YouTube gamers and gaming channels are angered and confused by a spurt of copyright claims that have targeted the online video community. Companies like Machinima and RoosterTeeth have been hit with multiple claims that have rerouted revenues from their gaming content to copyright claimants. Unfortunately, complex and baffling rules and regulations aren’t quickly remedying the situation; the problem is also being acerbated by the large amount of content on YouTube.
Many users utilize the popular user-generated video site as a place to view upcoming game trailers, watch walkthroughs, listen to game commentary and monitor gaming events. Sites like IGN, Polygon and Kotaku regularly post gaming content on YouTube, and the content could include reviews and commentary. From a legal perspective, these videos contain material that actually belongs to the game’s publisher, especially if music is involved.
YouTube gives copyright owners the ability to quickly search and browse through videos that may contain their property. Content ID, a search service, will flag the video and block the content. From there, they can oversee traffic that the video receives -- and later claim revenues from any of the video’s ads or viewership.
Some gaming companies have specific policies regarding Let’s Plays, or recorded videos of game content. However, these policies were rarely enforced until now. Nintendo stated earlier this year that the brand would look to monetize videos that included its property, but has taken little action on this claim. Many video game personalities like Kyle Myers, or FPSRussia, make tens of thousands of dollars per month through YouTube’s partner program. Myers currently has more than 4.5 million subscribers and has garnered more than 577 million views on his channel. He has also been featured in a 2010 “Call of Duty: Black Ops” commercial and is a well-known celebrity in the gaming and firearm community. Lots of other YouTube gamers depend on their viewership as a primary source of income -- and the impending copyright claims could mean bad news for profitable gaming channels.
"It has been rumored that YouTube will be changing their policy for a while, ever since music companies started to sue YouTube and networks for allowing monetization of cover songs," Doug Le, who goes by his alias NukemDukem on YouTube, told Polygon. "We got emails saying this was supposed to take place in early 2014 with the new video monetization review. It is to cover YouTube's behind from more lawsuits." Le currently has amassed more than 17 million views on his YouTube page.
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What will YouTube gaming channels and their content creators do if copyright claimants continue to divert their property’s revenue? Do you agree that any type of gaming content will always belong to its creator -- not to the player? Should gaming companies ease up on fans who record gameplay? Leave a comment below.