The owner of a Canadian YouTube channel focused on video game soundtracks has reported that he received more than 500 copyright strikes from Nintendo of America, which has forced him to take down all the videos that feature Nintendo’s video game music.
It’s the second major YouTube takedown from Nintendo this year. While this is well within Nintendo’s rights to do as the copyright holder over its games’ music, it’s also another peculiar example of a company absolutely refusing to engage with its audience.
The DeoxysPrime channel was created in 2010, and has 165,000 subscribers as of Tuesday morning. It primarily focuses on hosting video game music, with a heavy emphasis on the Sonic the Hedgehog series.
DeoxysPrime took to Twitter on Sunday to announce the deletion. The story was subsequently picked up by the video game press on Tuesday morning, beginning with Video Game Chronicle.
“I have no intention of deleting my channel,” DeoxysPrime wrote, “and the rest of my non-Nintendo soundtracks will remain up for the foreseeable future.”
This was DeoxysPrime’s second run-in with Nintendo, as the channel had previously been struck in 2019 over hosted music from Nintendo-exclusive games such as Splatoon 2, Xenoblade Chronicles, and Bayonetta 2.
Nintendo previously hit another channel, GilvaSunner, with more than 1,300 copyright strikes in January. The channel subsequently closed, as did the social media accounts associated with it.
There’s a large market, both officially and unofficially, for video game soundtracks. Many games’ publishers and developers release the official music via online services like Spotify and Bandcamp, or go so far as to print limited-edition collectibles like full-size vinyl records.
DeoxysPrime is just one of a vast number of YouTubers who republish official game soundtracks on the platform, whether it’s a reproduction of an official release, a file ripped from the game itself, a remix, a cover version, or something even more arcane than that.
There has been a running battle for quite a while in the indie or self-publishing space, where a quirk in YouTube’s systems don’t handle game soundtracks in the same way as other professionally published music, which unofficially encourages video creators to use tracks from games for their content.
Even so, most larger companies seem to be willing to tolerate unofficial archives on sites like YouTube, if not encourage it.
Nintendo, on the other hand, is unusual if not wholly unique in that it barely serves that market at all. It’s published a handful of official soundtrack albums over the years, but it’s rare for them to be available outside of Japan. The most recent Nintendo musical compilation to receive a Western release at all appears to have been Super Mario History 1985-2010, and that was a pack-in disc for the Wii game Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition in 2010.
Further, Nintendo has yet to make any of its music officially available on modern streaming platforms. While you can find a few Nintendo tracks on Spotify at time of writing, they’re all individual selections from The Greatest Video Game Music, a 2011 cover album by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. There’s also a reasonably popular scene for cover versions and remixes.
(There is an “Official Nintendo” page on Soundcloud, but I’ve got my doubts that it’s actually official.)
By way of comparison, Spotify also hosts entire soundtrack albums for games such as Halo, Stardew Valley, Celeste, The Last of Us, The Witcher III, Skyrim, and Horizon: Forbidden West, made available directly from their respective publishers and/or composers. Nintendo may not be the lone holdout here, but it’s difficult to find another AAA developer in 2022 that’s maintaining this kind of legal hammerlock on its musical library.
Nintendo has traditionally been aggressive about protecting its intellectual property. In recent days, however, that’s increasingly been seen by fans, collectors, and historians as leaving money on the table at best, and actively hostile to preservation efforts at worst.
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