American Division Of Persona 5 Developer Warns That Their 'Masters' Don't Want People Streaming Spoilers

from the uh,-okay? dept

This seems like something we'll need to keep repeating: revealing entertainment spoilers is not copyright infringement. What ought to be common sense is apparently not so for all kinds of content owners in the entertainment space. As such, DMCA notices or threats for DMCA notices have been used to combat spoiler releases in all kinds of forms, from movie predictions, to television show predictions, to video game footage that reveals spoilers. Some of these instances involve actual footage of the copyrighted material while some don't, but the core of the matter is that if you're talking copyright infringement because of spoilers, you're doing copyright wrong.

The latest version of this comes from Atlus, developers of Persona 5. The American division of Atlus put out a notice on its website, in which it starts off with bubbling excitement over the release of the game, but then spills into a lecture on what gamers can stream and what they cannot.

Ok, now let’s talk Persona 5 streaming and videos. Simply put, we don’t want the experience to be spoiled for people who haven’t played the game. Our fans have waited years for the game to come out and we really want to make sure they can experience it fully as a totally new adventure. Please read our video/streaming guidelines below:

Please, PLEASE do not post any specific plot points or story spoilers, and only talk about the game in broad strokes. (Good example: “The game deals with dark themes right off the bat, with a lecherous teacher and other corrupted individuals.” Bad example: “Players immediately run into trouble with the pervy teacher *spoiler*, whose actions go so far as to cause *spoiler*.”)

You’re more than welcome to talk/show Confidants, the new combat, the Velvet Room, the dungeons, etc. Just please keep in mind that as a singular story playthrough, viewers are *highly* wary of spoilers!

In-game Content Limit: Please limit video content through the in-game date of 7/7.

"7/7" refers to a date within the game itself, which means that players of this game who want to stream their playthroughs will apparently have to check their fictitious calendars to make sure they haven't reached the streaming event horizon. That in itself ought to strike you as ridiculous on its face, but reading through the subsequent guidelines about what should be streamed and what shouldn't literally had me chuckling. For example:

No major story spoilers, and I’ll leave that up to your good judgment. If you need some guidelines, avoid showing/spoiling the ending segments of the first three palaces. While you can show initial interactions with Yusuke, avoid his awakening scene, and that whole deal about THE painting. Also, don’t post anything about a certain student investigator.

This obviously takes live streaming out of the equation. How is one to know what in the sweet hell any of this refers to unless they've already played the game? And dictating commentary topics, as opposed to footage, doesn't carry any weight having to do with copyright infringement. Streamers can discuss whatever they want. And if Atlus allows streaming of its game, it's not clear to me that the DMCA or copyright law allows them to dictate the segmentation of what's allowed for streaming and what isn't.

But the stranger part is the American Atlus division's sheepish reason for putting these restrictions out there in the first place. I can't quite tell if some of this is supposed to be taken tongue in cheek or not, but it comes off sounding rather ominous.

This being a Japanese title with a single-playthrough story means our masters in Japan are very wary about it. Sharing is currently blocked through the native PS4 UI. However, if you do plan on streaming, video guidelines above apply except length. If you decide to stream past 7/7 (I HIGHLY RECOMMEND NOT DOING THIS, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED), you do so at the risk of being issued a content ID claim or worse, a channel strike/account suspension.

Japanese masters? That just sounds creepy. Beyond that, threatening channel suspension with spoilers being the differentiating point between when that threat applies or not doesn't make any sense. I get that spoilers can be annoying for some, but that doesn't fall under the purview of copyright law. Either let people stream or don't.


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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Apr 2017 @ 5:19pm

    DO NOT PROMOTE OUR GAME!
    WE ARE SO WORRIED WE WILL COMMIT PERJURY TO MAKE YOUR LIFE DIFFICULT.
    PLEASE DON'T BUY OUR GAME.
    WAIT UNTIL OUR INSANE POLICIES HAVE SHOVELED THE GAME INTO THE BARGAIN BIN!

    YOU MUST FOLLOW OUR DEMANDS OR ELSE!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is pretty much the trajectory of copyright.
    Demand more control and force people to accept it, punish those who disagree.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Apr 2017 @ 6:23am

      Re:

      Trajectory? I am already there.

      Any game under any form of DRM must be 50% off before I will buy it, on places like Steam & Origin. If you want me to buy your shovel-ware at full price it better be on GOG.

      Also, I still boycott 3rd party DRM like uPlay, and companies that retro their existing games to force you through a Launcher when it once did not. Square Enix did this to me with a FF7 PC game on steam. I now refuse to buy their games. I used to put up with fucking stardock and their register to play because I already had an account and got further customer loyalty discounts for it, but when they added a launcher for Sins of a Solar Rebellion I flipped my gourd and now they are banned.

      I am getting sick of the PC gaming scene and it's only getting worse because I cannot get my fellow gamers to understand... they keep buying DRM and supporting games that tell their own players to fuck right off!

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

      • identicon
        Thad, 6 Apr 2017 @ 7:55am

        Re: Re:

        I'm planning to build a new HTPC in the next month or two, and I think I'm going to make the jump and see how far I can get with Linux-only gaming. (Thanks to Unity, Source, and Unreal, basically every indie game gets a Linux release now, and a lot of major-publisher releases do too.) I might keep a Windows dual-boot around for games that don't have Linux versions and won't run in WINE, but...I might not.

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

  • identicon
    Thad, 5 Apr 2017 @ 5:21pm

    I get that spoilers can be annoying for some, but that doesn't fall under the purview of copyright law.

    No, but derivative works like video streams might. I'm not aware of any existing case law on the subject; personally I'd consider it to be transformative enough (from an interactive game to a passive video, for God's sake) to be clear fair use, but of course I'm not the guy who gets to decide that.

    Don't get me wrong, I think this is a terrible idea, and the law shouldn't be on Atlus's side. But that doesn't mean it isn't.

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

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 5 Apr 2017 @ 6:12pm

      Re:

      There's also the aspect of licenses -- that warning they put out reads a lot like a limited licensing of content to me. What does the law say about people with a copyright license exceeding the terms of the license?

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

    • identicon
      Megahurtz, 5 Apr 2017 @ 9:01pm

      Re:

      If you are commentating your gameplay, I think that would cover the transformative aspect. But what if you're just doing a silent let's play and recording the video of the game? Wouldn't that be akin to taking a tv show or movie and broadcasting the audio over the radio? I actually have no idea, but that seems like it would not be allowed to me.

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

      • identicon
        Megahurtz, 5 Apr 2017 @ 9:25pm

        Re: Re:

        Actually, now that I think about this more, I suppose just uploading the cutscenes in that manner might be problematic. But if you're streaming full gameplay, the video would be unique based on whatever actions you decide to take at any moment in the game and seems permissible to me. I'm no expert though.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Apr 2017 @ 2:20am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Two words, derivative works. It is why film makers buy rights make a film of a book.

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

          • icon
            Bergman (profile), 6 Apr 2017 @ 10:34am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Two words: transformative work.

            Even derivative works can escape the control of the original's copyright ownership if the result is different enough from the original. For example, if the focus of a video is a news commentary review of the original.

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

    • identicon
      Bruce C., 6 Apr 2017 @ 8:31am

      Laws? We don' need no stinkin' laws!

      Unfortunately the policy has nothing to do with copyright law and everything to do with the automated enforcement tools that YouTube, Twitch and other media sites give to the large content creators. The threat from the "Japanese Masters" isn't that they'll actually file a DMCA claim, it's that they'll use copyright strikes and content ID to get videos and streams taken down.

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

      • identicon
        Thad, 6 Apr 2017 @ 8:37am

        Re: Laws? We don' need no stinkin' laws!

        Sure, but the DMCA is the reason those things exist (and the reason why I really don't see Google pushing back on this one, even though it's pushed back against some frivolous copyright strikes in the past).

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2017 @ 5:34pm

    And to the shock of no one (except maybe Atlus), it's Streisanding like crazy.

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

  • identicon
    athe, 5 Apr 2017 @ 5:40pm

    Simply...

    Don't watch any videos or live streams of a game before you play it if you don't want it potentially spoiled.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 5 Apr 2017 @ 5:52pm

      Why stop there?

      Playing the game can also lead to spoilers, so it seems to me people should avoid it entirely, just to be safe.

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

    • identicon
      Megahurtz, 5 Apr 2017 @ 8:57pm

      Re: Simply...

      So I think this is a dumb move, BUT

      Coming across spoilers can be a far more passive activity now. Youtube video suggestions and spoilery titles and thumbnails seem to be the most common now. I've also read that there are now twitter accounts deliberately posting Persona 5 spoilers just to spite these restrictions.

      Just saying you don't have to go out of your way to come across them. Whether that is a big deal or not is a different discussion...

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

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 5 Apr 2017 @ 6:09pm

    In fairness, more than a few Japanese publishers seem to have issues with livestreaming/Let’s Play videos of their games. (Hi, Nintendo!) The differences in Internet and gaming cultures can seem a bit…harsh.

    That said: Nothing pisses people off like being told what they cannot do. Doubly so for gamers. I expect spoiler videos and livestreams to show up in short order — and for people who might have otherwise bought the game to avoid it altogether because of Atlus’s heavy-handed bullshit.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Apr 2017 @ 7:04am

      Re:

      Really, reading this story made me half tempted to grab a copy just to make a video of spoilers. Chop the clips up and sprinkle them into a video talking about how the company doesn't want spoilers. Would make it very solid and clear fair use.

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

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 6 Apr 2017 @ 9:15am

        Re: Re:

        Silly anon, Fair Use does not exist when it comes to people like you and me. It exists only for corpora—excuse me, people like Atlus and Nintendo and EA.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2017 @ 6:32pm

    Where do they say it's copyright infringement? All I see is them asking politely.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2017 @ 6:51pm

      Re:

      "(I HIGHLY RECOMMEND NOT DOING THIS, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED), you do so at the risk of being issued a content ID claim or worse, a channel strike/account suspension."

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Apr 2017 @ 1:54am

        Re: Re:

        But... that's not how Content-ID works.

        Content-ID checks your uploaded video against a db of videos submitted by the copyright owner (Atlus). Since every playthrough will be different, resulting in different footage, I don't see how content-ID can flag your upload as a copy of anything.

        At best they can (manually) send a DMCA notice against your video, but I wonder if that will pass with Youtube.

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 6 Apr 2017 @ 2:08am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Content-ID checks your uploaded video against a db of videos submitted by the copyright owner"

          They will also use soundtracks and other cues rather than just the video as a whole. I know plenty of live streaming podcasts that used to get kicked off / muted at the point where they played music, even if the podcasters had licences from the relevant collection agencies. I've certainly read of gaming related podcasts having similar issues and there's plenty of examples of even official livestreams being blocked due to pre-existing copyright claims.

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

    • identicon
      Wyrm, 6 Apr 2017 @ 9:31am

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on Apr 5th, 2017 @ 6:32pm

      There is an explicit threat of (ab)using ContentID. That might not be much to you, but it was supposed to be system put in place to fight copyright violations without tribunals.

      We here know that it's been abused way beyond actual copyright violations, but that didn't make it "right".

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 6 Apr 2017 @ 11:37am

      "That's a nice account you got there, be a shame if something were to happen to it..."

      Politely? What standards of 'polite' are you using, the mob's?

      They 'politely' implied that spoilers will get the account of the user posting them hit with a ContentID strike and/or suspended.

      That's 'polite' in the same way that a mugger saying 'Hand over your valuables if you don't want to find out what having your face smashed in feels like' is 'polite'. A clear threat for doing, or not doing something.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2017 @ 6:40pm

    Don't let people stream?

    Either let people stream or don't.

    That implies they can legally prevent someone from doing it, which we shouldn't concede so easily. Let's look at the 4 factors of fair use:

    • purpose and character: no profit motive; often posted for commentary, review, or demonstration--i.e., transformative
    • nature of the copyrighted work: publically available; an interactive game, rather than a video like people are posting
    • amount and substantiality: often just sections of the game; one particular path through a game that may offer several; no interactivity
    • effect on potential market: probably positive; might help people engage with the game better (showing how to beat tough sections or access hidden content); nobody's provided evidence that people have stopped buying games because they can just watch the videos

    I see a weak case for infringement. Not that it matters if they're using Content ID instead of the legal system.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Yelp, 5 Apr 2017 @ 7:01pm

    good information

    Valuable information! Looking forward to seeing your notes posted. The information you have posted is very useful. Keep going on, good stuff. Thank you for this valuable information. I have enjoyed reading many of the articles and posts contained on the website, keep up the good work and hope to read some more interesting content in the future.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2017 @ 7:14pm

    And folks wonder...

    ...why I don't play commercial games anymore.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2017 @ 7:18pm

    Having never played any of the Persona games, from their quote I now know that there are more then 3 palaces, Yusuke awakens (imagining a DBZ scene brought about by some tragedy), there is a painting and a student investigator that are probably central to the plot...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2017 @ 8:08pm

    I mean, it doesn't sound like it has anything to do with copyright. Or at least they're not saying it does.

    Just them saying 'hey, no spoilers' in a well-intentioned but awkward way.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 6 Apr 2017 @ 12:10am

      Re:

      Well, they're not saying it upfront. But, if they were to try to demand that footage that disobeys them is to be taken down, what tool other than the DMCA would they be using?

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

  • icon
    Mononymous Tim (profile), 5 Apr 2017 @ 8:23pm

    Somebody wants to be acquired by Nintendo. Their resume is impeccable.

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

  • identicon
    Megahurtz, 5 Apr 2017 @ 8:52pm

    Article misses a key point

    "it's not clear to me that the DMCA or copyright law allows them to dictate the segmentation of what's allowed for streaming and what isn't."

    The DMCA doesn't, but the PS4 does. This is mainly in reference to using the PS4's built in streaming and recording functionality. The developer and/or publisher have full control over enabling and disabling the native recording and streaming at any point in a game.

    Most games have no restrictions, a small number disable streaming during what would be categorized as big plot reveals / spoilers, but there seems to be a trend among the Japanese publishers to be far more restrictive. Some have been adding watermarks and copyright info onto the screenshots users take, others have been disabling streaming for entire games. Initially Yakuza 0 had streaming disabled for the entire game, but after a while at some point they patched it and lifted that limitation for all but the final chapter of the game.

    Now of course, using an external box like an El Gato or something totally bypasses all of those technical restrictions and lets you stream whatever shows up on your tv, so disabling this at the OS level seems futile. At that point they're just going to dump all the cutscenes into Content ID as well as manually flag videos.

    We should also keep in mind that this is Sega we're talking about, and they have a history of issuing false copyright strikes on Youtube to mass takedown videos so their own videos appear higher up in Youtube's search results. Can't remember if that was Sega of Japan or Sega of Europe, but it definitely was a case of different branches giving conflicting responses and generally not having any idea what was going on.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2017 @ 9:03pm

      Re: Article misses a key point

      Now of course, using an external box like an El Gato or something totally bypasses all of those technical restrictions and lets you stream whatever shows up on your tv, so disabling this at the OS level seems futile.

      I'm shocked they're not using HDCP to prevent it. The PS5 will if people keep accepting this stuff.

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

      • identicon
        Megahurtz, 5 Apr 2017 @ 9:12pm

        Re: Re: Article misses a key point

        PS4 actually allows you to turn off HDCP. Doing that disables bluray playback and most (all?) video streaming apps (Netflix, Hulu, etc) will refuse to start. Never had a problem with games after turning HDCP off though. I turned it off on my system for a while due to handshake problems with a HDMI switch, but that eventually got ironed out in a PS4 firmware update.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Apr 2017 @ 12:35am

          Re: Re: Re: Article misses a key point

          You don't need to turn off HDCP if you have a good enough switch. That's a portion of the system that they can't upgrade via firmware patches. That we know of anyway. However, even if they could update it to HDCP 2.x or whatever else, they'd run the risk of disabling the devices of legitimate users and all of the bad PR that comes with it.

          Of course, there are no legitimate users, only pirates that haven't been caught yet.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Apr 2017 @ 7:24am

          Re: Re: Re: Article misses a key point

          I don't use a switch, but I had to turn HDCP off because with it on, I had all kinds of problems getting the signal to talk with my TV when using rest mode.

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

  • identicon
    Megahurtz, 5 Apr 2017 @ 9:08pm

    Also worth noting

    The game has been available in Japan for 6-7 months already and Youtube is filled with spoiler videos. People have even created their own subs for the videos and translated them themselves. Seems like a strange time to decide that NOW is when to start flagging vids, but their Japanese masters seem far more nervous of the reach of the English translation than the Japanese one.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2017 @ 11:33pm

    Once again, with feeling

    Gamers are stupid. They will buy this bloviating company's products AND they'll promote them -- for example, by writing about them (spoilers or not). If gamers weren't morons, they would boycott/ignore this company entirely and either force a policy retraction or just drive them out of business.

    But they won't. Gamers are too stupid, too weak, too undisciplined to manage that. And this company -- or its "Japanese masters" knows they're stupid and is exploiting that.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 6 Apr 2017 @ 12:12am

      Re: Once again, with feeling

      I'm always interested as to why you always try to insult gamers as if they're a one group that agrees with each other (many of whom are certainly not buying this fairly niche game), and why you never extend that to others forms of media. I never see you attack "book readers" even tough they will do the same thing.

      The only stupidity, as ever, is the kind of person who obsessively posts insults and refuses adult debate.

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

      • identicon
        Thad, 6 Apr 2017 @ 8:00am

        Re: Re: Once again, with feeling

        I'm always interested as to why you always try to insult gamers

        I'm not. That's why I just flagged him instead of responding to him.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 6 Apr 2017 @ 5:41am

    I stream what the heck I want. In any case, I'm avoiding this game. If they want to (try) to impose restrictions and issue threats (veiled or not) then I have no interest in the game.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Apr 2017 @ 7:48am

    the Japanese version had the EXACT same restrictions, no one noticed because "lol don't speak moonrunes"

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Apr 2017 @ 1:33pm

    Spoiler Alert
    By the way , the Titanic sank on its maiden voyage

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2017 @ 1:00am

    No it is not, "Either let people stream or don't."

    It's a person bought the hardware and the game and they can do whatever they want with it besides breaking copyright law situation.

    How about Either make the game or don't.

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


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