Nintendo has contacted fans who post walk-through videos of its games to YouTube, claiming all revenue from their efforts.
Gamer Zack Scott brought the practice to light in a Facebook post. Scott is a member of Let's Play, a community in which folks post "videos in which the author records the complete gameplay of a video game, while providing commentary in the form of an informal and ideally entertaining chat with the intended audience."
As he explains in the post, he's a big Nintendo fan. He even bought two Wii Us, which makes him responsible for a decent percentage of global sales.
So when Nintendo sent him a letter saying it would henceforth use some of YouTube's VideoID service to scoop all the revenue derived from ads appearing in his videos, he got as mad as a giant mutant who sees an Italian plumber trying to steal his girlfriend.
The internet has since done what the internet will with something like this, leading Nintendo to write to gaming news site Gamefront with a statement saying, in part, “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.”
“We continually want our fans to enjoy sharing Nintendo content on YouTube," the statement continues, "and that is why, unlike other entertainment companies, we have chosen not to block people using our intellectual property.”
Scott's riposte is that each “Each play-through is a unique audiovisual experience,” and that strict definitions of copyright therefore don't apply and Nintendo should go jump down a pipe.
Nintendo's otherwise silent on the matter. Gamers aren't: fora and specialist sites are aflame with criticism.
Why is Nintendo bothering to harvest pennies from YouTube? The company's newest console, the Wii U, has fared so poorly that EA last week walked away from the platform. With console development cycles requiring years and large sums of money, the company is almost certainly staring at an incoming tide of red ink. Revenue, any revenue, may therefore be in higher-than-usual demand down Nintendo way, so much so that milking fans for it has become palatable if not necessary. ®