YouTube policy destroying the “Let’s Play” community?

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A new policy on YouTube that will come into effect in January 2014 is beginning to destroy income that YouTubers are earning from their videos. It has begun to affect the LetsPlay community and will soon spread to anyone who makes remixes, fan videos, or reviews of content such as movies, music, and videogames.

The policy is in relation to YouTube’s move to sort out the massive amount of copyright theft complaints that they get daily. It’s unofficially called the “Content ID System policy” and it allows copyright holders to tag a video or a specific part of the video as part of the IP that they hold claim to.

Users are able to continue putting up such videos on YouTube, but any advertising  revenue they previously received now goes to YouTube and the copyright holder. This is beginning to hurt the LetsPlay community in a big way.

The way this works is that the tagged part of the video now allows external companies to place adverts and links within the video and on the right-side of the video’s page, earning revenue from the video itself and the flagged parts inside it. Even if viewers turn off the annotations, they still earn the original content holder money from their video.

If LetsPlay YouTubers want to continue making these videos and receive money for their work, they have to become an affiliate channel to an existing one such as Sony, Microsoft, and EA, or they have to become a managed channel, joining under the banner of other channels such as Machinima, RoosterTeeth, or PewDiePie.

On the surface the Content ID System makes sense for claiming advertising revenue from third parties making money from content without prior consent, but this opens up the possibility of stealing revenue from popular YouTube channels.

If you make a claim that looks official using a fake company name on videos that are earning money from advertising, you can tag it, purporting to own the IP in question, inject your own adverts and links into the video and the money that would have gone to the original channel now comes to you, temporarily, until Youtube gets to investigating your claim. Channels that have a lot of subscribers are especially at risk, as those are going to be targets for revenue thieves.

The Content ID System has already gone into the initial testing stages as of 3 December 2013 and many people in the LetsPlay/Walkthrough community and even those who are already under a larger channel’s banner are seeing their videos being flagged, one by one. Below are a few tweets from popular YouTubers who are part of the LetsPlay community.

TetraNinja on Twitter

TetraNinja on Twitter

TheRadBrad on Twitter

TheRadBrad on Twitter

Jim Sterling on Twitter

Jim Sterling on Twitter

The issue is affecting YouTubers across the entire site and more are popping all the time.

Copyright claims are hitting channels such as OlgaKay, GameRiot, some Machinima partners, FrankieonPCin1080p, and even people who have videos not showing any of the content but are merely talking about it (in the case of Capcom tagging Jim Sterling’s video about something that isn’t Capcom-related). Some publishers are stepping up to the plate and investigating the issues for the LetsPlay community.

Capcom on Twitter

Capcom on Twitter

Naughty Dog on Twitter

Naughty Dog on Twitter

We’ll bring you more on this story as it develops.

For the moment, YouTubers that are being affected by the new policy are taking down videos from their channel to avoid being hit until an alternative is available.

It also seems that Sony and Microsoft may have known that this storm was coming, which is why neither console allows for video uploads of gameplay to YouTube.

Source: NeoGAF, The Escapist

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  • Bjorn

    Fucking youtube

  • UltimateNinjaPandaDudeGuy

    I think they just got so bogged down with the money hungry companies sending notifications that they were forced to do this… You can barely put a video up nowadays of anything before Disney or some such thing tags it and it gets taken down.

  • Wesley Fick

    Exactly. Its a quick way out for Google and gives all the power straight to the publishers, who won’t be as benevolent about someone doing what essentially amounts to free advertising for them.

  • UltimateNinjaPandaDudeGuy

    I kind of understand why they are doing it, but at the same time I was hoping they would keep fighting.

    What do you even do against these money hungry studios? They lawyer up and then get protected by US capitalist laws. Not to sound like a paranoid conspiracy theorist, but it sucks man. I like watching review and play videos.

    Guess I will just pirate the games now to test play and then review it like that maybe?

  • Wesley Fick

    Or encourage more studios to duck out of the wings of publishers and sell the games themselves direct to consumers, like Crytek, or Slightly Mad.

  • UltimateNinjaPandaDudeGuy

    Oh yeah good point… Or they could become like CD Projekt RED. No DRM? All the DLC for free? Yes please

  • fuckoffyoutube

    This means less videos from people we follow like PewDiePie….great

  • James Etherington-Smith

    As always, Jim nails it and gives us a lol at the same time.

    Copyright War | Jimquisition Video Gallery | The Escapist

  • Vorastra

    PewDiePie, someone I don’t like.

  • Wesley Fick

    Pewds is safe for now. Youtube wouldn’t dare allow him to be touched.

  • Bayne23

    Now this is just messed up, I finish most of the difficult games through watching YouTube game videos.What point are they trying to prove anyway? That they got bigger dicks? They should have worked out a deal to take a certain percentage of the revenue received, that way everybody wins, but no these ungrateful wankers want to take the whole cake.

  • Alex Rowley

    Well there’s still Twitch and Uplay I guess

  • Sou1Co11ector

    This is just sad.

    Publishers claiming the rights to these videos are horrible. They should treat the Let’s Players like a marketing team for their products.

    Because essentially that’s what they do.

  • Wesley Fick

    Some of them are contracted by publishers to handle their IP rights management for them, which is what IDOL does for Bethesda and Nintendo.

  • Rowan Govender

    I can understand why most publishers would want to flag the Let’s Players who focus on single player content. While I understand the point of video games is to play the game, allowing a person who hasn’t paid money to experience the story component for free isn’t something I would be happy with as a writer. The video game industry is putting money into hiring writers and developing entertaining stories for their games so it makes sense they would clamp down on the Let’s Players who have entire games up for viewing on their channels.

    I am very curious to see how this affects videos of multiplayer content and reviews. From what I’ve heard very few reviewers and multiplayer videos have been flagged unless you are using some other kind of copyrighted content (e.g. a Linkin Park song).

  • Wesley Fick

    I have more updates on this in the works. Mainly the LetsPlay community is the one getting systemically shafted, but this is also affecting channels that deal with game news, interviews, reviews.

    There is even footage of games being played on the E3 floor that have been content flagged and even blocked. No-one outside of a managed channel is safe.

    AngryJoe and Totalbiscuit both have videos that have been content flagged (TB has far fewer than most). I’m wondering if Digital Foundry is going to get knocked for their gameplay analysis videos as well – even if they don’t earn money on them, the vids are still content flagged and can be taken down at any point without warning.

  • Sikksens

    I’ve heard of him, Is he that weird indie game hipster?

  • Wesley Fick

    The only company in the world who thinks like they do is Valve. I really, really hope that Crytek becomes an indie and shows everyone that it can be done. And we need more services like Greenlight, because the community weeds out the bad games and developers can use the feedback to make their game better.

  • UltimateNinjaPandaDudeGuy

    Valve probably tops the charts on gaming companies for me… Even though Steam is the king of all DRM it does it well and I can still access my games at any time as long as I have them installed. Let’s be honest every gamer needs internet nowadays anyway and Steam is epic cheap too…

    Valve moving away from Windows for me is one of the best things ever. I am generally liking what is happening in the gaming world lately. I think we are heading towards greener pastures with awesome games!

  • Rowan Govender

    All of Joes popular videos have been flagged… Damn. That guy pours his heart and soul into his work. He really doesn’t deserve this.