Nintendo has made a lot of questionable decisions lately, but their latest gaffe might just be their worst: multiple YouTube users are reporting that Nintendo has staked a copyright claim on videos featuring footage from Nintendo games. While Nintendo hasn’t removed the videos from YouTube, ad revenue from those videos will now be directed to Nintendo, not the creators of those videos. Understandably, this move has pissed off a lot of fans.
Nintendo asserts that since these videos are mostly comprised of content from their games, it’s well within their rights to assert a copyright claim on these videos. In a statement issued to GameFront, Nintendo said the following:
“As part of our on-going 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.”
While Nintendo is legally acting within their rights, this move seems kind of counterproductive: fan produced YouTube videos do nothing but help promote their products, and by claiming the ad revenue from these videos for themselves, Nintendo is basically limiting the exposure their games will get on YouTube or on social media sites. Zack Scott, the producer of a number of popular “Let’s Play” gameplay videos on YouTube, says that Nintendo’s actions will force him to stop covering their games. ““I love Nintendo, so I’ve included their games in my line-up,” Scott said in a Facebook post. “But until their claims are straightened out, I won’t be playing their games. I won’t because it jeopardizes my channel’s copyright standing and the livelihood of all LPers.”
This isn’t the first time that a video game publisher has tried to limit footage of their games being uploaded to YouTube: last December Sega ordered the outright removal of videos featuring footage of their games from YouTube, a move which sparked outrage throughout the gaming community.
The revenue from YouTube ads is infamously low, so you have to wonder why Nintendo would even bother pulling a stunt like this: all it does is make them look bad in the press, and it discourages fans from promoting Nintendo’s products. There’s a fair number of Nintendo games in my collection — niche games like Rhythm Heaven Fever and Dillon’s Rolling Western — that I probably would’ve never bought had I not seen fan-uploaded footage of the games on YouTube first. This is a move that only hurts Nintendo and their most hardcore fans, so here’s hoping that Nintendo realizes what a boneheaded decision this was and fixes the situation before they do any more damage.