208 Views

The legality of Let’s Play

On Jan 29 Nintendo rolled out it’s Creator’s Program, “designed for people who post videos to YouTube that contain Nintendo intellectual property,” sharing revenue between Let’s Players and the Japanese video game company.

The advertisement revenue share for users is 70 percent for channels exclusively posting Nintendo content and 60 percent for individual videos.

Let’s Play is video content of a person or people playing video games with their own commentary, which sometimes is totally unrelated to the game.

The Nintendo program has raised the ire of the prominent Let’s Player (and local Brighton celebrity) PewDiePie, who has over 35 million subscribers. He conceded that “they have every right to do this and any other developer and publisher have as well,” but suggested that what Nintendo are “missing out on completely is the free exposure and publicity that they get from YouTubers.”

Pewdiepie

Pewdiepie

Arguments for the legality of Let’s Play commonly centre around Fair Use laws. Factors for consideration in Fair Use include whether use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes, the amount and substantiality of the portion used and the effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work.

A more traditional game, which derives pleasure from challenge and skill will often be non-linear and seems suitable for transformative commentary and play.

Notable examples of fodder for ‘let’s players’ include Goat Simulator and Five Nights at Freddy’s; games symbiotically act as tools for Let’s Players to scream and shout, and then thrive off of the attention. Every experience of these games will be slightly different, and they do not substitute playing the actual game.

On the other hand, watching a Let’s Play of a game like Life is Strange is an altogether different experience. The ‘let’s player’ will more often than not be silent as the game does the talking, and they are far more linear than an RPG or sandbox game. It would be like uploading the new Inherent Vice movie, occasionally mumbling things over the quiet bits, and passing it off as Fair Use. Watching a full playthrough of Life is Strange or Telltale’s Walking Dead could be a substitute for purchasing the copyrighted work, which is illegal.

Smash Bros Brawl had a sprawling story mode with epic cut scenes but when they were uploaded online it was felt that spoilers cheapened the scenes’ effectiveness as rewards. Nintendo took this seriously and chose to upload all the cutscenes for Smash Bros 4 online, before the game came out.

The being said, perhaps it is wrong to suggest that a carefully constructed story told through gameplay being reproduced and spoken over is more acceptable than doing the same with a story told through traditional filmic means.

Take the game Shadow of the Colossus: a beautiful and sombre game about a boy wandering an ancient wasteland with his horse, hunting and destroying colossi. Simply because this game has few cut scenes and little dialogue, does that mean it is okay to record and distribute a playing of a game, even if it does have a couple of people gossiping and making fart noises over it?

Nintendo, who have a particularly old fashioned outlook on gaming, and may consider spoiling the experience of exploring the original legend of Zelda as significant as spoiling a cut scene driven, linear game.

For Five Fights at Freddy’s, let’s play videos boosts sales as people want to experience the scares for themselves, and a walkthrough of a story driven game might hurt sales. A typical Nintendo game falls in the middle of that spectrum, and considering that, Nintendo’s solution seems to be an apt compromise between the extremes of freely allowing Let’s Play and issuing copyright strikes.

Some indie developers have abused copyright strikes, with Jim Sterling’s harsh criticism of the game ‘Slaughtering Grounds’ being temporarily taken down by a DMCA claim. Sega automatically detected use of the game Shining Force across YouTube, giving strikes and even causing some channels to be permanently closed down. Nintendo’s plan seems to follow the book in a way these companies do not.

As long as Nintendo remains consistent and only enforces this policy when it comes to Let’s Play (and not reviews), their approach seems perfectly legal. It might be bad for PR but, as PewDiePie said, “they have every right to do this.” At the same time, it is worth ‘let’s players’ to consider how transformative their work is, and ditch the free advertisement excuse when they do fall short.

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
491 views1
Campus News
491 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series
Arts
7 views
Arts
7 views

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - June 17, 2018

Pictured: Zac Black At Proud Cabaret audiences were spellbound as if at night at the circus, yet this was not like Angela Carter’s magical realist novel; Verve…

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review
Arts
64 views
Arts
64 views

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review

Florence Dutton - June 11, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Last Monday at 8pm at Brighton’s The Old Market, I sat myself down in my theatre seat eagerly awaiting…

Fleabag preview
Arts
79 views
Arts
79 views

Fleabag preview

Florence Dutton - June 2, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Following the mass success of the Bafta award-winning BBC Series, DryWrite and Soho Theatre are about to hit the…

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome
Arts
102 views
Arts
102 views

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome

Georgia Grace - June 1, 2018

Having completed my final semester of university with modules on punk history and queer arts, it was fitting that I rounded off my end-of-assessment celebrations by attending…

Arts
122 views

The Tempest review

Georgia Grace - May 30, 2018

As the sun begins to set over Hove Green, tinnies of Red Stripe are cracked open, tartan blankets are strewn, and families tuck into their picnic hampers.…

A Glass Half Empty review
Arts
136 views
Arts
136 views

A Glass Half Empty review

Georgia Grace - May 27, 2018

For those of us coming to the end of another year of university study, the prospect of careers, marriages and babies may seem a long way off.…

DollyWould at The Old Market review
Arts
129 views
Arts
129 views

DollyWould at The Old Market review

Alex Hutson - May 27, 2018

Sh!t Theatre’s DollyWould is a hilarious, thoughtful and experimental performance piece. The award winning show has the Sh!t Theatre duo integrating comedy, storytelling, personal experience and music.…

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex
Campus News
203 views
Campus News
203 views

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex

Billie-Jean Johnson - May 26, 2018

The Sussex branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has launched a petition calling for Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell to end the 'hostile environment' at Sussex. The…

Arts
95 views

Shakespeare in the sun – The Tempest preview

Georgia Grace - May 24, 2018

In a world of dystopian King Lears and female Hamlets, Shakespeare’s classics are constantly being reimagined for the modern day. There’s something oddly refreshing then about the…

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
190 views
Arts
190 views

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 23, 2018

What a phenomenal contrast these two films present when watched side-by-side. In essence, together they are capable of tracing inner and outer metamorphoses of their subjects. The…

Dollywould at The Old Market preview
Arts
127 views
Arts
127 views

Dollywould at The Old Market preview

Alex Hutson - May 22, 2018

From the 22nd May - 25th May 2018 DollyWould will be showing at The Old Market. An exciting new show, presented by Sh!t Theatre, who won the…

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu
Artist Focus
202 views
Artist Focus
202 views

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - May 16, 2018

Last week artist Fedilou made her debut exhibition in the downstairs space of Morelli Zorelli, a quaint vegan Italian restaurant in Hove, featuring a collection of intimate…

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley
Interview
138 views
Interview
138 views

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley

Nikolaos Manesis - May 15, 2018

Ron Chrisley is a Reader in Philosophy, on the faculty of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, and is the director of COGS (Centre for Cognitive Science).…

Adam review
Arts
204 views
Arts
204 views

Adam review

Ketan Jha - May 13, 2018

If you have been a stranger to the stage this spring and decide to see one contemporary show, let it be Adam. This reviewer went in entirely…

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
222 views
Arts
222 views

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 13, 2018

In celebration of iconic Brighton local, legendary alt-rock musician (and episodic actor) Nick Cave, TOM’s Film Club are hosting a double-bill screening of his films at The…

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review
Arts
268 views
Arts
268 views

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review

Georgia Grace - May 11, 2018

Meta-theatricality and interactivity are becoming all the more vogue in contemporary theatre, and in a world where the arts are becoming increasingly open and democratised, I find…

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks
Artist Focus
185 views
Artist Focus
185 views

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks

Alex Leissle - May 9, 2018

  [gallery type="slideshow" ids="35385,35386,35387,35388,35389,35390,35391,35392,35393,35394,35395,35396,35397,35398,35399,35400,35401,35402,35403,35404,35405,35406,35407,35408,35409,35410,35411"]

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival
Books
186 views
Books
186 views

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival

William Singh - May 9, 2018

Afua Hirsch’s 2018 book - part memoir, part polemic - provokes mixed feelings. So too did her discussion of the topic at this year’s Brighton Festival. Don’t…

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality
Science
233 views
Science
233 views

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality

Luke Richards - May 8, 2018

Bioweapons exist, while ethnic-bioweapons are whispered conspiracies. Pandemics can fairly hazardous to human life, the 1918 Flu Pandemic killed 20-50 million people. A man made pandemic could…

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced
News
254 views
News
254 views

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced

Jessica Hubbard - May 4, 2018

Students have voted to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, reject Prevent and adopt new Gender Equality policies. Results for the Students' Union referenda were…