Lawyer Warns Game Developers Against Allowing YouTube Let's Plays

A copyright lawyer chimes in on the Youtube copyright war going on, advising companies allowing youtubers to post videos of their games might set a precedent preventing them from exerting control later.

The ongoing copyright war over gaming videos uploaded to YouTube is starting to get attention even outside the limits of game-specific circles.  The digital struggle has apparently reached the ears of, at least, the legal circles specializing in copyright law.  Kim Walker, a partner in the Thomas Eggar law firm, has decided to comment on the matter.

Posting video clips without the copyright owners’ permission is copyright infringement... In allowing gamers to promote themselves with footage informally, and by announcing this to the press, developers may be waiving their right to take action for infringement against these or other You-tubers if the content is used in a way they don’t like, unless they have clearly reserved their rights.

The quote has an obvious concern for the rights of copyright holders, but also points to a potential problem few seem to be discussing: precedent.  The situation is largely unprecedented, at least in terms of scale and the degree to which some make money and/or use clips of technically copyrighted content.

I imagine the business of copyright law is going to be paying extremely close attention to how this situation with YouTube turns out.  One way or the other, it will have long-reaching ramifications.

Published Dec. 16th 2013
  • Germ_the_Nobody
    meh It's basically telling the game developers they can't sue people if they continue telling gamers to use their content. I think if the developers are telling gamers to use the content then they don't have any plans to sue over it.
  • Wokendreamer
    Featured Columnist
    It's a quote from a copyright lawyer, whose livelihood is basically made by having larger companies who want to sue people for copyright infringement. Even aside from the obvious differences in intent, it is clearly in her best interest for companies to be harsh, since such will require regular enforcement.

    I think you're right, though. It seems unlikely most gaming companies wouldn't have their legal departments explaining this to them before publicly offering to let people use their games in the first place.
  • Ryan Kerns
    Featured Columnist
    from what I've gathered from the latest articles on this subject... the source of many of these content ID claims are music companies. If a label represents an artist that did music for a game... they are flagging it for copyrights. Polygon named 2 of them specifically today... but their names slip my mind at the moment.
  • Wokendreamer
    Featured Columnist
    IndMusic and Tunecore are the main culprits. It gets especially dicey because they are even applying their copyright claims against videos posted by the original creators of the songs they helped distribute, such as indie game devs Mike Bithell and Terry Cavanagh.
  • Rothalack
    Master O' Bugs
    I still have hope though. The indie crowd is thrilled to see their game on YouTube and they know it provides a free marketing angle. I understand the concerns of stock holders of the huge companies. I just don't think they realize how necessary it has become for us on the customer end. If things really get as bad as we are fearing, the indie crowd will keep the gaming YouTube/Twitch idea alive. Hopefully one day prove to the AAA's that they have to let us do it for the good of the industry.
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    What a mess. We were bound to have issue with rights to content at some point. Just didn't think YouTube wpuldve been the straw on the camels back.
  • Ashley Gill
    Associate Editor
    The games industry really needs more smoke and mirrors to cover the lack of quality in your standard AAA title, doesn't it? Yeah, it definitely does.
  • Ryan Kerns
    Featured Columnist
    keep in mind this only effects paid youtubers... people like myself who don't monetize their videos are still free to record and post anything we want.
  • JohnHeatz
    Featured Correspondent
    unfortunately, YouTube doesn't care whether if you monetize your videos or not. I've gotten most of my -very few- videos flagged (I don't monetize anything, I barely upload videos!), while other people having the exact same videos didn't get anything there...
  • Ryan Kerns
    Featured Columnist
    yeah that's funny... I haven't been flagged and I have some videos with over 15,000 views... guess I'm just one of the lucky ones then.

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