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Friday, February 19, 2016

Where's the Fair Use?

One of my favorite games of all-time as well as my favorite game in the Metal Gear Solid series is Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. It's story can get ridiculously convoluted, and most players dislike Raiden for stealing the spotlight from Snake but this is still a game I love going through again and again. Sons of Liberty is also the first time we get mention of the Patriots, a group that has risen in power and controls the flow of information. By the time Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots rolls around, we find out that the Patriots are basically the ones controlling the world. This is also the game where we finally get to see the Patriots and they turn out to be nothing but a set of heavily flawed artificial intelligence that has set the world down the crapper. Huh. A corporation run by shoddy AI? Sounds familiar.

I've been drifting away from TV for years. Owning a TV is still of importance to me because I need one for the copious amounts of console gaming that I do. But as for watching shows on TV, well, I've greatly cut back on that. I only watch a handful of shows on TV like Steven Universe, We Bare Bears, The Amazing World of Gumball and shows that involve the Arrowverse. A lot of other things I stream off of Netflix or Hulu. YouTube has provided me with hours upon hours of entertainment thanks to the dozens of content creators. The crew at Channel Awesome always make me laugh, SomeCallMeJohnny is one of my favorite video game reviewers and I'm quite surprised at how much I've enjoyed Let's Plays. That doesn't even scratch the surface of the wealth of entertainment there is to find on this site that is turning 10 years old. YouTube has become a part of my everyday life and I've invested more time watching videos on this site in the past 7 years than I have watching anything on TV.

But something is very much amiss in the world of YouTube, something that threatens the very livelihood of site and the content creators that make a living from the videos the make. That threat is the very thing that is supposed to be protecting those that make YouTube videos, the farce called the Fair Use system.

The only human beings to be fond on YouTube are the content creators. YouTube itself is run by a bunch of lifeless, souless robots that are basically the real life version of the Metal Gear Solid series Patriots. Only a select few are truly protected by the Fair Use system and never have to dispute copyright claims or deal with strikes on their channels. If these chosen few are under the site's Fair Use system and get strikes thrown against their channels then YouTube will fight back like a parent protecting their child. And if you aren't one of the lucky ones? Assume the position because you are going to get screwed. YouTube could care less about the flagged videos on your channel and the strikes, no matter how much your content is perfectly within the rights of fair use. Even some of the biggest names on YouTube are not immune to strikes and copyright claims. Be the channel big or small, YouTube's bogus Fair Use terms more often than not work against the content creators rather than in favor of them.

I've only uploaded a handful of videos on YouTube, some of my replays from Mario Kart 8. I don't have a camera or proper equipment to do the things regular YouTubers do so I appreciate the ability to upload replays from Mario Kart 8 directly on my YouYube channel. These were actually the first time I ever uploaded anything to YouTube and despite the very minimal views, I was pleased to see my victories on the site. My joy was quickly turned to dismay when I saw that every single replay was hit with a copyright claim. I disputed each one but I haven't uploaded any replays since because I was sick of having to fight these claims when I did nothing wrong. Apparently since it was content owned by Nintendo, the company that gave me the OK and encouragement to upload the replays to YouTube since the function is built into the game, my videos got flagged. Good freaking job, YouTube.

YouTube's joke of a Fair Use policy is very one sided. Users have had their videos deleted and in the worst case scenario, their channels deleted. Lots of people on YouTube make a living off the site so if their channel goes bye-bye all of a sudden, how are they going to put food on the table? But it isn't just videos and channels getting strikes for featuring copy-written material. Owners of the content used in these videos can file claims just because they got butthurt because they couldn't handle some negative criticism. The worst part about it is that the people that they can file false claims and suffer no repercussions whatsoever for doing so. They can file false claim after false claim and never get punished for it.

The fact that so many people, whether they make green off YouTube or not, are constantly at risk due to YouTube being run by a bunch of bots really disturbs me because I love YouTube. I don't want to see the dozens of creators that put so much effort into their videos have free speech stifled because the companies that own the copyright material want more and more money or the fact that they can't handle that someone vehemently disagrees with their work.

There are would be YouTubers that are scared of uploading videos because of YouTube's "guilty until proven innocent" mentality. To these people I say, do not let that stop you. This whole deal has just convinced me that I shouldn't let copyright claims stop me from uploading replays or any video game content. I'll fight each and every claim thrown at me. Doug Walker, thanks for raising awareness and inspiring so many of us to speak out. 

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