Opposing YouTube crackdown could cost developers their rights

Opposing YouTube crackdown could cost developers their rights
James Batchelor

By James Batchelor

December 17th 2013 at 11:45AM

Law firm warns that studios may be "waiving their rights" by allowing fans to use footage of their games

A legal expert has warned that while opposing YouTube's campaign against fan-made game videos may seem like the right thing to do in the short term, it could cost them their rights in the long term.

Widespread reports have revealed that YouTube's new ContentID system is flagging up videos based around captured video game footage as in breach of copyright. The video network is either removing this content or preventing the uploader from monetising it through ads.

Several publishers and developers, including Rebellion, Blizzard, Deep Silver, Capcom and Ubisoft, have said they will aim to get these claims against their fans lifted, thus allowing gamers to continue promoting their titles through Let's Play and walkthrough videos.

However, VG247 reports that law firm Thomas Eggar is warning that such developers are potentially giving up the rights to footage of their games, making it harder to enforce copyright law if more serious cases of infringement occur in future.

"Posting video clips without the copyright owners' permission is copyright infringement," says partner Kim Walker.

"In allowing gamers to promote themselves with footage informally, and by announcing this to the press, developers may be waiving their right to take action for infringement against these or other YouTubers if the content is used in a way they don't like, unless they have clearly reserved their rights.

"A licence agreement would be the best way of protecting both parties rather than leaving things on an informal basis, but there will likely be a cost to administer the scheme and so may not prove popular."