There’s sort of an unspoken rule in the magazine business that you don’t promote your competitors. We don’t adhere to this rule though, and we’re strong believers in getting exposure to the best (and the absolute worst) that the internet has to offer. And in terms of sharp, smart coverage, I think Kotaku has done a good job of covering the YouTube copyright issues of late — particularly their highlighting of the differences in opinion shared by gamers “Angry” Joe Vargas, a so-called affiliate and two managed channels, that of TotalBiscuit and Ohmwrecker, both on Maker’s gamer channel Polaris.
Rightly so, “Angry” Joe Vargas is furious in the Kotaku piece because his livelihood is being threatened by copyright flags thrown by companies that only tangentially interact with the overall product being produced. Joe’s stance is that he takes these little pieces of copyrighted material here and there, and creates a richer narrative around them. It seems wrong that because they filed a copyright claim, a game or music publisher can, in essence, steal the entire income of a video from a creator for what amounts to, say, 17 seconds of a half-hour video. And the most damning of it is that YouTube isn’t checking out these copyright cases with good old humans. No, they’re using algorithm-mechanized bots to play God with the revenue streams.
For the record, “Angry” Joe Vargas states in a substantially calmer follow-up video to his original expletive-laden tirade against the recent “bullshit” antics of YouTube that he would not be adverse to giving up a percentage of his royalty stream to appease the copyright holders in order to regain his ability to monetize the entirety of his video archives.
While TotalBiscuit mentions that copyright laws need to be updated beyond the scope of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act to account for new technology, he also hints at what is in effect a substantially more interesting point: should gamers boycott game publishers who actively seek copyright injunctions. Two of the majors, Nintendo and Sega have actively enforced their copyright status and yanked royalties away from gamers unprotected by the MCNs — the so-called affiliates and independents. Other companies such as Blizzard, Ubisoft, and Machinima have reached out via social media to reassure affected gamers that if they reach out to the publishing companies, they will work to ensure they get their monetization privileges restored. So do the YouTubers wield their increasingly powerful influence to “punish” music, game and video creators who enforce copyright standards? How much would Nintendo take a hit if all the gamers suddenly refused to recommend or play the latest iteration of Zelda? Is it even worth fighting that battle? What happens if the gamers all band together only to find that they, and their legion of fans, don’t muster the influence they thought they did? How would that affect the rest of the YouTube-iverse with copyright issues going forward?