Pretentious Opinionist: Are Let’s Players Pirates?

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Share this page

We are proudly a Play-Asia Partner

SUPPORT OPRAINFALL BY TURNING OFF ADBLOCK

Ads support the website by covering server and domain costs. We're just a group of gamers here, like you, doing what we love to do: playing video games and bringing y'all niche goodness. So, if you like what we do and want to help us out, make an exception by turning off AdBlock for our website. In return, we promise to keep intrusive ads, such as pop-ups, off oprainfall. Thanks, everyone!

By


Let's Players - Phil Fish | oprainfall

Phil Fish is back and ranting about Let’s Players. Just by hearing that name, you already know. You might now know what he said, but you do know that even if you agree with his opinions, he probably said it in the most offensive way possible. That’s why he’s so great. He’s like our own Frank Miller. Every time he opens his mouth, we get a controversy to cover. It’s too bad he quit the industry after he got too much negative feedback.

Phil Fish about Let's Players | oprainfall

Thanks, GameInformer

Even though he’s quit, it looks like he still decided to open his mouth. Fish took to Twitter to demand that YouTubers pay compensation for the ad revenue received playing Fez. In his exact words,

  • “YouTubers should have to pay out a huge portion of their revenue to the developers from which they steal all their content”
  • “[Ad] revenue should be shared with developers. This should be built into YouTube. Anything else is basically piracy.”
  • “If you generate money from putting my content on your channel, you owe me money. Simple as that.”
  • “If you buy a movie, are you then allowed to stream the entirety of it publicly for people to watch for free? No, because that’s illegal.”
  • “Systems are in place to prevent that. But buy Fez, put ALL of it on YouTube, turn on ads, make money from it and that’s TOTALLY FINE.”
  • “And the developer should in NO WAY be compensated for their work being freely distributed to the world. Right. Makes sense.” (Thanks to Gamespot for the quotes)

Fish has since deleted the posts, and his Twitter account. So, no more Phil Fish. Too bad.

Let's Players - FEZ | oprainfall

Still, though, let’s look at the argument from both sides. As an aspiring game designer myself, I can at least see Fish’s issue. Whether you loved it or hated it, Fez hasn’t made the kind of waves in the indie scene that Braid and Cave Story did. Since it hasn’t made waves, we could assume that Fez wasn’t as financially successful as Fish wanted it to be. And Fez was in development a LONG time, having started in 2007. Putting five years of your life into a project, and seeing people mostly ignore it has got to hurt the ego. I get that.

A game I made was not as good or interesting as it could have been. But since I loved the process of making it, I released it (for free) thinking it could help me start a career. It took other people’s opinions to make me acknowledge that it wasn’t what I imagined it to be (no, I won’t tell you what it is; conflict of interest, plus you know: it kinda sucks). But I also didn’t pour years of my life into it either, and that probably helps. When you’re in the thick of a project, it’s impossible to take an objective step back to look at what you’ve done. I’m sure that Fez holds a special place of pride in the heart of Phil Fish.

Let's Players - PewDiePie | oprainfall

Then comes a report that PewDiePie, the current top subscribed YouTuber and a Let’s Player, makes $4 million a year from ad revenue. You also are aware that people like PewDiePie covered your game. Realizing (or at least thinking) that someone else made more money off of your project than you ever would has got to be the worst feeling in the world. And that’s where these tweets come from. Let’s assume that 3 to 4 million people would have watched a PewDiePie Let’s Play of Fez. Let’s also assume that those 3 to 4 million are more people than actually bought the game. Let’s also assume that in Fish’s mind, each person that watched the Let’s Play and didn’t buy the game is a lost sale. Of course Fish would think that he’s entitled to some compensation.

But hold on, I didn’t say I agree with Fish’s choice of words, or even his opinion. I’m just saying I understand his frustration. There’s a way in which you can view Let’s Players as thieves. Not that they steal games, but they enable people who might be on the fence to essentially experience the game without paying for it. You know, kind of like piracy. So yeah, it’s a stretch, but you could view Let’s Players similar to the guys who create torrents. Maybe not pirates themselves, but they do allow others to pirate content. And since many Let’s Players are collecting ad revenue, they can be seen as actively stealing revenue, in a certain light.

Fish Logic - Let's Players | oprainfall

Of course there are flaws with this line of reasoning. What if viewers are more interested in the Let’s Player than in the game itself? For instance, PewDiePie recently Googled his own name for five minutes and got almost 6 million views at time of writing. Creators, I know it’s a hard thing to swallow, but not every person is looking at a Let’s Play to see what the game is like. It’s strong personalities like PewDiePie that drive viewership, not specific games. If PewDiePie had ever played Fez, in the potentially million views that PewDiePie would have gotten from a Fez Let’s Play, I’d wager that at least 90% of them would be there to watch him, not watch Fez.

Marketing Arm - Let's Players | oprainfall

Plus, I actually think that Let’s Players are a powerful potential marketing arm of an otherwise small developer. While maybe not everyone who watched a Let’s Play bought Fez, but I’m willing to bet that there were more than a few who hadn’t heard about before, or had lost track of it during the five year development. Big names in the Let’s Play space can help raise awareness about a project that can’t afford a $10 billion marketing budget. But marketing arms need money, and I’m willing to say that for the service of providing marketing, YouTube Let’s Players are welcome to the ad revenue on their videos. It’s a way I can thank them for their support, without having to shell out a dime of my own.

Plus, for me personally, I’m mainly focused on making art that actually says something. Maybe people won’t want to spend money on my games because they don’t like my message. I would rather them be able to watch a Let’s Play to at least see what I’m saying, rather than have them miss out on it completely. Perhaps that’s not an issue for Fez (I don’t know; I haven’t played it yet). Still, as an artist, I’d rather my work be available to be enjoyed in some context, rather than not at all.

So, yeah, all things considered, I don’t agree with Fish at all, though I can at least understand his view. Again, it’s a shame that Fish is leaving, if only because I’ll have one less reason to write 1000 word editorials.

About Guy Rainey

I’m Guy Rainey. I’m a hardcore Nintendo fan, a PC enthusiast, and a Sony sympathizer. Also an amateur/aspiring game creator. I love any game that puts story as the main focus of the game, so that means JRPGs are my favorite genre almost by default.




  • Jeremy Barnes

    I see that this guy doesn’t want me to purchase anything he ever makes. I don’t even watch ‘Let’s Plays’. You don’t have a problem if a million people are watching someone play your game. You have a problem when 1 person is.

  • Justin Graham

    I’m not sure you’re giving Fish’s argument enough credit. To put Fish’s argument another way:

    1. I created an intellectual property that belongs to me.
    2. People are making money through the use of my intellectual property without my permission or sharing the revenue earned.
    3. This is not right. I should be receiving compensation for the use of my work.

    Here’s an example that’s somewhat analogous. The television show Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a program entirely about taking old, bad movies and making fun of them. However, the staff of the show couldn’t just air episodes based on whatever movie they wanted. They had to seek permission to use the films from their rights holders, and the network that aired the show (Comedy Central and later the Sci-Fi Channel) had to pay for the right to air the movie as an episode of MS3K. This is also why Comedy Central episodes never aired on the Sci-Fi Channel; the Sci-Fi Channel did not have the rights to broadcast those movies. Similarly, this is why Shout Factory can’t just put out box sets of entire seasons of the show. They have to speak with the rights holders of the films to get the rights to distribute the episodes on DVD.

    What PewDiePie and other Youtubers do in their Let’s Plays is essentially an equivalent of MST3K, but without expressly seeking permission from the games’ creators. They make money off of property produced by others without expressed written consent. It’s not about free advertising or word of mouth for the developers; it’s entirely about the Youtubers’ misuse of property that doesn’t belong to them.

    Nintendo and other companies have talked about establishing revenue-sharing platforms with Youtubers that would allow both parties to profit. This, in my mind, seems fair, as it still allows the Youtubers to financially benefit (though not as much) while also splitting profits with the developer of the game. And that sort of platform could work not just with the large companies, but with independent figures like Fish. What’s telling, however, and annoying, is when Youtube figures like TotalBiscuit rail against the idea of revenue sharing. In their mind, they’re entitled to it all despite their entire business model being dependent on intellectual property that they don’t own.

    • Melody

      It’s similar with rifftrax. They add funny commentary to movies, but only sell the commentary itself. The viewer needs their own copy of the movie. and to play the rifftrax, it has instructions such as “pause the commentary, play the movie and when it gets to a specific logo, play the commentary from this spot.”

    • Thanatos2k

      No, think of it this way. If I review a game, should I be allowed to include footage of that game? The answer is yes, and you don’t owe the creators a dime.

      A Let’s Play is often an extended review of a game. It’s a transformative work covered by Fair Use.

    • Justin Graham

      Sorry, but if you play what amounts to the entire extent of the game on Youtube, that’s not “fair use” and any such argument such as the one you propose would fall apart in court. A standard video review does not require more than a few minutes of footage at most; not hours and hours of gameplay that has barely been edited.

    • Thanatos2k

      Who are you to define what a review is? What if I want to go through the entire game pointing out the good and the bad?

      There is no “length clause” of how much you are allowed to use. It’s all fair use.

    • Justin Graham

      There are limitations to what fair use covers. It’s not a get out of payment free card.

    • Nguyen Van Thoc

      In germany, we have the “Leistungsschutzrecht” which is our equivalent of Fair Use. And it clearly states that you may quote stuff without the original author’s permission. When you write a review, the images are that – quotes that strengthen your point. Filming the entire gameplay is not a citation.

      Other country, other law, so it’s not reasoning anything – but I feel that Fair Use is intended that way.

    • Melody

      According to http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html there’s something pretty close.

      3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.

    • goodsideevilside

      The problem with this line of reasoning could be that movies and other kind of formats that make use of audio and video media are NOT the same thing of videogames. The former do not imply the interaction with the viewer that the latter do. Watching Let’s players playing videogames on Youtube is not the same as playing the game, while watching a movie while someone mocks it could be more easily related to watching a movie with friends.
      Obviously it’s just my way of thinking; we also have to take in account how much of the work (movie, videogame or else) is effectively aired… Anyways there are bad movies mockers on Youtube whose videos aren’t removed for copyright issues.

    • Nguyen Van Thoc

      You need the permission of musicians (or have to pay for it) if you play music covers, so why shouldn’t LPers do it as well?

    • goodsideevilside

      So everyone who plays cover on Youtube is a pirate (except he/she asked for permission)? I don’t say this to point out that you’re wrong; I actually think you’re right, but this creates a problem way bigger than Let’s players.

      However, in my opinion, this is not completely applicable to the case in analisys. Videogames (or at least almost everyone of them) are completely different than music because they require interaction to be fully enjoyed. Music -original or cover- is meant to be heared only, videogames are meant to be played, not watched. It is one-way interaction versus two-way interaction, even if the latter have some boundaries.

      For example: watching a tutorial on how to do something on the internet makes you exactly as you did that thing before? No, because you may know how to do something, but you have not the experience of having it done and everything that comes with it (manual skill, etc.).
      This example is not completely similar to the case either, but videogames are a completely new media and different from others that is difficult to relate with and parametrize through other things.

    • Chris Stollings

      Exactly, holding a dynamic medium like gaming to the same standard as a static medium like movies/books/music is borderline ignorant. As any younger sibling who had to wait and watch for their turn, watching =/= playing

      Then there is the question of how much popular lets players and other Youtube personalities add to the sales of particular games, Pewdiepie makes a ton in ad revenue because he has a lot of hits on his videos, how many people who watch his videos end up buying the games he plays as a result? does that mean he still has to pay the developers when he in fact is helping to drive sales? that seems a bit biased.

      This article articulates my feelings on the subject quite well
      http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2014/06/19/phil-fish-is-wrong-about-youtube-and-revenue-sharing/

    • Melody

      Not it doesn’t. If somebody writes a song, and another person makes a game and uses that song, they are using another person’s assets. When developers use another person’s assets, i.e. a song for a soundtrack, they ask for permission or pay royalties, especially the latter if they plan on selling their product.

      And maybe a Let’s play increases sales, but that isn’t the let’s player’s right to decide. It still doesn’t take away from their copyright infringement.

      Besides, I don’t think you really want to go there. This is another argument that falls apart and has certain implications in situations. For instance, many Let’s Plays are of BAD games. This certainly doesn’t serve as very good advertisement. If the LPer constantly mentions how bad or ridiculous (in a negative tone) a game is, how boring, or painful it is to play and so on and so forth, they aren’t going to drive up sales, unless it turns out a so bad it’s good cult classic. Second of all, basing your defense on free advertisement puts an expectation. Should somebody’s status as copyright infringer or not rest on whether they praise the LP’s or not. Supposedly those ones I just mentioned wouldn’t be safe then.

      I would much rather debate on the legality of LP’s themselves, rather than use arguments that would only allow some LP’s but not others and if LP’s are a form of speech, then such rules would stifle it, as it could set a precedent for other things similar to LP’s.

    • Chris Stollings

      No it is not the Let’s Players right, it is the Publisher/Developer right and many of them have already stated their agreement. Writing into their EULA’s permission to monetize and in some cases specifically citing Let’s Plays (Ubisoft, Capcom, Konami, Blizzard, Bungie, Double fine, Epic games, SECA/Sony online entertainment, Square-Enix, and Valve to name a few)

      They have weighed and measured the usefulness of allowing people to monetize their content on Youtube/Twitch and seen the positives, even against the “crappy” lets plays. The internet is the new “word of mouth” and the more its talked about there the higher the chance of increased sales.

      Plus it shows a good relationship between the company and the customer, as several of the companies mentioned above went out of their way to help people on Youtube earlier this year when they changed their content ID system which flagged hundreds of videos by said companies get their monetization status back.

      It boils down to do you really care about the 4 cents to a dollar the average Youtuber makes off any given video? or is getting your cut of Piewdiepies income going to offset what you could make off his viewer base in increased sales? Do you want to look good to your consumers and help allow a new medium to form while getting exposure you don’t have to pay for yourself?

    • Melody

      So now, I’m getting somewhere.

      First of all…some examples. Could you show me the EULA of some of the companies that state “that a person can record themselves playing their game and upload it and make money off of it?” Obviously it wouldn’t be worded exactly like that.

      Second of all, not all developers and publishers feel the same way. And you know what, even if it would be more beneficial for them, they are within their legal rights to ask for the videos to be put down or to get ad money from them.

      Third of all, I agree that on a whole, at least most developers benefit from Let’s plays, and I actually want them to stay. Even if only for pragmatic reasons, I hope that developers, publishers, and other companies that the developers and publishers licensed assets from, let Let’s players keep uploading their videos. Of course, that’s not a lot different from my stance on piracy itself, that is pragmatically, that most developers benefit from not treating piracy as a thing to get rid of, but an opportunity to improve their services and products. But like how many, if not most, pirates tend to draw the line at the ones that sell the things they pirate, I think the line for let’s plays is making money as well, unless it is specifically in the eula agreement that. But not also would I not want my money going to those LPers if I was an ad company, I also wouldn’t want to help them get others money, unless I knew they had a deal with the developer or were specifically allowed to make money from it.

      And personally, I feel that it’s LPers that make money outside of a deal or eula allowances that draw attention if not outright ire to the LP community. They haven’t quite thought things through. When Nintendo asked for videos containing their property to be removed, LPers said they wouldn’t LP nintendo games, and some even said they wouldn’t play them period. Nintendo allowing them back up but with the ad revenue going to them, the LP community still wasn’t satisfied. It’s clear that many have made Let’s plays a career, and so as their career depends on material that in the eyes of the law could be considered stolen, it’s a bad choice. I mean, what if all developers and publishers took a stand against LP’s. Then Let’s players would have to either do LP’s in defiance or stop them altogether. They took Nintendo’s actions personally as an attack against their livelihood when they should have seen that as a possible stance Nintendo might take that was within their rights and that other companies might follow suit.

    • Chris Stollings

      Ubisoft Video Policy

      We consider ourselves fortunate to have fans actively engaging with our game content.

      Using the guidelines below,
      please feel free to make videos (walkthroughs, Let’s Play, reviews,
      etc.) with Ubisoft game content and publish to your website, YouTube or
      similar digital services.

      Specifically:

      Do not take assets from our games (e.g. voice, music, items) and distribute them separately.
      Unless approved by us, the use of our content in videos must be non-commercial.
      Do not charge users to view or access your videos.
      Do not sell or license your videos to others for a payment of any kind.
      Behave like a decent human being. Absolutely no racist, sexist, homophobic, or offensive content.
      Please keep your videos focused on our games, and away from overtly controversial topics.

      Failure to abide by these
      content guidelines may result in Ubisoft taking action to have your
      video removed. Ubisoft will, at its sole discretion, determine if your
      video does not comply with these content guidelines. We do not want to
      police video upload communities. We prefer to focus our efforts on
      creating games.

      You are free to monetize your videos via the YouTube partner program and similar programs on other video sharing sites.

      We are not staffed to
      respond to requests for individual video copyright clearance. Should
      anyone require proof of this policy, point them here (http://help.ubi.com/video) instead.

      Please note: This policy
      applies only to Ubisoft content. If you include someone else’s content
      in your video, such as music, you will need permission from the owner of
      said content.

      If you have questions that fall outside of the guidelines listed above, please contact us at: [email protected]

      Taken from here:
      http://forums.ubi.com/showthread.php/773564-Ubisoft-policy-on-YouTube-videos#Ubisoft%20YouTube%20policy

      Second the only company to outright say “NO” to lets play monetization has been Nintendo, and in less than a year they have shifted their stance on the matter going from “No you can upload videos but no monetization allowed” to “We want to work with content creators for an ad sharing program” which shows that there is a benefit in allowing games to monetize their gaming experience. Be it their bottom line, or how the gaming public sees them

      While it may be within their legal rights, this is still a gray area as there is NO PRECEDENT on how let’s plays fall under copyright or copyright infringement, nobody has gone to court over the matter. So whether you see it as piracy or not is of no consequence, or how you “feel” about the matter, NO company has actually taken this issue to court and I doubt any company actually would as the avalanche of negative press of a company suing a fan for videos on Youtube would be financial suicide.

      As it is now its a symbiotic relationship, Youtube content creators get the games which makes the companies money, they play the games for Youtube (even if they speak ill of the game or are not popular every video and every hit just adds to the footprint of the game online overall) and the content creators get money from their work that DOES NOT come out of the game companies pockets.

    • Chris Stollings

      This one is even better because it states Youtube specifically
      as well as the “non-commercial nature”

      Valve Video Policy
      We encourage our users to make videos using Valve game
      content, such as playthrough or instruction videos or SFM movies. We are
      fine with publishing these videos to your website or YouTube or similar
      video sharing services. We’re not fine with taking assets from our
      games (e.g. voice, music, items) and distributing those separately.

      Use of our content in videos must be non-commercial. By that we mean
      you can’t charge users to view or access your videos. You also can’t
      sell or license your videos to others for a payment of any kind.

      You are free to monetize your videos via the YouTube partner program
      and similar programs on other video sharing sites. Please don’t ask us
      to write YouTube and tell them its fine with us to post a particular
      video using Valve content. It’s not possible to respond to each such
      request. Point them to this page.

      Of course this policy applies only to Valve content. If you include
      someone else’s content in your video, such as music, you will have to
      get permission from the owner.

      Back to Valve Legal Info

      Taken from here:

      http://www.valvesoftware.com/videopolicy.html

    • Chris Stollings

      For the record I do not have an issue with sharing ad money with developers if it results in a mutually beneficial way.

      As mentioned it is akin to licensing art assets, but I keep thinking back to the artist who makes scupltures out of Legos, Does he owe Lego for using their product as an artistic medium? I honestly say no.

      Now not all Let’s Plays or video content is art, probably less than 1% would fall under that category, But with mandatory ad revenue sharing it would affect those who legitimately create something artistic and has to pay more for doing so, like the guy and the Legos. But for the average Let’s Player giving a fair share to the developers who ask for it shouldn’t be an issue, but its quite telling how many don’t ask for a thing vs. those who do.

    • Melody

      But Legos are a tool for art. They’re more akin to a pen or instrument. They aren’t an asset, and when you buy them, it is assumed you will make things with them. There are no assets in a lego block, it’s a color and a shape, you can’t own colors and shapes. But you can own a character, and you can own a scene and so on and so forth.

      Furthermore, what is harder to do. Make original content, or use somebody else’s content?

      If you say it is harder to make original content then it follows that if you use somebody else’s work, you will receive less for it than if you only use your own. If you say it is just as easy to make your own content, then you would have to admit that making content that relies on possibly stealing other’s works wouldn’t be a smart choice.

      Yes, that is the cost for using somebody else’s work. Either create your own assets, or deal with the owners of the assets you use. And lastly, you too are mixing up things. Let’s players haven’t payed a dime to record and upload their content to youtube, at least not to the original developers. You think that not giving is taking and not taking is giving. What actually happens when developers are compensated for Let’s plays is that Youtube and it’s partners split the money and divert part of it to each party involved. You get paid for your assets, they get paid for theirs. That is fair. Unless you have a specific deal with them to get more, the uploader isn’t entitled to the money that is owed to the other owners.

    • Melody

      First of all. Woops. I missed that part. Still, they do mention to be non-commercial, and some fair use cases have been lost due to receiving ad money being considered for-profit and therefore commercial. Actually, I fail to see how making money from ads on videos that you wouldn’t have done if that ad revenue was gone is any different from selling the videos for profit. Both are for profit-and in the law are both commercial activities. So on that front the ubisoft would be contradicting itself. And actually, if you look directly below it already has a point not to “Do not charge users to view or access your videos.”

      And: “Do not sell or license your videos to others for a payment of any kind.”

      These already should be covered under commercial activities so the commercial aspect isn’t referring to selling the videos.

      So clearly, the only commercial activity approved are the youtube ad partnerships and other programs, of which Ubisoft probably has a deal with or are allowed to condone, but again, they and Valve, both state that their contract only applies to their content. If you include another’s content, you need their permission as well.

      In fairness, being commercial isn’t an automatic dis-qualifier of fair use, and being non-profit isn’t an automatic qualifier of fair use. But the commercial aspect can have an effect and has gotten a lot of people disqualified when stacked with other evidence, that without that aspect, would have just barely qualified.

      Again even then, Ubisoft and Valve don’t speak for everybody. They have stipulations in their contract that when you buy their games, you are allowed certain things that they can’t use against you if you cite fair use in court (supposedly), but they don’t speak for everybody. I don’t see why some people allowing something should speak for everybody. By nature, I’m an individualist so the very idea that somebody speak for somebody else against their will rubs me the wrong way. And I’m not saying that Ubisoft and Valve or others are speaking for everybody, but that’s what your comments looked like to me. You think they do, and you consider their actions the neutral, when you should instead see their actions as pragmatic and that they see them as beneficial in the long run. You should be thankful they allow you in their contract with you to make money off of their property in videos. Just because others choose to retain their rights, doesn’t make them bad.

    • Melody

      Ubisoft says quite clearly “Unless approved by us, the use of our content in videos must be non-commercial.” Making money from ads would make their works commercial.

      They also include other guidelines that they want the person to abide by, such as not being offensive or talking about overtly controversial subjects (though I assume such would be just fine if it was also the game talking about it).

      This is another excerpt from what you posted. “This policy
      applies only to Ubisoft content. If you include someone else’s content in your video, such as music, you will need permission from the owner of said content.”

      That would also include things Ubisoft had licensed. Which is another point I was making.

      A couple of other points.

      1. How many Let’s players read that before doing a Let’s play of a Ubisoft game? How many read the EULA of any company’s games or site? While this doesn’t change whether LP’s are right or wrong. I’m just curious. Judging from reactions to Nintendo’s actions, I would bet not many actually do.

      2. Even if some or even most developers/publishers allow it, that doesn’t automatically make it a neutral to positive action. If you punch me, I would be perfectly withing the right to defend myself. If I held back, or even helped you later, that shouldn’t be seen as a neutral action on my part. It would actually be a positive action you didn’t deserve. People think that not giving is taking and giving is not taking. This is because they feel entitled. Just because Ubisoft and others allow you and I to make Let’s plays using their property, this shouldn’t be seen as a neutral given. By it’s nature, they are basically allowing you to commit a wrong against them, because for pragmatic reasons, it is more beneficial to them in the long run. And even if the majority were okay with that, Nintendo and others are just as free to not be okay with that. It is within their rights to protect their property.

    • Ummmm…..

      In the Ubisoft video policy, it directly mentions monetizing videos via the YouTube partner program. When the policy refers to videos being non-commercial, it means you literally cannot sell the video for a profit. Ad revenue is different in that you aren’t selling the video, you’re selling the space (which happens to be owned by YouTube). Enter in the YouTube partner program, where making popular and entertaining videos allow you get a piece of that ad money YouTube be making.

      Excerpt from Chris Rollins post:

      Failure to abide by these
      content guidelines may result in Ubisoft taking action to have your
      video removed. Ubisoft will, at its sole discretion, determine if your
      video does not comply with these content guidelines. We do not want to
      police video upload communities. We prefer to focus our efforts on
      creating games.

      |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||You are free to monetize your videos via the YouTube partner program and similar programs on other video sharing sites.
      ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

      We are not staffed to
      respond to requests for individual video copyright clearance. Should
      anyone require proof of this policy, point them here (http://help.ubi.com/video) instead.

    • Chris Stollings

      As someone else stated, it states specifically you are free to monetize on Youtube. Way to actually read. Two things, the non-commercial aspect is I cannot make a video walkthrough, or any other content and sell it to another party. Say for example Prima for their strategy guides. (that would require licensing agreements you are harping on and on about). Second running ad’s on Youtube is not in fact selling the content, its allowing for ad space to be used in conjunction with the product.

      Your other points don’t really need addressing. You are trying to make this a copyright issue when it clearly no longer the case, a company can’t say “yes you can commit copyright violations against us” because that voids copyright. There is again NO official ruling from any court, NO case where a developer or publisher has taken anyone to court over monetizing videos so until that happens both sides of the copyright infringement argument are wrong.

      As it stands now a lot of developers and publishers see a new entertainment and marketing medium, that really can only help their bottom line, many see that, save for the vocal minority like Phil (who has since retreated from the argument, as well as having controversial stances in general for the sake of trying to stay relevant) and Nintendo (who has already shifted their stance once either due to how the public viewed them or noticeable affect on their income or positive online metrics)

      So if you want to keep arguing feel free, I’m kinda done with this, I have pointed out how companies allow it, companies endorse it, hell the Xbox one and PS4 have these capabilities built in to the system, so if it were an over reaching legal issue it would have had to have been addressed by now, it hasn’t so its not, plain and simple.

    • Nguyen Van Thoc

      Yes, from a legal pov, music covers are piracy – of course, most artists feel honoured and don’t care (or enjoy it), the same as many game developers. But when a game developer says he doesn’t want that LPers get money from their intellectual property, that’s their right imo.

      I don’t see how the amount of interaction changes anything at all, sorry.

      It’s not that I like the way it is, but we’re talking about laws and I think that if a law protects your property, you have every right to do it.

    • goodsideevilside

      The amount of interaction changes the problem because you don’t share the entirety of other’s work, you share the way you do something with other’s work.
      Obviously, if law allow you to claim part of LP’s profit as owner of the IP they play with, than you have the right to do so. Likewise it’s obvious that, if law allow you something, it does’t automatically means it’s right. However I’m afraid that such an argument is quite sterile here: it’s not like we can change laws from oprainfall, is it? XD

      What made me think is the reaction of Phil Fish to negative comments, as I read on the link http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2014/06/19/phil-fish-is-wrong-about-youtube-and-revenue-sharing/ posted by Chris Stollings below. I’m talking about twitting “Nevermind.” and than locking (or canceling) his account. Sounds quite childish to me. If you’re not able (or you don’t want) to support your thesis against other people, then why share it in first place? You shall be aware that a rain of negative comments will rain upon you XD

  • Melody

    When you or I make a game and use somebody’s assets. You owe them money that you make from that work. Let’s players may add commentary to their videos and edit it, but the majority of the assets in it are somebody else’s work.

    To make money off of that IS piracy. It’s not so much that they are lost sales, it’s that that money is theirs. They didn’t just program some gameplay, they made assets, that could be video, sound effects, music, sprites or models, or the world or anything like that. So if they want you to take your lps of their games down, it is in their rights.

    So many developers haven’t done so, out of goodwill. To take revenue from ads that belong to them is taking advantage of that goodwill.

    I see many people that threatened to not do lps of Nintendo games because Nintendo wanted the revenue. Ninty was still letting them have their videos up, they just wanted the money that was owed them for it. I wouldn’t want to watch their videos because they clearly care more about the money than about doing the lps for fun.

    Some Let’s players are actually a bit worse than pirates. A pirate will usually admit that they are pirating a game, they don’t usually try to say that their activities are directly helping developers.

    Still, with that said, gamers and people in general are selfish and even if developers are in the right, it’s stupid to put up such a stink about it because people, being selfish, will harden their hearts and become even more stubborn about it. You can’t make them feel guilty. But companies like steam turn pirates into consumers by catering to everybody. Nintendo seems willing to work with LPers to share the revenue. I’d say it’s more than fair. If it isn’t good enough for LPers and they don’t play Nintendo’s games or anybody that wants compensation’s games, then fine, but they shouldn’t act like they are entitled to use other people’s assets.

    • goodsideevilside

      It is true that people are selfish and sometimes harden their hearts; nonetheless this do not automatically means that they’re wrong. Confuting a thesis is about showing either that assumptions at the base of it are wrong or that the logical consecutio used to achieve it is not correct. If the way how these objections are placed or sustained should invalidate them, then Fish’s thesis would be wrong in the beginning.

      This said, I think that what Let’s players do is to fuse various media and instruments with their personality to create something new, different and unique. In this way everything used in this process is quite the same that a tool. Even if every Let’s player has his/hers preferences, they could play any games and obtain the same results (as OP said with PewDiePie googling his name). Think of it this way: do writers owe a part of their work to the creator of pen? Or do film producers owe money to Lumière brothers, or do musicians owe to guitar producers? Do Esa-Pekka Salonen owe money to Apple? Ok, I got a bit carried away with the last one XD

      In the end it is a complex problem to solve and it can be seen in multiple ways. It’s certain though that Let’s players’ work bring pros and cons to the side of developer which, in my opinion, are quite balanced.

    • Melody

      You’re confusing a tool with content created with a tool. See 90% of the audio and visuals were not created by Let’s players. If taken to court, most let’s plays would be considered copyright violations not protected under fair use.

      Look at it this way. Say I took a movie, added my own commentary to it and uploaded that to youtube in it’s entirety. I would be commiting copyright infringement. While a movie may lack interactivity, a videogame is more than interactivity. There are assets used in the creation of said game. LPers may add something to their videos, but a unique product doesn’t take away from the fact they are using assets that are not their own without permission and even seeking to make money off of them.

      If LPers want to make money and truly have the talent to do so, then they should do so legitimately, or make a deal with those that make the games they lp.

    • goodsideevilside

      It seems to me that your thesis bases on two arguments: the fact that videogames are not a tool but an asset that is meant to be enjoyed by the public and, consecutively, the fact that using them to make something where they are incorporated in is equivalent to letting everyone enjoy it. Am I wrong?

      What LPers do is creating something new starting from existing assets that they don’t own, that’s true. However, the way they use that assets makes them as they were tools in their hands. As I said before LPers could do what they do with any videogame and the result would be the same; in fact probably it would have been the same if they played hide-and-seek or smashed bottle beer on their heads with friends. In this sense videogames are only tools: because they use them to achieve a final result, and this is for the first argument of the response, letting the thesis fall.
      I realize, though, that this argument is a little extreme and not commonly acceptable. It is true, in my opinion, at least for this case, but let’s forget about it for now and move on.

      It is true that videogames used by LPers are included in their final product that is accessible and enjoyable by everyone. It’s not true, however, that videogames used are accessible and enjoyable by everyone in this way. This is because videogames are meant to be played, not watched playing by someone. If you took a movie and upload it with your commentary, you would be a pirate because you give others the possibility to enjoy something fully. It seems to me that’s not the same with videogames.

      My arguments could be easily confuted, too, and the problem is quite complex in my opinion. This complexity derives from videogames being a media difficult to treat with the same parameters applicable to other ones. This reflects in the inappropriateness of the example we are using: movies and songs are not the same as videogames, nor is hide-and-seek of course 🙂

    • Melody

      My argument isn’t based on the final product. A developer doesn’t just have protection of their final product, they also have protection of the smaller bits and pieces that make up that product. You may think they don’t. But even simple things as names, are copyrighted. A few years ago, a small team of filmmakers made a fan movie of Ocarina of Time. It wasn’t exactly the same, but it shared story elements. These people didn’t make a dime off of the movie, they just showed it for free around the country and uploaded it to the internet. This product that took years to make, was far more different than any Let’s play from it’s original product. It had a similar feel of the game in it’s storyline, but nobody could make the argument that it was anything like the game otherwise. And yet, Nintendo had legal standing to stop them. They sent a cease and desist to the team, and ultimately allowed them to show it for one month before taking it down.

      In that case, the assets were names, places, and some character designs, that influenced the costume designs.

      I don’t think that movie took away from the game, and certainly watching it, you wouldn’t be able to get the same experience as playing the game that inspired it. But that doesn’t matter, because in the law, what matters is that each piece counts. Even if Nintendo was okay with them making the movie, but they included things Nintendo had no control over? Say, the next Zelda game includes a song Nintendo licensed from another company? LP’s aren’t in such contracts, so even if Nintendo was okay with it, they wouldn’t be able to condone it because that particular song wouldn’t be theirs.

      And speaking of licensed songs, that is another way to illustrate my point. Say that instead of licensing that song, they just included it, but all distorted or crappily encoded. Then they defended it by saying “The player wouldn’t be able to enjoy the song as intended so they would have to buy the song from the artist to enjoy it correctly” Or if they didn’t distort it, they just say “We didn’t include the whole album”. Maybe all they did was include the instrumental. Regardless, none of this would fly, because A.) The length or portion of something included is only one part of determining if it is fair use. and B.)because the work is commercial in nature, it has even less chance of being considered fair use.

      For Let’s plays, they use, Audio, that includes a lot of things, sound effects, voice overs, music, and ambience. They also use visuals that include depending on the type of game, textures, sprites/models, a world, icons, story. And lastly, it shows one noninteractive path of the game. Some games, may be linear, such as a visual novel, in which it shows the only path of the game. Even one out of many paths along with all of the other assets used lead to a significant portion of the final product. This isn’t comparable to playing a 30 second clip, this is comparable to playing at least half an album. Then there’s commercial use. In this case, if you aren’t getting money from it, you may have a leg to stand on, but if you do get ad money, then that is another matter.

      See, people keep forgetting that most videogame is more than just a bit of gameplay. Games are a form of multimedia, so LP’s do more than just post gameplay online, they include a lot of assets that are just as protected as the gameplay. Even if everybody in the world owned a copy of the game in question, uploading a Let’s Play would still be copyright infringement. Even if said product wasn’t for sale, it would still be copyright infringement to take assets from it. That’s another thing people forget, they think this is about marketability, but it isn’t. In the law, copyright protection isn’t just granted to products that are sold, but products that aren’t intended for public entertainment, or even products that are freely distributed.

      A lot of the time, Let’s plays aren’t targeted, because many developers don’t mind them, or at least tolerate them. Let’s players SHOULD at least leave it at that and take their grace and be thankful if they haven’t had their videos removed. But many of them aren’t satisfied, so they tried to get money for it and it is like spitting in the face of all of the people that worked on the game.

      I repeat what I said earlier, some Let’s players are worse than pirates. I’ve talked to a lot of pirates (obviously not the high seas kind) and most of them draw the line at profiteering from it. Some pirates sell pirated games or movies or whatever, and most of the rest consider that too far. And when thwarted, most pirates take it like a champ, either trying again harder, and commending the challenge. And most of the pirates I have talked to have admitted to infringing copyright. Many disagree with the concept of copyright, but they at least admit when their actions infringe it. Let’s players don’t even do that.

  • Cameron Ward

    It’s really hard to respect Phil Fish in a lot of his arguments. On one hand, he has some solid points if you can pick through his ill thought out comments, but when he is so bitter, self absorbed, and self entitled, it’s not very convincing to me to buy his game when he is so disrespectful to almost everyone.

    I have talked to people who defend him and say its everyone else’ss fault for his retirement when really, Phil brought it upon himself. If he isn’t given anyone respect, why should we give him respect.

    Shame to since Fez isn’t a downright terrible game or anything at all, it has nice graphics, a solid atmosphere, and some good music, but his attitude to everything in the game industry is like a repellant for potential consumers.

    I could go on, but he just needed a better PR team or a PR guy so he didn’t look like a giant jerk off in the process of his gaming career.

  • Heriel

    I personally dislike fish, he is an asshole, however this time I agree with him, Games are only work for those who make them, not for those who play them. Making money with others work should be illegal. And no, editing an bad video is not work…

    also, would you put the marketing of your game in the hands of anyone? No, no one would do so, because the incorrect impresion of your game will kill it, and that´s what tons of “let´s players” do, talking shit no one cares but the losers enjoy, and they are making money. This is why copyright exist in the first place, to protect their product from those don´t value them.

    since you are in the “artistic side” you don´t care, but companies, as professionals who makes products for others, they have to care.

  • Thanatos2k

    Fair Use. Transformative work. All that needs to be said. Do we really want a world where you have to pay in order to review a game, or a movie? To use footage from either is currently protected and should remain so.

    Playing the game is the content. Watching someone else play games is not.

    The only pretentious opinion here is as usual, that of Phil Fish. I thought he quit gaming? I guess he can’t help but open his mouth and say something stupid every once in a while.

    • Justin Graham

      Mystery Science Theater 3000 is also, technically, a “transformative work”. It takes movies and turns them into episodes of TV shows that feature original characters (i.e.: Joel/Mike and the robots that make fun of the movies, and whatever other original characters appear and comedy bits that they do.) Again, that didn’t give creators of the show the right to use whatever film they wished without permission.

      Just as fair use is not a get out of payment free card, being a transformative work can only be considered fair use to a limited extent. A Let’s Play that is based on a complete (or largely complete) playthrough of a video game, even in episodic format, is no more transformative than MST3K or Rifftrax.

    • Thanatos2k

      Because the content of movies is watching them. Not so with games.

      Also remember MST3K basically existed before the internet. They could very likely get away with it today.

    • Justin Graham

      No, they wouldn’t. The same people behind MST3K have since created Rifftrax. And as Melody explained above, they cannot sell the Rifftrax with the movies themselves. They can only sell the audio to play over the movie. Any Rifftrax DVD releases are only possible because the movie itself is in the public domain, or they agree to paying a licensing fee to the film’s rights holder.

      So no, they would not get away with it, and they fully acknowledge that fact.

      That a game is playable and a video is not does not render the work transformative enough to be public domain. It is still dependent entirely on existing intellectual property.

    • Thanatos2k

      Because they’re selling a product. Youtube is available for free. And no, it’s not the same because Google makes money off ads, because the ads are not being sold to you. There is no direct connection between the content being sold, and as such still falls under fair use.

      If MST3k were putting up their episodes on Youtube instead of selling them, they would get away with it. Of course they wouldn’t be making the kind of money they want to make….

    • Justin Graham

      They may not be selling anything, but they are making the conscious decision to monetize by enabling advertising. That is still making money off of the product, which is entirely based on content that does not belong to the Youtuber.

      Again, MST3K would not get away with it. You are living in this weird fantasy land where Youtube is not beholden to the the laws of copyrights and trademarks, nor recognizes such, when that is simply not the case. If Youtube was the lawless land you seem to believe it is, they would not have implemented systems like Content ID, nor pulled videos that violated copyright claims.

      Believing that you can and should be able to get away with it is not the same thing as actually being able or allowed to get away with it.

    • Thanatos2k

      ContentID is Google being cowards and refusing to take matters to court.

      A despicable system that ignores the law.

    • Justin Graham

      And it what way does it ignore the law? No, go ahead. Cite the law it’s supposedly ignoring.

    • Thanatos2k

      No, go ahead. Cite the law indicating why transformative work with fair use doesn’t apply here.

    • Justin Graham

      As you are the one that is accusing Google of being cowards and that ContentID is in your words, a “despicable system that ignores the law,” really, the onus is on you to state what laws Google and ContentID are ignoring.

    • Thanatos2k

      No, you’re the one who jumped in saying that it wasn’t covered under fair use. The onus has always been on you. Good luck.

    • Justin Graham

      If you insist, here is how Fair Use is explicitly defined under U.S. law:

      17 U.S.C. § 107

      Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 U.S.C. § 106 and 17 U.S.C. § 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that
      section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

      1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

      2. the nature of the copyrighted work;

      3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

      4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

      The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

      What does this mean? It means that entertainment, under which programs such as MST3K and Let’s Plays qualify, does not count as “fair use” under a basic reading of the law. To again quote the relevant section on that
      matter:

      “…for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.”

      Let’s Plays do not fall under any of those criteria. They are not critical works, and do not qualify as news reports, teaching materials, or scholarship/research materials. They are purely meant as entertainment. You will also note that nowhere in this passage is the phrase “transformative work” used.

      Again, the onus is on you to tell me how it is that Google has violated the law, as you so claim. Good luck.

    • Thanatos2k

      It means that it’s debatable. All “factors that may be considered.” May, and considered. No hard and fast rules to be found.

      So I guess you were just making up a bunch of BS.

    • Justin Graham

      If you want to take the lazy way out, be my guest. You have proven nothing to support your argument and have only succeeded in making claims based more on your own petulant desires rather than anything resembling a true understanding of the law. I certainly don’t know how else to take your response given that you have referred to my citation of the legal definition of fair use as BS and have chosen not to put any energy toward making a counterargument of any substance.

    • Melody

      I don’t follow.

      1. You think for every time that somebody says “Hey, these guys are infringing upon my copyrighted property.” That Google should shell out money to defend it in court?

      2. Assuming that they did, if they lost, they would lose a lot of money. Assuming they won, they would still lose a lot of money.

      3. If it is a lose/lose either way, doesn’t it seem better to just take down the videos. Then, the user who posted the video can defend it if they wish.

      4. The very reason Google takes down the video is because they don’t want to get in trouble with the law. Do you know how harsh copyright law is for infringement? Do you think Google wants to become the next Megaupload?

      5. Take it up with the law itself if you want the situation to change. Because as long as large fines and prison time are a threat, Google will take matters seriously. If they just sit on their hands and did nothing, then the law would go after them. If they remove videos, they are not held responsible, but if they left them on, then they would be held somewhat responsible.

    • Thanatos2k

      1. Google should require proof from the claimant before taking down the content. Currently, it’s the other way around, once someone throws a DMCA claim Google immediately takes down the content and forces the uploader to contest it, EVEN IF THE CLAIMANT MADE THE CLAIM IN BAD FAITH. There are no penalties for making false claims.

      2. Winning would set valuable precedent and prevent other companies from making spurious claims, saving them lots of money in the long run. Losing just results in the same situation we have now.

      3. DMCA claims are being used as weapons, similar to software patents. It should NEVER be the user who is assumed guilty. The system is utterly broken.

      4. And that’s why they’re cowards. They don’t want to go through the effort of defending themselves.

      5. The law already allows it. But everyone is too scared or poor to challenge the corporations.

    • Melody

      1. Again, Why should Google defend people’s videos in court? Who really saves money by spending money on defending one video from a dmca takedown request? Is it google, who would lose money on lawyers, and also have to pay damages if they lose, or is it the uploader who doesn’t have to pay anything anyway and may actually get money from a win.

      2. You’re free to make a competing video upload service. Then YOU can put your money where your mouth is. Calling Google cowards because they don’t want to lose in court over a video that wasn’t even uploaded by them.

      3. You assume that the court will give the uploader a win. Seriously, you can defend your own videos. Stop demanding others defend them for you. You say winning would set a precedent, I agree, but the other way. If the uploader lost their case, and the court said that Let’s plays are copyright infringement not covered under fair use, then that would pretty much be the end of let’s plays.

      4. Going by that, it would seem smarter to work with developers, or at the least not put up a stink when they rightfully ask for compensation from the ad revenue. Get too greedy and lose the court case, and you screw over everybody that makes Let’s plays.

      5. I’d like to mention that I actually like Let’s plays. I sometimes will watch an LP of a game I have bought or for a really old game. Some of them are pretty well made. But aside from recording them playing and talking, there isn’t much work done a lot of the time. Sometimes all they have to do is impose the commentary audio over the recorded gameplay, sometimes they record the gameplay then record the commentary later. Regardless, editing is minimal. Now Two best friends do a lot of editing it seems, but then again, they don’t show the entire game, just bits and pieces. An Actual Let’s Play shows the majority of the game if not all of it, so there isn’t a lot of editing in that.

      6. With that said, a lot of the arguments seem to be based on the quality of the let’s player. I don’t think that is a good argument to make. While I agree that most would rather watch a let’s play that is good quality and that would influence a video’s view count, I do not think that should take away from the argument that the same amount of content has been stolen in each.

      Think of it this way. I own a mine, and so therefore the contents of the mine are mine (no pun intended). So two people go inside without permission and take diamonds out of it. One person tried selling the diamonds as is straight out of the mine in chunks. The other person cut the diamond and sold in in beautiful jewelry. While the second person made something with it, it was still just as stolen as the diamonds the first person took. Even if neither decided to sell the things they took, they would still be thieves in such a scenario.

      So too is it with these youtube videos. You could say that people watch channels like PewDiePie because of PewDiePie, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that his Let’s Plays include content that was stolen, but also that he has been monetizing such stolen content. If he was really that good, then he should be using his own content, or make a deal with the companies so that he isn’t stealing from them.

      7. BTW (source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DMCA_takedown_notice). Here’s an example of how the takedown procedures would work:

      Alice puts a video with copy of Bob’s song on her YouTube.

      Bob, searching the Internet, finds Alice’s copy.

      Charlie, Bob’s lawyer, sends a letter to YouTube’s designated agent (registered with the Copyright Office

      ) including:

      contact information

      the name of the song that was copied

      the address of the copied song

      a statement that he has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.

      a statement that the information in the notification is accurate

      a statement that, under penalty of perjury, Charlie is authorized to act for the copyright holder

      his signature

      YouTube takes the video down.

      YouTube tells Alice that they have taken the video down.

      Alice now has the option of sending a counter-notice to YouTube, if
      she feels the video was taken down unfairly. The notice includes

      contact information

      identification of the removed video

      a statement under penalty of perjury that Alice has a good faith belief the material was mistakenly taken down

      a statement consenting to the jurisdiction of Alice’s local US
      Federal District Court, or, if outside the US, to a US Federal District
      Court in any jurisdiction in which YouTube is found.

      her signature

      If Alice does file a valid counter-notice,YouTube notifies Bob, then waits 10-14 business days for a lawsuit to be filed by Bob.

      If Bob does not file a lawsuit, then YouTube may put the material back up.

      See, Youtube is doing what is in it’s best interest so it falls under safe harbor and therefore protected in the case of copyright infringement. But to do that means they have to comply with dmca takedown requests. After taking a video down, Youtube has done their part. The user can choose to defend their video, after which Youtube gives notice to the origin of the takedown request. After that, the complainant can then file a lawsuit directly against the uploader. If they fail to do so within a few days, then the uploader is assumed to be innocent of copyright infringement and therefore they can have their videos added back.

      During this whole time, Youtube is working within the laws to maintain safe harbor and therefore may take down legitimate videos. But after that, the user can file a counter claim and Youtube has to inform the complainant after which the whole thing is out of Youtube’s hands and therefore Google’s hands. After that, if the complainant doesn’t file a lawsuit then it is the uploader’s eventual victory.

      You may think Youtube is being a coward, but they have already been sued over things like this. See here: http://mashable.com/2007/03/13/viacom-youtube/

      For a decent guide detailing a lot of mistakes people make regarding copyright see this :http://www.mediabistro.com/10000words/common-copyright-mistakes-that-can-still-get-you-sued_b1415

    • Thanatos2k

      The developers aren’t owed a dime of compensation for videos. The compensation they get is from selling copies of the game that they made. That’s it. They don’t get to come back later and take more. Phil Fish can fuck right off.

      Remember, Let’s Plays are FREE ADVERTISING for the developers. That’s their compensation. If anything, they’re generating money for the devs. If the devs were smart they’d be throwing up Let’s Plays of their own games, with developers as the hosts! They would have far more insightful commentary than some screaming morons on Youtube. I’d watch something like that.

      And with your above example, there is no penalty whatsoever for Bob if he files a notice against someone claiming false copyright. None. Youtube sure as hell doesn’t follow up on it. So imagine Bob is actually the marketing department of a rival developer and is spamming takedown notices against videos of games of his competitors. Nothing will stop him.

      Remember when Sega sent hundreds of bogus takedown notices against anyone with video or audio from Shining Force? Remember when absolutely nothing happened to Sega for doing so?

      This is the reality, and it’s a broken system abused more often than working correctly. And Google is the one that allows it. Shame on them.

  • Mich Gehrig

    The top let’s players are where they’re at because they are personalities. Pewdiepie, for an extreme example (though many of his videos aren’t “let’s plays”, is a comedian. Should ad revenue be shared with the developer/publisher? I think that yes, in some degree that seems to be the right thing to do, and certainly Nintendo has already painstakingly taken steps in that direction. Do LPs affect sales? yah, maybe if the game has just come out; however, if they are playing games that are several years old I doubt that the views these youtubers garner could have deterred more sales—except for games that traditionally have good legs (e.g. Nintendo games).

  • An Tran

    This guy again huh?

  • PickaPoo

    I would be pissed off too, nintendo has the right idea

  • RagunaXL

    I watch ‘let’s play’ and join various ‘operations.’ they are indeed part of the gaming culture. I hadn’t really thought too much about them generating any actual money. I figured it was a labor-of-love, part of the hobby. but yeah, if they are making money, I type in ‘let’s play golden sun,’ I don’t care who’s doing it, unless the quality really stinks. I say I am watching because it’s golden sun. that let’s player is making money off it, he did the work recording it, editing it, and all that. he/she is entitled to money if they make it. but so is the developer, it isn’t like they are showing press screens or snippets of the game. they are playing the whole game. the developer or publisher definitely could be entitled to some of the profit.

  • Cae Herlin

    You make a lot of good points. There’s also the fact that games are a non-linear form of art where videos are a linear medium, and that distinction means a whole lot more than it might sound like it does at face value. Let’s Plays, or any recording of gameplay, or simply playing a game, is turning something non-linear into something linear. Playing a game, including recording and posting, means creating something new, even in the case of the most linear game ever created. There are places where the lines between playing a game and creating a game can even be blurred, such as Mario Maker or RPG Maker. So in that sense, filming and posting a Let’s Play on the internet is a lot like creating something with a word processor and publishing it. You’re using a program. Because a video game IS technically a program. But there is room to raise questions over the depth of the program itself, because it’s also a non-linear form of storytelling.