YouTube’s recent crackdown on Let’s Play videos, with an aggressive new Content ID update, has left a bad taste in the mouths of everyone involved. Except the companies making money from videos they really had no business making money from, of course.
Content ID Crackdown
YouTube recently embarked on a Content ID crackdown designed to clean up videos potentially infringing on copyrights. Particularly hard hit by this were gamers who upload Let’s Play videos, which feature someone playing a video game and commentating over the top.
Copyright claims, most of which are either bogus of legally questionable, filled the inboxes of people making money from their YouTube uploads. Some were from the companies who own the games, but others came from the rights-holders of music used in the game. The latter led to the peculiar situation of a music publisher making all of the revenue generated by a gameplay video. Which surely cannot be right.
The Let’s Play genre has always been one mired in a legal minefield. These are, after all, videos showing games being played; games which are copyrighted and belong to the developers and publishers. While most developers and publishers are happy to see their games featured in Let’s Play — realizing the free advertising potential it offers — some decided to claim ownership, with Nintendo being the most famous example.
This new crackdown has just added to the confusion, with copyright infringement claims being thrown around all over the place. Parties who clearly have no claim over videos are managing to get them removed, with YouTube maintaining its guilty until proven innocent stance on the matter.
Google is in a tough spot here. It clearly needs to appease copyright owners above anyone else if it’s to avoid legal troubles such as the Viacom lawsuit happening. But this aggressive stance against content creators, who YouTube also need to succeed now and in the future, is a step too far for some. Thankfully there is an alternative in the form of Twitch.tv, which, so far at least, remains on the side of the gamers.