No, Including Stream-Safe Music Options In Games Isn't The Solution To Game-Stream Takedowns
from the pretzel-logic dept
Streaming and video games are becoming quite a thing, as you likely know. Once met with rebukes such as “Why would anyone want to watch other people play video games?”, game-streaming has gotten very large, very fast, such that there are now several outlets one can go to to see live streams and on-demand streams of games. But because, to bastardize a Christopher Hitchens book title, permission culture poisons everything, game streaming is finding itself having to leap over a copyright hurdle in the form of music within games. One solution, employed by the popular Twitch, was to simply silence any video in which a game’s music could be heard. This method is patently ridiculous, of course, as a majority of games do indeed have music and silent streams are largely worthless in terms of entertainment value. But at least Twitch’s move had the unintended consequence of highlighting just how burdensome our permission culture has become, in knee-capping game-streams, which are ultimately useful to game-makers, in favor of copyright protection. It’s easy to see how everyone loses and why everyone loses when Twitch streams are silenced, in other words.
A much worse “solution” to this problem is touted by Kotaku, using the game Concrete Jungle as its example, a game which includes a settings option for “stream-safe music.”
I wrote (and spoke) about Concrete Jungle a bit a few weeks ago, but feel like pointing this out again: for all the game’s good points, one of its best inclusions is a seemingly harmless little checkbox at the bottom of the game’s settings menu. There it is. “Stream-Safe Music”. For starters, it’s a helpful little explainer as to why so many videos get taken down! Some people may not realise that, when licensing music, sometimes different rights apply to YouTube as do the game itself. So while it’s cool for a game to include music, it might not be cool for a video of the game to be on YouTube.
More importantly, though, it’s a one-click workaround to the problem. Tick that box and only the music that’s 100% cool to be played on YouTube will be played while you record/stream.
But that’s the thing: it isn’t a workaround to the problem at all, assuming the problem we’re talking about is a complicated series of licensing schemes that ultimately disappear content, generate little to no revenue (as evidenced by Twitch simply turning the sound off), and stem from a permission culture that is entirely out of control. What creating stream-safe music options does is ignore the problem entirely. Far from creating any kind of resolution, actively pimping an option that requires game-makers and streamers to twist themselves into a pretzel to avoid DMCA takedowns is cheering for unproductive effort. Nobody benefits from this, and everyone loses. Game-makers lose because it makes streaming their games require more effort, which means some streamers simply will give up therefore decreasing the exposure the game could receive. Music makers lose because most of their music will never be heard on the stream, either because videos will be silenced, DMCA’d, or because everyone will be using the stream-safe option when they stream. And gamers lose because, as much as in film, music plays a huge role in the atmosphere of many video games.
What sounds like a reasonable attempt to get around the stupidity of copyright effecting game streams is instead an unreasonable request that everyone ignore the actual problem and allow it to fester. That isn’t how you fix things. It’s how you allow a problem to become worse.