Update (February 6): Looks like this story has a happy ending after all.
Original: A vast number of Sega-related YouTube gameplay videos have been receiving content ID matches this week, rendering their creators unable to monetize them.
Angry users have been taking to social media and discussion forums to complain about the copyright claims, which are being issued by a music digital rights agency based in Japan, known as elicense.
Sonic the Hedgehog videos, covering both the classic and modern series’, seem to be the most widely affected, though there are reports of let’s play videos for other Sega games such as OutRun also being targeted.
YouTube user Yoshiller Bradley, a video creator with over 50,000 subscribers, was hit particularly badly, with over 100 of his videos being claimed for his use of a five-second sample of Sonic music:
Finding out on whose authority these copyright claims are being issued is anything but straightforward, however. In response to one fan’s email, Sega suggested that its North American and European arms do not take action on YouTube videos unless they contain leaked or inappropriate footage, but did not mention whether this was the case in Japan. The company’s full statement read:
“In North America and Europe we typically will not take action on YouTube videos or similar content. Monetization of Youtube videos is not something we consider, but we will demand the removal of any leaked footage as well as content that uses our properties in a malicious or inappropriate way.”
It’s being widely speculated that Sega of Japan may have hired elicense to act on its behalf, although it has yet to directly comment on the furore. It may also be the case, of course, that agency is working on behalf of the composers who wrote the music being identified.
Regardless of who is ultimately responsible, the result of these claims has been considerable bad will for Sega, which comes at a time when the company is already struggling; it announced last week that it is to downsize and refocus on PC and mobile gaming.
Nintendo undertook a highly-publicised similar campaign back in 2013, prompting a massive backlash from the YouTube gaming community. Under pressure from fans, the company recently announced its own revenue-share program for video creators; is Sega set to follow suit?