situational sort of decision-making, and YouTube can't be arsed.

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