A word or twenty about Fair Use
Let's talk about criticism, youtube and copyrights.
Being a developer these days is weird. Who have to put yourself up there, among big companies and vicious dogs to get people's attention, and people move from peasants to kings, or kings to peasents in a matter of hours. A flamewar from reddit can send your business tumbling, while a youtuber making funny voices while playing your game can guarantee sales for hundred of thousands.
Among all this, a tendency has arisen, and lately gotten a lot of attention. The use of copyright laws as a baseball-bat, to threaten and beat up people that criticize, evaluate or as some will say "makes money off your work". Directly against the Fair Use law, which is surprisingly simple to understand.
Now, I'm not a piracy loving anarchist, and I fully understand that this world needs copyright control. But what is being seen is something sinister, and simply way too easy. A trend, namely starting on YouTube, but that I fear will be the "new normal" if some changes are not being taken.
As of this moment, agencies can threaten, cencor and destoy independent YouTubers, if they feel like they are hurting their rights. And tendency shows (to no surprise), that these rights are heavily misused when the reviewer is critical, but all is honky-dory if the review is positive.
This all stems from the way YouTube has set up their automated copyrights violation system. I get that to fight the dumbfounding amount of content, some automated processes are in place, but the scales are awfully skewed.
And that's the weird position I am in. The scales are bent in my favor, but I do not wish for this, nor do I find it fair. Shure, it stings when someone is tearing something apart, and calling it the worst thing ever. And with the added element of internet trolls, people that seem to feed off negative response, you sometimes feel like taking a flamethrower and going Rambo on everyone that ever spoke bad against you.
But in the end, I can recall a thousand times I ranted against some rubbish I was competing with on either the AppStore or Steam Greenlight, but reviews and criticism is not only their right, it's what reviewers DO. I simply can't understand that the world of game reviews (and seemingly movies too) suffer from this. In the world of theater, books and restaurants, the critics are both feared and revered, but no one would kick down the door to a newspaper and have the ability to censor them, if they gave a negative (and honest) review.
But it IS happening, and frequently. It shocked me that some of the most stable networks have to deal with this every other day! That is madness!
YouTubers earn revenue for their work, and it IS work. Camera, spending time, building a fanbase, and putting themselves out there is hard work, and I would be honored to be mentioned by a YouTuber, EVEN IF IT WAS NEGATIVE. This just means that someone notices you, and that is a large part of getting anywhere.
So therefor, a pledge!
Now, with all this, it is clear that something needs to be done. I don't have the absolute solution to the situation, but I do have an idea.
Without further ado, I solemnly pledge NEVER to use the copyright infringement laws, the YouTube report system or any similar means to threaten, silence or make the life miserable for anyone commenting, criticizing or reviewing my product.
If anyone feel like it, they can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and get a written agreement, defending their Fair Use rights in most to all situations they might fear, and can be used to shield themselves if a situation like this arises. I will even sign it in hand.
Should anyone arise and state that they are defending my copyright claims, or act on my behalf, I will actively support the YouTubers (or whatever media) right to Fair Use of my media.
The only things that I will not support are the following:
People claiming to be me, or claiming to have made work on my project that they haven't.
People distributing pirated copies of my game, whether it's free or charged for.
People making extremely blatant copies of my game for their own profit.
Everything else is Fair Use, as the law already made it. It should not be a bold move to state that I am willing to follow the law, but it seems that these days it's necessary.
You have my blessing, even if you:
Make let's play video on my games, even containing potential spoilers (but please warn your audience).
Use clips from my games to comment, mock or other weird contexts, even things that have nothing to do with the game.
Make a 30 minute video dedicated to calling me a fart, and saying my game is shit.
I still reserve my rights to internally think that people trolling or downvoting may eat a bag of dicks, but going after their livelihood because you think that will resolve the situation is not only immoral, it's directly moronic.
I know I am not a big end AAA studio, but that doesn't mean I can't do my part to influence the internet, the place we all love and cherish.
So #wtfu, you have my bow, my axe, and my full support!
Nils Munch, CTO
PS: If you have criticism about my game, please write me directly as well. I am sitting ready at email@example.com, and we DO care what makes people turn away from our games.