If you are an avid gamer who scopes out “Let’s Play” videos on Youtube before you purchase, you might need to rethink your research strategy. In the past few weeks of early December, Youtube has begun flagging these videos for copyright infringement.
“Let’s Play” videos typically are videos that show the game being played along with side commentary to either help make decisions about buying the game, show the new and improved graphics, to get tips, or to get cheats. Video games in general use copyrighted material such as music that they must obtain a license to use. When the “let’s play” videos are created, they too are using the copyrighted material – without the license.
According to a Youtube spokes person, “We recently enabled Content ID scanning on channels identified as affiliates of MCN’s (Multi Channel Networks)… This has resulted in new copyright claims for some users, based on policies set by the relevant content owners.”
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Content ID, this system is used to easily identify and manage the content submitted to uploading by scanning the file versus a database of files submitted by the owners. When Content ID identifies a match, it chooses the policy that is set by the owner of either: monetize, block, or Track. Under a monetize policy, ads will appeal either before or after your video is played. For the block policy, either the video will not be viewable or the audio may be muted. The track policy enables the video to be played but the video’s statistics will be able to be viewed on the content owner’s Analytics account.
In it’s defense, Youtube is arguing that video producers do not have a license to use the materials in the games. To further limit the possibility of copyright infringement claims, there are rumors that Youtube will be changing their policy in early 2014 due to music companies starting to sue over Youtube making money off of musicians who are submitting videos of them covering a song.
From the game companies point of view, many are okay with “let’s play” videos as long as they are not making money off of them. Many of the claims were not even from the copyright owner. Companies such as Ubisoft and Capcom have even encouraged the use of “let’s play” videos.
As the year is turning over to 2014, it will be interesting to see whether Youtube will actually go through with their potential policy change.
Special thanks for GUEST POST by Whittier Law School 1L Katrina Nicha
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