Nintendo appears to be more firmly putting its foot down on one particular avenue of ‘piracy’ – game music uploads on YouTube.
Video game music has long sat in a sort of moral grey area. It’s illegal to upload pieces of a game’s soundtrack to the internet, even if you aren’t monetizing it – but for many years a lot of games companies have appeared happy to look the other way. This has led to popular accounts with huge followings in the hundreds of thousands, racking up tens of millions of views monthly. Even if the curators of these channels aren’t profiting this activity is still piracy, however.
Yesterday, Nintendo sent out a firm message: it isn’t going to look the other way any longer. It issued hundreds of copyright strikes against one 342,000 subscriber channel, GilvaSunner, while another channel, BrawlBRSTMs3, was deleted from YouTube in its entirety.
Game over pic.twitter.com/lsLKKg8ZF8
— GilvaSunner (@GilvaSunner) August 13, 2019
“Game over,” GilvaSunner’s operator tweeted, posting a screenshot of a string of copyright claims hitting their inbox simultaneously. Both channels have dueled with copyright claims before, but this marks the most significant purge to date.
Accounts from fans online seem to suggest that Nintendo’s copyright claim spree began with the company seeking to keep the soundtrack of the newly-released Fire Emblem: Three Houses off YouTube, but then quickly expanded to be a general removal of Nintendo music uploads from the platform.
BrawlBRSTMs3’s channel specialized in uploading extended versions of game music for fans to play in the background while working or the like – taking a three-minute Zelda track and looping it to be thirty minutes long and so on. Fans of non-Nintendo games are in mourning, as the channel was also home to extended tracks from other publishers and franchises like Capcom, Sega and Square Enix.
However angry fans might get, Nintendo is well within their rights to do this – especially given that many of the newer soundtracks for games like Fire Emblem are sold separately on CD – though admittedly Western fans are forced to import from Japan at significant cost. Older game music isn’t so readily available, however. If you want to listen to the music of, say, A Link to the Past, unauthorized game-rips or booting the original game are your only options.
Nintendo has drawn its line in the sand as far as game music uploads are concerned – and that’s fine. Hopefully now it follows the example set by the likes of Square Enix, Capcom and CD Projekt and begin to make the soundtracks that have been struck from YouTube more readily and legally available in the West via services like Spotify. Or even take a look at Sega, which has taken to occasionally uploading music to its official channels as a promotional tool. The company has dabbled with this in the past – the Super Mario Odyssey soundtrack is available on iTunes – but the fans missing these YouTube channels will be hopeful a more consistent offering is to come.