Nintendo Shuts Down Its 'Creators' YouTuber Program, Replaces It With Simpler But Still Confusing Guidelines For Streaming

from the request-for-commentary dept

Way back in 2014, after years of waging a prolonged war on let's play streamers and game reviewers, Nintendo introduced a bureaucratic mess of a policy that would eventually become its "Creators Program." After being insanely heavy-handed towards streamers for years, the new program, that would allow for game streaming so long as the program rules were followed, initially was thought to be a major step forward for Nintendo. All too quickly, however, the whole thing devolved into a bureaucratic mess that saw applicants not getting responses to applications, and the revelation that Nintendo had some unethical rules for just how positive about Nintendo's games streamers had to be to remain in the program. Many of the bigger names in streaming simply swore off doing anything with Nintendo games, while others attempted to soldier on until Nintendo suddenly revised the program to essentially ban live-streams, the lifeblood of streamers. That last bit occurred roughly a year ago, rendering confusion and anger at Nintendo in the streaming space.

Well, it seems like Nintendo has realized what a mess all of this had become, as the company has now announced that the Creators Program is now no more, replaced with a much simpler set of guidelines of what will keep streamers on the right side of Nintendo's legal dogs.

The Nintendo Creators Program, launched as an attempt to moderate what folks were doing with the company’s content on YouTube, is closing down next year. In its place is will be a set of guidelines that might have a pretty big impact on the way you watch Nintendo games online.

Three years after its contentious debut, the program will cease operations on March 20, 2019. From a Nintendo statement:

We are ending the Nintendo Creators Program (NCP) to make it easier for content creators to make and monetize videos that contain Nintendo game content. We will no longer ask creators to submit their videos to the NCP, and creators can continue showing their passion for Nintendo by following Nintendo’s guidelines.

And, much to the surprise of your faithful writer, the guidelines are indeed much simpler and, largely, better. You can read the guidelines here in their entirety. And it will only take you a few minutes to do so, as they are blessedly terse. The bureaucracy is largely gone, as is the more heavy-handed oversight by Nintendo from the Creators Program. Instead, streamers are asked to follow a handful of rules to stay in Nintendo's good graces.

Those more interested in streaming their games might find things a bit easier. In 2017 Nintendo brought in some strict rules regarding where and how livestreams of their games could be made as part of the Creators Program, but those are now gone, with the single set of guidelines now covering both pre-recorded content and live broadcasts (across all major sites).

However, this is Nintendo we're talking about, which means it couldn't do all of this with nothing being odd about it. That oddness is in one of the guideline requirements. While gamers in general are getting older as a demographic, it's certainly true that Nintendo fans still skew younger. It's also true of that younger demographic that they are more likely to watch game streams in general and more likely to use those streams to find new games to enjoy.

Which is what makes this requirement a bit odd.

We encourage you to create videos that include your creative input and commentary. Videos and images that contain mere copies of Nintendo Game Content without creative input or commentary are not permitted. You may, however, post gameplay videos and screenshots using Nintendo system features, such as the Capture Button on Nintendo Switch, without additional input or commentary.

Honestly, it's not the biggest deal in the world, but the commentary offered by YouTubers in their game streams tends to carry with it adult language and references. It's rare that a teenager can go out and get commentary-laden game streams that many parents would feel are appropriate for their age. Forcing that commentary into game streams that aren't using Nintendo's video capture system seems likely to deprive young gamers of the game footage they want to help them figure out what to buy without curseword-heavy commentary.

Is that the biggest deal? Nah. Overall, these guidelines are an improvement over the nightmare that was the Creators Program. Still, it would have been nice if Nintendo could have shown it was looking out for its core customer base a bit more.


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 30 Nov 2018 @ 4:49am

    Videos and images that contain mere copies of Nintendo Game Content without creative input or commentary are not permitted. You may, however, post gameplay videos and screenshots using Nintendo system features, such as the Capture Button on Nintendo Switch, without additional input or commentary.

    I…sort of understand this? I mean, yes, it still seems stupid on its face, but Nintendo disallowing straight gameplay videos unless they are recorded through official Nintendo software makes sense when viewed through the lens of a “we need to control everything” corporate mentality.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Nov 2018 @ 6:59am

    Nintendo's in that China place

    -trying to control everything it's customers do with their (Nintendo's) Intellectual Property -- like communism
    yet while
    -trying to make as much $ as possible -- like capitalism

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Nov 2018 @ 7:37am

    Sounds a lot like fair use, but with restrictions

    How nice of Nintendo to "allow" people to post commentary about games, which happens to be one of the exact things usually allowed by fair use. Except Nintendo is trying to restrict monetization, which they'd have no right to do for videos that are fair use.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Nov 2018 @ 7:39am

    I don't get it. Once the game has been sold they have no right to dictate anything whatsoever for what I do with it, including playing with or without xommentary on a livestream. I don't remember signing any kind of contract with nintendo.

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

    • identicon
      Rekrul, 30 Nov 2018 @ 4:48pm

      Re:

      I don't get it. Once the game has been sold they have no right to dictate anything whatsoever for what I do with it, including playing with or without xommentary on a livestream. I don't remember signing any kind of contract with nintendo.

      Didn't you get the memo? Copyright used to cover copying of content, now it covers absolutely everything you do with said content. If the company wants to, they can make you only play their games while naked, covered in maple syrup and feathers and while reciting the Gettysburg Address backwards.

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

  • icon
    Gary (profile), 30 Nov 2018 @ 8:22am

    Because: Copyright! A legal framework in place that you don't have to agree with or consent to.

    Just like you don't have to consent to give TD the copyright to your comments, the act of using Nintendo's software means that you are bound by the copyright they hold. The most obvious bit being you can't freely distribute copies of the game. Which is super straight forward. But then it also means you can't freely distribute *parts* of the game, and that is where things get interesting.

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

    • icon
      Killercool (profile), 30 Nov 2018 @ 9:02am

      Re:

      Well, more like because: EULA!

      By opening and using the software, you agree to the EULA. The Nintendo EULA probably has restrictions listed in it that agree to abide by Nintendo's terrible, confusing rules that would normally be void, but Bowers v. Baystate Technologies said that EULAs are more binding than normal contracts, and able to restrict fair use.

      By posting to Techdirt, you agree to grant them a permanent, non-exclusive license to your comment. The comment is still "yours," as in, you can say the same exact thing somewhere else, and they can't stop you. The permanent, non-exclusive license just means you can't sue Techdirt 5 years from now for still having your comment visible.

      Well, you can't sue them for copyright infringement, at least.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Nov 2018 @ 2:14pm

        Re: Re:

        By opening and using the software, you agree to the EULA.

        Baystate purchased, opened, and used the software, and had the legal sophistication to understand the EULA. What if the user was a child or was using someone else's copy of the game? When someone invites me to their house to play a videogame, they don't tend to give me a stack of legal paperwork. It would be absurd to say that they should, or that I should be bound by something I couldn't have known about.

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

      • identicon
        Rekrul, 30 Nov 2018 @ 4:58pm

        Re: Re:

        The Nintendo EULA probably has restrictions listed in it that agree to abide by Nintendo's terrible, confusing rules that would normally be void, but Bowers v. Baystate Technologies said that EULAs are more binding than normal contracts, and able to restrict fair use.

        I just came up with a way to get rich!

        I'm going to write or maybe buy the rights to a piece of software that lots of people will want to use. Then I'm going to bury a clause in the EULA saying that they have to pay me $1000 a week for life if they use my software. It will also have a clause in it that if they fail to pay me this money for even one month, they have to sign over their home and life savings to me. Also corporations have to sign over their companies to me. Then when people don't read the EULA and don't pay me, I can start collecting big time, since EULAs are 100% enforceable by law and I can put anything I want in them!!!

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

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 30 Nov 2018 @ 9:06am

      Re:

      Just like you don't have to consent to give TD the copyright to your comments, the act of using Nintendo's software means that you are bound by the copyright they hold.

      Huh?

      This is the second time I've seen you claim that commenting on Techdirt assigns the copyright on your comment to Techdirt.

      Where do you get the idea that commenting on Techdirt constitutes a copyright assignation agreement? Do you see this anywhere in the site terms? Because I don't.

      And, absent such an explicit agreement, no copyright assignation occurs. You retain the copyright on anything you write. You're free to repost your Techdirt comments elsewhere, collect them in a book, sell them as articles on some other website, etc.

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

  • icon
    Gary (profile), 30 Nov 2018 @ 11:07am

    Even without some sort of EULA, posting at TD or any sight grants them a copyright. Otherwise they wouldn't be able to print or use your comments.

    In a rational world, this would be "fair use" and wouldn't need a copyright. But the act of typing out a comment creates a copyrighted work. Websites have a shared, non-exclusive and unlimited copyright to comments. That includes publishing the comments in the first place, or deleting them down the road without your permission.

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

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 30 Nov 2018 @ 12:35pm

      Re:

      Even without some sort of EULA, posting at TD or any sight grants them a copyright. Otherwise they wouldn't be able to print or use your comments.

      That's not a copyright; it's a publication license.

      If Techdirt owned the copyright on my comments, that would mean that it could, for example, collect them in a book which it sold for money, republish them on other sites without attribution, or sell that copyright to some other third party. It would further mean that I would not have a right to do any of those things myself, because I had surrendered my copyrights.

      None of those things is true. I have granted Techdirt permission to display my comments on the Techdirt site. That is not at all the same thing as granting them the copyright to my comments. If I want to republish my comments elsewhere, I retain the full legal right to do so.

      Websites have a shared, non-exclusive and unlimited copyright to comments.

      That's not a thing.

      Again, you're talking about a publication license, not a copyright. A non-exclusive publication license is explicitly different from a copyright. It means that I can repost my comments elsewhere and Techdirt can't stop me from doing so. Because Techdirt does not own the copyright to my comments, I do.

      Here's an example: Scholastic owns the publication license to the Harry Potter books. It doesn't own the copyright to them; JK Rowling does. As it happens, Scholastic's publication license is exclusive; they're the sole entity that's allowed to publish the books in print in the United States. But Rowling never sold them the digital publication rights; she sells the digital versions of the books through her own website, Pottermore. This is because a publication license is not the same thing as a copyright. Scholastic owns the US print publication rights. But Rowling owns the copyrights.

      Another example: If you contribute code to the Linux kernel, you still own the copyright on that code, but you license it under the GNU GPL v2.0 so that anyone is free to publish that code under that license. (This is distinct from some other free software projects; the GNU Project, for example, requires that if you contribute any code to their projects, you relinquish the copyright to them.)

      Another example: If I write a letter to the editor of my local paper, I am giving the paper a first-print license to print my letter, including to alter it for publication (length, formatting, spelling corrections, etc.). But that is not the same thing as assigning the copyright to that letter. It is allowing the paper to print it. But I retain the copyright. I'm free to send the same letter to other papers, post it on my blog, print it out and hand out copies on the street corner -- whatever.

      A publication license is not a copyright. They're completely different things. Allowing someone the limited right to publish my work in a particular context is not remotely equivalent to giving up the copyright on it.

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

      • icon
        Gary (profile), 30 Nov 2018 @ 1:59pm

        Re: Re:

        You are correct sir, I need to update to "sharing your copyright with TD via an implied publication license." TD does lack the terms & conditions of Reddit, Facebook, Youtube and such. Interesting. :)

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

        • icon
          Thad (profile), 30 Nov 2018 @ 2:48pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I still wouldn't describe it as sharing my copyright. Licensing a limited use of my copyrighted material would be more accurate, though it's a bit of a mouthful.

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

          • icon
            Gary (profile), 30 Nov 2018 @ 3:28pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Hmmm. How about "Granting TD the non-exclusive license to use your copyrighted comments"? The copyright (literally, the right to copy) is shared via a publishing agreement.

            A mouthful either way Thad!

            I'm trying to find some links to the EU Copyright reform that might have covered commenting. I remember something in that about this.

            Wouldn't the act of TD publishing the comments create a new copyright on the derivative work? I regret that I wasted my college career on computer sciences rather than IP law! :)

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

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 30 Nov 2018 @ 5:09pm

    It boggles my mind what a complete shit-show copyright law has become. It should be common sense that video games are intended to be played. That's their primary purpose. So as long as you aren't putting up a game for people to play for free, copyright law shouldn't apply. By saying that you can't stream a game without following Nintendo's rules, they're basically saying that people aren't allowed to watch others pay the game.

    If I'm playing a game and someone walks into the room and starts watching, I have to start commenting on the game or I'm violating Nintendo's copyright? And if the answer to that is no, then exactly how many people have to watch before it's considered to violate their copyright? If there's a demo system set up in a store and someone is playing a game on it, does the store have to watch to make sure that the amount of people watching the game never grows beyond a certain number so that it doesn't suddenly qualify as a public performance?

    And if you need Nintendo's permission to use screenshots, does that mean that stores have to individually seek Nintendo's approval before displaying game boxes that include screenshots?

    Sounds kind of ridiculous, doesn't it? Yeah, just like a company being able to restrict people from showing a game to others...

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

  • identicon
    Bruce C., 1 Dec 2018 @ 7:20am

    Wow...

    A big corporation essentially ratifies fair use? Gameplay without commentary would be on shaky ground under fair use anyway.

    I'm surprised that they don't have an item stating that commentary should adhere to the language requirements of the game's ESRB rating or be flagged with an appropriate age rating guide.

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


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