As discussed in my article discussing ATLUS forbidding streamers and reviewers from streaming past a certain portion of the game which would result in copy right strikes or channel suspensions, you can read about it in detail here.
However, it isn’t just ATLUS how is ass backwards on this. Nintendo, Capcom, Konami, and now Sega are all video game companies (and all Japanese) that are quick to copyright claim videos on YouTube and Twitch. It doesn’t matter how big or small your channel is they’ll find you, in fact some of our videos have been claimed by Capcom, Nintendo, and Konami.
So what’s the deal with this? Why do some companies claim videos when others, like say Blizzard or Ubi Soft seem to encourage it?
Well that’s a tricky question, Fair Use and Copyright Law are sticky wickets and are written in a way to be interpreted. Some would say streaming a game while doing a voice over adding original content (or in our case have us actually on screen and using the game as background for our podcast) is creating new content and the game falls under fair use, where some companies, who issue claims or strikes disagree and believe you are in violation of their copyright. The biggest problem is that there has never been a massive legal case over this since “Let’s Plays” and Streamers are fairly new, and many don’t have the money to challenge these companies in court. Many civil rulings such as this are up to interpretation and usually courts will side with previous landmark rulings which there has been zero. Right now, all we have to go on is that if you stream a copyrighted movie and comment over it you better believe the studio will issue a claim against you, may even take you to court which they’re win, because that has been done before, so until there is a court ruling in the favor of a streamer then gaming companies are well with in their rights to lay claim to your video. But should they?
Here is the thing about streaming a movie, it’s a singular experience, sure a movie can be interpreted many different ways but they way we enjoy that movie is the same, we watch something for 90 minutes, however, games are different. Sure story based games can be straight forward, though many have branching paths and multiple endings, but even games where there is one ending and you go from point A to point B can be enjoyed many different ways. You can just play the game, which is what many people do, or you speed run it, something made very popular by streamers, or you can be a completionist where you try and earn or do everything you can possibly do in the game. These are just three examples of many ways to play a game, so even watching a streamer play you could be getting a completely different experience when you play from what you’re viewing.
For example, after I beat The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, one of my favorite YouTubers, Bruce Greene of Fun Haus, coincidentally began streaming the game. Since I had played a ton of the game and uncovered all the main story arches I didn’t worry about spoilers so I just sat back and watched him play from the beginning. With an open world game like Zelda I figured our games would be different but I didn’t realize how vastly different they would be, it was really enjoyable to see how Bruce tackled the same problems I had encountered in the game and how it led him on a different path than myself. Soon this became a nightly ritual where I’d put my son to bed, pour a glass of scotch, fire up the Switch to play BoTW and watch Bruce’s stream, it was relaxing to say the least.
During Bruce’s streams fans donate money because Nintendo claims any revenue generated by ads on the stream, but in a sense a gaming company claiming revenue or striking videos almost seems insane since Let’s Players and Streamers are basically giving free advertising for games. For example, I was watching Jim Sterlling’s first impression of the PS4 exclusive Nioh (keeping in mind this wasn’t a review) and within ten minutes of watching the stream I was sold and literally went out and bought the game. In fact Twitch (who is owned by Amazon) is going to allow viewers to purchase games they’re watching instantly.
Also, as streamers we’ve experienced instances where people have watched out streams and told us that they dug the game we were playing and bought it. When we do this we don’t expect anything from a gaming company, we just like playing games and we enjoy sharing the fun we’re having, and that’s what all streamers do, we do it for two reasons, views and sharing our enjoyment, you can tell when streamers are having legitimate fun while doing this, like for instance, our Mario Maker videos, we were having a blast playing them and we like the comments we’ve received from the fans on them. So in the end it’s a mixed bag. Yes you’re using copyrighted material, but you’re adding a lot to that and in a lot of ways you’re selling a game for a company and they’re not paying you a dime (and in some instance they’re taking away money from you) to do it.
What are you thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments below.