A Japanese content creator has been jailed for two years and was fined one million yen for posting footage of a released video game online to their fan base.
Shinobu Yoshida, a Japanese YouTuber, posted spoiler videos of the 2011 visual novel video game Steins;Gate: Hiyoku Koiri no Darin, known in English as My Darling’s Embrace. Originally released exclusively on the Xbox 360 in Japan, the game has since been ported to other systems.
Yoshida was taken to court for the creation of “fast content” without permission by KADOKAWA Future Publishing, the group behind the Steins;Gate light novels, manga and other aspects of the series. This includes spoiler videos, story recaps and other videos that include copyrighted content.
The content creator was taken to court over breach of copyright for creating content using Kadokawa’s materials. Yoshida was arrested for breaching copyright by editing, processing, releasing and earning advertising revenue off the Steins;Gate footage.
Yoshida has been jailed for two years for creating online YouTube videos involving the 2011 video game. After jail, the YouTuber will be subject to five years probation, and has to pay a fee of one million yen in damages.
In an official statement, CODA (General Incorporated Association for the Promotion of Content Overseas Distribution), revealed that more efforts will be taken to combat this style of “fast content” involving copyrighted content. The copyright protection group specifically mentions the popular anime Spy x Family as an example of actionable videos.
“On video posting sites such as YouTube, gameplay videos such as game commentary are gaining popularity,” reads the roughly translated statement. “But, in principle, the use of game play videos requires the permission of the right holder, and uploading without permission is an act of copyright infringement. In particular, the act of connecting only the movie scenes of the game with a story and editing the game content so that you can understand the ending in a short time, and the act of extracting only the ending scene and posting are regarded as a problem.”
CODA explains that the number of “fast content” videos is rapidly increasing, and content creators should stick to “established guidelines [to] be able to upload gameplay videos” using copyrighted materials.
“As for anime,” the group continued. “It is never allowed to process and upload copyrighted works produced by creators with time, effort, and cost without permission to obtain advertising expenses.”
The group explains that it will “continue to strive to clean up the unauthorized use of Japanese content and properly protect copyrights”.
Shinobu Yoshida’s arrest is the first example of a person being arrested for posting footage of a video game. While online users have been arrested and fined for posting entire movies or TV shows, games have typically been seen as a safe haven for content creators. Even games such as Persona, which launch with guidelines for what can and can’t be shared online, typically only get hit with DMCA takedowns, not full-on arrests.
According to Japanese website Denfal Minico Gamer, Steins;Gate: Hiyoku Koiri no Darin did have guidelines in its 2019 Steam release that warned against posting spoilers, specifically regarding the game’s ending, online. However, no one expected anyone to be jailed for breaching them.