Why Nintendo’s YouTube Policies Are Unethical

Why Nintendo’s YouTube Policies Are Unethical

The more I read about Nintendo’s latest move, the hotter my blood boils.

If you’ve ever ventured into the world of YouTube, then you already know that creating video content can sometimes be trickier than simply hitting the “upload” button. (Especially when dealing with major corporations such as Nintendo). Depending on the nature of the content you’re uploading, gamers’ dreams of becoming professional reviewers via their home webcams could quickly transform into their worst nightmares. This is largely due to sticky copyright laws.

I’m not going to bore you to tears wading into the nuts and bolts of “fair use,” but you should remember that term for a bit later in this article. I also encourage you to read up on its facts and procedures when finished here, which are quite clear. All you really need to know is Nintendo has decided it wants a big slice of the ad-pie that is being generated by thousands (if not tens of thousands) of Nintendo-related YouTube channels currently active. Here is an official statement Nintendo released regarding the company’s position on future advertising:

As part of our ongoing 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.

Still not understanding why this is cause for alarm? That’s OK, as the above was only exhibit A. Allow me to now submit to you for evidence exhibit B. Here is an expert from the official “Creators Program” site , which has recently been set up for submissions:

In the past, advertising proceeds that could be received for videos that included Nintendo-copyrighted content (such as gameplay videos) went to Nintendo, according to YouTube rules. Now, through this service, Nintendo will send you a share of these advertising proceeds for any YouTube videos or channels containing Nintendo-copyrighted content that you register.

Are you starting to get it yet? If not, then allow me to explain why Nintendo’s viewpoint is ignorant at best and unethical at worst. First off, the description from the site that states they’ll “send you a share of these advertising proceeds” is grossly misleading. The truth of the matter is, YouTubers themselves were getting this revenue until Nintendo stepped in and started stealing it away from them. To represent the company as somehow being the hero for “giving something back” to the content creators (who’d already earned it in the first place) is obscene.

Some of you might ask: “But how can Nintendo steal from itself? The company is just claiming their own video game content they own!”

That’s where those two little words called “fair” and “use” become so important. This was set up as a provision by the courts so people could safely comment on popular culture (even if it resulted in monetary gain) without the fear of legal ramifications. It’s meant to protect us from copyright bullies, such as the ones we’ve seen descend upon our industry over the last several years. Think of it like this. Imagine if you and your friends were standing around the water cooler one day chatting about your latest Destiny raid the night before. Suddenly, seemingly from out of nowhere, an attorney for Bungie swoops in and slaps you all with a restarting order, because you’d not gotten permission to reference their “intellectual property” before starting your conversation. That’s a semi-absurd example of course, but not too far off the mark.

Why Nintendo’s YouTube Policies Are Unethical

This program also opens a huge can of worms for YouTube. With this precedent now set, one game studio after another will follow suit, seeking to rob creators of what is theirs by right. Then, under the guise of generosity, they’ll throw a piece of the revenue back our way to avoid the appearance of a shakedown. (Which is exactly what this is.) Make no mistake about it; Nintendo and others have zero rights to these claims, yet YouTube refuses to push back or enforce fair use on behalf of its users (despite having numerous help pages set up directly sighting it).

Unfortunately, rather than boycott the program and stop this practice dead in its tracks, people instead flocked to blindly enroll (flooding it so heavily they had to extend the already abysmal waiting period). It’s a sad day in our digital history, by my estimation, and I’m not the only one who feels this way. If you ask me, one of the most beloved companies ever has just become public enemy number one in the world of online video.

You may not agree right now, but one day you might! By then, however, it’ll be too late.

To top