Rockstar Games Promises To Use Copyright To Delete Spoiler Cutscene Videos

from the spoiler-free dept

Rockstar Games has always struck me as sort of wishy-washy when it comes to how the company protects (or imagines it's protecting) its games. On the one hand, it comes up with fun little strategies to combat cheating, by placing all the cheaters in one place to cheat against other cheaters. On the other hand, the company has embraced DRM in the past, which is the kind of strategy you employ when you want to accomplish exactly nothing beyond pissing off your actual customers. But, hey, nobody's perfect. What's most frustrating when it comes to some of this over-protectionism stuff is when it is done with some truly pure intentions, but isn't thought through. And, the folks behind the newly-released Grand Theft Auto 5 have struck that exact chord with their legal policy on posting game videos.
Posting video showing the ending of the game, pure cutscenes or any other big reveal in the story. It's ok to show cutscenes as part of a larger play-through (or in a narrated ‘Let’s Play’ type video) but isolated videos of the game's cinematics will be removed. If you are unsure if what you want to post is considered a spoiler, please contact copyright@take2games.com and describe exactly what scene you are wondering about and in what context the scene would appear.
On the one hand, it isn't a terribly aggressive policy on posting game videos. There's clearly an embrace of the "Let's Play" style of vids that spread through YouTube and other sites and do so much to help promote the game itself to prospective customers. In a game like GTA, with its open world and insane amount of freedom, watching a video of the game being played by someone else almost certainly causes zero harm to sales, and likely spurs them forward. It's great to see a company embrace that kind of thing, especially when there have been examples of takedowns over those sort of videos.

On the other hand... why is Rockstar designating itself as the spoiler police? Because that's all this really is. The company is designating story-mission cutscene videos that don't do anything else for aggressive takedowns. What's the point of that? As I mentioned above, a game like GTA doesn't live only on its story. In fact, it probably doesn't even live primarily on its story. It's hard to see how many customers will be lost because, oh, now I know the lead character is going to kill some people and probably do some outrageous stuff. Nevermind that watchers could always... you know... just not watch the spoiler videos.

I guess Rockstar can handle its IP however it wants, but this seems both misguided and counter to the purpose of copyright to begin with.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    PaulT (profile), Sep 18th, 2013 @ 3:53am

    I hate spoilers with a passion, to the extent that I actively avoid trailers for movies wherever possible. Even if the story itself is predictable, trailers too often give away scenes at the end of the movie that you just spend time waiting for because you know they'll happen. If sent links or looking on YouTube/Reddit/various other sites, my first action is to skim the comments to see if spoilers are mentioned (and most people in a decent community will warn even if the OP does not).

    On the other hand, I also hate over-reaching copyright, especially when its misused. That's what Rockstar are promising to do here.

    Part of the problem is that they're enforcing their own morality on to people, which is something I try not to do. Sure, *I* hate spoilers, but some TV magazines in the UK have entire sections devoted to outlining what will happen in the week's upcoming soaps. I'll never understand the mentality of watching soaps, let alone ones where you know all the storyline beforehand, but I'd never try blocking or banning others from doing it.

    It should be up to the player whether they wish to know the story before they play or not, and it should also be up to the player to use their brain to work out whether or not they see them (and up to the community as a whole to warn of spoilers beforehand). It should *not* be up to Rockstar to enforce their own opinion on to others.

    It doesn't increase the value of the game, may actually *decrease* the value for some (e.g. some players *want* to see the ending of the game, especially if they tire of getting stuck, quit playing the story missions and just want to see what they missed), and Rockstar are going to essentially be spending a lot of time and money to police their own customers.

    It's their right as copyright holders, of course, but I don't see what the real benefit is.

     

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      art guerrilla (profile), Sep 18th, 2013 @ 6:13am

      Re:

      agree about movie trailers 100%...

      my wife thinks i'm crazy because i hate seeing trailers...
      (well, she thinks i'm crazy for a lot of reasons; on the other paw, she thinks *everyone* is crazy for liking shrimp and wings...)

      *besides* the fact that i didn't go to the movies to see a half hour of ads for other movies (not to mention tee vee ads), IF i'm interested in seeing some upcoming movie (which is about 1 out of a hundred), THEN i do NOT want to see ANYTHING about the movie until i -you know- actually go to see the damn movie...

      now, get off my screen ! !!

      art guerrilla
      aka ann archy
      eof

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 12:01pm

      Re:

      If you've ever asked someone to not spoil something you've enforced your own morality on them. The fact of the matter is 'no spoilers' is censorship just as much as copyright is. It's no coincidence that they're being applied together here.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 12:30pm

        Re: Re:

        "If you've ever asked someone to not spoil something you've enforced your own morality on them."

        Um, sure... if by "enforced" you mean "requested" and by "morality" you mean "desire to be entertained".

        "The fact of the matter is 'no spoilers' is censorship just as much as copyright is."

        Yes, they are censoring. (Unless you believe that censorship can only be done by government, but let's not go there.) So what? They don't appear to be doing anything wrong here - they aren't touching the Let's Play videos that incidentally contain spoilers, they're only going after the ones that ONLY show the spoilers.

         

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    Ninja (profile), Sep 18th, 2013 @ 3:54am

    For a noble cause like this I suggest they hire Prenda. Sounds like the proper stooges.. I mean, professionals for the job.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 4:17am

    i fail to See whats wrong about their approach. if they strictly delete Videos that just show cutscenes, they absolutely own 100% copyright to that. if they don't want that content in this Form on YouTube i think its their right to delete it. whats the difference between a 5 min clip Form a movie or a cutscene from a game.


    if the whole thing makes sense is another question...

     

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      PaulT (profile), Sep 18th, 2013 @ 4:47am

      Re:

      "whats the difference between a 5 min clip Form a movie or a cutscene from a game."

      Not much (assuming that the cutscene is also 5 mins long) - they're both short portions of the whole game/movie that can conceivably be used to trigger debate, discussion and criticism in the comments and provide something other people may be looking for. You can even argue that a cutscene is less relevant to the videogame as a whole since not only are they usually skippable but the video content isn't the primary content of the game (whereas it's the primary content for a movie).

      Legally, the question becomes whether it falls under fair use and logically the question becomes whether removing the clips actually does anything positive. Both are debatable, but I'm sure Rockstar will be using tactics that don't consider the latter while ignoring the former.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 5:22am

        Re: Re:

        I guess the only true difference between your opinions is where your trust lie. In this case, I think the communication strategy is better than the legal strategy if a problem should arise. At least it is easier and cheaper to solve smaller problems in that way.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 4:30am

    Wow, really? What's stopping the slippery slope, then? Any company could claim "spoilers!" on anything they don't like - reviews, criticism - and issue a takedown.

    Naturally the usual idiots won't see any problem with this.

     

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      TheMattRay (profile), Sep 18th, 2013 @ 8:01am

      Re:

      They aren't claiming "spoilers" from a legal perspective, it is their copyright. Along with that are perfectly legal means for using copyrighted items; reviews and criticism (within bounds) are some of those ways.

      I highly recommend spending some time on techdirt to get a primer on such things before you start commenting.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 4:32am

    Yep. Same old same old.

    But people keep giving their approval by buying the games. So why should they change?

     

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    Matt Lauer, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 4:41am

    Can suck it.

    And I just listed all the times to play the spoiler on a play through video. Next will be a GM Script to do it automatically.

    Nothing personal I love the new GTA well worth my money. It's just the point in general of what they're doing is completely pointless and extremely easy to circumvent using their own rules.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 6:17am

      Re: Can suck it.

      Could you come up with a less coherent response?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 8:08am

      Re: Can suck it.

      I have no idea what you mean by a "GM script" so I'm sitting here with the image of you as a twelve year old, typing that word salad response and then firing up the freeware version of GameMaker to try to...do SOMETHING, I don't even know what. But you're irrationally angry and it's funny.

      What I'm saying is you need to communicate better.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 4:43am

    I feel kind of ambivalent on this...

    I mean, nobody here likes it, but there is a system in place to take down alleged-infringing videos on notification, yadda-yadda-yadda and fair enough, I don't like it being there either.

    In this instance, though, all Rockstar are saying is that if you just dump spoiler videos to a video service and you're not commenting on the plot or whatever they feel needs to take place to create a transformative work, they're just going to slap you down with a tool they have at their disposal, because, hey, spoiling stuff makes you a trolling asshole, and they have a (shitty, unpopular) weapon at their disposal which works really great for anti-troll purposes.

    It's a good use of a bad tool, is what I'm saying. Sure, the tool exists to be DMCA compliant but I'm sure YouTube would still be running some form of it if there were no DMCA. Under such a circumstance, Rockstar could say to YouTube "hey, here are all the spoilers for GTA5, any videos showing them are spoiler videos, please take them down out of the goodness of your hearts, because spoilers suck" and YouTube would probably do that.

    Eeeh. I'm rambling.

    Before I stop, I'd like to point out that people who post spoilers don't say they're posting spoilers, they say "Hey, look, a video of KITTENS!" and post a link to a video that shows a cutscene from the game. Saying not to watch spoiler videos is disingenuous as hell and I don't care for that kind of bullshit.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 5:15am

    A smart company would realize that, as a video game, the entertainment is in actually playing the game, not watching it. By being aggressive against clips of gameplay, they're basically admitting that their "game" is a glorified movie. I'm never paying $60 to watch a movie, so I now have no interest in buying the game.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 6:15am

    "watchers could always... you know... just not watch the spoiler videos"

    Jeez. Writing as you do for a site that aggressively pumps videos out at the user whether they want them or not you really REALLY should know better.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 6:29am

    Here's my problem... I loved those cutscene videos on youtube. Everything from a cool cutscene from a game I played or a fight scene from an anime. Not for spoilers but to enjoy that climatic moment again without digging through my local video library and digging through the episode to get it.

    Hell, with games it's even more impossible! How am I going to rewatch a scene in GTA when there's no library of cutscenes... and even if there was. Why would I spend all that time loading up a damn game to watch a quick cutscene?

    How will I show my friend "Hey, see these awesome scene?? It's so much better when you get all the background on it! Play/watch this!"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 7:26am

    This is interesting in the context of the upcoming Playstation 4 and Xbox One. Both of these new consoles facilitate sharing of videos directly from the console (the PS4 even has a "share" button on the controller). Soon millions of players will be posting their videos instead of the few thousands with video capture cards and the inclination to record and upload. It won't be feasible to go through those millions of videos looking for spoilers. Either software companies will have to accept that videos of their games will be accessible online, or they will have to implement some sort of DRM or automatic take down to stop it. When one of the main features the new consoles are advertising is this ability to share, I doubt many companies will adopt this spoiler take down policy.

    As a side note, I am writing this on a Windows machine. "Playstation" comes up as misspelled, while "Xbox" does not.

     

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      PaulT (profile), Sep 18th, 2013 @ 8:09am

      Re:

      Good point, though how does the uploading actually work? Does it go to YouTube or only a pre-approved site? Can you choose where, or does it only go to pre-approved channels where Sony are guaranteed to monetise it? Do you have to sign an agreement letting them get all the ad revenue from your videos first? I suspect some kind of restriction is involved, though I haven't seen specifics yet.

      You'll probably find that these companies are rather kinder to places that give them 100% of the revenue generated than one that lets the player take a cut.

      "As a side note, I am writing this on a Windows machine. "Playstation" comes up as misspelled, while "Xbox" does not."

      You did "misspell" Playstation. The brand name is "PlayStation" (which you'll probably get suggested if you right click on it). Type it as "PlayStation" and it works fine - at least me on Firefox on a Windows 7 machine.

      Stupid I know, but that's branding for you, not a Microsoft thing.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 7:49am

    So with every one up in arms that RockStar is playing spoiler police, every one seems to have missed the big picture. Unlike MPAA/RIAA, they are not expecting the ISP and or You Tube to be the police.

    In my book, that actually makes RockStar one of the good guys.

     

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      PaulT (profile), Sep 18th, 2013 @ 8:03am

      Re:

      "In my book, that actually makes RockStar one of the good guys."

      That's a stretch, but we'll wait and see how they actually implement the process. If they're working with YouTube and other providers to make sure that the scenes they object to are flagged and removed or blocked as with music videos then they're better than the **AAs. Still not "good" (they're still removing content some people want to see) but they're not being as obnoxious about it as some others.

      If, on the other hand, they send off scattershot automated DMCA notices against random sites and blogs against content that contains their cutscenes even if they're presented in a valid fair use context then they're just as bad.

      Either way, "not as bad as the other guys" does not mean "good guy". Plus you have to remember - they have some room to look "good" because no shareholder's going to whine about the upcoming payday on GTAV. Their tune could soon change.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 8:34am

    I'd interpret what they're saying as: "The cutscenes in this game are just as bland and boring as in the previous games in the series, and we don't want you to tell anyone because we've let the fame go to our heads and believe someone actually buys these games for the story."

     

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    ntlgnce, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 10:32am

    Hmm, It would appear that posting the video as a news story about the ending of the game would fall under the "fair use" policy.. I cant wait to post the video,

     

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    Michael, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 11:08am

    I believe in attempting to do this, Rockstar games is extremely likely to run afoul of the copyright of another game company very quickly.

    Whac-A-Mole will not stand for this kind of theft of their intellectual property.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2013 @ 7:41pm

    A good way to avoid spoilers is to avoid the internet.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2013 @ 8:25pm

    Monetization

    Rockstar actually went so far as to tell YouTubers that if they showed any cutscene material they could not monetize the videos, so I'll be surprised if this is even an issue.

     

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