YouTube will be a staggeringly confusing place.

YouTube has previously used automated content matching to snag clips and audio from copyrighted sources. Now, the technology appears to have advanced so far that they can identify clips from video games.

I checked my old video clips, and sure enough, they snagged a clip from Bayonetta and noticed that it was copyrighted by Sega. So far, no flurries of identification from Bethesda and Bungie/343i, seeing most of the vids are from The Elder Scrolls and Halo. I’ve got one Minecraft video up there, which I probably won’t need to worry about too much. If 343i will ever start claiming Halo clips, there will be a fierce battle ahead when some record labels are claiming the soundtrack. From game video maker’s point of view, I’d just love to grab popcorn here and see how they sort their own frigging mess first.

It is, however, very surprising that the biggest proponent of this scheme is Nintendo.

Nintendo is probably one of those video game companies that has steeped themselves to legend. They don’t need to justify themselves - if anyone thinks of classic video games, they’re probably thinking of Nintendo. And Nintendo, in recent years, has realised this pretty well: they have quit fighting the fans and realised that their creations have now permanently meshed themselves into fandom.

But apparently their lawyers woke up again and are now embarrassing the rest of the public view.

I’m not saying Nintendo, or any of the game companies really. wouldn’t be in their rights to demand acknowledgement of their rights. But YouTube’s system for automatically identifying the rights holders is going to be a huge mess. I’d much rather see a system where video authors could self-declare the copyright holders of video game footage. The whole assumption behind the automatic identification is that the video uploaders are sneaky bastards who don’t care to identify the copyright holders and are just uploading videos to YouTube to skip copyright enforcement. Personally, I’d be happy to identify the copyright holders if YouTube would just give us those tools.

The whole copyright enforcement system in YouTube is built on this sort of presumption of guilt. The film and music industry is telling YouTubers “we cannot trust you, so we dictated our solution to YouTube management, and they implemented it. We will know when you use our content without permission, and there’s nothing you can do.”

Despite the fact that people who actually give damn about copyrights would be perfectly willing to do so. I’m a metadata geek. Just let me specify that I have clips from, say, Halo 4 on my YouTube channel. I’m sure the metadata geeks at YouTube would also love that - after that, users could just search for Halo 4 clips, and dammit, that’s what they’d get.

I don’t want game companies to partake in presumption of guilt and presumption that gamers are out there to exploit the game companies. The game industry knows the people who post gameplay on YouTube are doing it to show off their own gaming skills, not to drive away profits from the games. If anything, showing off games on YouTube can only increase game sales.