Nintendo exerts its right to profit from user-generated videos on YouTube

17 May 2013

The Nintendo 3DS in action at the GDC 2011 event in San Francisco, California. Photo by Barone Firenze/Shutterstock

Videos of gameplay on Nintendo video games uploaded by YouTube users will, in some cases, be accompanied by advertising that generates revenue for Nintendo only, with nothing going towards the content creators, as the games company exerts its rights under YouTube’s terms.

‘Let’s Play’ videos feature recorded footage of a user playing a video game along with their commentary. Many YouTubers have amassed thousands of followers with this type of content, like Zack Scott, who currently has more than 200,000 subscribers.

But Scott – and other Let’s Play-makers, known as LPers – revealed this week that Nintendo had issued content ID match claims on videos that featured its video games.

These claims can be made by copyright holders and, if upheld by YouTube, allow them to block playback of these videos in certain regions (or even worldwide), or let them monetise the video through advertising. Revenue from this advertising goes directly to the copyright holder and the content creator is prevented from making money from the video.

This is the route Nintendo has taken with its content ID match claims, monetising user-generated videos for its own gain. In a statement to Game Front, the company explained it would not exert these rights on all videos, just the lengthier ones. “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,” the statement read.

Who owns Let’s Play content?

Nintendo believes it has done a kindness by not blocking these videos outright, since they feature its intellectual property, and this move apparently comes as part of its drive to encourage fans to share content across social networks, but only in “an appropriate and safe way”.

Scott and other detractors don’t see the move as gracious, though. On his Facebook page, he wrote, “I think filing claims against LPers is backwards. Video games aren’t like movies or TV. Each play-through is a unique audiovisual experience.”

Scott attests that his play-through videos help to promote Nintendo’s games, but in light of its recent actions, he has decided to no longer play its games. “I won’t because it jeopardises my channel’s copyright standing and the livelihood of all LPers,” he added.

Nintendo 3DS gameplay image via Barone Firenze/Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.