By Timothy Geigner
Well, it’s been a measurable amount of time, so we have yet another example of Nintendo doing the Nintendo, which is best described as depriving its fans of ways to celebrate their fandom via intellectual property enforcement while also offering no alternative route for said fans. Whether it’s stripping some of the creative fun out of its Animal Kingdom game, nuking fan-made games of Nintendo properties like some kind of IP-version of Missile Command, or just generally being as IP protectionist as possible, it seems that Nintendo chooses restrictive enforcement over creative methods for granting fans permission to be fans at every turn.
You will recall that Nintendo is currently embroiled in a controversy, having first disallowed a Smash Bros. tournament that had to go remote over the use of a mod that made remote tournaments possible with the game, followed by rescinding the broadcast ability of a Splatoon 2 tournament almost certainly just because several teams chose team-names that were protests of its Smash tournament actions. The backlash over those actions have been fairly universal, which may explain why Nintendo is now retreating to older, more familiar methods for pissing people off: DMCAing music from its beloved games.
Now, they’ve come under fire yet again for taking down YouTube videos with music from Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, and Mario Kart Wii. It’s nothing new. Nintendo has been doing it for years, and they’re well within their rights to.
GilvaSunner is a YouTuber known for uploading soundtracks from video games, mostly Nintendo. Understandably, he’s had many videos taken down over the years due to copyright claims. In 2019, he posted a tweet that said, “Game over.” It includes a screenshot with emails from YouTube telling him that some videos had been blocked due to copyright claims. However, he didn’t specifically mention it was Nintendo.
Now, more than a year later, he followed up on his initial tweet with an update. More videos have been taken down over copyright claims. He specifically mentioned it was Nintendo JP, although it cannot be seen in the screenshots.
He’s not the only one, of course. Again, I will point out that Nintendo absolutely can do this. It’s within their rights. But they don’t have to. There are plenty of methods by which it could offer an inexpensive license for people to portray its game music if it wanted to. Or, given that this is copyright and not trademark law we’re talking about, Nintendo could simply ignore all of this, as they selectively have throughout the years. The post goes on to note that reactions to these takedowns among Nintendo fans are mixed, which is understandable.
But it seems like fans are also finally beginning to ask the right questions.
Either way, the consensus is that this whole predicament has a simple solution. Nintendo needs to make the music from their game soundtracks more readily available and in a legal way.
“Please put your soundtracks on Spotify and/or other music streaming services,” said GilvaSunner. “Others have already seen the light, when will you?” It’s a sentiment that others share.
And thus we have the crux of how Nintendo does the Nintendo. The company patrols and controls its intellectual property with a fervor normally reserved for cult followers, but refuses to offer the legitimate — and lucrative! — methods for fans to enjoy that intellectual property.
Nintendo, whatever else I might want to say about the company, makes great products. And great art! Being restrictive on the IP side while also being restrictive over where that art is enjoyed is immensely frustrating, both to me and the real, true fans of the company’s work.