Fan videos featuring Nintendo content on YouTube have been claimed by the gaming company for monetisation purposes.
When a copyright claim is made using YouTube's ContentID system, two options are available: the copyright holder can either choose to have the video removed from YouTube, or they can lay claim to all revenue produced by that video.
The latter option is what Nintendo has chosen to do with the fan-made Let's Play videos that include Nintendo intellectual property (IP). The gaming company has filed several claims against Let's Play video makers, including prolific and popular creator Zack Scott, who has over 196,000 subscribers.
Who should get the revenue from Let's Play videos?
According to a statement issued by Nintendo to GameFront, this is a deliberate and calculated move on the part of Nintendo.
As part of our ongoing push to ensure Nintendo content is shared across social media channels in an appropriate and safe way, we became a YouTube partner and, as such, in February 2013, we registered our copyright content in the YouTube database. For most fan videos, this will not result in any changes; however, for those videos featuring Nintendo-owned content, such as images or audio of a certain length, adverts will now appear at the beginning, next to or at the end of the clips. We continually want our fans to enjoy sharing Nintendo content on YouTube, and that is why, unlike other entertainment companies, we have chosen not to block people using our intellectual property.
Although Nintendo is within its rights to make copyright claims on its IP, sectors of the gaming community argue that Let's Play videos can constitute "free" advertising for the company, and the videos are only popular through the efforts of the vloggers. Scott said in a Facebook post, "Video games aren't like movies or TV. Each play-through is a unique audiovisual experience. When I see a film that someone else is also watching, I don't need to see it again. When I see a game that someone else is playing, I want to play that game for myself!"
He has also announced a personal boycott of Nintendo, adding, "Since I started my gaming channel, I've played a lot of games. I love Nintendo, so I've included their games in my line-up. But until their claims are straightened out, I won't be playing their games. I won't because it jeopardises my channel's copyright standing and the livelihood of all LPers."