Machinima faces backlash and boycott


YouTube went on a copyright crackdown. The system is strongly in favour of anyone making a complaint as Google needs to stay in the “Safe Harbour” of the US’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

As a blogger, I’ve been hit with this. I upload a game trailer to YouTube in response to a request from PR, a Digital Marketing agency, or even the game maker themselves, and write about it. Some time later; 12, 18 or even 24 months, someone else claims copyright on a fragment used in the trailer. It could be a logo. It could be a slice of music. It could be anything.

YouTube’s response; the entire channel gets a black mark against it, and you lose all access to ad income and a host of tools. Three black marks, and you’re out altogether.

I’ve protested each black mark I’ve had; being able to cite written permission, I had to use the video and won every time. One day I won’t win, and I’ll lose my channel. Most recently, my counter-claims haven’t even been contested. I just have to wait a few months for the system to automatically rule in my favour, given my counter-claim remains.

It’s a worse situation for super user-level computer game bloggers, though. Many of them had been part of large networks like Machinima, and they had some extra protection, a higher tolerance against what counts as a copyright match.

That changed recently, and many YouTubers, people who made their money off the platform, got hit by waves and waves of copyright claims. The networks like Machinima were no longer given special treatment. So, what's the point of them?

I argue that digital agencies act increasingly like publishers – they use content to engage an audience and earn money. I also argue that publishers have to act like digital agencies – they have to help promote and market the content produced by their creators. Why? What else are they doing? Publishing to YouTube is a push-button affair once you have your video. Again, what's the point of the publisher collective?

In this protest video Clash, with some 180,000 subscribers, underlines that he’s trapped in a contract with Machinima, that they take an undisclosed cut for doing nothing and he can’t get out. He urges a boycott and announces he’ll stop running ads completely.

I hope Clash investigates other ways to make money from his videos. It is possible. He could become a store and overlay his own products. That’s allowed. It’s even possible to put affiliate links in the video descriptions.

We’re yet to see what Machinima does. Clash’s protest makes it hard for them to delete his channel without seeming churlish. They make terminate his contract – or if there’s fine print in there about not bringing the brand into disrepute (a standard clause), there may be legal action.

Note: This post first appeared on Zebra Eclipse in 2014 and was moved here by Girdy in a 2023 tidy-up. A video embed was removed as the video had been marked private. 

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