Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Video Game Company Using Copyright to Control Product Exposure

Royalty free image via Photo Pin:  Photo Credit below
The world of video games and YouTube is giving rise to an interesting use, or abuse, of copyright, depending on which side of the gaming counsel you are sitting.

Start with the background.  Gamers have found an effective tool to getting through all the mazes and obstacles that video games can throw at them. The tool is YouTube.

Search the name of a video game on YouTube, and chances are you will find videos demonstrating how to play the game, and even how to overcome specific obstacles in the game.  Some particularly proficient gamers are even making money at this.

Some actually have licensing agreements from Sega and other game producing companies allowing them to do this.  But most of these games are operating from their basements (either literally or figuratively) and make little, if anything, from their endeavors.

Enter Sega.  The gaming giant is seeking to squash this, unless the gamers enter a licensing agreement with Sega.  Sega maintains that it has all right to the images, names and other aspect of its game, and that the use by these people posting on YouTube is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

So off go the DMCA letters with their threats of fines, penalties, prison, etc.  And down come the videos, even though some maintain this is clearly fair use.

Sega may be entirely correct in protecting its rights. But this is the type of action that is causing some to wonder if copyright in its present form has outlived its usefulness.  However we are likely never to know.  Some basement gamer would have to challenge Sega in Court - and that definitely is NOT a game.  The game would risk the onerous DMCA penalties, and would have to be willing and able to ante up the substantial money needed to fight Sega and its army of lawyers in Federal Court.

So in the end, it may be just another example of the Golden Rule:  He who has the gold, makes the rules.

photo credit: <a href="">gnackgnackgnack</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

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