Nintendo has had a storied struggle with the burgeoning days of Let’s Plays and other kinds of video game content on streaming sites. The company believes that its intellectual property belongs solely to them in all forms, which lead to them absorbing advertiser revenue on any video that used Nintendo music or gameplay on video platforms. This eventually lead to what Nintendo seemed to feel was a middle ground with the Creator’s Program, essentially splitting revenue from videos between themselves and the content creators. This had its own set of problems, not the least of which being that videos were submitted to Nintendo, which manually checked them for things like vulgar or explicit language.
Now it appears Nintendo is backing off from that idea and is trying to relax those stringent guidelines a little bit.
The new rules seem to completely do away with ContentID, YouTube’s automatic copyright claim algorithm that immediately files claims for third parties based on audio and visual information from the video. In other words, just because you put up a video from Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and the awesome music from that game plays doesn’t mean it will demonetize your video.
“As long as you follow some basic rules, we will not object to your use of gameplay footage and/or screenshots captured from games for which Nintendo owns the copyright (‘Nintendo Game Content’) in the content you create for appropriate video and image sharing sites.”
The new guidelines referred to there are fairly obvious ones. While they are relaxing the rules on copyright issues for videos, that doesn’t mean you can start selling Mario hats like all bets are off. Nintendo’s also not keen on videos of their games without commentary, but if you talk, you’re good to go, though exceptions are made for the Switch’s capture button. You can’t post stuff that’s not been released yet or not officially sanctioned by them, so they’ll still come down on you for pre-release footage of Smash Bros. that they didn’t assure you could have. You also can’t claim association or sponsorship from them just because they agreed to look the other way on videos.
Finally, there is the catch-all rule that they can still just take down whatever they feel like if they think it’s inappropriate, which most companies have in place in case of the unforeseen.
It’s a fairly big deal for a company that has always been reticent to catch up with the times in this arena. It might be that Nintendo is making a genuine attempt to better balance a modern sense of marketing with protecting their intellectual property. With days to go before Super Smash Bros. Ultimate comes out, keeping people from sharing their matches or streaming tournaments due to their policies might harm that game’s reach.
Back in my YouTuber days, I applied for this program, got accepted, and then promptly forgot about it. That is, until Nintendo sent me a check for $0.01 for a combo video of Bayonetta 2. So this is probably a good thing for everyone who makes Nintendo videos.