#FreeMelee & #SaveSmash: The Copyrighted Videos Update (11/27/20)
Earlier this month, when #FreeMelee, and eventually #SaveSmash/#SaveMelee began, we wrote a Twitlonger about a week later explaining what the movement could do to do better.
One of the things we brought up was the issue of misinformation, which can destroy a community if used carelessly. It is still important to back up findings and not jump to immediate conclusions when new pieces of information are revealed. In this Twitlonger, we're going to catch you up on what could potentially be a problem if not addressed, copyright claimed videos of Smash mods.
This is important to read all the way to the end before grabbing one paragraph and using it as a completely different argument.
To begin, let's start with what's already known 100%. Multiple videos were removed today (estimated around 10 or so) that dealt with mods. @Mastaklo created a Goku mod for Smash Ultimate over Terry (and honestly it was pretty impressive). @64iOS which specializes in showcasing Smash mods also had a video taken down regarding Super Mario Odyssey mods in Ultimate. Very interestingly, no other Smash mod video was taken down from his channel to our knowledge.
On a side note, there has also been reports that other modding videos were taken down, but not Smash mods. One was a New Super Mario Bros. U mod by @jannintendo, while @AurumVG had several mod videos taken down, including the following games: Splatoon, Super Mario 3D World, Pokemon Sun and Mario Kart 8. Obviously, this implies that the problem lies outside of Smash, if there is a problem (explained below).
But what is interesting about all of these claims is the one thing they have in factor. The copyright claimer is always listed as "Nintendo". You might think off the top of your head "yeah that would make sense they are Nintendo", but this isn't how Nintendo is known legally. In North America, Nintendo's legal name is "Nintendo of America Inc." and the Nintendo(s?) around the world share similar names. This was one of our first clues that something was a little off.
Someone brought to our attention a post from the team behind the Kirby Reanimated video, which was a scene-by-scene recreation of the "Kirby Right Back At Ya!" episode called "Cartoon Buffoon". The video was copyright claimed (not struck) by this "Nintendo". They said that they knew it wasn't Nintendo initially. Apparently one of their earlier claims on the video was by a known company pretending to be Nintendo. They even retweeted someone identifying it as A-PAB, which stands for "The Association for Promotion of Advanced Broadcasting Services" (Yeah the letters don't make sense but this is from A-PAB's website in its original Japanese.) These have apparently been targeting Kirby videos online, and were called out for falsely claiming videos as "Nintendo". This apparently is a Japanese broadcasting company that had an unknown connection to Nintendo, so why take down Kirby videos specifically? Why not let Nintendo, HAL or 4Kids do it? They own the copyright. This is only one side of the argument.
The other side of it was a tweet sent to us by @64iOS about @Mankalor. Mankalor is known for his Mario Kart videos and had uploaded a video of a modded Mario Kart Tour. The first thing that was interesting was that this was October 26th, and it originally was presented as "Nintendo" claiming the video. Mankalor says that once he tried for an appeal and it came back as a copyright strike, and the owner had changed from "Nintendo" to "Nintendo of America Inc.". In the description of why it received the strike, it had said "The video promotes an unauthorized modified version of Nintendo's Mario Kart Tour mobile app."
We don't doubt for a second that Mankalor actually got this claim from Nintendo themselves. This instance alone has every right for people to be upset about. But there still raises a level of suspicion from all of this, which is why we're not ready to 100% say this was Nintendo that did this recently.
We still have several questions. Why do the videos say "Nintendo" claimed them when "Nintendo of America Inc." is the one actually doing the striking? Why would Nintendo knowingly do this in the middle of the #FreeMelee and #SaveSmash movement? The timing seems off. Let's run through our suspicions one by one.
First off, if Nintendo of America Inc. is the one having all the problems, why doesn't it come out as Nintendo of America Inc. from the get-go? Even if this isn't a problem with this whole controversy surrounding Melee and Nintendo's copyright, it's a problem on the end of YouTube that should be addressed. Every content creator we reached out to and heard a response from talked about this. YouTube needs more transparency on who's actually claiming or striking their videos.
In our continuing conversations with @64iOS and @Mastaklo, they said this was a problem. Mastaklo told us that they sent an appeal to YouTube, and we'll keep you posted on our Twitter if anything comes out of that. Mastaklo's answer will most likely be the answer we're all looking for. 64iOS told us he wasn't going to try and appeal it to be safe. 64iOS also said that in the past, several of his modding videos (including 2 Dolphin emulator on Android videos, as well as a meme modpack for Mario Kart 8) were copyright claimed by "Nintendo", which he never sent appeals for, but never changed off of "Nintendo".
We also reached out to the team behind Kirby Reanimated and never heard back, but they did respond to Mankalor saying they now believed their copyright claims they received seemed legit, although we never heard back from them figuring out if the name switched over to "Nintendo of America Inc." or not. If someone from the Kirby Reanimated team is reading this, please reach out so we can get the full story on this. We'll update everyone else on the comments of this post should we hear differently. We already had all the info we needed from Mankalor who provided screenshots of the claim/strike differences on a post.
The second thing is the timing. It makes logical sense for Mankalor's copyright strike to come before the C&D to Big House (which Big House reported on November 19). Probably because all eyes weren't on Nintendo's legal team at the time. What's interesting is that this is the first instance we've heard of (the day we're writing this Twitlonger) that copyright claims like this has happened. Nothing happened for an entire week and a day, but right after Thanksgiving a bunch of claims went through. The timing of this is suspicious, as we're pretty sure Nintendo has been avoiding discussion of copyright on purpose to avoid an even larger PR nightmare than they already have on their hands. As much as people are throwing hate toward Nintendo right now, we're pretty sure they wouldn't double down while still having their comments filled with #FreeMelee.
Plus, the only person who's proven that "Nintendo of America Inc." was the one that finished it was Mankalor. Again, if any content creator we've mentioned has proof otherwise, please send it to us so we can get the full story out. We're trying to get the full story together so we can come forward with a 100% claim that this either was or wasn't Nintendo.
We don't want to rush to false claims or accusations, but there still is a chance someone could be using these copyright claims to stir up trouble since there hasn't been any updates surrounding #FreeMelee or #SaveSmash. But at the same time, we also have to acknowledge that these are spread out between smaller YouTube pages. If this person wanted to make bigger trouble, they could go for modding videos on bigger YouTube pages. One key example would be Alpharad, who has more than 2 million subscribers on YouTube and still has old Smash 4 mod videos on his page. Most of them are right before his videos about Smash Ultimate if you want to go find them.
What we think we need to do before rushing to defend Nintendo about this, is wait out what happens with @Mastaklo and their copyright appeal. Obviously every single YouTube video we listed has the right to claim "Fair Use" on their modding videos. Again, we'll update you on what happens here.
For now, we all need to take a breath. We advise that people wait before jumping the gun on this to make sure this is or isn't actually Nintendo doing this. If any content creator dealing with mods has had this happen to them after November 19th, regardless of the status of claim/appeal/strike, please DM us so we can get the full story out.
If Mastaklo comes back and says it ended up being "Nintendo of America Inc.", have at it. Add it to #FreeMelee/#SaveSmash/#SaveMelee or whatever hashtag the movement is using at the time. Use it in Tweets. Call Nintendo PR and add this to your formal complaint. If it ends up not actually being Nintendo or they don't end up following through with a strike, then we'll go from there. For now, let's all relax and know that we have Nintendo's attention, and they would be wise not to anger the movement any farther.
Remember to be nice to each other, and to get all the facts and possibilities before jumping to conclusions.
- The team at "Nintendo Fans Complaining About Nintendo".