Some YouTubers Might Be Breaking The Law

Some YouTubers Might Be Breaking The Law

In the past week, two excellent features have been written on the state of YouTube personalities in video games. One by Mike Rose on Gamasutra, the other by Simon Parkin on Eurogamer. They raise a number of important, albeit messy questions about the practice of these folks getting paid by publishers.

You really need to go read both of them, but the gist is this: there are some prominent (and some less so) YouTube personalities in the world of video games who are being paid directly by publishers to promote their work, and these payments are either being poorly disclosed or not disclosed at all.

Taken literally like that, this is a big problem. Only, as both features point out, while in some cases this may be down to shady dealings, in many cases it’s simply a case of the YouTuber being naive enough to not know the legality about disclosing payments and endorsements.

And it is a legal issue. If you’re being paid by a company to promote their product, whether it’s through a formal review or just general coverage, both US and British law requires you to make this clear. Rose’s piece in particular has comment from the FTC saying that the standard practice many YouTubers engage in, where they dump their disclosure at the bottom of a video’s description, isn’t good enough, since such notices “should basically be unavoidable by the viewer”.

Remember though: neither piece is about all YouTubers. Just some. Both articles will show that at both ends of the spectrum, the beginners and the most prominent, there are those who either are up-front about their deals, or who don’t make them at all.

Blurred lines: Are YouTubers breaking the law? [Eurogamer]

Pay for Play: The ethics of paying for YouTuber coverage [Gamasutra]


  • I’ve heard streamers are now focusing less on gameplay and more on promotion, even if it’s just themselves.

    I’ve also heard Youtube “stars” are using their status to get laid in the UK.

  • Personally I love the misguided notion that if they put something that’s copyrighted on youtube, all they have to do is flip the image into reverse and its copyright free. LAWL. Not quite guys…

    • Are there people that actually believe this is getting around the copyright laws themselves?

      I always thought it was just a method to get around the content scanning systems [though, honestly it wont be long until they will pick up flipped images too…. it’s only doubling the required computational power, which is nothing].

      • Yeah there are lol. I know there’s the whole content scanning but check the comments, it’s hilarious what people will believe.

    • My personal favourite is when they write “no copyright infringement intended ” in the description. Because that magically makes everything OK.

      Just like the ROM sites telling you to delete within 24 hours.

    • I thought that was more to just get around the filters, rather than to avoid copyright.

      • That was always the initial idea, but check the comments out sometime lol. They think this voids the copyright issue and then like Badger says, they write something like ‘no copyright infringement intended’. It’s like writing in blood on someones wall ‘no murder intended’ after you club them to death left handed lol.

  • Hooley crapoolies the article is longer than the title. Someone give that boy the biggest cookie they can find.

  • Those dastardly youtubers should get themselves an honest journalist career involving cosplay photos and one sentence gif articles.

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