Nintendo Shuts Down Musician’s YouTube Videos Of Metroid Covers

from the nintendon't dept

Nintendo’s war on its own fans’ love of Nintendo game music continues. The company has certainly made headlines over the past few years (with a big ramp up recently) by going on DMCA and threat blitzes for YouTube videos and channels that have uploaded what are essentially just the music from various Nintendo games. The blitzes started by taking down 3-figure numbers of videos, then reached the thousands by 2022. Notably, this has pissed off tons of Nintendo fans, many of whom pointed out that Nintendo was disappearing all of this music that was almost entirely unavailable through legit means.

To continue to be clear on this point, Nintendo can do this… but it certainly doesn’t have to. Evidence for that would be much of the rest of the video game industry. You don’t hear this level of takedowns being done by all the other gaming companies out there.

But, I suppose if you squint really hard and have been inhaling gas fumes, you could argue somehow that a direct recording of Nintendo’s game music being on YouTube is some sort of threat to current or future Nintendo plans. That gets a little bit harder to use to explain why Nintendo is now also targeting people who are uploading their own recreations and covers of Nintendo music.

As first reported by NintendoLife, the newest member of the club is SynaMax, a YouTube channel dedicated to music. The user behind the channel, who says in the channel’s bio that they have been creating music since 2004, had previously uploaded high-quality recreations and covers of some Metroid Prime songs. However, that seems to have attracted the attention of Nintendo and its legal team. In a video uploaded yesterday, the channel creator claimed he was contacted by Nintendo lawyers on May 31 and told to remove nine videos that featured Metroid Prime music covers or remixes.

“I’m really disappointed in Nintendo that they would force me to take down these videos because they want compulsory licenses,” SynaMax said in the new video.

Here again, Nintendo is probably within its rights to demand these videos get taken down, though some of that depends on just how transformative these covers could be seen as being. It’s not something that generally needs considering, because most companies, again, aren’t doing these takedowns like Nintendo is. Over a decade ago, I wrote about OC ReMix, a site dedicated to hosting and promoting fan-created remakes of video game music. That site still operates today and still very much hosts remixes of Nintendo game music. Whether Nintendo will get around to going after that site too instead of just YouTube videos remains to be seen.

But the point here is that Nintendo very much doesn’t have to do this to its creative fans. And why it wants less interest generated in its products through this free promotion it’s getting past its fans.

However, they questioned why the company becomes aggressive instead of just demonetizing relevant videos and letting fans continue to produce and share Nintendo-inspired creations. SynaMax said he would not mind losing that revenue; they just want to share their songs with other fans. SynaMax, his frustration evident, wrapped by saying that they’re done making any more Nintendo-related content “for a very long time.”

And one less free promoter now exists for Nintendo. Surely SynaMax’s content wasn’t threat enough to outweigh his spreading interest in Nintendo music. But that’s Nintendo for you.

Filed Under: , , , , , ,
Companies: nintendo, youtube

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Nintendo Shuts Down Musician’s YouTube Videos Of Metroid Covers”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
96 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Whether Nintendo will get around to going after that site too instead of just YouTube videos remains to be seen.

I think it’s far likelier that individuals are just easier for corporations to bully into compliance, as opposed to sites that can relocate or flat out tell lawyers to go pound sand for not even being in the right country.

The Metroid franchise is a lot easier to bully, though, seeing that game streamers I follow opine that their Metroid content simply doesn’t do well on the YouTube algorithm for it to be worth it.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

And yet, it’s not access to Nintendo’s music. It’s a cover. If this was the case you’d previously commented on where people uploaded perfect copies of Nintendo’s game OSTs, then sure, it’s “Nintendo’s”. Here, Nintendo wasn’t the one who produced the cover. Why do you feel entitled to deny access?

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Sabroni says:

Re: Re: Childlike

The child like bit is the “I want it, I should be able to have it” attitude of the “fans”.
I’m not saying Nintendo are right, i’m asking why you feel entitled to their music.
(ps. I think your jibe would work if you criticised my comprehension rather than my reading)

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

And you’re being intentionally obtuse, you disingenious maximalist.

Most of us are happy with actually buying the fucking thing, dipshit. Some of us who would like to to able to use their music for monetizable content are also more than happy to engage in negotiations to do so.

It has nothing to do with petty fucking entitlement. It has everything to do with wanting either reasonable access to their stuff, or reasonable contracts.

The “children” you speak of will find a way to get their games and still whine about it, because they’re not into games, they’re into being fucking miserable.

Even 4chan hates their videogames board for a reason.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

The very concept of “intellectual property” is childish. All ideas emerge from a chain of human interactions with no traceable beginning. To think there’s some magical point at which a collection of pre-existing ideas becomes a unique independent concept is a toddler’s understanding of how things actually work.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

To think there’s some point at which a collection of pre-existing ideas becomes a unique independent expression is how things actually work in copyright law. That’s not to defend dragons like Dis… Nintendo, it’s just stating things from a more realistic perspective. After all, IP dragons’ continuous overreactions to people not wanting or being able to pay for access to works is how we’re in this mess in the first place.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3

If a different expression of an idea is a “fundamental lie”, then so is a different viewpoint

A different expression of an idea by itself doesn’t have to be a lie. On the other hand, it’s not clear at all where copyright has benefited the general public, certainly not at the levels that copyright proponents constantly insist. I’ve yet to see how a term of life + 70 years is vastly more beneficial than terms of life + 50 years, or why standards of proving copyright cases should lie solely on IP address evidence and mere accusations.

You might argue that copyright isn’t based on a lie, but it certainly leaves a lot to be desired with how it treats consumers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Humans learn by copying people around the, which is how you learnt language and social behavior. The musicians who created the music almost certainly learnt their craft by copying other musicians. Corporations do not understand this, and so carry out unnecessary enforcement actions, but will be the first to complain when the cannot find any skilled musicians.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

JohnnyBlazeon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Please refer to Synamax’s statement where Nintendo’s lawyers said he needed to get a compulsory license.

Bigger artists than him have successful careers that include doing videogame song/music covers – Smooth McGroove based his YouTube career on it. Smooth McGroove stated in an interview that he took steps to sort out the licensing and stuff behind the scenes. It’s quite clear Synamax didn’t/wouldn’t do it.

JohnnyBlazeon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4

Nice insult. Now try to engage properly without them.

He could still ask the copyright holder (and in this case, it seems like Nintendo’s lawyers already contacted him so he doesn’t need to spend time hunting around) and they could still grant one.

If he tries and fails, he’s free to make Nintendo into bigger asses, particularly if they tell him to get a license but refuse to provide one.

As it stands, the facts are:
– Synamax distributed monetised Nintendo cover songs on YouTube without any of the required licenses for sharing cover songs on YouTube
– Nintendo’s lawyers got in touch and said no, take them down, you need a compulsory
– Synamax rejects the demand for a compulsory license and is disappointed at not being able to reach a compromise by having them demonetised (here’s possibly where Nintendo could have exercised some leniency but it could lead to others seeing no wrong in going down the same route)

The question I have is: Why was he happy for the videos to earn him money but not pay for the compulsory license when Nitnendo’s lawyers got involved? He does go on to say that he could live with them being demonetised but that doesn’t change the fact that they were originally monetised.

Everyone knows by now that earning money off Nintendo’s IP without permission is a good way to pain a target on your back. Especially in content distribution sites.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:5

In this case, it Nintendo’s lawyers contacted SynaMax to tell him to, and I quote, “get a mechanical licence,” not to open negotiations with him. I’ve now got two questions: 1) Why do you keep belabouring the same point I already addressed over and over? 2) What is it about Techdirt that attracts deliberately ineducable individuals like you?

JohnnyBlazeon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6

More insults? Are you incapable of carrying a discussion without one? You know I haven’t thrown insults here right so there’s no need to do so yourself?

My experience of TechDirt is it attracts commentators who react to the headline first and care little about getting a bit more detail about the story (classic case was the story about the romuniverse site lawsuit- large majority of the comments were raging against Nintendo removing classic ROMs when the lawsuit was focused on Switch ROMs).

Back to the topic at hand, it is entirely reasonable to assume that he can ask said lawyers about how to get one (if there weren’t any instructions given during the communications).

You’re assuming none were given – only Synamax knows what was written and whether any information was provided about how to get a license.

No need to be so close minded about this. It’s not outside the realms of probability for Synamax to ask them how much it would cost and how he could get one IF he was interested. The lawyers could, respond negatively or even with the equivalent of, “not our problem” but you’re dead set against the possibility because, I can only guess, of prejudice.

It’s clear that other YouTubers can make a living out of music covers that includes videogame music.
It’s clear that there’s a way to get licensed.
It’s not clear whether he tried or whether the costs were much too high to consider.

JohnnyBlazeon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6

I’m arguing that Synamax could ask.

It’s apparently possible to ask for the license from the copyright holder even when there’s no official scheme for original game music. Usually, the problem is you don’t have a fixed person to contact – not so in this case since he could ask the lawyers who contacted him.

I’m also arguing that if he asked and they blew him off then screw Nintendo.

Of course it’s MUCH MUCH easier not to need to ask and just go through the licensing for songs that have already been released in the US – but, I’m arguing that it’s not as impossible as Autie is making it out to be. Otherwise, logically speaking, people like Smooth McGroove wouldn’t and couldn’t be licensed and he’s clearly stated that he’s sorted that part out. Synamax clearly didn’t.

Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Why the fuck?

Why the fuck is Nintendo doing this? There’s Metroid Metal, and then there’s GameChops, and more and more, but what the hell is Nintendo thinking by putting these covers in jeopardy?!?!?

I know: because the Nintendo Switch is selling so well that Nintendo is immune to bad PR. You remember when Trump said that he could shoot someone on Fifth avenue and his approval ratings wouldn’t go down? Nintendo could sue the most destitute person ever for the pettiest reason and people would still buy their games (like me, to be honest).

\sigh\

Naughty Autie says:

Re:

Nintendo could sue the most destitute person ever for the pettiest reason and people would still buy their games (like me, to be honest).

Not me. I’ve not purchased a single damn thing from Nintendo since 2018, and that’s how it’s going to stay until they stop this nonsense. If they want to make the dingenuous claim that fan-made covers of music from their games is hurting their bottom line, then I’m happy to teach them the consequences of making those games undiscoverable by people who’ve never played them before.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Ah, sorry, I have to explain this one. It’s from Singapore.

In 2007-2008, a company sent out threatening lawyers, apparenrly on behalf of the Japanese Rightsholders, to extort money for illegally downloaded anime.

One of those letters was sent to a 9 year old kid, whose parents probably paid the extortion fee.

Went to the courts, this did. Where the judges ruled that for infringement nonsense, IPs could not be used as evidence of infringement.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3

Ah, another one who hasn’t been on Techdirt long, I see. FYI, in addition to suing a pre-teen for illegal downloads, RIAA have also targeted dead people, including the dead great grandmother I mentioned, and once infamously sued a family without a computer for illegal downloads that couldn’t possibly have occurred. Basically, bucko, I’m not the one needing “maximalist lawsuit” jokes explaining to me, you’re the one needing them explaining to you. What does that say about you?

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5

You haven’t been following the news, have you?

China has put a FUCKTON of diplomatic, military, economic and political pressure on the region, ranging from their BRI scam, seizing military materiel from countries who do not kowtow to Xi, meddling in fucking elections with a lack of ethical concern that the CIA probably fucking envies…

Pressuring Thailand to build the Kra Canal…

Propping up ASEAN’s poorest members…

Sinking military vessels to assert dominance…

When MY government is too pussy to mention the reason behind certain laws, it’s safe to assume China has total control of the region.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3

Did you ever fucking consider that maybe, just maybe, that Asia generally prefers to have iron-fisted control freaks in power, as seen by the entire continent voting hard right assholes, rolling over to accept authoritarian leaders and other related nonsense?

Not just China. Not just India. Not just Japan and South Korea, either.

My neck of the woods is so hard right they’re pretty happy with letting China control the region, and in MY country, letting the shithead Republicans corrupt our politicians and politicians to the point where fucking CHINA is more progressive wrt to LGBT+ rights.

So if you don’t like how I said things, flag, report and hope I get IP-banned. Or worse.

JohnnyBlazeon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4

Given the celebrations in Malaysia when the hard right government was voted out, no (They eventually squirmed back in but that’s another story). Asia doesn’t prefer to have them in power. The Philippines didn’t enjoy the reign of Imelda Marcos. I know many have complained about Singapore and how the ruling party stays in power.

So, no. Asia doesn’t ‘prefer’ to have them stay in power. I certainly don’t like it on a personal level for China to have that much influence over the region too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5

Oh, Malaysia? The fuck they voted in was none other than Mahathir, who IS a hard-right racist authcap fuck. And was also the successful, corrupt authoritarian who paved the way for his incompetent successors to be openly corrupt.

The Phillipines? They voted in DUTERTE, whose only contribution to the Phillipines was to murder a bunch of drug traffickers for Xi. And then it gets worse, as Filipinos then voted IN the incompetent dickweed son of Marcos, who possesses NONE of the intelligence, or drive, and his Veep is a bought and paid for agent of Xi.

And all of them are extreme hard right authcap dictator-types.

You were saying?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Considering how many countries in Asia adopt hard authoritian features of governance, bordering on either fascistic or totalitarian depending on how you want to view it…

And having seen not just the fucking terms and conditions for creators AND the direct effects of such control on emerging industries and how the industries meekly roll over and ask to be gentle…

And having seen the complete hypocrisy of Singapore’s leaders firsthand in not naming the actual fucking reason as to WHY the hideous, info control mess of a law that was rubberstamped soon after the “fake news” law…

And how the people simply accept it to the point of actually trying to stifle criticism of how authoritarian/totalitarian it is on a personal level…

Maybe I’m legitimately crazy, but I can’t deny that it’s safe to assume that deep down, Asians are fascistic control freaks i general?

David says:

Assigning a soul to a corporation is not how it works

But the point here is that Nintendo very much doesn’t have to do this to its creative fans. And why it wants less interest generated in its products through this free promotion it’s getting past its fans.

You are talking about “Nintendo” like an individual. We are talking about a legal department inside of a large corporation. That’s a number of jobs justified by stats of actions and successes. Those stats don’t have subdivisions in categories like “self-defeating” or “idiotic” or “bad publicity”. They have categories like “successful” and “cost of litigation” that make it advisable to go after small fry.

You need active meddlers in the company structure and culture that are willing to go to the pain of looking at the details behind the numbers.

Going against the corporate grain because it makes sense to do so is a cultural thing. It will differ between privately held companies and publicly traded ones, and you’ll find differences when companies are, say, under Chinese, Japanese, German, Icelandish, Australian, Canadian, U.S. leadership.

Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: Re: Not really

Japanese Culture actually once took a far more lenient stance on copyright infringement because lawyers were far more expensive than the US. In fact, the Mangaka of Love Hina warned that Doujinshi would be harmed by the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, so if you want evidence that Japanese Culture was freer than the US at one point in the recent past, there it is.

JohnnyBlazeon (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I was curious so I took a look at the OC Remix site’s T&Cs and I see a bunch of T&Cs that include things like prohibiting users from directly profiting from any track on the site (though it’s fine to have on place like YouTube or Twitch if the video doesn’t just have the remix).

It would be intriguing to see what other people’s reactions might be if OC Remix had to take action on someone that made profit without permission from a track on the site!

Back to the actual comment – I doubt they’d enter Nintendo’s crosshairs – the site’s T&Cs state that none of the tracks can be used for profit and any ad revenue etc are solely for running and promotion costs. It’s not a watertight legal defence but it does make it less likely for them to be targeted by one of the copyright holders.

“A remix generally falls under what is known in U.S. Copyright Law as a “derivative work” – something that has been “recast, transformed, or adapted” to represent an original work of authorship. The creation of a derivative work does require special permission from the copyright owner(s), unless an exception applies.”
https://diymusician.cdbaby.com/music-rights/remixing-public-domain-and-the-creative-commons-license/

JohnnyBlazeon (profile) says:

Re: Smooth McGroove already sorted out the licensing etc

That won’t happen because he’s already sorted out the licensing etc unlike Synamax and other previously affected people – “As most YouTube artists rely on ad revenue for a living, do you have concerns about the way Content ID claims are being handled? What impact has this had?

Content ID concerns everyone that does music or gaming on YouTube. I happen to do both, so I definitely have concerns about this. It’s made me seek out licensing and other protections for my work, which I’ve had success with so far.”
https://www.nintendolife.com/news/2014/03/ninterview_smooth_mcgroove_on_a_life_in_game_music

Anonymous Coward says:

Nintendo loses no money by a fan made cover of music from a 10 year old game , its just promotion of the game by fans, they are not issuing cds or vinyl of game soundtracks. Technically game companys could take down YouTube play throughs of games this rarely happens as company’s realise its promotion free advertising
No one else makes console games like Nintendo they have a strong fan base that, ll always buy Nintendo products
When you are the only game company doing something you should ask am I right to do this?
They are the most strict in any game company re taking down content made by fans on youtube
Annoying fans is not a good policy in the long run for any company

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

Annoying fans is not a good policy in the long run for any company

Nintendo has done shit like this for years. These moves might piss off hardcore Nintendo fans (or ex-fans), sure. But they’ll never cross the mind of the casual fans and the parents who want a nice family-friendly videogame to give to their kids. Get those people to side against Nintendo and maybe the company would care. Until then: This will keep happening and you can do nothing about it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3

To be fair, Singapore was also one of the countries who wisely told the Dallas Buyers Club LLC to come back with stronger evidence than the shitstained toilet paper they’d submitted to subpoena Internet account holders. Which, of course, nipped that troublesome troll in the bud.

They’re not at an ideal place where they handle IP, but they’re not Sabroni or Prenda Law either.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4

And before that, Singapore’s biggest ISP was paid 5000 bucks local currency to expose the billing addresses of 900 people illegally downloading anime.

Said ISP has links to the ruling party.

Singapore is firmly in the maximalist camp, but our non-politically-aligned judges tend to be pretty sharp on these issues sometimes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5

I look at the timeframe between the Odex fiasco and the Dallas Buyers Club decision as a sort of natural progression when it comes to IP-based cases.

In the US during the early 2000s, nobody would think much of RIAA settlement letters and lawsuits. The narrative that “sharing is stealing” was very much accepted even though actual consumers thought very little of sharing music files and software. The RIAA’s tactics were abusive, their methods were dubious, their evidence was hilariously bad, but since no precedent had been set and defendants weren’t judged to be at risk, judges more or less let plaintiffs get away with it. Save for some high-profile cases like Tanya Andersen, and a few others covered by defense attorneys like Ray Beckerman.

Fast forward to the early 2010s, when Prenda Law tried the exact same strategy but involving porn, and that was when judges stood up and paid attention because people were being harassed, intimidated and embarrassed into settling. It helped that several defense lawyers also investigated the rabbit hole that Prenda left behind and uncovered their strategies, culminating in the legendary Star Trek decision by Judge Otis Wright that started the downfall of Prenda Law as a legal entity.

I’d say a similar case applies for Singapore. In 2008 it would have been likely for the DBC case to swing in favor of the plaintiffs – but thanks to shenanigans of copyright trolls being more widely known, judges were able to recognize that the plaintiffs were looking for a quick buck to harass.

It’s slow going, and not all judges are as astute as the ones who prevented the deluge of claims against iiNet in Australia during the late 2000s, but I’d like to imagine they’ll get there eventually.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You are absolutely correct that you don’t need a license to write and publish fanfiction.

You don’t need a license to perform them (that’s almost always covered by the venue) but you’re factually incorrect about cover songs not needing any license to distribute them. You may want to double check whatever source told you otherwise.

I’ve been interested to do cover songs as well so I’ve done the research before.

Fanfiction and cover songs are also totally different things.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...