A Japanese man has been sentenced to two years in prison after monetising gameplay videos, or his ‘Let’s Plays’, on YouTube.
Let’s Plays is a staple form of content creation among many YouTube channels, where the content creator uploads a series of gameplay videos with added commentary. Such content pieces are generally monetized as they usually qualify as entertainment and could also be classified as a “reactionary” video, which falls under fair use as the videos are edited by nature. But not on Japan’s watch.
Yoshida uploaded gameplay videos of the visual novel Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace and other videos of Steins;Gate and Spy x Family anime shows, and chose to monetize them. According to the Japanese anti-piracy trade group Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA), this violated a Japanese law that prohibits making money from copyrighted material.
According to CODA, Yoshida was convicted of a “malicious case of posting videos containing content and endings (spoilers) without permission from the rights holders” and of “unfairly gaining advertising revenue through copyright infringement.” Yoshida admitted to knowing that his actions were illegal but said: “As part of my hobby, I wanted someone to see what I made.”
According to Asahi Shimbun, this was the first conviction of its kind in Japan.