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.

Filed Under: copyright, music, stream safe, streaming, video games


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 22 Oct 2015 @ 9:37pm

    But wait, it gets worse

    Because even 'stream-safe' music doesn't ensure that the game won't get hit with a copyright claim, thanks to bots with the accuracy of drunk, one-armed crack-fiends automatically filing claims on anything that might be infringing, it just slightly lowers the odds of it happening.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 23 Oct 2015 @ 12:11am

      Re: But wait, it gets worse

      And the entire business model of making claims to snatch the advertising revenue, only to let go when the monolith finally thinks something might be hinkey...

      The problem stems from the belief that there are billions of dollars that magically will appear if they manage the control of it just right. This leads to the insanity where zomg someone might not make a few hundred they deserve!!!

      Rather than try to solve the problem, they don't dare look at the failing model they instead try to force everyone else to bear the costs and burdens to play inside the rules.

      People want to share, and this is/could be a huge boon to the corporations but now that we have to have "Stream Safe" as a fscking game setting. The news would like to report from outside of the venue, but they have to overdub Happy Birthday in the background because someone MIGHT hear a snippet of a song.

      We have beloved tv shows we want to own, but have to accept them being different than our memories because ZOMG millions!
      Now games won't sound like what we saw, because someone owns the rights to the pew pew noise the gun makes, and someone else owns the rights to the footsteps, and someone else owns the musical stinger... and no one will just sign contracts to deal with reality... because everyone deserves the millions, that don't exist, in their bank account.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2015 @ 1:16am

        Re: Re: But wait, it gets worse

        I don't fault providing a "Stream-Safe Music" option. It's a quick, cheap way to avoid the problem, CYA and gain some good PR in the process.

        I'll accept that you're right on one account:
        "because everyone deserves the millions, that don't exist, in their bank account"
        Technically, assuming those assets actually value millions, the creators do deserve fair compensation. That's the law actually.
        But, as you've said, that money doesn't actually exist. Either because... [GASP!] the assets aren't actually worththat much, or because there isn't that much money to be made in the first place.

        Also "Lost money" calculations presented to the press and law (not shareholders) are generally made based on "what we used to sell back when physical media was king and the economy was good".

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 23 Oct 2015 @ 1:40am

          Re: Re: Re: But wait, it gets worse

          "It's a quick, cheap way to avoid the problem, CYA and gain some good PR in the process."

          Except, as mentioned above, it doesn't avoid the problem. It delays it and still doesn't guarantee that the bots and so on don't incorrectly flag this music anyway. This is papering over some cracks, at best, it does nothing to fix the crumbling foundations.

          "the creators do deserve fair compensation"

          Very few people argue that they shouldn't. What they argue are the methods by which this is obtained and the collateral damage and unintended consequences that damage consumers and artists alike. Work out a system that's actually fair, that treats independents and major labels alike and protects the rights of everyone involved - including consumers - and we're talking. So far, all the schemes have been to "protect" the major labels at the expense of everyone else, and are often counter-productive even to their needs.

          "Also "Lost money" calculations presented to the press and law (not shareholders) are generally made based on "what we used to sell back when physical media was king and the economy was good"."

          ...and thus as irrelevant to the modern marketplace as piano roll sales were to the era of The Beatles. Whatever else happens, that marketplace no longer exists. It's about time this was accepted.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2015 @ 5:10am

          Re: Re: Re: But wait, it gets worse

          The problem is that they are not avoiding a problem: They are actively hiding from a problem! While it may be liability and manhour-wise a good decission for them, the streamers, nor the artists are that much better off, since many takedowns are legally questionable and the artists have exactly the same work as before in enforcement.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2015 @ 4:44am

      Re: But wait, it gets worse

      Never mind that. Consider that performance rights organizations are very, very keen on demanding money for music, even when it's clear that none of theirs is being used or performed.

      It's not a question of whether the game gets hit with a copyright claim, it's a matter of when, and how much the rightsholders think you should be fucked over.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2015 @ 12:37am

    But at least Twitch's move had the unintended consequence of highlighting just how burdensome our permission culture has become,

    That means it is working, by limiting permissions to the chosen few corporations. The only time things, where the copyright is assigned to a corporation, get widely licensed is when the licensing is mandatory.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, 23 Oct 2015 @ 2:03am

    Streaming DLC

    With this DLC purchase you will be able to stream games just like your suppose to without fear of be taken down. At a mere price of $19.95 a year. Or pre order now and get a lifetime of game music streaming for $39.95. Regularly priced $97.95. Order your DLC today.

    EA

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 23 Oct 2015 @ 2:14am

      Re: Streaming DLC

      The irony is, that wouldn't even be a slight against EA, since all they'd be doing is collecting insurance against the collection demands made against them from RIAA labels. EA would actually be the "good guys" there, that's how screwed up the situation is.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 23 Oct 2015 @ 3:16am

      Re: Streaming DLC

      Said DLC includes Nordic folk songs played precisely in that climax action scene. Brazilian samba from decades ago that happen to not be copyrighted will play on scenes where there's tension in the air and kiddie songs of the olden will accompany you during these sneak, espionage missions. Gospel music from the middle ages will enrich scenes of brutal fight and murder.

      Yep. I'd buy that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2015 @ 2:53am

    ok the easy solution

    most big mmos allow you to turn off there music and you can put on your own music...and if you use music that people do not go copyright stupid on you ...then its all over this whole thing s about bad games that don't allow me to turn off there stupid music...don't want music streamed to me thanks....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 23 Oct 2015 @ 3:04am

      Re: ok the easy solution

      "if you use music that people do not go copyright stupid on you"

      If that meant "use non-copyrighted music" - thanks to the actions of maximalists there's virtually no such thing any more, and their poorly programmed bots will happily flag up public domain and CC licensed music anyway.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Guardian, 23 Oct 2015 @ 2:59am

    your going to need a liscence to poo

    mark my words one day your going to need a liscence to poo, and that's when the sh*t will hit a fan...somewhere

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    JurorSeven, 23 Oct 2015 @ 3:12am

    Watch JurorSeven Carefully

    He's standing up.
    Oh..watch Dawg..
    He's NULLIFYIN..
    BAMB..
    DoH.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Suomynona, 23 Oct 2015 @ 3:49am

    Providing "Stream-Safe Music"

    All that the checkbox has to do is to replace all normal game music with "Happy Birthday to You" stuck in an endless loop. We already KNOW that song is ok due to a recent ruling. For variation play it faster, slower, or in a different pitch. If it's a tension scene, play it out of tune.

    But then does someone else own the words to that song? Maybe we should come up with our own, right now:

    I'm going to kill you,
    You're going to be blue.
    Quit jump-ing 'round so much,
    I'm going to kill you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2015 @ 4:36am

    Coming soon to a backyard near you.
    Little copyright DMCA trolls pop up while listening to tunes doing yard work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2015 @ 5:54am

    Stream Silencing Clarification

    The stream itself is not silenced, what gets silenced is the post stream VOD format of the stream. On top of that it is not Game music but regular music that is played in the background during the stream that causes problems. As a streamer I shy away from that because I wish to keep my VODs available in full and prefer to retain the ability to clip highlights out to be published to YouTube.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2015 @ 6:21am

    I swear, Kotaku is one massive cesspool of nonsense. Some of the worst journalists out there by far.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 23 Oct 2015 @ 7:33am

    This is terrific!

    The only thing missing to make "Stream-Safe" music the DEFAULT music in the game.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, 23 Oct 2015 @ 8:04am

    To better serve

    To better serve you. The music of the game will be swapped for the soothing sounds of analog television white noise with intermittent 24k baud dial up modem noise. Enjoy the soothing sounds.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2015 @ 8:05am

    My understanding is that the livestream in twitch does not get silence but when it becomes a VOD afterwards, the silence comes in. It's anybody's guess how long that loophole will remain open. It might get closed if twitch gains more marketshare.

    Not sure how youtube handles its livestreams, ContentID shenanagans and such.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gary (profile), 23 Oct 2015 @ 8:22am

    How safe is it?

    If Twitch is going to turn the sound off in any video with music, how are they going to enable only the "Safe" ones?

    And all this jumps past the larger copyright question - Nintendo and other companies are claiming a copyright on the Videos of the game. Can we replace the graphics with non-copyrighted game characters and art?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2015 @ 8:31am

    But wasn't it already decided by the courts that deliberately designing your streaming setup to comply with current copyright law without a valid technical reason for the design choice is, itself, copyright infringement? This solution is looking an awful lot like a duck.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2015 @ 12:40pm

      Re:

      Technically true, but a court would never rule against this because it resulted in some matrail getting takendown (the music, but not the games visual aspects), Aero's setup did not result in anything being takendown. Its all about censorship, and protectionizing major businesses such as thos, represented by the RIAA.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2015 @ 10:24am

    You do what you can, with what you have.

    > 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.

    So, yeah. Or rather, no. That isn't the problem Concrete Jungle is addressing. Concrete Jungle is simply trying to help players keep their streams from being taken down. They've already seen YOUR problem, and decided they don't have the resources (legal or otherwise) to win it.

    And please note that yes, they have contributed their part in your own fight, by providing something you can point to and say "See? See!? This is what happens!"

    When you have a choice, choose battles you can win.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Oct 2015 @ 2:06pm

    Written by someone who's never viewed streamers on the platform and is conveniently matching a false presupposition with an agenda. A good agenda, yes, but please do your homework.

    Twitch does NOT silence live streams. YouTube's new gaming platform DOES.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bdj, 23 Oct 2015 @ 4:50pm

    I used to love gaming. I bought a lot of games and consoles and was constantly upgrading computer hardware to keep up with the latest hotness. Now I simply hate them and have abandoned my old ways. It was the heavy-handedness of the industry (DRM, DLC abuses, Let's Play take-downs, etc) that ultimately turned me off. Had I stayed with it, I'm certain that the industry would have a lot more of my money because kids like games too and parenthood isn't cheap. Today there are no consoles or gaming rigs in my house and the kids are perfectly fine with other forms of entertainment.

    My point is that it was the actions of the industry that drove me away. They lost out on purchases that I would have continued to make for myself and, additionally, for the kids. Perhaps I'm alone or in the minority but I'd like to believe that some percentage of consumers share my frustration and are collectively impacting sales figures.

    Most game companies suck. Copyright sucks. I don't need the extra headaches so, fuck 'em...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sambo, 25 Oct 2015 @ 6:30pm

    Need to turn the tables

    The stupid thing is that if someone releases an app that automatically mutes out crap copyright music every time it plays on the game in the first place the record companies would sue you for interfering with their business model....

    Should be able to bill them every time their junk music is forced down your throat during games. The game likely cost way more than a song and the music often detracts from rather than enhances the experience as you can't escape from it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2015 @ 6:37pm

    What other property is so scarce and valuable that we don't bother taxing it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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