This case is very interesting for several reasons.†
Iíve been searching around trying to find a legal precident for this, but I canít find one. If this goes to court and is ruled on, then say goodbye to letís play videos. We would be one step closer to the internet that Lamar S. Smith wrote about for the SOPA bill. An internet where sharing anything is a finable offense. Iíve written about piracy before and how piracy isnít piracy, it is file sharing. How does that relate to video of a copywritten material?†
The idea that you own a game you own, is false. You own a license of that game. Using a modified console or a copy of that game is somehow a bad thing. †
If I was to sit down and read a book word for word onto you tube, would that be the same as a letís play? When does it become an audiobook? When I sell that? Well what about sprite comics?
One of the more interesting things I found on the internet in the year 2001, was the idea of sprite comics. These are created using art assets from video games as stock art, that are manipulated to tell stories. You can make Sonic & Knuckles a gay couple who hate Mega Man. You do like I did and make ďChronic Sonic,Ē where Sonic the Hedgehog uses jokes from the film How High and Cheech and Chong films. For some reason, I found this type of humor funny. The idea of adults who are idiots is funny. Thatís why Three Stooges, The Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, or Abbot and Costello work well for comedy. Theyíre all men behaving in idiotic ways. Using drugs as the catalyst for these adventures makes sense. With characters who are stoned, theyíre free to be as stupid as possible. A great irony of Cheech and Chongís Up in Smoke is where they ride a van made of marijuana looking for marijuana. Thatís funny.†
What isnít funny, is that there are a lot of people using these game art assets to create, ďoriginal characters.Ē Simply painting Sonic green and swirling his eyes does not make him an original character. At best, these are elaborate palette swaps that serve for author inserts into these comics. At worst, these are people using other peopleís content to make their own content. Legally, this is not okay. Ethically and morally? I have no qualms with it at all.†
But if I draw a cartoon of Mickey Mouse or Spider-Man as a gay couple, will I get in trouble? What if I drew the cartoon of Mario feltching Princess Peach over the course of several weeks. Iím sure someone out there has done that. This brings one of the golden rules of the internet, rule 34. If it exists, there is porn of it on the internet.†
The gag is, surely there isnít pornography of this! Followed then by pictures of cartoon characters with exaggerated genitals engaged in acts of sodomy.†
What about fan games! I like those!
There are a lot of classic games that donít get new games produced. Chrono Trigger has been reissued on several platforms now, but a few years ago it wasnít. It was as rare as aids in the seventies, when it was just grids. A few people decided to make a 3D remake of the game, it looked amazing too.†Recently
†more of the game has been shown off, but it was cease and desisted years ago. Is it legal to continue making something, then leak the complete game declaring you had no intention of releasing it that it was stolen or any other excuse, in spite of being told not to?It looked incredible
†why†couldnít Square just bring these developers in and make this product? They don't understand how to make and market a product,†several big games all sold millions, but are considered failures.
†You can't make money by spending all your money. That's simple†business. The thought of making smaller, affordable titles is lost on bigger developers and publishers. They all want to go with big bets, where if they keep failing like this, they won't exist. They need to invest in some fan projects, if only to keep their fans. To†actively†push your fans away from you aggressively is the dumbest strategy I've ever heard of, there are ways to say you want to protect your copyright without being a dick about it, but game companies haven't figured that out yet.
The same goes for the amazing Streets of Rage fan game SEGA had taken down off the internet. Thing is, wanting something off the internet means people are going to spread it around. †
The legality surrounding copyrights is troublesome. After seventy years, you can do with a work whatever you like, as it becomes public domain. I can write Frankesenstein marries the Tin Man and sell it, but is it ethically right to use characters I didnít come up with? I love Frankenstein and the Tin Man, why wouldnít they fall in love with each other isnít the issue, the issue is simply that they arenít mine to use. That if I was asked, by someone who was in control of them to write their stories, then I could ethically feel okay about that.
But what if I read someone who wrote a story where Frankenstein and the Tin Man fall in love, in a you tube video? I call it a ďletís read.Ē Now what if I read from more contemporary literature, like Chuck Palahniuk or I donít know, letís say Fifty Shades of Gray.†
As we all know, Twlight is a book series
where a woman wrote about herself falling love with a Dracula who isnít really an evil Dracula at all. There are also wolf men involved, I saw that in a movie trailer where all the werewolf boys took off their shirts revealing how masculine they are. Someone wrote fan fiction for that, somehow, that became Fifty Shades of Gray, another series
of books. I say books, but I mean multimedia franchise. These stories are now movies, games, books, and any other product you can apply them to. Iím sure there hallowen costumes and action figures of all that stuff, but do they own those ideas, since they used properties someone else created?†
If I write a story about a robot, does that mean I owe something to whoever invented the concept of robots? Even just an acknowledgment that the idea of metal thinking machines that act and think on their own isnít mine, is that okay? Where is the line there?
When it comes to video games, the content of them now depends not just on seeing it, but on playing it for yourself. Unless it is just a cut scene, a video that just plays that informs you of the story around the game.†
When Bioshock came out, I rented it and played through it to completion. I got a good ending, but this being video games, the possibility of a bad ending was there. I was curious, what was that like? Then it hit me, like everything hits me, why not just look it up online? I wouldnít have time to play the game all the way through before I had to take it back to Blockbuster, so this was perfect. I just watch the tape online and be done with it forever.†
Why do I feel like I robbed myself of something, by doing that?
Another example is Demonís Crest, one of the greatest games ever made. It contains several boss battles that I would say are among the most challenging ever. It occured to me, why not watch how to beat it and see if I can do it myself based on their knowledge. Then it occurred to me, why do I have to play the fights at all? Then the real shocker hits.†
If you can just watch someone play through all the latest video games, why would you buy and play them all?
Iíve a friend who I did a podcast with that did this. He would watch playthroughs of games and be up to date on everything. Some people are intimidated by long RPGs, but watching someone else play through these games and watch them struggle, thatís fascinating. Even if Iíve already played a game, I like watching people play thinking games. Anything that involves strategy over skill, I really want to watch that. I say that, but then, I love seeing truly skilled game playing.†
]Here is a guy beating Mario 3 in eleven minutes!
In just eleven minutes, he does what took me a summer as a kid. I went back and fourth between Contra 3, Mystical Ninja, Zombies Ate My Neighbors, and Mario 3 that summer. I remember that so clearly. I wanted to go legit through every level, without using warp whistles.†
Now I can complete it in an afternoon or two. I wonder, how much of this game did they have to play to get that good at it? The thought also enters my mind, to discuss speen run and save scumming. The idea of using software that pretends to be a video game console on a computer, where you can save anywhere, eliminating luck from the equation and making the absolute best possible move. Playing a game this way is mind numbing. I saw people play Mario 3 save scumming, saving over their save in a spot where they constantly died, or worse erasing progress by save scumming in Mario 3.† Such a different way to play a game, isnít it.
Nintendo and any game developer or publisher, isnít making these videos. They shouldnít be entitled to ad revenue from these videos, but should people who didnít make these games be able to video tape themselves playing these games? Even if theyíre playing legitimately, errors and all? That is a question I canít wait to hear the answer to.
My opinion on it is extraordinarily clear: It is okay to do a letís read. It is okay to write about robots. It is okay to video tape yourself playing video games, even ones that came out a day ago. There are entire websites devoted to watching people play games.†
The legal precedent this could set, could really hurt video games. It could have the potential to end any gameplay videos that arenít officially released, through official channels. The problem with content, is where it is. As I like to point out Destructoid examples, Jim Sterling does a video series for the Escapist, that you can find on Destructoid. The same with Hey Ash What You Playing, which is made for Gametrailers, which is owned by Viacom. For some reason, Viacom also owns MTV Multiplayer which produces similar content to Game Trailers. Why would a company want to own two different publications that focus on the same enthusiast content?
Using video from a film is easy through fair use. Youíve seen documentaries where clips of Predator are played and Arnold and Apollo Creed lock wrists and Arnold calls him a son of bitch, all they have to do is put the studio that made the film, the year, and the name of the film and you can use that clip. How much of a clip is too much? Iím not exactly sure the legality of that either.†
The real issue, is that Nintendo isnít just wanting to take these videos down. That would be easy, Prince proved you can do that on YouTube, but not the entire internet. If you really want to see a Prince music video start looking around the internet, someone puts up everything eventually, just look up the Striesand Effect. They want to take these videos and the ad revenue generated by them as their own.
That is unethical. I immediately am offended by this. To take someone elseís content and make money off of it, without profit sharing, is insane.† The problem is, who is insane here? The videos are of Nintendo products, but they arenít being produced by Nintendo. Who should share profit with who and how much profit should be shared, if profits are to be shared anyway?
Iím very curious to see how this story plays out. Nintendo have put themselves in a very Dreamcasted position with their video game console. Hand held consoles are losing to phone games. In fact, I think console gaming is losing ground to phone gaming. The future for Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony isnít bright. I donít think any of these companies will exist forever, nothing can. I know my own personal thoughts on it. If I made something and you want to steal it, I canít stop you.†
I told Hamza I wanted to write articles for the website, the words I used was ďsling dick.Ē
†Consider my dick slung.