Copyright, Gaming, and YouTubers

In recent months, changes being made by Google to YouTube, comments, Content ID, etc have been bubbling to a boil, and I find myself in two minds about who’s side I should/can come down on.

Whilst I enjoy watching people like the various Yogscasters, The Completionist, The Angry VideoGame Nerd, Francis, Peanut Butter Gamer, The Nostalgia Critic, Mike Jeavons, The Spoony Experiement, Film Brain, Phelous, The Cinema Snob, and probably others I can’t immediately recall to mind but I subscribe to or follow on YouTube, Blip etc – There is a part of me that feels uncomfortable with the idea of people making money or making their living by just appropriating content from other people and in some cases, offering little of value back.

I know the arguments – giving small games exposure, using it as a form of advertising for the games, the formation of a kind of social experience around gaming and other fandoms – but then you start to wonder, are these people doing it because of a love for the industry and content they play, or does it become about just making the money, and exploiting the original creators to get exposure for themselves?

Are they in it for themselves above the content and community?

The motive may not matter to some, and people get lots of different things from watching these personalities opine, critique, or entertain us with/through/via these mediums – but do we want to see the personalities we have come to like and respect, become shills and cynically be manipulated, and manipulate us for money/influence.

I am straying off topic here, and so let me make my own comments which I hope are balanced between Them, The Other Them, and Us.

We have Them – the original creators of the content – The Nintendos, Paramounts, BBCs etc.  They have various motives for creating the content to begin with.  Usually a combination of reaching as many viewers as possible to fulfil remits, boost hardware sales, please advertising executives, and mixed in with these are in house/third party/independent writers, actors, with stories to tell and ideas to explore.

Without this original content, we would all suffer.  So it is important that these creative people are encouraged and allowed to create, and distribute their works as widely as they wish to.  Networks, and distributors like Netflix and iTunes must play fair and do their part to try not to restrict the access to this content, but we should also be prepared to pay a fair price for it.

I don’t think many would argue with this.

Once the content is available and out there, there is the problem of making Us aware it exists, and giving us the information we need to decide if we should experience it ourselves.  For this there is no real time limits anymore.  It is no longer the case that once a programme, game or movie has been released, there is no way to see it years later.  So whether it is the newest game, a 40 year old movie, or a TV series from 20 years ago.  There will always be someone for whom it will be their first time discovering it.

The original content creators focus on the initial launch period for their content, in terms of viewing figures, or review scores etc.  And we end up with attempts to control these things to suit their own ends.

I disagree with trying to quash negative remarks or opinions, and I would defend anyone who felt they were under pressure to “move the right way” on a review.

This brings me to The Other Them.  Those personalities we turn to when we want an opinion on what content we should choose to devote our precious time to.  Or to discuss the content we have loved/loathed amongst like minded people/fans.  We may even just turn to these people to be entertained without any commentary on the content.

I am not sure about everyone, but I like to think that the people I enjoy watching online, are passionate about the things they talk about.  Not just doing it as part of a job, or being paid to talk about specific games that “the industry” wants to push.  It is for this reason that I do not give any credence to videogame journalists, or content on sites like IGN or Kotaku.

A few times I have seen people who’s content I enjoy doing things that make me question their ethics, or make me lose some respect for.  I wont name them all but some that struck hard, were Toby Turner at the Ubisoft E3 show.  The Completionist being asked by to review specific games.

What is the point of this arbiter or barrier between Them and Us if they both Them and The Other Them are seeking to manipulate each other and Us.

I know I am rambling and stating the bleeding obvious at points (which is why I seldom make these long commentaries about my thoughts). However I felt the need to state my thoughts and try to get them out of my head.

There are content creators out there, who have a balance original works around responding to, or make some use of existing content.  TomSka, Victorious Sponge, Oney, VSauce, Mr Weebl, TWiT, Smosh, Danisnotonfire etc  These people explore their creativity and use sites like YouTube to share their work.  Many of them profit from it, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Then there are others – some of whom who are furthering their own egos, jumping on bandwagons, and trying to profit from little creativity of their own. (I don’t believe any of the names I mentioned here fall into this category) who believe it is ok to make a living adding very little to the works of others.

Maybe it is the lefty anti-capitalist leanings in my personality, who feels nothing for individuals and companies that think it is ok to appropriate content from others, to further their own interests.  Anyone who knows me will recognise my feelings about this, not just on this YouTube issue.  But about companies like Apple and Google in general.