Sunday, March 11, 2012

YouTube And Game Cutscenes

I was pleasantly surprised to log into YouTube about a week ago to find out that a 4+ year old video I uploaded is now "copyright infringement" and my account has a strike on it.  Tell me what else is new.

But rather than send me an e-mail of wrongdoings or come over to my house and drag me into the town square as they scorn, whip, and spit at me, I get an stern invitation to "YouTube Copyright School."

You have to watch a Happy Tree Friends video of how horrible of a person you are.  Wait--what...??  Happy Tree Friends??  Do they show the part where you're impaled by a stake or beheaded with a guillotine???  The video talk about how you can't post videos of other peoples' content and paste the words "I DON'T OWN THIS CONTENT" or "IT'S FAIR USE, I SWEAR" as an alibi.  If you do, you get a strike.  Three strikes and your account is suspended FOREVER.  If you answer the questions (not all of them are referenced in the video), you get your strike taken away...six months from now.

...But enough about me.  I don't care about those videos anyway.  So you may be wondering why these videos are taken down.  People who own the content sift through YouTube searches and mark any video that they believe violates they copyright.  But wait, what about Fair Use?  No, nothing to do with SOPA/PIPA/etc. this is just normal old copyright law.  In brief, here are the four things that are looked at to determine if it really is Fair Use:

1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes.
2. The nature of the copyrighted work (if it's a motion picture, soundtrack, video game footage, etc.).
3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole (did you copy bits and pieces or the whole thing?).
4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work (how much profit do you detract from the owner?).

The funny thing about Fair Use is that there's no absolute formula to figure it out.  If your video negatively applies to two or more of these, it's probably Fair Use.  If it's one (or even zero), it's probably not Fair Use. Hence, properly.  I assume most of the evil copyright police don't take the time to think whether or not it's Fair Use--they just mark the video and move on.  If you disagree with the mark, you can reply with a counter-notice (a document that says "it's Fair Use, STFU") but it's such a mess I wouldn't bother with it unless you're absolutely certain.

Now for how it pertains to video games.  It's funny because when you think about it, there's a hough-jazz amount of video game clips out there.  And in theory, most or all of them violate copyright in some way.  And not just unedited footage but montages, guides, paradies (specifically and supposedly covered by Fair Use), YouTube Poops, and fan stuff in general. The only reason why there isn't this mass eradication of YouTube videos is because frankly, most game companies don't care or have the patience to deal with it.

I read somewhere that as video games become more cutscene-based, that you're seeing more and more of these long ass cutscenes, these "Let's Play"s, or whatever.  Stuff from games like Mass Effect, Halo, Heavy Rain, Uncharted, Assassin's Creed, Grand Theft Auto.  And, in some sort of a sick way, they can deter people from actually buying the game.  Part of all these massive games is the curiosity of figuring out and unlocking stuff.  And with the opportunity to just cut through all the "lousy" gameplay you don't like and see everything for yourself, spoilers and all.

Honestly, folks, you have no reason to play this game now.

Let's take Heavy Rain.  I already talked about this game before.  In terms of gameplay, it's all walking around and QTE's.  There's a couple of things you can do to change the outcome but not much else besides go from stage to stage.  What if don't feel like playing it?  Or buying it?  Or buying the PS3 required to play it?  Just look at a YouTube movie.  Problem solved...sort of.  Not the same thing as playing it but you get some "entertainment" from watching it.  Enough to divert a couple of folks like me.


This whole topic may sound asinine to some cause playing the actual game is best way to go.  Hey, I'm not denying that.  Nor am I suggesting that all game cutscenes should be removed from YouTube.  It's just strange that in the face of DRM's, anti-used game policy, tons of DLC, etc., one of the most back-handed ways of "cheating" the system is right in front of you.  It's as if an avalanche is being held back by a single stone and no one's nudging it.  Some game companies have caught on and start putting ads in front of their vids which probably infers that's the farthest they're willing to go.

...doesn't really bother me anyway.  I like production value in my games but personally, I'm a "gameplay guy."   Only exception is Shenmue which is awesome.  The rest of you crappy games can go to hell.

But actually, back on the subject of game companies--it seems completely random which companies want to take down copyrighted  footage.  I knew a YouTube guy named Howard Cneal.  Basically, he had mounds of ROMs on his computer for lots of vintage consoles (Famicom, Super Famicom, 32X, GBA, X6800, Amiga) and would "review" each for two-three minutes and make ridiculous commentary about them.  Somehow, he pissed off some relatively non-descript JRPG company like Atlus and then his account was swiftly removed.  He obviously stopped uploading videos after that.  It's really funny that a few obsolete movies can tick off a few people and then the harshest of penalties are dealt.

Bear in mind, that this whole time, we're just focused on video game footage.  Same thing applies to TV, movies, music, etc. but much worse.  Watch out for Viacom!!  They will molest you the first, second, and third chance they get.  Oh, the YouTube leviathan...don't f*** with YouTube.

Evil TV footage eroding the corporate culture of the Internet.  BTW, this show is boss.

BTW, your YouTube account is also binded with Google and Blogspot.  If my YouTube account was suspended some day, does that affect my Blogspot account?  What if Google concludes that I'm a troublemaker who doesn't deserve a blog?  Why do they instill with such paranoia?

Sadly, if SOPA passed, it would've been much worse.  Remember the "recording of little girl singing Lady Gaga" example.  Apparently, according to SOPA, that's pure evil and may result in jail time.  So throw Fair Use out the window there.  And it would've been nauseating to watch the nukes & fallout all over YouTube. I'm just glad that bill is gone...for now.  We're fans of games.  That's why we make YouTubes, fan sites, blogs, etc.  Cut us a break since we're all empty on the inside.

I won a can!

Still, Shenmue defies all the rules cause it's awesome.  I refuse to spoil the game by watching the cutscenes.  You know what, I keep hearing all this talk on Reddit and elsewhere about the overwhelming desire for a Half-Life 3.  Valve is a rich nice guy, Gabe Newell is a billionaire who replies to your e-mails, etc. so bring us Half-Life 3.  That game will inevitably come out, that's for sure.  But you know what--WE WANT SHENMUE 3!!!  DO IT, YU SUZUKI, AND BALANCE WILL BE RESTORED TO GAMING FOREVER!!!  Well, that, or Daytona USA 3.

Though I wouldn't mind a Half Life 3...wait, cardboard signs outside Valve???  We need to do something like this Sega.


EDIT: NVM, I've seen the light.  Thanks Reddit cause this is 100% true.

These YT videos are so craptastic they aren't obstructing anyone's copyrights.  But I would like to see 'em taken down anyway.

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