Even in the year 2013, I’m still baffled by how content creators can make a living off of producing YouTube videos. And yet, several high-profile YouTubers are able to do just that by generating ad revenue of of their videos, even when those videos sometimes amount to simply playing someone else’s game and talking over it.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as art based on art is still art. However, Nintendo has decided to reap the fruits of its labors by collecting ad revenue off of Let’s Play videos that feature Nintendo content.
Over on GameFront, a Nintendo rep explains that as part of its push into social media, the company registered copyrighted content in the YouTube database. “For most fan videos this will not result in any changes,” the rep explains, “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.” See? You can still produce anything you like! Nintendo will just keep the money you ought to be earning for itself. That is unbelievably ballsy.
As the Destructoid piece points out, often, the real draw of these Let’s Play videos is the personality of the content creator, not necessarily the source content. This is especially true of channels like Game Grumps, who attract a large following due to their ability to consistently be hilarious and provide insight into the games they play.
For Nintendo to piggyback onto these personalities to earn revenue is a difficult situation to judge. Should people be able to earn money off of Nintendo products without cutting them in? Are Let’s Play videos so far removed from the original works that they shouldn’t be considered related at all? Is Nintendo really being benevolent by not simply blocking the content, and instead leaving it up to generate ad revenue?
It’s hard to say for sure, but at least we’ve entered an era where online videos are serious business, so much so that the money earned off of them is worth fighting for. This is a day I never thought would ever come.