Nintendo has, in its infinite wisdom, decided to declare war on the fans who dare to post videos of themselves playing Nintendo games. Not only is this a terrible decision in terms of a rich corporation making money off its fans, it may not have any basis in copyright law.
Let’s Play! Or Not
People have been posting videos of themselves playing video games for since the dawn of online video. Some people even play games for others to watch live on the likes of TwitchTV. And they get viewers watching regularly.
On YouTube people post videos of themselves gaming, along with an added commentary revealing their thoughts on the game and/or tips and strategies for beating certain parts. It’s all good clean fun that doesn’t hurt anyone.
However, Nintendo has decided this practice is hurting its bottom line, and is therefore claiming ownership of the Let’s Play series of video game videos. It doesn’t want these videos taken down, but it does want any and all money made from the videos to flow to Nintendo HQ.
Why This Decision Sucks
This is a truly bizarre and illogical decision. For starters it’s a bad PR move. Nintendo is pitting itself against its biggest fans, the ones willing to pay lots of money to buy the systems and the games needed to film themselves playing them.
This move will also put people off making Let’s Play videos, which will kill the free viral advertising potential each one possesses. Some have been watched by millions of people, who then may be so taken with the game on show they’ll buy it for themselves.
Finally, and most importantly, the legal basis of this move is in question. Nintendo owns the rights to the games, but it doesn’t own the rights to everything else.
Not only is each playthrough different, the addition of a commentary by the game potentially makes these videos qualify as “fair use” because of the transformative qualities added by the uploader.
Sony and Microsoft have both revealed next-gen consoles which let you record snippets of gameplay and upload them to YouTube. And yet Nintendo wants to go against the grain and take control of user-generated content advertising its wares. This does not make any sense whatsoever.