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I'm trying to organize a movement to respond to the recent unpleasantness with YouTube cracking down on Let's Play videos and other game-related content.

Lars Doucet, Contributor

December 19, 2013

4 Min Read

I'm trying to organize a movement to respond to the recent unpleasantness with YouTube cracking down on Let's Play videos and other game-related content.

Several months ago during the last youtube kerfluffle, I started this reddit thread crowdsourcing a whitelist of "Let's Play" friendly game developers. That eventually turned into this wiki, which chugged along for a while. Then, the latest Youtube crackdown hit, and the list started getting some real momentum, ultimately hitting big sites like polygon. We also got some help from youtuber's like Boogie2988 and were retweeted by NorthernLion and TotalBiscuit.

I'd like to take this opportunity to explain what this is all about and what we're trying to do.

The #WhoLetsPlay list

The "Let's Play"-friendly developers Wiki" was designed to gather information about where developers stand on monetized Let's Play videos.

The wiki is NOT an authority in and of itself, just a handy directory that:

  1. Makes it easy to find permission statements

  2. Encourages developers to make their permission status publicly known

  3. Encourages developers to upgrade their permission from tweets to written official statements on their sites

The list serves as a shield against fraudulent Content-ID matches, because you can easily find out if a developer has actually given official permission.

The wiki is getting a bit difficult to maintain on wikia, so I will eventually migrate it to our new site, www.wholetsplay.com. Hopefully it will be much prettier by then.

However, there's more to it.

Dealing with Music

Right now, there's an issue with music. Many developers, small and large, license music non-exclusively. This means the musician owns the music, but gives the developers some rights (namely to use it in their game). This means that *technically* it's not legally clear-cut (again, I'm not a lawyer) that the developer has the right to grant permission for fans to make monetized videos that include the music.

This ambiguity leads to situations where 3rd party licensors and Youtube can actually issue takedown notices and content-ID matches to developers for hosting THEIR OWN OFFICIAL TRAILERS or THEIR OWN MUSIC, in order to "protect them." Insane, right?

Why this is bad:
This will pressure developers to secure EXCLUSIVE rights to protect themselves. This is bad for everyone, because exclusive rights are more expensive for developers and less flexible for musicians. Youtube is currently recommending that LP'ers make videos without music. As Colin Campbell notes, the problem is 3rd party music resellers. I'm currently talking to some legal folks about setting up some creative-commons esque licenses for music that developers can use with their musicians to make the "let my fans post this on youtube" rights more clear.

We might also start a second wiki for known "bad actors" in the music reseller space, to warn developers and musicians against using them for selling soundtracks, etc. I don't want it to turn into a vengeful witch hunt, though, so we might tread carefully there.

We Need Some Stinkin' Badges!

We need to make it CLEAR and EASY for YouTuber's to know where developers and their musicians stand. Right now it's a giant soup of ambiguous, unclear, and INVISIBLE rights. I'm imagining creating a badge system like creative commons has, where a developer can proudly display that their content is "Free to Let's Play", and also display a badge that certifies, YES, we have signed the proper licensing terms with our musician, so you can feel safe that the musician allows you to stream the video with music.

But Isn't this just the fault of Bad Laws?

Yup! And we can and SHOULD fix those bad laws. But in the meantime, we've got to do *something* as a community, because I'm guessing those laws won't get fixed anytime soon. I think we can take inspiration from creative commons and open source in this regard -- if the law doesn't create a community conducive to sharing, let's make our own and set the terms ourselves!

Still Working out the details

This is all in flux right now, and I'm working out the details as we speak. A lot could change.

How can I help?

If you want to help, you can:

  1. Get in touch: email me at lars dot doucet at gmail dot com, or look me up on twitter.

  2. Volunteer your time: we need web devs and lawyers. I've got some of both, but the more the merrier.

  3. Developers -- add your name to the wiki, and make your permission status known.

  4. Journalists -- write an article about #WhoLetsPlay!

  5. Youtubers -- talk about #WhoLetsPlay on your show.

  6. Everyone -- get the word out about #WhoLetsPlay. Tweet, share, etc.


Questions? Comments? Critiques? That's what comments are for. Go!

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About the Author(s)

Lars Doucet


Lars A. Doucet is the President of Level Up Labs, LLC, an independent game design studio based in Bryan, TX. His latest project is the successful RPG/Tower Defense hybrid Defender's Quest - http://www.defendersquest.com/. In addition to his work at LUL, Lars has been a consultant who specializes in 'Applied Gaming,' an emerging field that uses game design and game technology for new uses both in and out of the entertainment sector. Lars' applied gaming projects include Super Energy Apocalypse, in collaboration with the Houston Advanced Research Center, and CellCraft, through Wake Forest University and the MacArthur foundation. Lars has also consulted for Rice University's Center for Technology in Teaching and Learning and Texas A&M University.

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