Indie Developers Hit By YouTube Copyright Claims of Their Own Games

Several indie game devs have had copyright claims made against videos they've uploaded of their own games.

This is not something anyone can make up; it sounds too stupid and greedy to be done by people.  Several game indie game developers, such as Mike Bithell of Thomas Was Alone and Terry Cavanagh of VVVVVV, have received copyright claims on several of the videos they have uploaded to YouTube, featuring their own games.

The claims are coming, as with many of these YouTube copyright claims, from companies with seemingly no connection to the games at all.  Indmusic and Tunecore seem to be the primary culprits, making their claims based upon some of the music in these games.  As of writing, neither company has seen fit to make any comment on the situation.

The developers involved are understandably livid about the situation, with a few obvious questions being raised.  How does a company, even one that legitimately owns the rights to the music of a game, have the right to take monetization rights away from the creator of the game itself?  I could understand preventing monetization altogether, but monetizing the videos themselves?

If anyone has the precise legal understanding to explain how a music copyright can override the actual creator of a piece of content, please explain in the comments below.  This sounds like everything wrong with copyright law.

Featured Columnist

Writer, gamer, and generally hopeful beneath a veneer of cynicism.

Published Dec. 18th 2013
  • Amanda Wallace
    Former Staff Editor
    Indmusic reported that these claims were happening automatically due to a Content ID system that is being integrated by Youtube/Google. It's rather silly, but it's happened a few times with things like the Witness (where Sony would also license the music, and then that music would be identified as belonging to Sony by the system, and then Jonathan Blows' video would be flagged as a copyright violation)
    Youtube is essentially a public broadcast, one can not legally broadcast any peice of copyrighted music without the owners permission, ie broadcasting rights. So the music owners are well within their right provided they own the music.
  • Wokendreamer
    Featured Columnist
    If it was not technically legal it wouldn't be such a big issue. The point is that it is a legality that has not been an issue before now, and a lot of people have been basing their livelihoods on the fact that it wasn't.

    On top of that, there's no real reason for them to -make- an issue of it now except pure short-term greed. They'll make money off the videos they seize control of, but no one is going to make any more so that money will taper off and now they also won't get the free advertising.
    I'm not arguing whether what they are doing is morally wrong or right, or saying that I agree. How ever one can not blame youtube entirely, as it is as a result of pressure from copyright owners who rely on being paid for the use of their music for their livelihood, that youtube is continually updating and enforcing their copyrights.

    The right thing for the indi devs to have done, would have been to have gotten the permission from the copyright owners, either at a price or an agreement of sorts, ie, exchange of trade or acknowledgement, before using the music. They would then have no problems like they do currently with regards to this. Sure they may not be able to reach such agreements with big names in music, but then compromise and use music from another indie music group who would be more than willing to compromise.

    It may be petty, or viewed as stupid what youtube has done, but that won't change what is being done, so instead the affected parties should get to know the law regarding the matter and work around it.

New Cache - article_comments_article_10843