Square Enix's Latest Streaming Restrictions Are Ridiculous

Square Enix's Latest Streaming Restrictions Are Ridiculous

Most games don't have guidelines for streaming. If they do, it's usually explicit permission for a streamer to monetise videos. But this is Square Enix we're talking about. With Dragon Quest Heroes on PS4, it's mostly about what you can't do. For example, you can't stream on Twitch with the music on. Seriously!

"Streaming via Twitch is absolutely fine as long as you don't have the music on," a company spokesperson told me. "YouTube is currently the only video service in the West approved to use if there is music on in the video."

The game won't block you from streaming over Twitch, but it means you could run into copyright issues, due to the soundtrack used in the game.

"If you stream the game with the music on via Twitch you could indeed run into a copyright issue," the company spokesperson said.

There are people streaming Dragon Quest Heroes on Twitch right now, of course.

This is a hilarious contrast, by the way, to Square Enix publicly embracing a Deus Ex fan mod only a day ago. Talk about mixed messaging.

I decided to ask Square Enix about this after seeing the game's absurd streaming requirements being roundly mocked on social media yesterday.

The guidelines start innocent enough, with Square Enix explaining how they (and others) own the rights to the images, characters, etc. Standard stuff.

Then, it breaks down how you're "allowed" to stream using the PlayStation 4. The guidelines stipulate players should "not post or transfer copyrighted material (video, voice, music, etc. in DQH) in ways that are not listed below."

Square Enix's Latest Streaming Restrictions Are Ridiculous

Under line 2b, Square Enix specifically mentions the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers, aka JASRAC. JASRAC made headlines in the early days of YouTube. At one point, JASRAC demanded the service take down more than 30,000 videos. JASRAC represents a bunch of really powerful companies -- Pony Canyon, Sony Music Entertainment Japan, Universal Japan, Avex Japan, Warner Japan, etc. -- and their request made waves.

Per a Mashable report from 2006:

They [JASRAC] wanted YouTube to automatically screen all uploads to see whether they contain copyrighted content (something YouTube is already working on), post a Japanese language warning about respecting copyright and delete any users who had posted copyrighted clips. JASRAC is the same organisation that managed to get 30,000 YouTube clips deleted in October - one of the biggest purges so far. The deletion included clips from Sony Japan, Warner Japan and Universal Japan.

According to reports out today, founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen replied to the letter and agreed to post a copyright notice on YouTube in Japanese as well as English - this will only be shown to Japanese users. They also said they'd consider flying out to Japan to discuss the issue (translation: please don't sue us!). However, some sources suggest that JASRAC just sent a second letter to complain about more copyrighted clips, so the issue isn't over yet.

My gut tells me the restrictions for Dragon Quest Heroes have to do with JASRAC; Dragon Quest series composer Koichi Sugiyama is a council member for JASRAC!

I've asked Square Enix for more details.

For example, look at the second set of guidelines for streaming:

Square Enix's Latest Streaming Restrictions Are Ridiculous

It's not often a company requires video makers to include specific copyrights. Not only will a "future game update" automatically insert two sets of copyright into your YouTube description, you're being asked to do that manually -- or else!

(The "or else" part is ominous, since it's pretty easy to lose control of your YouTube channel if copyright strikes start stacking up.)

What's scary about the both weirdly specific and vague guidelines is how Square Enix reserves the right to "delete any videos or streams in its sole discretion." If Square Enix wants it gone, it will disappear, even if you've followed the rules.

Heck, according to the last bit, in the event Square Enix doesn't want to take down your video, they're not totally sure this will protect you from others!

"Square Enix makes no warranty or representations regarding the DQH Content. Square Enix expressly disclaims that any such images or videos posted on the Internet will not violate any third party rights. Furthermore, Square Enix is not responsible for any disputes or conflicts that arise between any player and 3rd party from the use of the DQH Content."

This isn't totally new for Square Enix. There are very specific rules about what you can do when it comes to streaming Final Fantasy XIV, for example. They have banned creators from making money, unless they have joined a partner program that's established a relationship with Square Enix, and if your footage contains a Final Fantasy logo, it also must include this line:

FINAL FANTASY is a registered trademark of Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd.

This is serious! Have you ever looked at a screen shot from a Final Fantasy XIV? Take a close look at the corner:

Square Enix's Latest Streaming Restrictions Are Ridiculous

This is frustrating. If you want to limit how people monetise footage from your game, that's a conversation, but these confusing barriers for sharing a game only make a fan's life harder and the companies involved seem out of touch.


    Who makes these decisions and what is wrong with them?

      The Japanese side of the company. And for the 'What is wrong with them' ...Er... The Japanese side of the company.

      Nintendo, Sega, Capcom, Bandai, Konami... You name a company and their PR division sucks or seemingly holds contempt towards their customer base (Or western customer base). In sharp comparison, the western branch's PR division is usually pretty cool.

    Just make every stream a drawn out review of the game, that way your aloud under copyright law to use the content.

    In Australia, the grounds for fair dealing are:

    Research and study (section 40 Copyright Act 1968
    Review and criticism (s41)
    "Reporting the news" (s42)
    Legal advice (although the federal Crown is deemed to own copyright in federal statutes, and the Crown in each State in state statutes). (s43)
    Parody and Satire (with some exceptions) (s41A)

      The problem with this is that the hosting companies like Twitch and Youtube are under no obligation to host your material. It's your right to make it... but it's not your right to force or mandate someone to distribute it for you. And it's defnitely not their legal obligation to pay you through ad-views.

      So what happens at the moment is that when complaints are made, even material which is fine by copyright law can still result in 'in-house' strikes against the uploader, or the material being removed.

      In effect, the one-stop-shop companies bow to corporate pressure to remove videos that are technically legal, but which they don't want tested or proven in court, because that would open a whole can of worms.

      For once, I would like to see YouTube or Twitch stand up for content-creators who create derivative works and force IP rights-holders to test the law about copyright exceptions in court.

        The mechanism you're referring to is DMCA. :)

          Sort of but not really. See... if it was JUST Digital Millenium Copyright Act, it'd be navigable. What's happening is outside of that. Yes, DMCA has a provision to protect rights-holders that means that even the mere accusation means that a temporary take-down HAS to occur, which the platform holder can't reject.

          And that HAS been abused in a very heavy-handed protection racket in the past. "Nice channel... be a shame if something happened to your video's revenue." (Edit: Until recently, where some incredibly weak protections have been put in place to prevent malicious claims)
          What's happening in programs such as the Nintendo Partner Program is that DMCA isn't even being invoked - YouTube sorted out a separate deal with Nintendo, and can take down any videos they feel like if THEY think it comes close, without relying on the DMCA.

          These might be transformative works that would successfully overturn a DMCA claim no worries... but they can't get that far in the courts because DMCA isn't being invoked. Instead, YouTube is exercising their right to not pay someone for videos because it upsets an affiliate - Nintendo. It doesn't even necessarily mean that the videos can't stay up... just that the uploader can't get ad revenue off them.

          The additional problem is that even IF a DMCA take-down is instigated officially and rightfully appealed against, if on review the complainant decides not to pursue the claim and allows reinstatement, there are still consequences for the rightful creator.

          Topical videos are no longer topical in the month later that it takes for a human to review it. Ad revenue has been lost, which is not compensated for (although a recent court ruling has demanded that complainants have to have prove they have made consideration of the possibility of Fair Use exceptions before lodging a complaint, or they can be made liable for lost revenue - but YouTube gets off scott free on this one because their copyright-detection algorithm - ContentID - has been adapted to allow for the 'possibility' of transformative works, and thus counts as being consideration).

          Adding insult to injury, YouTube has a patronizing system that makes you watch Copyright Law tutorial videos and pass a little exam to get your ad account back up and running, and creators have to jump through these hoops and contest every claim made against them to prevent getting the 3 strikes that terminates their account (and all their subscriber count). And the counter-claims can take months, and are determined not in a court, but by YouTube.

          Effectively, YouTube are policing the largest video marketplace in the world by their own rules which suit corporate creators and not transformative creators, and there's nothing the courts can do about it because there's no law that says YouTube HAS to host or pay people they don't want to.

          Last edited 15/10/15 4:41 pm

            Firstly, massive thanks for the awesomely detailed reply!

            I can see now how I misinterpreted your first post, so yep definitely a different issue, and far more sinister as you've indicated, than DMCA.

          I really just want to see a claim pushed through to court so that a precedent can be set for determining Fair Use.

          This, however, is terrifying probably to YouTube who might lose all that sweet Let's Play business, and to IP-creators who might be forced to let transformative-creators say hurtful things, unregulated. So it's in the interests of both parties to try and keep that ruling from ever being made.

          I can just about guarantee that you will never see a DCMA claim go to court against anything that isn't a blatant violation. Let's Players will have their take-down claims contested and then either withdrawn instead of pursued in court, or removed by the host for in-house reasons.

          Last edited 15/10/15 4:53 pm

    As a musician myself I think that's fair.
    Tbh it's very kind of them to let you know instead of just starting a bunch of legal claims later on. It's their intellectual property so they can do whatever they want with it. Don't be a child about it.

      You can do anything you like with your intellectual property, but once someone starts to use your intellectual property as a basis for their own transformative work, that work becomes THEIR intellectual property, protected by copyright law under Fair Use provisions. And after that point, you DON'T have the right to do anything you want with their intellectual property.

      Content creators whose works are being used as the basis for separate, legal, transformative works - such as streaming with commentary or reviews - are the ones being childish about it, refusing to let go of something that is no longer theirs.

      Last edited 15/10/15 4:48 pm

    My guess is that Square themselves only have a limited license for some of the music, and this is them covering their ass incase the licenser decides to DMCA your stream.

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