Nintendo Flexing Copyright Clout on YouTube Let’s Play Channels

Reporting by Mitchell Saltzman (@gamefrontmitch), Ian Cheong (@stillgray) and Mark Burnham (@MarkBurnham)

Nintendo is reportedly issuing “content ID match” claims on Let’s Play videos featuring their game franchises, according to prolific YouTuber Zack Scott, who is currently playing Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon.

Scott noted that Nintendo made content ID matches against a number of his videos, thus preventing him from monetizing those videos on YouTube.

In a Facebook post, Scott wrote the following message as an open letter to Nintendo:

I just want to express my feelings on the matter of Nintendo claiming not just my YouTube videos, but from several LPers as well.

I’m a Nintendo fan. I waited in the cold overnight to get a Wii. I’m a 3DS ambassador. I got a Wii U at midnight when I already had one in the mail. I’ve been a Nintendo fan since the NES, and I’ve owned all of their systems.

With that said, I think filing claims against LPers is backwards. Video games aren’t like movies or TV. Each play-through is a unique audiovisual experience. When I see a film that someone else is also watching, I don’t need to see it again. When I see a game that someone else is playing, I want to play that game for myself! Sure, there may be some people who watch games rather than play them, but are those people even gamers?

My viewers watch my gameplay videos for three main reasons:
1. To hear my commentary/review.
2. To learn about the game and how to play certain parts.
3. To see how I handle and react to certain parts of the game.

Since I started my gaming channel, I’ve played a lot of games. I love Nintendo, so I’ve included their games in my line-up. But until their claims are straightened out, I won’t be playing their games. I won’t because it jeopardizes my channel’s copyright standing and the livelihood of all LPers.

So, What the Hell are Content ID Matches, Anyway?
Note that content ID matches are different from ‘copyright strikes,’ which YouTube issues a channel after processing a verified request for the full removal of a video by the copyright owner. If a channel receives “three strikes,” YouTube suspends the channel and deletes all of its videos.

Content ID matches are less severe. When a publisher issues a content ID match against a video, it allows them to monetize that video with in-video ads, block it in certain countries, or even block it from playing worldwide. If a video is blocked worldwide as a result of a content ID match, the associated channel can lose its “good standing,” and as as result lose access to certain YouTube features.

Based on Nintendo’s statement to Game Front (below), it would appear they are not opting to block videos from playing outright, but rather monetize videos over a certain length with their own ads.

Widespread Complaints

Scott is not alone in his complaints, which have since been echoed by a number of other YouTubers, as well as Thomas Was Alone creator Mike Bithell.







We’ve since reached out to Nintendo for comment, to which they have responded that they are currently looking into the situation and will update us as soon as possible. More as we have it.

Update: Nintendo issued Game Front the following statement:

As part of our on-going push to ensure Nintendo content is shared across social media channels in an appropriate and safe way, we became a YouTube partner and as such in February 2013 we registered our copyright content in the YouTube database. For most fan videos this will not result in any changes, however, for those videos featuring Nintendo-owned content, such as images or audio of a certain length, adverts will now appear at the beginning, next to or at the end of the clips. We continually want our fans to enjoy sharing Nintendo content on YouTube, and that is why, unlike other entertainment companies, we have chosen not to block people using our intellectual property.

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54 Comments on Nintendo Flexing Copyright Clout on YouTube Let’s Play Channels


On May 15, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Hopefully these criminals will go to jail for copyright theft. Though it’s a shame it’s Nintendo that stands to benefit instead of a company that doesn’t appeal to five year olds who still live with their parents.


On May 15, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Thank you for my daily does of trolling, now please go back to under the sewage bridge. It’s getting cleaner without you.


On May 15, 2013 at 7:05 pm

lol, I can understand how you would be disdainful of five year old children who live with their parents. Your parents most likely kicked you out on the streets at the mature age of five once they saw what a monster they spawned. (God, do you even proofread your troll posts anymore?)


On May 15, 2013 at 9:01 pm

I am really disappointed with Nintendo on this move. I have been a huge fan since the old NES. I just don’t see how doing this will help Nintendo, YouTube, or the community in general. Sorry Nintendo but until this is resolved or until there is a better explanation, I’m going to stay away from your games for a while.


On May 15, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Nintendo’s finished, Wii U was a flop and now their just desperate.


On May 15, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Just another really weird move that does nothing more than control the media for their entire company and piss off a good portion of their loyal fanbase. First they locked down all information on promised Wii U release titles, claiming that the entirety of the first year was considered their ‘launch window’. Then they decided to bail on their E3 conference, which honestly, though it wasn’t the most informative conference, it was definitely the most fun to watch, instead opting for a pre-recorded, controlled, Nintendo Direct video and behind-the-curtain type previews with, what I assume be with a strict NDA at the door. And now they’re pulling this crap.

For what? Ad revenue? A multi-million dollar corporation, worried about a couple thousand channels that make about $4 a year from ads and maybe 10 or 15 of them that maybe make $15-20k if they’re lucky? I’m very interested to see how this will affect some of those bigger channels like KWing, someone who has dedicated his channel to strictly Nintendo and… Batman. And sadly, he was one of the only guys really doing it, most other Youtubers had lost faith in Nintendo’s ability to operate. And what do those few guys get for their loyalty? A slap in the face, all in the name of money and control. If Nintendo won’t back down from this, I wish those Youtuber’s luck adjusting to a new format. It’s quite hard to stop doing what you’ve done for years, to up and change it just to have money to put food on the table and pay the bills you have.


On May 15, 2013 at 10:36 pm


Nice trollin’ there dude. Believe me Nintendo has made enough profit over the years unlike certain other companies *cough*Sony*cough* to survive one not so well selling console. Also you have to see that a lot of games aren’t even out yet like a new 3D Mario or a new Zelda, which believe me people are waiting for.


On May 16, 2013 at 3:11 am

This is a wonderful way to have fans abandon a franchise. I mean, Zack Scotts videos gets hundreds of thousands of views, which means a lot of free advertising, as well as fan hype for new games. I never planned on LPing a Nintendo game because I don’t want to be the 2 millionth person to do a Lets Play Super Mario Bros 3, but when one of the oldest video game companies block their most die hard fans, then it’s a sad day indeed.


On May 16, 2013 at 4:07 am

All of you are missing the point. Nintendo doesn’t care about making more money. They care about getting every last drop of blood of CONTROL. They stand to gain nothing else with this attack. Remember, an LP is free advertising. It’s video; it isn’t the same MEDIUM as games (no competition). Their attack is that they shove ads THEY created down YouTuber’s throats. The same thing as made by LPers, but Nintendo pays to make the ads, they have to wear the cost of people getting frustrated with their obnoxious presence… the only thing they GET is- a big “f|_|ck you we OWN your channel”. That’s IT. Control. Customers get a worse experience from the advertising process. Nintendo loses money.

They do this because they are former industry leader who is no longer on top. The other companies are catching up and Nintendo can see it. They watch their sales drop, love of their mascots no longer brings in the money it did, and they CAN’T INNOVATE (and still make money) right now. The WiiU is rubbish, and few have got one. Developers have actively said to the media they don’t WANT to make things for the console. The 3DS is not nearly as as successful as the DS. Things are going down for Nintendo (although they’re still pretty good at the moment), so they respond by copying what every major government is doing right now in the same situation:

They say “we can’t solve fatal problems, so let’s clamp down on something. Get CONTROL. The only people who won’t fight us right back are- our OWN people. So we’ll attack them!”. Censoring the internet, decreasing civil liberties, and so on are desperate spasms by governments no longer able to deal with the problems of their world (global warming, species loss, economic catastrophy, etc). Nintendo haven’t remotely similar clout (but still can’t solve their problems), so they do what they CAN- control in what piddling way they can the people who are most dedicated to them. And the folks paying their sallaries. It’s really sad to see them lose control like this. I used to love their games so much. :(


On May 16, 2013 at 6:20 am

Nintendo seem to be making a lot of mistakes lately.
As Knux said, first the game delays, then the lack of an E3 conference and now this.
Of course, they’re not the only companies struggling.

EA, as most of us know, isn’t going so well, being rated “The worst company in the US” a little while back, which may be exaggerating a bit but still…

Sony’s PS4 looks okay, but really, I’m well over the whole “better graphics” thing and so far, I haven’t seen any main innovative feature, just lots of small things.

The next Xbox has had a lot of negative remarks regarding to certain aspects such as the “always online feature” and various other things.

Ubisoft is going better, but I still can’t quite get over the 6 month delay for Rayman Legends.

Honestly, as weird as it may sound, I think SEGA is one of the best at the moment. They haven’t done anything to really annoy anyone recently (Aliens: Colonial Marines was PUBLISHED by them, not DEVELOPED by them) and with titles such as Castle of Illusion coming up and a lot of recent effort to increase Sonic’s brand within and outside of gaming, they are going well in my eyes, even if they’re having some financial issues!


On May 16, 2013 at 7:02 am

It’s a shame these big corporate game companies don’t understand the value of internet advertising through social media done by their fans. There’s an authentic air of appreciation instilled in these videos that you can’t generate through a group of employees sitting in a marketing meeting, trying to plan how to present their products to prospective customers.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, has been surpassed by, “If it’s working great, break it completely.”


On May 16, 2013 at 7:08 am

People forget that LetsPlayers dont own the rights on the stuff they put out. If you want to do LetsPlays you should not monetize them. Nintendo could flag all the videos but they decided to go a much more settled route by claiming copyright.

The YouTube Partner Program Rules also mention this. The LetsPlayers complaining via Twitter have broken some parts of the YouTube Partner Program Rules which could have gotten their channels closed quiet easily altogether.

Playing Games and recording yourself while doing so isnt going to get you money it will only result in things like this. Do your own stuff, stay unique and put in more effort and YouTube Revenue will come.


On May 16, 2013 at 7:27 am

I don’t trust this. The same thing happened when rumors were going around that the next Xbox was going to be online only and everyone got pissed off then it all turned out to be a hoax, propaganda and that ing and moaning was for nothing. Unless this affects one of my subscriptions I’m calling BS I’m not falling for that again!


On May 16, 2013 at 7:30 am

From the day Gaming IP was born this was to be expected.

If Nintendo does their own Network the ones that will do only Nintendo related videos will benefit from this.

Darius Adams

On May 16, 2013 at 9:06 am

Seems a little two-faced, considering Nintendo was supporting the Runaway Guys only just a few months back. In fact, Nintendo asked them to make a video of Coin Rush mode in NSMB2.


On May 16, 2013 at 9:52 am


When a study clearly shows Nintendo is losing money because of LPs then it makes sense for them to crack down. Until then, if ever, this is just them being overly controlling and the end result will just upset fans. Nintendo gains nothing from this.

Also way to be a pretentious jerk against people who make a legitimate living off LPs and similar video game related videos.


On May 16, 2013 at 10:48 am

Where is liberty?


On May 16, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Most of the people here including Author are totally dumb, So how is Zack scott allowed to monetize Nintendo content and then cry when Nintendo wants a cut? He is not the vicitim here he makes money from Nintendo’s intellectual property plain and simple.


On May 16, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Are people only realising now that this happens?

This happens with most every copyrighted content on Youtube now.

Music being the main one.
If you use copyrighted music in a video the copyright owner/record label can either take the video down or they will put ads on the video and take the revenue from those ads.

Using game footage in your videos has never been an exemption to copyright.

THERE IS HOWEVER a way for people who make videos with game footage to still earn some revenue if they join a Partner Network like Machinima (they would actually be the main network for Youtubers who specialize in gaming videos).

Do these “LP-ers” not know about Network Partnerships? Most if not all of the “big” youtubers that specialise in gaming videos have joined a Network.
This video video by Kidlat404 who specializes in Nintendo CoD gameplay videos explains how gamers can make money on videos with gameplay footage by joining a Network


On May 16, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Are people only realising now that this happens?

This happens with most every copyrighted content on Youtube now.

Music being the main one.
If you use copyrighted music in a video the copyright owner/record label can either take the video down or they will put ads on the video and take the revenue from those ads.

Using game footage in your videos has never been an exemption to copyright.

THERE IS HOWEVER a way for people who make videos with game footage to still earn some revenue if they join a Partner Network like Machinima (they would actually be the main network for Youtubers who specialize in gaming videos).

Do these “LP-ers” not know about Network Partnerships? Most if not all of the “big” youtubers that specialise in gaming videos have joined a Network.

Search “Kidlat404 Network Partner” on Youtube and you should find a video he did explaining about Gamers makin vids with gameplay footage and joining Networks


On May 16, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Sounds like they are just butthurt their losing money from their LetsPlays. Quit whining about it, and maybe get a real job to support yourself.


On May 16, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Anyone with Twitter (I still refuse it lol) should probably forward this kind of story at @DerekKhanna. He is probably one of the smartest thinkers on copyright reform today. He was the RSC staffer who wrote the memo on copyright reform that was far too forward thinking for a lot of big business guys, so they fired him. (You can read the memo at

Khanna writes quite a bit at a lot of various different publications, so I’m pretty sure he would have interest in this.


On May 16, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Theyre just saying you can’t make money off of videos of their game. People shouldn’t have been making money off of other companies works anyways.

There’s still plenty of people making good LP videos for free, and Nintendo doesnt care about them. It’s the sell outs who jam their “Luigis Mansion” videos full of ads that should be put to a stop.


On May 16, 2013 at 4:34 pm

This is a stupid passive agressive way to get rid of the LPs. If they truly cared about fans enjoying the vids then they would realise that the uploaders are probably mostly in it for the money (in fact they might need that money to be able to keep putting up the vids) so to take it away even though it is technically within nintendos rights to do so is really just saying they don’t want LPs. They should just be upfront about their intentions instead of footing around


On May 16, 2013 at 4:35 pm

nintendo just made my list of never buy along with EA ;D move indeed ;)


On May 16, 2013 at 5:13 pm

So this is what they do instead of getting more games for the Wii U. Retarded move Nintendo. Full on retarded. AND YOU NEVER GO FULL RETARD.


On May 16, 2013 at 6:25 pm

I like how calm people are about this, but if EA/Activision/Ubisoft charges for DLC on the disk BURN THE WITCHES.


On May 16, 2013 at 7:30 pm

this is about as bad as the SOPA bill trying to get past last year. except this is Nintendo. and everyone loves them. so its like when our government tell America (just America) “we think your steeling money from companies!” everyone goes “ you government!” and when Nintendo tells the world “hey we think your steeling money from us!” how is everyone gonna react? will we say “ you!” or stand there like fool’s that don’t know how to tell our friends they aren’t waring pants? i say get mad! get really pissed! if there not doing something right let them know. i mean when Sony stopped hackers from ing with there console and steeling video games ( an honest move) the internet got pissed! but when Nintendo takes money from the people you know and help you with all game related info, are you gonna go belly up and say “piss on me Nintendo im yours!” no! ware are those gots at anonymous now? probably off counting the money they make off of there stock they have on Microsoft… the world of gaming its turned to ! WE NEED SEGA BACK NOW!!!


On May 16, 2013 at 8:20 pm


There was an interesting article awhile back about the big youtube networks that you might consider before going too far down the “just join a big network if you want to be able to monetize LPs” path. Things are rough in an emerging market, and it seems like someone is always trying to take advantage, be it Nintendo or Machinima.


On May 16, 2013 at 10:30 pm

What a bunch of s.


On May 17, 2013 at 1:21 am

After reading a few more comments, I’d like to add that while I think my earlier points are right, it is also a real problem if lpers make money from what they do, but don’t have a license of some kind from the games companies that they lp the games of. All that art etc is still copywrited material. Someone had to make all that stuff. Nintendo are trying a very self-defeating thing here, but it’s also true that the lpers need some kinda license. It’d be like Nintendo making a game out of their lp (ha ha) and claiming they could do so under free speech, or because it’s a different medium. it’d be fine, but they’d expect to make money off it too, and THAT’S a problem if they’re using someone’s material. Surely if no financial interest is present people should be allowed to make any lp they want (see the difference between an lp of a game and an uploaded movie). Heck; the folks making mario underwear ALSO make money off their stuff, and should pay a license fee to Nintendo. Why not lpers, if they make money in the same way? Thoughts?


On May 17, 2013 at 1:23 am

@lol – Heh, true. I guess I’m certainly angry, but you’d think there’d be more people up in arms on this…


On May 17, 2013 at 1:31 am

So if this is all about controll for nintendo all the affected youtubers can just remove all their nintendo related video’s and tell their fans they dont support companys that want to pirate their video’s.

no more problem, and nintendo wil have to make their own youtube advertisements. see how well that goes

personaly i just think nintendo dont want people so see that the games you can buy fot their console are total crap before you have ended up paying for it


On May 17, 2013 at 1:45 am

So let me get this straight, Nintendo can easily violate the DMCA Fair use act that protects, commentary, criticism, parody, news reporting, teaching, research, scholarship and Library archiving. Earn money off the backs of commentators just because half the content of a video that is monetize belongs to Nintendo. Here people are clapping saying what Nintendo is doing is right, what LPers are doing is wrong and that being a YouTube celeb is not a real job.

If anything Nintendo is asking to be sued, theres a reason why Toei couldn’t sue Team Four Star for DBZ abridge, why kids can dance silly to music and have it uploaded thanks in part to a 2007 court case that smacked Universal hard upside the head (Lenz v Universal Music Copr 2007). Because it falls under the fair use umbrella.

Now lets say it was a 100% walkthrough without commentary then Nintendo has ground to do so. Its not they are going after everything even if the background BGM thats been out in fair public use is getting slapped with ads from Nintendo. Its 100% wrong and Nintendo could easily be sued for infringing on the LPer’s right as its controlling commentary that violates I don’t know the FIRST AMENDMENT. Its going to get ugly and I hope that some lawyer that wants to make a name for himself starts a Class Action Lawsuit and bundles the LPer’s against Nintendo, only then will these big corps learn that you don’t where you eat.


On May 17, 2013 at 4:57 am

I don’t understand the problem; Nintendo is just using a feature of Youtube that identifies their content automatically, then plays ads at the beginning/end of the clip. So what? Seems like a lot of crying over nothing.


On May 17, 2013 at 6:27 am

Hey, there’s one thing this article gets wrong: Third party matches do not count as strikes against your account. You can get multiple and have your YouTube account still in good standing.

It’s copyright strikes (where videos are taken down) and Terms of Service violations that have the “three strikes” associated with them.

Mark Burnham

On May 17, 2013 at 8:32 am

@slowbeef That’s actually what we’d intended to explain relating to copyright strikes. I reread that sentence and I can see how it may cause some confusion. Rewording to avoid confusion.

Yes, copyright ‘stirkes’ are the big baddies. They can kill a channel entirely, whereas Content ID Matches are less severe.


On May 17, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I have no interest in Nintendo games or even consoles for that matter.

That said I do enjoy some youtubers and lets plays, they often help me decide on if a game is worth purchasing or not. Some games I would have passed on entirely if it was not for a great lets play that showed me the game is actually really fun.

This is only going to affect Nintendo negatively, yes people can still upload videos, but without income all the big youtubers are going to avoid their games and without that publicity sales will not be as good.

This is the equivalent of telling gaming magazines they are not allowed to sell a magazine when it has an article on their game. Get with the times Nintendo this is another form of marketing and you just shot yourself in the foot!

Grant Kumar

On May 17, 2013 at 2:54 pm

How dare a company make any sort of move regarding people profiting off their content.

I’d hate to see how mad people would get if Nintendo were actually getting people banned from YouTube over Let’s Plays.


On May 17, 2013 at 3:25 pm

While Nintendo won’t score any points with the general public with a move like this, they actually have a strong copyright position. It is true that this is a video of gameplay rather than something like actually distributing the game, but changing mediums doesn’t absolve one of potential copyright liability, since there is also protection for what it known as derivative works, basically the right to control whether your creation can be adapted into something else. Of course, LP has its own arguments, such as fair use since their videos are typically done for instructional purposes rather than gain on their end, and it might be hard to show that Nintendo was damaged by these videos.

With how many walkthroughs, etc. there are out there it seems odd that Nintendo decided to suddenly care about it, though. If nothing else, there is value in people being able to finish a game since it makes it more likely they’ll buy the next one, so I’d personally let things like this go.

Mr. Saturn Ed

On May 17, 2013 at 7:37 pm

First let me say I’m a great fan. I love all the games from Ice climbers to SSBB.
Now, the 3DS really hit hard. It nearly finished you, then the Wiiu pulled you right out of the ground. You guys have just enough to break even evry month, now you pull this! Your my favorite gaming company. If I had to pick Kirby or Black Ops, Im going with the puffball. Back to the point, I read the other comments and people are going to stop buying their games.Yes that is going to help you gain money, taking down harmless videos. WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO GAIN FROM THAT!? How about you target the people that are insulting you.
Good luck Nintendo, your going to need it

Velvet Inkwell

On May 19, 2013 at 2:27 am

at the same time, why does Nintendo feel that they can use LPers original content and likenesses to make their profit as well? If a LPer speaks, has a custom intro or outro, or does a facecam. Can Nintendo turn around and say “You cannot profit off of our content, but we can profit off of yours”?

Also to all of you stating that LP is not a real job. It is not your place to tell anyone what a real job is or not. A real job is simply something you make money from doing. The way it is done matters not.

It is ok for Nintendo to make profit off of “not a real job” but not the one that spends hours editing, learning the game, crating their own custom content, and providing entertaining commentary? Geez, how ever does Rifftrax EVER make money if it is not a real job?

Also, by Nintendo wanting to do these ads to collect the revenue, they are themselves proving that the LP market must be a lucrative one.


On May 20, 2013 at 6:36 am

I have a feeling Nintendo is really only doing this to attempt to make at least a little more money after the disappointing sales of the Wii U.
Still though, not a cool move on their part.


On May 20, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Quote from youtube’s FAQ on uploading videos:

Additionally, recording a television show, video game, concert or other performance with your phone, camera or microphone doesn’t mean that you own all rights to upload it to YouTube. This is true even if the event or show you recorded was open to the public. For example, recording a concert of your favorite band does not necessarily give you the right to reproduce and distribute the video without permission from the appropriate rights owners.

God forbid that Nintendo actually take credit for their own work. I find it ridiculous that so many people claim that just because LP videos are “free advertising” that it’s okay to exhibit copyright infringement. If you’re making a living off of someone else’s content without their permission, it is your fault, not the person from whom you are stealing copyrighted material.


On May 21, 2013 at 9:43 am

@Nintendon’t – by that logic the AVGN, Nostalgia Critic, Spoony etc shouldn’t be able to make money either since a large portion of their work is based around reviewing games and films, including using footage from said films.

Nobody’s claiming the Let’s Play uploaders own the intellectual property of the games themselves. They DO, however, own the footage of themselves playing those games. And that’s why they have the right to upload them as their own work. The only way this would change is if they tried to say that they were the developers of said games.

You’re naive at best if you think this has anything to do with Nintendo trying to keep themselves healthy. It has everything to do with trying to show gamers who’s boss. It’s not going to work.


On August 29, 2013 at 12:28 am

Now that GooTube have effectively admitted they are trading illegally are they going to hand-over their illegally gained revenues, or is that not part of the deal?


On November 16, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Does a game play itself?
No the user adds their own value.
How about we get YouTube to setup a 50/50 revenue share?


On December 15, 2013 at 8:12 am

Nobody cared about their content being on Youtube until people started making money.