Content Creation  Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Content Creation  RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network #Where'sTheFairUse, YouTube? Tue, 23 Feb 2016 04:20:13 -0500 Engela Snyman

As independent writers, critics and content creators we are consistently at risk every day of getting our work - and sometimes our livelihood - taken away from us. And this happens for one reason only: because people and companies are far more greedy than we give them credit for.

The Start of a Movement

For some time now there has been issues with the Fair Use policy on YouTube. In essence, most reviewers and content creators are protected under the Fair Use policy, and should be safe from most copyright strikes and claims.

In a recent video from Doug Walker (aka the Nostalgia Critic) he, and a few other YouTubers take a look at how broken the DMCA on YouTube really is. It explains in great detail how a strike can cripple your channel, take away your earnings, and get your channel taken down, with absolutely no repercussions for the person making the illegal claims.

Most of us have heard this song and dance before, it's really not news. But after YouTube re-introduced their 'Copyright bots' a few years ago - which is a system that automatically scans videos and checks for stolen content - the copyright system has been abused to death, with little to no real response from YouTube.

As such YouTubers are now banding together under the hashtag Where's The Fair Use? #WTFU?

It's a good question; especially since there is absolutely no penalty for people filing false copyright claims, despite possibly shutting a channel -- and a person's active income -- down.

Why was this copyright system instated?

After Google bought YouTube in 2006, Viacom immediately went to court and sued them for all the videos showcasing their content. The suit was dropped however when YouTube quoted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, (or DMCA) which, under law, protected all of their users. During this time, YouTube didn't accept any sort of gaming footage, just because games could infringe on copyright and perhaps hurt larger companies. Essentially, they didn't want the risk of getting sued.

However, they realized that their copyright bots, which were instated to protect companies, were beating their users into the dust. To alleviate this, they instated Networks, to be a sort of buffer between them and the companies. These Networks would take some (sometimes a lot) of your revenue, check your content, and support you in case someone hit you with a copyright strike. 

It worked well for a time, but then a few years ago YouTube got a bee up its little red bonnet and reinstated the copyright bot. This time, it affected only certain channels, and essentially made Networks moot. Since then the system has been abused to death.

The effects of abusing Fair Use

Jim Sterling and Total Biscuit are some of the more famous YouTubers to get their content removed due to unfair and illegal copyright strikes. And every day more and more gamers, critics, and YouTubers are getting the proverbial finger from companies and game developers.

Smaller channels seem to get the worst of it. Because they're not constantly in the public eye, they are far more easily flagged and bullied into oblivion by companies, and (sometimes) even by larger channels.

Another famous YouTuber called boogie2988 responded to Doug Walker's video, and added:

"If you are making [YouTube] a lot of money, then you get access to fair use,"

The more money you make, the easier it is to dominate smaller channels, and keep them under your proverbial heel. YouTube's current system enables larger channels and Networks to do just that. With still no repercussions to be seen.

He goes on to say:

"The current system, the way it affects me and 98% of other YouTubers, is hypocritical, it's one-sided, it favors the corporations, it favors top-tier YouTubers and it leaves the rest of us with our ass in the wind."

Amen, Boogie. But still, we're not seeing a lot of change. Most would blame YouTube, it clearly isn't doing its job. But in November 2015 they seemed to at least shuffle in a general direction of 'we're trying'.

They offered a protection program to a select few smaller YouTube channels, one of which is Jim Sterling from the JimQuisition. This program offers to pay for legal fees should the YouTuber receive an unfair strike, and the opposing party wishes to sue. The idea is promising, but it's a pity this is only being shared with very select few YouTubers. 

But the problem still remains; YouTubers are still being denied months of revenue because people can't or won't understand basic Fair Use policies.

But why are companies doing this?

Currently, there is a sickness in the entertainment industry to censor anything negative about a product, no matter what. And with YouTube's broken system it's easier than ever to do just that. For companies, it's a quick and easy way to censor bad reviews just long enough to hopefully boost sales. But it's also a sure-fire way to make a company pretty damn unpopular at the next E3.

There is an old saying 'there is no such thing as bad publicity' (with the way the companies are treating reviewers, you could have fooled me) but what these companies don't seem to get is this:

People will forgive a bad game, but they won't forgive a bad person.  

Essentially if you make a bad game and own up to it, most players will accept it and move on. If you make a big deal out of it, and act like an ass, we won't. We are still customers, and we expect to be treated as such. When someone tells you your restaurant's steak tastes like shit, you're not going to stab him with a fish-fork, you bring him a new damned steak. 

How do we fix it?

That is a bit of a harder nut to crack. In his video, Nostalgia Critic thinks that copyright strikes need to be handled differently. Give more power to the creator and less to the company, which will already give a leg up for most. But on a broader spectrum, the entertainment industry needs to change its overall attitude toward content, because right now the striker holds all the power.

Every single time a reviewer mentions a game, movie or book it should be a good thing for that creator. They need to respect the reviewer as much as they respect and love their creations, because reviewers often go through a lot of effort to not only talk about a movie or game, but do so in an entertaining and engaging way.

They are, in themselves, writers, directors, and designers. To censor them is hypocritical of many of these companies. These content creators defense should be YouTube, who doesn't really seem to care, or make a real effort of doing much of anything.

I Hate Everything, a YouTuber who recently had a run-in with the poor copyright system, had this to say:

"The most excruciating part was the lack of human interaction from anyone at YouTube. So it makes you feel pretty helpless, and pretty worthless. There was no one I could contact to fix a very, very simple problem,"

But right now a lot of channels on YouTube are standing up, all curious, all making videos, and all asking the same question:

Where's the fair use?

Tabletop Dungeons & Dragons Should Be Brought Back to the PC with 5th Edition Mon, 02 Mar 2015 08:29:28 -0500 Jessa Rittenhouse

In recent years, we've seen a lot of attempts to bring Dungeons & Dragons and other tabletop RPGs to modern PC gamers in the MMORPG format to varying levels of success (Dungeons & Dragons Online and the Neverwinter MMO being only two such examples), but each of these lacked the feel of a good old-fashioned tabletop campaign.

There's no replacing the sense of accomplishment at the end of a good player-driven story campaign with the pre-scripted quests common in MMOs. MMOs have their good points, but they often miss the point behind role-playing games. It's time to bring tabletop gaming back to the PC in a way that hasn't been seen since the Neverwinter Nights series.

Be anyone you want to be.

Where Our Journey Begins

In June of 2002, BioWare released Neverwinter Nights, a role-playing video game with single and multiplayer modes of play and utilized the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition core ruleset. This was not, in itself, new; BioWare had already breathed new life into the PC role-playing game genre with the release of Baldur's Gate in 1998.

What made Neverwinter Nights and its sequel, Neverwinter Nights 2 so special? It was the level of customization each of these titles allowed players with the toolsets bundled with the games. With the toolsets, players could create their own campaigns to play with friends - but it didn't have to stop there.

With the Aurora toolset, if you could dream it, you could (probably) do it.

Persistent Servers

Players could create and host servers with entire persistent worlds where they could meet other like-minded D&D players from around the world, and run stories in an on-going setting on a much larger scale than your typical tabletop group of four or five people.

Servers could be hosted with an entire staff of Dungeon Masters, with quests being run at any given point in the day or night. New content, including special classes and feats, could be made by players and implemented in their servers. People who had never even thought of trying Dungeons & Dragons before played Neverwinter Nights, and not only were they hooked on the PC game, but many branched out into playing the tabletop 3.5 edition. It was the perfect creative outlet for anyone with a story to share with the world.

Everyone's got a story to tell.

All Good Things...

Video game development is not a business that stands still. Each company is always looking to make a bigger, better game than their last - it's how these companies remain successful. So in time, BioWare stopped updating and patching the original game and its expansions; Gamespy, the multiplayer server browser where every Neverwinter Nights server could be found, was shut down in 2014.

While this may have been the end for some games, it was not to be for the then-12-year-old title. Years of server-building and modding of the game had made some unlikely software engineers out of the game's players, and the community came together to preserve the worlds they loved.

Though the player base has dwindled significantly, there are still thriving servers that persist today, with Gamespy's authentication system replaced by community-made authentication scripts. It may be over a decade old, but Neverwinter Nights has not yet breathed its last.

With Gamespy gone, the Neverwinter Nights community came together to make sure these servers and more didn't just vanish from the internet.

Why We Need a New Game

Technology marches on, and video-games are ever at the forefront of that march. A newer game can once more breathe new life into the role-playing game genre.

The Aurora toolset that came with the first Neverwinter Nights made content creators of the players, but newer games, while flashier than this classic, don't really give players this ability. That's a shame. The ingenuity shown by the Neverwinter Nights community is a shining example of what giving creative control to players can accomplish.

Why haven't developers stuck with this model? Simply put, there's more profit for companies in subscription-based MMOs and games that offer microtransaction systems. With games like Neverwinter Nights operating on a much smaller scale than the standard MMO (even the largest persistent Neverwinter Nights servers have a server capacity of no more than 96 players) and being completely free to play, there doesn't seem to be any profit in it beyond the initial sale of the game.

Open World of Solutions

There's a way around this, however. If a new game like this were released and made free-to-play, the toolset itself could be a separate, subscription-based program with consistent updates of new tools, textures and more - allowing those passionate about persistent-world creation to drive the profits of game publishers while still supporting a growing community of tabletop-to-PC roleplayers.

Tabletop RPGs are growing popular again, especially thanks to D&D 5th edition - and game developers should take advantage of this.

Not only would BioWare (or any developer willing to take up such a project) already have a devoted fan-base if they created this new game, they would attract all-new players as well. With the recent release of Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition rules, the tabletop franchise is experiencing a resurgence in popularity - and this could very well translate into new players for a game that operates with 5th edition's rule system.

Some might argue that this game is already in production; Sword Coast Legends is slated to release in the third quarter of this year. While SCL game does harken back to the glory days of Neverwinter Nights, and is certainly a step in the right direction, its limitations (primarily that it is only for small campaigns of 1-4 players) mean that it simply cannot replace the unique experience that Neverwinter Nights offers its fans. While more developed features may be added into Sword Coast Legends, in its current state, it's just not the game that many tabletop fans are going to want it to be.

If that game is ever made, it won't be quite like Neverwinter Nights or its sequel; the completely-free-to-play model just wouldn't work for developers and publishers today. Done well, though, it could make a subscription to a toolset worthwhile, and revitalize the online RPG community again without a massive MMO.