I make no secret of the fact that I don’t subscribe to the concept of intellectual property. The biggest reason I don’t subscribe to the concept is because the concept itself is an oxymoron. Property implies ownership and ownership implies absolute control. Intellectual property takes the form of copyrights, trademarks, and patents. If you create a song and are granted a copyright, does that mean you own it? No. The copyright is granted by a government agency. The agency dictates the terms of the copyright. Usually it dictates limitations such as a time frame (for example, your copyright is only valid for so many years). The same is true of trademarks and patents. Receiving a copyright does not grant absolute control, it grants limited controls. Under the concept of intellectual property the only ownership that can be said to exist is government ownership over all creative works.
Things are even worse for consumers. Consider Nintendo’s recent announcement:
For nearly three years now, creators who wanted to make money from videos that included footage of Nintendo games had to go through the onerous approval and content requirements of the Nintendo Creators Program, which also gave Nintendo a 30 percent cut of any ad revenues. Today, Nintendo announced it would be halting that program at the end of the year, in favor of a new set of “basic rules” for video creators. If those rules are followed, Nintendo now says, “we will not object to your use of gameplay footage and/or screenshots captured from games for which Nintendo owns the copyright.”
In addition, Nintendo says video creators can only monetize these videos through a number of official partner programs on a handful of platforms, including YouTube, Twitter, Twitch, and Facebook.
When you pay for a Nintendo game, you’re only paying for the privilege of playing it as far as Nintendo is concerned. If you dared to record yourself enjoying “your” game and clicked the monetize button on YouTube, you could expect a take down notice from Nintendo’s legal department because, as far as the company was concerned, it owned any footage made of its games and determined that it wouldn’t allow anybody to profit from “its” footage. Nintendo eventually eased up a bit and announced that it would allow you to profit from “its” footage so long as you gave Nintendo a 30 percent cut of the profits. Now it’s changing the rules again because as the owner of the games and, according to it at least, all footage of the games, it has the legal authority to do so. While you don’t have to become part of Nintendo’s Partner Program, you are restricted on where you can post footage from which you want to profit.
Imagine if these restrictions allowed under the concept of intellectual property were expanded to actual property. The construction company that built your home might be able to restrict you from monetizing any footage you made of the house. The manufacturer that built your vehicle might not allow you to post pictures of it on Instagram but only on Flickr. The manufacturer that built your computer might prohibit you from making an unboxing video. If any of the rules that apply to the concept of intellectual property were applied to actual property, most people would probably recognize how ridiculous the situation is.
In my opinion if you purchase a copy of a game, you should own that copy. You should be allowed to do whatever you want with it. If you want to record yourself playing it while you’re snorting coke off of a hooker’s ass and monetize that video, you should be allowed to do so (I also believe that you should be allowed to snort coke off of a hooker’s ass). There shouldn’t be a loophole that says any footage of that game is owned by the developer nor should there be any restriction preventing you from profiting from the game you purchased.