Over the last five years, online video streaming has changed a lot about how players find and share videogames, making such an impact on the games industry that Sony has announced it will be adding a dedicated “share” button to its upcoming DualShock 4 controller to make it easier for players to share game footage online.
Unfortunately, it seems that Nintendo is going down quite a different path, with several YouTubers recently reporting much of their Nintendo-related content tagged with a Content ID match.
So, what is a Content ID match, and how is this going to affect those in the games industry who make a living from Nintendo-related content? We reached out to Josh Jepson, a Nintendo-focused YouTuber with more than 100,000 subscribers, to find out.
Josh: When a Youtube video gets Content-ID matched, the ad revenue earned from the video goes to the company that owns the copyright. Now, the issue here is, gameplay videos have always been a grey area in terms of copyright. It’s not considered fair use and any game company can say “hey, you can’t do that” and start sapping that video for ad revenue.
Nintendo does have the legal right to its copyrighted content, of course. From a purely legal perspective, Nintendo needs to protect their copyright to a degree and could run around sending cease-and-desist letters to children who draw fan art of Link if they liked. As you may have guessed, however, no game company actually does that because it would be terrible PR and would alienate their most dedicated supporters. The same supporters who, if left to their own devices, would love to spend their free time promoting Nintendo’s game library.
With that in mind, it seems strange to target YouTube’s Nintendo-loving content creators, who when combined promote Nintendo’s work to hundreds of thousands of people a day. Especially when, as Josh reveals, it means that these content creators are forced to promote only non-Nintendo games if they wish to maintain their livelihood.
Josh: It definitely could cripple my channel and many others in the near future. By doing this, Nintendo is basically telling some of its biggest fans that it doesn’t want them to support Nintendo anymore. Sure this doesn’t go for every person who uploads Nintendo content to Youtube, most will likely not be affected. But those that do get affected are some of the biggest supporters of Nintendo games. The people that convince tens of thousands that Nintendo makes games that are fun to play.
With Nintendo’s main competitors such as Sony going out of their way to provide people with easy access to player-made online content in the next console cycle, we can only hope that Nintendo can come to an agreement with its online fans that will work out for both parties involved.
In response to criticism of its new policy, Nintendo issued this official statement to Gamefront on the matter:
As part of our on-going push to ensure Nintendo content is shared across social media channels in an appropriate and safe way, we became a YouTube partner and as such in February 2013 we registered our copyright content in the YouTube database. For most fan videos this will not result in any changes, however, for those videos featuring Nintendo-owned content, such as images or audio of a certain length, adverts will now appear at the beginning, next to or at the end of the clips. We continually want our fans to enjoy sharing Nintendo content on YouTube, and that is why, unlike other entertainment companies, we have chosen not to block people using our intellectual property.
Edit: To clear up some discussion regarding Content ID, most Let’s Players and others that use game footage are licensed to put ads on their videos through companies such as TGS and Machinima, which handle the legal issues. This is not an issue of Nintendo suddenly noticing LPers (they’ve worked officially with them in the past) but of Nintendo changing their policy.