On January 9th, Microsoft decided to alter their policies regarding YouTube and Twitch regarding “Let’s Play” videos, streamed content and Digital Millennium Copyright Act violations.
Microsoft finally took notice of the growing popularity of LP’s and online digital streamed content. The new policy reflects this and, apart from anything obscene or lewd, it’s actually pretty relaxed. While they’re not giving carte blanche to users in regards of stripping down game code, they’re being lenient. Microsoft issued the following on their Game content usage policy page.
We know that people like you – gamers, fans, individuals, and enthusiasts – love our games and sometimes want to use things like gameplay footage, screenshots, music, and other elements of our games (“Game Content”) to make things like machinima, videos, and other cool things (your “Item(s)”). We’d like to make that easier to do for fans of our games. So long as you can respect these rules, you can use our Game Content to make your Items.
Microsoft grants users of their product a personal, non-exclusive, non-transferable, and revocable license for gamers to use and display the game content, creating alternate content for personal noncommercial use. They can revoke this license at anytime however, should they see fit to.
In order to share content a notice must be included in a “README” file, on the webpage or anywhere else that makes sense—in other words is easy to find. The notice must have the following visible. The name of the Microsoft Game must be visible as well as the © Microsoft Corporation logo. It must also state the content in question was created under Microsoft’s “Game Content Usage Rules” using assets from the Microsoft game, and that it is not endorsed by or affiliated with Microsoft. It seems the hyperlink to the actual page must also be included.
The above rules apply to all content published by and owned by Microsoft. There is an exception to these rules however. Minecraft, the game that has frustrated or delighted fans the world over and spawned several clones has its own special rules. Where Microsoft can’t give permission in using games from other publishers, users will have to contact said publisher or intellectual property owner.
The main rules outlined in the recent policy change prevent using game content to create anything of a vulgar, lewd, obscene or pornographic nature. In terms of reverse engineering assets and game code, you are not permitted to do anything the game itself doesn’t permit. You can not sell or earn any compensation from your item including “through advertisements” however you may put it on YouTube or Twitch and gain finance from programs on those sites that collect ad revenue. You may ask for optional donation requests for your item, but are unable to enter into any exclusive agreement where one company is the sole distributor of your content. If you wish to promote a commercial venture, you must ask permission directly to Microsoft, which will not be allowed without a Microsoft commercial license.
There are other far more intricate points regarding the creation of adding content to an already existing piece of Microsoft content as well as others wishing to use said item you have created, but those are the main points of the above document. This comes at a rather crucial time, as Let’s Plays have been silently gaining steam as of late. It seems people aren’t willing to purchase games based on advertisements solely and are becoming more diligent and aware of marketing tricks. Many view them not only as a source of entertainment but a means to help judge potential purchases.
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