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Nintendo's overprotectiveness of their IPs

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Because taking down what's basically free advertising and under fair use totally works.

Nintendo is a Japanese video game company and console manufacturer that has been creating gaming systems since the 1970s, starting with the Color TV-Game 6.

They have also created some of the most popular and beloved IPs of all time, most notably the Mario franchise, with its titular character as its mascot.

However, they are also notorious for being overprotective of their IPs by taking down fan games, copyright striking YouTube videos, and cease and desisting almost any product related to them. While this is justified since they clearly own the rights to them and could lose their trademarks when creators illegally profit off of them, they take them down in an extremely aggressive way.

Examples

  1. They take down fan games that are basically fanmade versions of their IPs like Mario, Zelda, Metroid, and Pokémon.
  2. They'll copyright strike or even claim any video on YouTube containing their music, or gameplay clips of their games, be it a Let's Play or a walkthrough.
  3. They filed a cease-and-desist order against Etika-themed Joy-Con which were meant to be used for charity for those with suicidal thoughts or depression.
    • The charity was later confirmed to be a scam, but it is unlikely Nintendo knew or cared that this was the case.
  4. They also demand that certain fan-made tournaments with their own games be closed. The most notorious example of this is the one with Super Smash Bros. Melee, causing thousands of players to boycott the company and spawn the infamous #FreeMelee trend.
  5. On June 2021, before E3 of that month happened, they asked streamers not to co-stream their content during their presentation of that convention. However, fans were baffled by this and a good majority of them stream the show anyway.
  6. They have a habit of taking down ROMs as well as the websites as a whole that feature them. Most notably being ROMUniverse, which was in talks of a return, causing Nintendo to panic and desperately do everything they can to prevent its comeback. While they are considered piracy sites, most of such games are long discontinued and are difficult to obtain legitimately.
  7. They created the infamous Nintendo Creator's Program. Click here to see more information about it.
  8. They've taken down video guides on emulations for the Steam Deck, despite them not violating any copyright law asides from downloading pirate ROMs.
  9. They sent a Cease and Desist letter to American YouTuber SuperMarioLogan, now known as SML, telling him to stop using their properties in his videos, forcing him to switch to the human puppets and take down all of his old channels, which resulted in him moving to a new channel.

Why This Practice Leaves Luck to Hell

  1. The elephant in the room is that almost none of the fanworks have been infringing on copyright and most of them are completely under fair use, but Nintendo takes them down anyway for no reason other than overprotectiveness and being overly paranoid that they could lose money when creators illegally profit off of them.
  2. Whenever they take down videos with their music in them, they never provide any alternative methods to listening to them.
  3. The fact that Nintendo files a cease-and-desist order against anything is totally embarrassing, because most other companies, even the worst ones like Electronic Arts and Konami, have never once stooped to this level of protectiveness.
    • What adds more salt to the wound is that Sega, of all companies, Nintendo's former competitor who no longer makes consoles, is completely lenient with fan games and even welcomes some fans to work on new Sonic games like Sonic Mania.
  4. Because they copyright strike or claim YouTube videos, many YouTubers like Angry Joe or SidAlpha are mostly afraid of covering anything Nintendo-related in their content, fearing the risk of getting their videos, or even their entire channels, taken down.
  5. Most of the time, whenever a fan creates anything regarding Nintendo, whether it's a fan game or a video, it's usually free advertising to those who want to support the company, but Nintendo's cease-and-desist orders make it incredibly difficult for those who try to promote the company and its products, and potential new fans.
  6. Although the charity was a scam, Nintendo's DMCA against it was extremely disrespectful to Etika, a huge supporter of the company, who died of suicide in June 2019, as well as to people who have the same type of mental illness he had.
  7. These products made by fans don't even cause Nintendo to lose any money, and them taking those down shows just how paranoid they are of whatever may damage their profits, even though a lot of them have very low probabilities of doing that.
  8. They've unfairly targeted some people for no apparent reason and haven't targeted anyone else for doing the same thing.
    • When Dreams user Piece of Craft created a model of Mario, Nintendo asked Sony to take it down. Despite this, Nintendo has not taken down any other Nintendo-related content from the game, which is very unusual. Even so, they shouldn't have been able to do this, because it's on a console made by Sony, one of their current competitors, so the latter should have stopped them from going after those games. However, the latter could have been the very reason they did so in the first place, and Sony warning its playerbase that they are not immune from takedowns.[1]
    • They took down an Instagram user's video of a collection of his fanart of their IP which wasn't even inappropriate, whereas countless other authors, developers, etc. don't mind the same thing as long as it's not very inappropriate, which is a very laughable thing. Just like with Dreams, they haven't taken down any fan art since.
    • They contacted YouTuber SynaMax and asked him to take down his Metroid Prime music covers, despite not taking down any covers elsewhere.
    • They filed a DMCA takedown request against modder NyxTheShield after he made Project NX, a mod of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Despite this, many other mods which serve the same purpose as NX are still up, such as Hewdraw Remix.
      • To add insult to injury, they also cited his custom Mr. Game & Watch character for Rivals of Aether as "unauthorized use of the Nintendo IP," resulting in Nyx taking it down, despite the fact that they have payed absolutely no attention to the thousands of other Nintendo-related mods on Steam!
  9. It didn't even make any sense for them to request that content creators don't co-stream the Direct at E3 2021, because doing so did zero harm to their profits and it only encouraged the viewers to watch Nintendo's then-new announcements at the time and even wanted to purchase those games.
  10. They've taken down ROMs from many ROM sites and either forced them to shut down or make them remove all ROMs completely. While it can be understandable since piracy can be seen by some as theft and is technically illegal, but some of these games are out of print and never got re-released, or almost became completely lost to time if not for piracy due to their eShop closures, so it's not like Nintendo will lose money this way.
    • To make things worse, they're shutting down the eShop of the Wii U and 3DS, which makes many games unobtainable anymore without piracy; similar to Sony with shutting down the stores of the PS3 and PS Vita, though, unlike Sony, they don't seem to be backing down on their plans.
  11. They've been taking down videos of the Steam Deck emulating Nintendo games despite most (if not, all) of the YouTubers not mentioning anything about piracy, it should be noted that emulation is 100% legal as long as you don't pirate.
  12. What's even worse about all this is that rumor has it that some people impersonate Nintendo to file DMCA claims, which, if true, is just absolutely petty.
    • One example of this rumor going around was when GiIvaSunner received a bunch of copyright claims for uploading Nintendo music and the copyright claim message listed the copyright holder as "Nintendo" when other copyright claim messages have listed the company as "Nintendo Co. Ltd," "Nintendo of America Inc.," etc.
      • The Team YouTube Twitter account eventually responded, saying these copyright claims were legitimately from Nintendo, but people still continued to doubt that due the poor reputation of YouTube's copyright system and Team YouTube.
    • Another is the Kirby Reanimated Collab on YouTube, which was unblocked multiple times, and Nintendo themselves officially stated that they never flagged any Kirby video. Some suspect that this was the work of the company who broadcasted Kirby: Right Back at Ya! in Japan, although the whole situation is unclear.
    • In arguably the most unusual takedown, someone named Jason Allen who supposedly used to work for Nintendo took down the original download link for the 3v3/4v4 patches for MUGEN while impersonating as their American division. The patches had absolutely nothing to do with Nintendo, which makes the whole situation a confirmed case of someone impersonating the company.
  13. The fact that Nintendo files DMCAs against fanworks is actually legal and also proves they can get away with stuff like this as long as they're successful in taking down fan games, YouTube videos, etc., and it is highly unlikely that they'll ever stop.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. They are at least correct that people shouldn't use their characters and copy their games, although this doesn't excuse them for being so overprotective.
  2. Some of their takedowns are justifiable, such as when they took down a Mario-themed NFT gambling game made by the cryptocurrency scheme "1-UP Platform" (even though the only reason they did that was because of how overprotective they are or their IPs, not because they were against NFTs), taking down inappropriate artwork of Bowser, or forcing people to pay for ROMs (in the case of ROMUniverse, which locked downloads behind premium accounts).
  3. The closest thing to fangames that Nintendo actually tolerates are those made in Game Builder Garage. This is most likely because GBG is a game made for the Nintendo Switch, and being a console made by Nintendo, Nintendo is able to profit off of the aforementioned games.
  4. So far, they have yet to file DMCAs against fanart on sites like DeviantArt or ArtStation, projects on Scratch and Newgrounds, and mods and custom content for non-Nintendo games (excluding the two examples mentioned above).
  5. Despite what WTPS 12.3 says, they have not taken down any Kirby-related content (with the exception of GilvaSunner's uploads of Kirby soundtracks).

Controversy

This type of overprotectiveness of Nintendo's IPs has (reasonably) stirred up so much backlash from the company's fans as well as the gaming fanbase as a whole, and has even caused them to boycott Nintendo because of it.

Most YouTubers, most notably Angry Joe, have also called out Nintendo for their strict copyright policies on the site, and have not only protested the company but also avoid covering almost any kind of products from them to prevent any more copyright strikes or claims from the company.

Nintendo's overprotectiveness of their franchises has gotten significantly worse throughout the years, and due to how successful these DMCA takedowns are and the fact that they're 100% legal, it is highly unlikely that the company will ever stop these kinds of actions, and the future of fanmade Nintendo products, as well as ROM websites in their entirety, is looking rather uncertain.

Videos

References

Comments

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