Gaming Companies Contest YouTube Copyright Crackdown | Fanboys Anonymous

Gaming Companies Contest YouTube Copyright Crackdown

Posted by Fellonius Munch Saturday, December 14, 2013
There has been much outrage this week as video-sharing giant YouTube began a massive copyright crackdown on independent video producers who upload gaming walkthroughs and reviews, claiming in users' accounts that copyright notices have been issued by game producers.

Google and Youtube crackdown on video gamer uploads for copyright infringement

Sending out thousands of copyright infringement notices via their automated tracking system, Content ID, YouTube has targeted not only lone gamers who simply want to share their gaming experiences with the world, but also the YouTube channels of entertainment and culture websites such as yours truly, Fanboys Anonymous.

We had our YouTube Channel shut down recently for other reasons, and despite contesting the decision to have the channel and all previous existing video material removed, Google showed terrible customer service and a complete lack of professionalism (i.e. paying zero attention to the fact that we really had contested the decision, even when they were approached by the Better Business Bureau and told exactly why they were going against their own policies).

We suspect that there's going to be much of the same behavior on their part in the months to come. When asked about the controversial move, a spokesperson for Google told the press, "As ever, channel owners can easily dispute Content ID claims if they believe those claims are invalid!" Translated: "Moan and bitch all you like. We can't copyright moaning and bitching, and we couldn't care less!"

There's no denying that copyright infringement is unlawful, but copyright law is such a confused mess in some instances that it should—in most cases—be impossible for sharing a preview or review of an existing product to be seen as anything other than free advertising. In today's economic climate—in which the media industry rules the roost—all publicity is good publicity. Is Google dense enough to argue that the media industry makes what it does without its worldwide audiences' reviews/opinions trending on social media?

It's becoming more and more blatant since the days of social movements, such as Occupy Wall Street, that most, if not all, related laws are created with loopholes to serve the government and the corporation while putting the powerless individual in the frame as the real criminal.

Meanwhile, the film industry seems to only take the piracy of new products seriously as it hampers the maximization of profit where it matters the most: making an instant fortune at the box office and during initial DVD releases. After that, those products become disposable, selling half a year later in a supermarket for a fraction of their original DVD prices. It's an understandable concern, but this is not the case here. In video gaming, the interactive experience itself is the product. The visual content may be a form of intellectual property, but its job is to sell the game. That all-important interactive experience can't be stolen over YouTube, and yet the visual content and media text—story, plot, content, music—is nothing but advertising when separated from it.

I was taught, when studying media, that you can use up to 10% of a media product—whether it be literature, music, film, or game footage—before it could be seen as stealing a producer's intellectual property. However, the law states that there is no percentage and that a court of law treats each case of copyright infringement individually depending on the severity of the case.

This is partly because media can be shared for educational and journalistic purposes, and you don't specifically need a press pass to be a journalist; you just need the footage and a platform for your voice. This really got my blood boiling, despite the fact that I'm not a gamer by lifestyle! My reasons?

1.) Free Advertising & Publicity 'R' Us

Google and YouTube now claim to be against free publicity. When you monetize your videos, you barely make a fraction of what the advertisers and the product's companies make from commercializing your videos. On television, a 30-second commercial spot in the US costs anywhere between $206k and $705k. YouTube grants the media industry a virtually free platform on which to advertise, and that platform is its users.

How much do you make from the advertising space on your channel? If YouTube and Google advertisers don't want to play by the rules that television and film plays by, then why should the burden rest with us? They seem to be under the impression that the industries don't want to know how they can improve their products; they just want the money, no questions asked.

2.) Piracy, if that's what you want to call it, is not a one-way street

It's a hand-in-hand relationship! While YouTube is cracking down on gamers, there's no news of its cracking down on the social media companies that do make profits, and there's no regulatory establishment cracking down on YouTube for using its monetization feature to screw users. Do the advertisers pay royalties? No, and then apparently it's their profits we're hurting, even though we don't get paid and aren't even purposefully competing with them.

Those who upload "Let's Play" videos, "Walkthrough" videos, and the like are the bad guys because they (we) want to bring you the news. Then you want to share these videos with your friends, because if neither of you were sure you wanted to buy that certain game after you saw the Machinima review, you can get a much better idea after you do some research on YouTube. If a "Let's Play" or "Walkthrough" review trends, we've just done the gaming industry a massive favor!

Advertisers make billions exploiting video uploaders on Youtube
"What's yours is mine, not vice versa!"
The internet is a special place for all of us. It's essentially the final frontier for those who don't have spaceship pilot licenses and a few acres of moon. Anyone with the slightest bit of common sense can build themselves up from nothing, and it can cost nothing, too.

Internet space is apparently infinite, so no matter what you do you're always going to have competition—just as if you owned a coffee shop on the corner of a busy street. The moneymakers don't like competition; that's why your community cafĂ© will never be seen next to Starbucks. They're protected by the people who make money from them for advertising them. They're just one big, happy, slack-ass corporate party free of regulation and taking billions back every year in corporate tax rebates. It is, after all, they who regulate you and me, if nobody else!

I have huge respect for the several game-producing companies who heard their names mentioned in the press and came forward to call Google and YouTube big fat liars, and ultimately defended all gamers and free/independent journalists.

Capcom, one such company that came forward, publicly stated that they weren't behind YouTube's campaign against the gamers and didn't want them to be caught up in the mess. After all, it's not just about free press. If this gets blown out of proportion—if the booming gamer/game producer relationship is soured—the damage could realistically cost the industry much more than the courts claim piracy does. That, in turn, will hurt Google, and that, in turn, will give them the false impression that you and I were to blame all along, thus granting the corporation greater power to take matters into their own hands.

The biggest public statement came from game producer Deep Silver (Saints Row, Dead Island, and Metro: Last Light), who had this to say:
We have been working with YouTube to resolve various issues that have plagued the YouTube gaming community this week, as soon as we learned about what was going on.

1. 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. If this is not the case, please dispute the claim and link us your video in question via Twitter to @deepsilver.

2. 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. However, we have made YouTube aware of this issue and the two companies in question do not seem to be restricting their wave of copyright claims to just Deep Silver titles. We hope that this situation will also be resolved quickly for all involved.

3. If you have received any claims by THQ for videos containing footage of Deep Silver titles, please dispute this claim and send us a tweet to @deepsilver including a link to the video in question. We can help with that.

Deep Silver has no intention of preventing players, who like to create gaming content on YouTube using our games, from doing so. Nor do we seek to block any videos of the kind. This includes Let's Play, Walkthrough, Review, or other edited or commentated videos that are monetized by a player.

Whether your opinion of our games is positive or negative in your YouTube video, it is not our right as a games publisher to infringe on your basic right to voice your opinion freely using a public platform.

We will be monitoring the changes on YouTube and any other online medium that lets our fans share their common passion for games, and react and adapt to facilitate our communities wherever they are.

You will not be alone in this, whatever changes may come. Within the games industry, including at our competitors, there are many who share this vision. Adapting to change may sometimes take time, so we hope that the gaming community will be patient with not just us, but others as well, as we collectively strive to resolve any issues that arise.
It's clear, though, that this is a war that's just been waiting to happen. Google cannot afford to be made a show of, after all. What would happen to its shiny (greasy, slippery) reputation?

I'm not so sure the gamers are itching to know how it will continue, or where and how it will likely end. Hopefully the game producers won't feel the need to change their perspective and bite the hand that feeds, because this really does have the potential to get ugly for everyone involved.

My own personal statement to Google and YouTube, if they weren't so big on ignoring the public, would be, "We're not hurting your business and you know it. As your audience and content providers—from the schoolkids and the pranksters to the lifers of free entertainment, news, and journalism—we make you. We fill your pockets, and most of that revenue still comes from exploiting your users."

Thanks to all of the gray spots and blurred lines in the media industry, the internet can so often seem like the wild west when it comes to business ethics and practices. The tycoons thrive on a lack of ethics when it's convenient to them, and preach the law when they seek to bend it to their will. The rest of us following the tail-end of the gold rush apparently have to accept that we're not allowed to take the competition into our hands like they do. There's your reason why the law of the internet has remained quite unclear this long, isn't it?

I say that the people affected by this wave of attacks from the Content ID killjoy robot (I imagine it as a bit like Ultron on a worldwide campaign to cleanse humanity) are not criminals. If Google would like to disagree, it's because they're criminal, but on a massive scale: the evil mastermind, or the supplier that controls the pusher!

Google used automated software on Youtube to hand out thousands of copyright notices
Avengers: Age of Content ID???
These videos keep a lot of bored people occupied. They also interest a lot more gamers in buying games, and so all it really is at the end of the argument is free press. You should be allowed to earn what you're worth for the revenue you make for the industries. Maybe that's why Google is on a mission to cut us out before the law becomes so involved that it damages them more than us.

On that note, should it really be up to Google and YouTube to regulate content on behalf of those businesses that haven't raised these copyright infringement concerns?

Sound off, Fanboys and Fangirls. Where do you stand in all of this? Comment below and thanks for reading.

If you would like to join the team as a contributor or are interested in sponsoring a post on this site, purchasing an ad, becoming an affiliate, or taking part in any kind of promotional opportunities, please use this contact form to send us an email and we will get in touch as soon as possible with more information.