According to Cushing, gamers uploading “Let’s Play” videos — stretches of actual video gameplay captured for the entertainment of others — have been receiving bogus copyright claims from hard-to-pin-down outfits with names like Agora Aggregator and Digital Minds Entertainment.
(You may wonder why people would watch other people playing video games, rather than play them themselves. I understand your confusion. But there’s no question that this is a widespread phenomenon, something I can attest to personally, having watched my gamer son watch Let’s Play videos. The gaming companies who actually own the copyright to the content seem to have little problem with the practice — it’s free advertising.)
The claims are delivered via Google’s ContentID system, which offers copyright owners various options when a supposed violation is identified. The owner can ignore it, block it or monetize it by getting a piece of the ad revenue from commercials served along with the video.
In the case of the Let’s Play videos, if the uploader doesn’t challenge the claim, Agora Aggregator is then entitled to a piece of the revenue stream. But according to Cushing, when gamers challenged the claims, Agora Aggregator simply dropped them. The clear implication is that Agora Aggregator never had any legitimate copyright claims in the first place. It was simply a parasite capitalizing on a YouTube ecological niche that only existed because gamers were unwilling to challenge their claims, whether from ignorance or fear.
More: YouTube’s Copyright Parasites