“Are Let’s Play Videos Illegal?” – Warren

In “Are Let’s Play Videos Illegal?” host Jamin Warren questions the legality issue many Let’s Players are concerned about. Warren states that while no one has contended their legality yet, this is because they have, up until recently, more or less flown under the radar of the legal system. Additionally, most Let’s Plays don’t offer a serious threat to game companies and the Let Play community has been viewed as a serious competitor. According to Warren the Let’s Plays aren’t a competitor because they remain a poor substitute for the game itself. In fact, many developers view them as a form of free advertisement and have been content to let them stay under the radar. Let’s Play, however, do feature copyrighted material. That said, it remains true that not all Let’s Plays are good for business either (for examples, videos exposing game glitches), and in some ways, might harm the brand or image of the company owning the IP. Warren goes on to state, interestingly, that there is a legal case to be made for Let’s Plays too. Let’s Plays, claims Warren, could fall under Fair Use which allows transformative use of another work. The commentary in Let’s Plays, for instance, could be considered transformative – thus making it a vital part of the medium’s legality. You could also argue that every Let’s Play documents a completely unique experience and count as a public performance. This argument is one that is fairly unique to games as an interactive medium. One tricky area would be the content viewed during cut scenes – since these are not unique to every player and are not transformative, including them in any Let’s Play video could create issues.

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