Lets Play videos main point of interest is the content they did not create, the game. Lots of people put in a lot of effort to make those games, to write, animate, and render those cut scenes these youtube videos make their money on. Should the makers of these games not be compensated for their contribution? I have no issue with people making Lets Play videos. I do, however, take issue with them making a profit off of them. Lets Play videos, like music videos and fan trailers, are a product of fandom, and as such have their own rewards. Profiting on those acts of fandom is just wrong in my opinion, it is sleazy and unethical. A youtube video of a game like Mario may not cut into the game’s profits, but what about games like heavy rain which are really just visual novels. Would it be ok for me to MST3K the new Hobbit movie in its entirety, post the entire thing on youtube, and then monetize it with ads? I have no permission to use that material. I haven’t bought the rights. No agreement was made with the studio and people behind the film. So what right do I have to not only repost their content outside of their own revenue generating streams, but to even profit off of my re-posting. It is wrong.
There are really 2 issues here. 1, re-posting without permission. 2, profiting on the repost without compensating the original party. Issue number 1 is typically seen as acceptable… but there are aspects of it that are wrong as well. As an artist, the idea that somebody could take my work and re-post it with some of their own content is both flattering and aggravating. It is my work, and yet I have no control, I could make a drawing of a boy and it could end up being used as a promotion image for Nambla. As an Atheist, I would be offended if something I did was used to promote Christianity. As somebody who hates boy bands and pop, I would be offended by my works somehow benefiting Justin Bieber. I have no control. That is a scary thing, but if it is just used by fans of my own work to geek out over my work than I am more than happy to lend it out. The second issue the bigger one, why should somebody else profit off my work where I do not? If a fan of my work compiled it, added a letter at the end analyzing it, and then released it for free I would be concerned that my content was put out for free against my wishes. However, if that same guy did the same thing, but SOLD it for his own profit I would be FURIOUS.
The thing is, I have made Anime Music Videos using both a song I don’t have the rights to, and anime I don’t have the rights to. I have made fan trailers for movies I like. I have made and distributed background wallpapers for shows, movies, bands, etc. But I never profited off of them. The thought of doing so never even occurred to me. Considering the concept now just makes me feel dirty. I have no right to do so. Hell I have no right to even make the videos and such in the first place. But that is overlooked by the original creators because it is flattering to them, it isn’t harmful to them, and it is just harmless fandom. But to profit off of them, I would have no right, and they would have every right to be angry.
An argument can be made that making these videos takes work… I know it does… as Is aid.. I have made music videos, fan trailers, etc… There IS a reward for those though, attention, prestige, perhaps even prizes from a competition. But to monetize it… it is just wrong. And I have no sympathy for those who have had their videos pulled. I would have no issue if my own videos are pulled, and I DON’T make money on them. As a fan I know that my work based on theirs is a product of fandom, and NOT my own intellectual property, and I understand that the existence of my work is entirely at the mercy of those who own the original material. I am good with that. If I wanted to monetize, or have security for my hard work I would create ORIGINAL content. Sometimes I do.
-Tyson Gifford (TheMightyMe)