Something is going down on YouTube that is causing a headache for many of the channels that upload video game-related footage. The automated Content ID system that finds copyrighted material in the massive amounts of content uploaded to YouTube every day suddenly began flagging videos that feature games like Dead Space 3, Metro: Last Light, and more.

And this flagging could cost YouTubers potentially millions in lost ad revenue.

A content claim on Metro: Last Light from a company that does not own the rights to the game.

Above: A content claim on Metro: Last Light from a company that does not own the rights to the game.

Image Credit: Total Biscuit

The odd thing is that YouTube Content ID is naming companies in these complaints that do not hold the copyrights to many of these games, as first reported by YouTube news site Tubefilter. For example, one uploader got a notice for publisher Deep Silver‘s Metro: Last Light (a horror-themed first-person shooter) from a company called 4GamerMovie, which is some kind of Japanese gaming website.

A representative for Deep Silver has since confirmed that the publisher fully permits YouTube creators to monetize videos featuring their games.


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We’ve reached out to YouTube to ask why this is happening, and we’ll update this post with any new information.

YouTube’s Content ID rampage is affecting some of the largest creators on the site. Popular YouTube gameplay channel TheRadBrad, which has nearly 2 million subscribers, is getting hit hard.

“YouTube is crippling gaming channels with third-party claims,” TheRadBrad posted to Twitter. “Every video I’ve uploaded since 2010 is slowly being taken away from me.”

The issue is that once a video is flagged in YouTube’s copyright system, the creator who uploaded it can no longer earn money from the ads that show before the content. For TheRadBrad, someone who does this for a living, that is devastating.

TheRadBrad, among others, are under the impression this is part of YouTube’s recent attempt to crack down on affiliates within multichannel networks (MCN). The way YouTube works is that if a video gets enough views, Google will begin sharing revenue with the creator if the content passes a check for copyrighted material. If a YouTube user joins an MCN, however, they can bypass that check and immediately begin earning from their videos.

Machinima is a popular and massive MCN that splits revenue with tons of creators. In January, however, YouTube plans to start randomly prescreening affiliates’ uploads for copyrighted content. It’s possible that this wave of Content ID conflicts is a part of that.

For now, people that create game-related content on YouTube are wondering if the site even wants them around. Gaming continues to make up a huge part of YouTube’s traffic. The site’s most-subscribed channel is the game-playing PewDiePie … who plays games while screaming. He has more than 17.6 million subscribers, which is 3 million more than the next closest individual channel, Smosh, which also runs a lot of gaming content.

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