If you're a fan of gaming videos on YouTube, you may have noticed the social media meltdown over the last few days surrounding YouTube's new Content ID policy.
Everything from smaller Let's Play videos to larger YouTube gaming personalities have had their videos flagged with copyright infringement violations. This simmering copyright war has been a long time coming as users capture and share millions of hours of video game footage to upload to YouTube. But, the video game publishers aren't even the ones really behind the sudden blitzkrieg on gaming videos.
It seems as if music companies that own the rights to audio in the videos are the ones that have started this...sort of. Let's clarify:
YouTube uses an automated bot system to search for copyrighted material. This Content ID is automated and is meant to safeguard YouTube against potential copyright lawsuits, but since the Content ID is a stupid robot, it has no way to judge content on an individual basis. It adheres to a strict set of guidelines and will flag you for violating any of YouTube's copyright policies. It's also a dumb computer.
Greedy Publishers, At It Again
While it might be a safe bet to assume that video game publishers may be the ones behind this new push to get gaming content pulled, that's not entirely the case. While the relationship between publishers and Let's Play producers is a murky one, publishers aren't behind this. Publishers, for the most part, look at Let's Play videos as a secondary source of (free) advertising. Some of the largest publishers have actually taken a stand and spoken out against the new YouTube policy.
Who Are We Supposed To Be Pissed At?
Capcom, Naughty Dog, and Deep Silver have all come out in support of content creators. They've been pro-actively unflagging copyright strikes on YouTubers using their content. Deep Silver released this statement yesterday:
"A channel named “4GamerMovie” has been claiming reviews, Let’s Plays, and Walkthrough videos for our games, including Metro: Last Light. We raised this issue with YouTube late last evening (CET) and from the reports we’ve gotten in the past hours, it seems that claims by this channel have been lifted… Claims on titles like Saints Row IV, Dead Island Riptide, and Metro: Last Light have also been made by two companies involved with music: IDOL and Shock Entertainment Pty. Some claims are even about visual content. At the time of writing, this has not been resolved yet."
So, it seems that most of this reckoning is being helmed by music companies that own the rights to licensed music that appear in YouTube videos.
So, Change The Content ID Policy
If only it were that simple. Claims from music firms such as IDOL, Shock Entertainment Pty, BAFTA, and Hearst assert that the audio used in the YouTuber's videos is copyright infringement on their intellectual properties. When a video game publisher buys music off of a company, and here's the tricky bit, we don't know if YouTubers are protected because they're posting video that contains those same audio tracks.
The Little Guy Gets The Shaft
For many of these YouTube channels that produce Let's Play videos, reviews, or walkthroughs it's their job. They've managed to monetize their channels and earn a revenue from traffic watching their videos. When the Content ID system flags a video, it gets yanked and it's impossible for the creator to earn any money until the claim is lifted. The revenue from those videos is now redirected to the one making the claim. This sucks for a whole litany of reasons. Chiefly, most YouTubers don't make a ton of money and they certainly don't have the same resources as music licensing companies for litigation.
YouTube is Being Kind of a Dick
Defending their new policy, YouTube has basically told content creators to get bent.
"As ever, channel owners can easily dispute Content ID claims if they believe those claims are invalid."
This story is developing and YouTube has gotten no shortage of deserved outrage from content creators. What looks to be shaping up is, ultimately, who's got deeper pockets and more clout: video game publishers or music licensing companies. For an even more detailed look at what's going down check out the video below from Force Strategy Gaming