Microsoft Studios lays down the rules for Let's Play videos

Watching others play video games, whether on YouTube, Twitch, or any other video streaming or hosting site, is becoming a gaming sub-culture unto itself. The fact that people actually make money off it, particularly through ads, has given rise to some game developer/publisher action that has, in turn, received either criticism or support. Suffice it to say, it is not without controversy. Now Microsoft Studios is making its own clarifications, basically saying that it's OK to stream, or even monetize, Let's Play vids, except when it isn't.

Since Microsoft Studios is the copyright and license holder to its titles, it's only natural that it assert those even in the case of fan-produced content, which has always been murky legal ground, no matter the media. Aside from a required boilerplate disclaimer, Microsoft also requires that such videos that make use of the Studios' content not be used for offensive material, as defined by Microsoft, of course. Pretty much your regular legal protection setup, but things get a bit tricky when money is involved.

Microsoft does allow you to monetize your Let's Play videos but with some amount of caveats. Or actually, to make it simpler, you're not allowed to make money off it unless they are through YouTube or Twitch revenues. You're not allowed to outrightly sell the content. You're also not allowed to distribute the content via an app or site that requires a fee. Heck, you're not even allowed to show the video on the same web page as anything that tries to sell or make money off something, whether the two are totally unrelated, which basically throws ads outside the window.

While not impediments to distributing (streaming, hosting, etc.) video content, Microsoft does have a few "gotchas" that might turn off such players, mostly along the lines of who owns your videos. Well, you do, technically and legally, but, since you're also using Microsoft content, the company is basically reserving the license to make use of your own content as it sees fit, with or without your knowledge, without compensation, and whether you like it or not. So basically, if you make some fan video with a neat idea for a new lore or quest, Microsoft can use that for a future update or game and you'd be none the wiser nor none the richer.

These are almost pretty much standard maneuvers for Microsoft to cover their own legal bases against future lawsuits, but some might find the requirements a bit stifling. That said, it's not the only approach, and it may not be the worst. Nintendo, for example, is requiring a cut off any advertisement revenue from videos showing its properties. Of course, there are others that welcome these videos with open arms, especially as they can help drive marketing and sales at no extra cost to the publishers or developers. Let's Play videos aren't going away any time soon, so we'll most likely see the gaming industry consolidate further on how to better tread the murky waters of copyright and fan-made content.

VIA: GameInformer