Disney Goes All Disney On The Kingdom Hearts 3 Title Screen Over Streaming

from the house-of-mouse dept

When it comes to the idea of members of the public live-streaming video game gameplay, the world is an unpredictable place. Some developers and publishers are happy to allow such a display of their products, understanding a concept that is apparently difficult for others to grasp: playing a game is a very different thing than watching someone else play it. Those that are less permissive in streaming gameplay are typically the larger corporate interests that tend to believe in control above all else, with the attitude being that unveiling gameplay will make it less likely for viewers to buy a game, rather than more likely. In between is a truly broad spectrum, where some publishers lay out rules on websites and others say little to nothing on the topic that isn't vomited up by their legal teams.

Leave it to Disney, then, to put its stamp on the latest iteration of the Kingdom Hearts series, with a message to anyone that would consider streaming the game right there on the title screen.

People who start playing Kingdom Hearts 3 will find a message notifying them that the companies behind the game are applying some limitations. The game’s title screen includes an unusual button prompt labeled “before you stream.” Pressing the button produces the following message:

This game is a copyrighted work. The copyright is held by The Walt Disney Company and a collaboration of authors representing The Walt Disney Company. Additionally, the copyright of certain characters is held by Square Enix Co, Ltd.

You are free to stream the game in non-commercial contexts. However, using the streams of the game to primarily provide or listen to the music is prohibited even in such non-commercial contexts.

While this is a somewhat permissive stance on streaming, essentially allowing for some streaming under certain conditions, it's still a very Disney way to go about it. First is the company's acknowledgement that streaming is so very much a thing at this point so as to warrant the inclusion of a message on game's title screen. That may seem like a small thing, but it's actually a fairly stark admission on the part of Disney as to what the ecosystem for streaming games is today. And, then, comes the muddled parameters under which streaming is kosher, with restrictions on "commercial contexts", without bothering to provide any context for that phrase itself. And, of course, there is the requirement that game streams aren't done as a method for simply broadcasting the game's original score, which is downright perplexing. I'm not aware of that sort of practice even being a thing and I'm fairly steeped in this world of game streaming.

And I'm not the only one scratching his head at all of this.

The streaming message isn’t exactly crystal clear. One part of it is easily understood: Square and Disney don’t want people making streams of the game’s music. But the statement is more confusing about what the rights-holders consider to be a “non-commercial” stream. The message concludes by directing players to Kingdom Hearts website, which doesn’t yet include any information about this, though it presumably will by the time the game launches in the West on Tuesday (it came out in Japan on Friday).

We asked Square Enix PR yesterday what “non-commercial” streaming would be and if it’s something that average gamers who just want to stream on Twitch or YouTube would have to worry about. They were unable to clarify that terminology yet.

And, so, Disney attempts on the title screen to take the mystery out of what it will allow in streaming the game, but apparently there is still a conversation the company needs to have within itself, as the PR folks can't articulate what it all means themselves. The end result is Disney attempting to assert control over the sharing of parts of its product in the least clear manner possible. It's a very Disney thing to do, in other words.

Meanwhile, it doesn't appear to be keeping the now-normal practice of game streaming from happening overseas.

Whatever the restrictions actually mean, they don’t appear to be stopping people from streaming the game. People have been streaming Kingdom Hearts 3 on Twitch since yesterday, when the game went on sale in Japan and when the the streaming embargo lifted for reviewers and gaming influencers who’d been provided advance access to the English language version of the game. At the time of this writing, there are more than a thousand people watching 88 streams of the game on Twitch.

So, for now, this appears to be a title screen message without much of an audience.

Filed Under: games, streaming, the kingdom hearts 3, title screen, video games
Companies: disney, square enix


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  • icon
    Gary (profile), 30 Jan 2019 @ 6:10pm

    Crystal Clear

    By commercial, they mean anyone except Disney making money. So - Any streaming. Since Youtube itself is a commercial enterprise that about covers it. Simple!!

    Japanese video games on the PS4 will often just turn off the built-in streaming function by default, as they don't consider it a legitimate use under the licensing terms. (Which is why Japanese video-game bars are under legal threat in Japan, even if they use completely legal purchased hardware they aren't licensed for use in a bar.)

    https://kotaku.com/japans-video-game-bars-are-in-danger-1827199831

    Copyright only belongs to Corporations. Love copyright - love those corporations! (Yeah, I'm looking at you Blue.)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2019 @ 9:33pm

    See, if they had gone with the original statements of "no streaming because we don't want non-players to have a shot at partaking in the game experience en masse" they'd seem more logical. (Logical at least as far as copyright-types can manage.)

    Here... the request is so narrow and bizarre it's ridiculous. If someone wants to listen to the ingame music they'll find a rip of the files on YouTube. If someone wants to watch a streamer play the game they're watching for the streamer personality, not the music.

    Complaining about the music being played in such a setting is so pointless it's up there with performance rights organization arguments. You know, because obviously nobody would ever want to see the dentist for a cavity unless the dentist was playing Britney Spears for the fiftieth time...

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

    • icon
      Gary (profile), 30 Jan 2019 @ 10:21pm

      Re:

      No steaming because "no spoilers" isn't a valid position.

      Doing a review is fair use - and yes, it's still fair use if you monetize it. Even if you monetize the fuck out of it.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2019 @ 12:58am

        Re: Re:

        Agreed. It absolutely isn't a valid position.

        What I meant wasn't the issue of spoilers, but the assertion that watching a stream is a functional replacement of actually playing the game. It's a rightsholder type of position and it's ridiculous.

        The point that followed was that prohibiting streaming because of music is an even stupider idea.

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

        • icon
          Ninja (profile), 31 Jan 2019 @ 3:45am

          Re: Re: Re:

          When I don't want to play a game but want to watch somebody playing it I still won't buy it if I watch the stream. But if I do watch I may be compelled to buy it.

          Case point: mirror's edge. I watched some dude speedrun and bought the game to play myself. Cuphead. Difficulty too steep and essential content locked if you go for easier playthrough so I watched some lunatic playing in the hardest difficulty and won't buy it even if it is a gorgeous game.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2019 @ 12:58pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The point that followed was that prohibiting streaming because of music is an even stupider idea.

          Did you notice that the wording prohibits people from watching the streams of others, if their purpose is to listen to the music? That's....weird, and without any legal basis I'm aware of.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 30 Jan 2019 @ 11:50pm

    Call them up and ask them to pay you...

    Ask them to Pay you for adverting their game.. FREE publicity...Paid for by ????? And a 10% coupon if you buy from the link During game play..

    God, protect our children..

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

  • icon
    Killercool (profile), 31 Jan 2019 @ 12:27am

    Just like a grocery store...

    Just because you slap a warning on something, doesn't mean it's actually legally binding.

    "No music when you stream" most likely has all the legal backing as the sign on a grocery cart, "This store takes no responsibility for any damage to your property."

    Might have teeth, but it will take a literal court case to decide for sure. Fair use is still fair use, even if they super swear, till i die, stick a thousand needles in my eye.

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

    • identicon
      Sharur, 31 Jan 2019 @ 9:45am

      Re: Just like a grocery store...

      Indeed, assuming that Disney and Square Enix licensed the music for the game, rather than creating it themselves, this may just be them practicing CYA...

      I recall there was an issue with the DVD of a TV show I liked, where they had to swap out some of the music because they had a license to broadcast it over there air, but not to make DVDs of it...

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2019 @ 1:03pm

        Re: Re: Just like a grocery store...

        Indeed, assuming that Disney and Square Enix licensed the music for the game, rather than creating it themselves, this may just be them practicing CYA...

        They're known to have a lawyer or two on staff. I think they could figure out how to write a license that allows streaming, if they wanted to.

        I recall there was an issue with the DVD of a TV show I liked, where they had to swap out some of the music because they had a license to broadcast it over there air, but not to make DVDs of it...

        It's understandable for shows that predate home video. If anything after 1995 or so has that problem (for example: Kingdom Hearts 3) there's no excuse.

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

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Jan 2019 @ 2:47pm

        Re: Re: Just like a grocery store...

        I recall there was an issue with the DVD of a TV show I liked, where they had to swap out some of the music because they had a license to broadcast it over there air, but not to make DVDs of it

        In fairness, nobody ever saw the TV-on-DVD boom coming, so no one ever really thought to snag those licenses until well after the boom had begun. Such issues are why it took years for shows like The Wonder Years and Daria to land on DVD. Even then, Wonder Years still had a handful of songs replaced because of copyright issues, and Daria had every bit of music besides the opening theme replaced because (as the DVD insert said) getting the rights to all the songs used in that show would’ve cost a hell of a lot of money.

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

        • identicon
          Rekrul, 31 Jan 2019 @ 3:18pm

          Re: Re: Re: Just like a grocery store...

          In fairness, nobody ever saw the TV-on-DVD boom coming, so no one ever really thought to snag those licenses until well after the boom had begun.

          How do you account for the fact that it's STILL happening? The show Parenthood ran from 2010-2015 and every season used Bob Dylan's Forever Young as the theme song, but it's nowhere to be found on the DVDs.

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

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 31 Jan 2019 @ 10:26pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Just like a grocery store...

            "How do you account for the fact that it's STILL happening?"

            Like everything else that surrounds the major corporate attitude to modern entertainment - they neither understand their own product nor their own audience. They don't perceive the importance in little details like a familiar theme song, so go for the cheaper licencing deals - then act surprised when people decide to pirate the original version instead of paying top dollar for an inferior product

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2019 @ 6:45am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just like a grocery store...

              Or is it you who doesn't understand the audience? People pay for versions with wrong theme songs, just as they pay for DRMed discs. The companies' revenue numbers are huge, and they keep their expenses low by weaseling out of paying royalties (to everyone, not just musicians), which is why they keep releasing the things.

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

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 1 Feb 2019 @ 7:04am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just like a grocery store...

                "People pay for versions with wrong theme songs, just as they pay for DRMed discs"

                Some do, because there's no legal alternative. Others pirate the original. All would prefer if there was a way to get the "right" version of the original. This not controversial or hard to understand.

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

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 1 Feb 2019 @ 1:54am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Just like a grocery store...

            Because some artists/bands (or their representatives) ask way too much for those rights than the studio/distributor is willing to pay, especially if the show cannot be expected to recoup those costs.

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

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 1 Feb 2019 @ 3:24am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Just like a grocery store...

              In that case, the correct answer is "find another song to licence that's within an acceptable budget", not "offer an inferior product to people who want to buy it after it's aired".

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

      • identicon
        Rekrul, 31 Jan 2019 @ 3:01pm

        Re: Re: Just like a grocery store...

        I recall there was an issue with the DVD of a TV show I liked, where they had to swap out some of the music because they had a license to broadcast it over there air, but not to make DVDs of it...

        They did that to a lot of shows. 21 Jumpstreet had most of the music replaced and they did a horrible job with the new music sometimes drowning out the dialog. They replaced much of the music in WKRP in Cincinnati, which most fans say ruined the show.

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

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 31 Jan 2019 @ 1:27am

    "I'm not aware of that sort of practice even being a thing and I'm fairly steeped in this world of game streaming"

    My guess there is that they want to avoid the possibility of people using stream ripping software to pirate the soundtrack. Which is hardly going to be the main way that people get hold of a copy, but that seems to be the mindset to me.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    jenny (profile), 31 Jan 2019 @ 1:36am

    Disney

    Disney is children's of the favorite place and mine too https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/

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

  • icon
    Jinxed Violynne (profile), 31 Jan 2019 @ 2:52am

    None of this will stop people from supporting Disney as they quickly throw another $60+ into their coffers which pays the lawyers to write this crap.

    Also, Bethesda beat Disney. There's a similar message when streaming Fallout 4 with a bit of a plot twist: the game removes the music completely.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2019 @ 4:27am

    Twitch/YouTube to Game Purchase

    I am sure that the story I tell below is very common:

    A friend who's a gamer told me about game X, and mentioned a "content creator" who uploaded game play (with commentary/analysis) to YouTube and also streamed on Twitch. It was watching these two that convinced me that I wanted to play the game, and thus purchased it. There is no way I would have purchased the game without that "content creator"'s work.

    It is not free "advertising" (I rather dislike advertising) it is free, and in this case, high quality, PUBLICITY.

    Disney have this backwards. Most game distributors have surveyed the streaming community and found streamers that they like (for whatever reason) and MAKE SURE that they get advanced copies of the game so that they produce high quality publicity before release. And these streamers make a living from this too -- i.e it is commercial activity.

    Disney are so stuck in 1990's thinking that they are harming their product sales, and their share holders should be screaming at them.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2019 @ 5:27am

    It sounds like they don,t want anyone streamimg the game soundtrack, or playing the soundtrack during a game stream , At this point 95 per cent of devs give game s to streamers for free , big streamers are free advertising , kids dont watch ads on tv, they,ll watch a stream to see if the game is good before they buy it. Even nintendo has woken up and realised people streaming
    their games is a good thing. Minecraft was mostly promoted and became a smash hit
    by people playing it on youtube. I cannot think of any video game that is popular that is not being streamed by someone .

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2019 @ 5:44am

    Let it go, Let it go,

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2019 @ 6:52am

    May not be Disney, specifically.

    To be fair, I don't think this is a specific Disney thing. I've been seeing these messages pop up on other Square Enix games with similar language like Dragon Quest XI that had a similar message for streamers that linked to this page: https://dragonquest.square-enix-games.com/xi/en-us/streaming-guidelines/

    It is a bit heavy handed, and not very clear what specifically they "allow," but this isn't the first time one of these has shown up in a game.

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

    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 31 Jan 2019 @ 8:15am

      Re: May not be Disney, specifically.

      Agreed. As a lifelong gamer, this really feels more like a "Japanese video game company thing" than a "Disney thing."

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

      • identicon
        Annonymouse, 31 Jan 2019 @ 8:30am

        Re: Re: May not be Disney, specifically.

        It is not even that. In Japan all music is licensed and marketed separately. This is why NA releases of anime has more times than not lame simplistic and annoying theme music since the original has a separate license that the distributor doesn't want to pay.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2019 @ 1:06pm

          Re: Re: Re: May not be Disney, specifically.

          This is why NA releases of anime has more times than not lame simplistic and annoying theme music since the original has a separate license

          What? I've never heard of that. Have my unauthorized sources been fixing them up for me before I download?

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 Jan 2019 @ 2:33pm

          Re: Re: Re: May not be Disney, specifically.

          This is why NA releases of anime has more times than not lame simplistic and annoying theme music since the original has a separate license that the distributor doesn't want to pay.

          Speaking as a longtime anime fan: This is rare as hell. Even back in the days of VHS tapes and ADV Films — long before Funimation was even a thing, let alone the powerhouse of the American anime industry — shows that most often suffered the fate which you described were not shows imported straight to home video, but rather shows picked up for television broadcast. (Sailor Moon and the Dragon Ball Z dub from Ocean Studios come to mind.) Even getting a broadcast license was no guarantee of music censorship; Ronin Warriors used American-made OP and ED themes but kept the in-show music intact, and while the Toonami broadcast of Gundam Wing cut the OP, it used a short instrumental version of the show’s first OP theme for the American credits sequence (which was also made using footage from the OP) and kept all the in-show music intact.

          The overwhelming majority of anime releases these days keep the OP and ED themes intact. Even shows broadcast on TV (read: Toonami) manage to keep most of them; the last time I can recall the actual OP/ED theme being cut from a show on Toonami was the version of the Lupin the Third theme made for Lupin the Third: The Italian Adventure, and from what I understand, the Toonami crew tried their best to snag those rights. (The theme remains intact on home video releases of The Italian Adventure.)

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

  • identicon
    Glenn, 31 Jan 2019 @ 10:15am

    "Let's not put our wares on display. If people see 'em, then they might want to buy 'em! Madness! ...madness I tell you!"

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2019 @ 1:11pm

    Pirate Mike and his Pirate Mateys

    Pirate mike and his pirate mateys just want pirate people to be able to pirate to their pirate hearts' contents. They have no respect for the founding fathers' vision of a copyright system that allows multinational corporations to benefit from imaginary property forever and sue citizens into oblivion for repeating ideas that were realized before they were born. Argh, mateys! Argh! Pirates get the gallows!

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

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 31 Jan 2019 @ 3:27pm

    Honestly, I don't understand how companies can restrict the streaming of their games.

    A movie is meant to be watched, so streaming it is providing its primary purpose for free. Music is meant to be listened to, so streaming it is providing its primary purpose for free. Games are meant to be played, so just watching and listening to someone else play it is no substitute for playing it yourself. Streaming the game does not provide the game's primary purpose for free.

    What's next? Can the company decree that you're only allowed to stream the game if you say nice things about it? You're only allowed to stream it if you talk like a chipmunk?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2019 @ 6:25pm

    Purposely vague so the lawyers have plenty of leeway to work with.

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


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