Back in November software developer Sega began a slash-and-burn campaign against all YouTube channels they felt were in violation of copyright infringement. Strangely, the original copyright strike was specifically targeted towards channels with footage or commentary regarding the Sega Saturn RPG “Shining Force III.”
It was a bizarrely focused campaign, but many industry analysts suspected that Sega was using its pull to centralize “Shining Force” search results. Three months after the initial wave of strikes, Sega would be releasing a new PSP title, “Shining Ark.” By taking down old Sega Saturn game footage, Sega was guaranteeing that a query of “Shining Force” would lean heavily towards their upcoming release.
It’s a brutal example of a publisher cherry picking copyright violations to spin in their own favor. And naturally, when up against the might of a multi-billion dollar company, YouTube creators don’t stand a chance in fighting the claims. Most notable among those affected by the copyright strike was YouTube game critic TotalBiscuit who, with the support of the game community at large, took down all Sega content in protest.
Moving on from TotalBiscuit, Sega threatened numerous other gamers on YouTube with copyright strikes that if not complied with, would result in an entire channel ban. The whole debacle led to a mass boycott of Sega games on YouTube, which as of last night seems to be cooling off.
Taking to Twitter, TotalBiscuit announced that Sega had officially “removed all copyright strikes on my account.” This, of course, after “Shining Ark” was released a little less than a month ago.
While TotalBiscuit has shaken off Sega’s iron grip, the YouTuber is still fighting in defense of smaller channels still under strike. The game critic writes:
Sega’s selective strikes are worrisome for a variety of reasons. Chief among them is the reminder that YouTube’s policy on copyright-protected material is deeply flawed, so much so that Sega has the ability to pick and choose who or what they want to take down.
It’s unfair at best and downright corporate abuse at its worst. Essentially, YouTube’s grey copyright policy has allowed companies to attack channels that may hurt them while conveniently turning a blind eye towards channels that more or less promote their games.
In the case of TotalBiscuit, Sega is attempting to pull a fast one on the YouTube community saying, “We’ll take down your videos when it works for us. Afterwards, feel free to have them back — we’re still totally cool, right?”
It’s an insane abuse of YouTube’s policy, which threatens the livelihood of many gamers online. A line in the sand needs to be drawn with the support of YouTube. These are the men and women who built the gaming community on the video-sharing site. Before this copyright abuse gets more out of control, YouTube must take a stand for their partners and not give into the threats of major game companies like Sega.