Does Microsoft’s Game Content Usage Rules Prevent Filmmakers From Profiting Off Of Game Content?

Yesterday, EGM Now wrote a story pointing out a section in Microsoft’s Game Content Usage Rules, stating that people may not directly profit from videos that contain content from Microsoft games.

Here’s the part of the Game Content Usage Rules in question:

You may post your Item to a page or website that has advertising, but only if you do not earn any money from that advertising. For example, if you post your video on Youtube or Vimeo and there happens to be an advertisement next to it, then as long as you don’t get paid for that advertisement, the fact that there is an advertisement on the page doesn’t break these Rules. But enrolling in the Youtube partner program (or other similar programs), where you are entering into an agreement to get paid, is not allowed. On a similar note, if you create and distribute a free app, then you can’t earn any money from advertising in that app.

On top of being a source of entertainment for millions of people everywhere, games can often become major sources of revenue for popular filmmakers on sites such as YouTube and Vimeo, who frequently use in-game content/footage in their videos. Of course, select big-time producers — such as Rooster Teeth, for example — are unaffected by this; they have licensing deals with Microsoft to use the in-game content. However, it does seem like people who don’t have such deals with the company are in the wrong here… right?

Frank O’ Connor — franchise development director at the Microsoft subsidiary 343 Industries — posted a comment (he goes by “Stinkles”) on the NeoGAF forums saying that this isn’t exactly the case, despite the rather intimidating legal jargon:

As I mentioned in the Halo community thread, these rules actually haven’t really changed, and even the updated and clarified text has been up there for months. I assume somebody just noticed this and posted this morning because it sort of blew up. This has always been the Legal status for the IP (and MOST IPs in fact), and as you also already know, nobody is being sued, or in jail, etc etc etc.

The language isn’t designed to stop kids streaming their games, or covering their costs, it’s designed to stop big companies from using somebody else’s IP to run a business.

We’ll put together some language that will help community people navigate this easily, and give people workarounds.

It’s also interesting how EGM Now reported that this was just recently added to the Game Content Usage Rules; according to O’ Connor, they have been there for months:

These guidelines have been out there for months. How many of you are posting from jail? We’ll get some clarifying messaging out there, but the legalese won’t change, because it’s legalese. We’ll craft a path through the semantic minefield, however.

We’re awaiting comment from Microsoft on this.

Image Source: Alfred Hermida (Flickr)

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Paul Paliath

Paul Paliath is a designer. You should follow me on Twitter here.