Sony Computer Entertainment America apparently wants ownership over the term “Let’s Play.”
The trademark filing was discovered by users on NeoGAF over on the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The mark was registered last October, only to be discovered now.
Sony is looking to cover the “electronic transmission and streaming of video games via global and local computer networks; streaming of audio, visual, and audiovisual material via global and local computer networks,” whatever their real intentions are with the words “Let’s Play.” Sony seems to be attempting to take trademarked ownership of a entertainment style created by the community itself. It’s also strange for less obvious reasons: the term “Let’s Play” is ancient in internet terms.
Dive deep into the history of the world wide web, and you’ll find pre-YouTube “Let’s Play” threads on Something Awful’s gaming forum dating back over ten years. These simple screenshot and caption galleries eventually evolved into videos, then YouTube channels. Now entire businesses are based on the concept — including one YouTube channel with over three million subscribers simply named “Let’s Play.” That’s a lot of common use history. So why is Sony trying to trademark it?
One theory is that it’s simply being registered for use in an ad campaign. That’s reasonable, but the trademark specifically describes “streaming of video games.” Perhaps Sony is seeking to re-brand the PlayStation 4’s Twitch streaming application? At this point, it’s unclear. Either way, it’s probably not an issue: the trademark is in “non-final action” status, which usually means the application was sent back because something was wrong. Still, we’ve reached out to Sony for official comment and will let you know if we hear anything.
You can imagine what the legal ramifications for Let’s Players on YouTube will be if Sony is granted this trademark – so it’s a bit unsettling to see a corporation trying to essentially own popular words as such.
Upon further investigation (via Trademarkia.com), however, it looks like Sony needs to clarify this trademark further before they can be granted it.
For those concerned about DMCA takedown notifications being abused by media corporations, there is a bit of good news: Google plans to defend targets of DMCA takedowns that they believe have a clear fair use defense. A post made today on Google’s public policy blog lays out some of the details.
We are offering legal support to a handful of videos that we believe represent clear fair uses which have been subject to DMCA takedowns. With approval of the video creators, we’ll keep the videos live on YouTube in the U.S., feature them in the YouTube Copyright Center as strong examples of fair use, and cover the cost of any copyright lawsuits brought against them.
One of the users who will be benefiting from this program is Jim Sterling, who has posted has posted a video on this topic.
YouTube recognized that a DMCA claim against one of his videos where nonsense, and has allowed it to remain on the site. However that particular video will only be available in the US, as Google is not willing to fight a legal battle outside the US. He states that Google has pledged up to a million dollars to support a legal defense if he is taken to court over a spurious copyright claim. His video is also being included in a library of videos that Google believes are clear examples of fair use. The purpose is to educate both content creators and copyright holders on what constitutes fair use.
This might sound pretty good at first, until you realize that this is only supporting a handful of videos. The reason isn’t stated in the post, but we can imagine that the sheer volume of DMCA takedowns is the cause. Even Google’s vast resources would be drained trying to protect every video that was falsely claimed to be infringing.
However, even if Google is only protecting some videos, it may still bring benefits to everyone in the long run. Winning cases could set important legal precedents about the abuse of DMCA notifications. Additionally, once companies start losing cases and have to pay out damages they may be more careful in filing DMCA claims.
For years, Google has been in a bitter fight against Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood. The reason? Hood claims that Google is aiding in online piracy because sites which have pirated content show up in the search engine results, as well as the fact that the autocomplete function suggests illegal activities. To the surprise of no one, a connection was discovered between Hood and the MPAA, suggesting the investigation of Google was being done at the behest of major media corporations. However, documents recently obtained by Google through subpoena show another twist in the story: an organized conspiracy between the Attorney General and media giants, to destroy Google’s reputation with negative news coverage.
A federal judge has already ruled that Hood acted in bad faith by issuing a subpoena against Google, and issued a temporary injunction on the subpoena. In the court’s view, the subpoena appeared to be retaliation for expressing protected speech. After it was discovered that a subpoena sent to Google by the Attorney General was actually written by MPAA lawyers, Google set out prove the improper connection between Hood and the MPAA by filing numerous subpoenas both against Hood and the studios that make up the MPAA. Hood and the MPAA have fought the subpoenas and for the most part refused to share the requested documents. However, the MPAA did eventually relent, and handed over some of the requested documents.
A recent filing by Google with a federal court indicates that although some of the requested documents have been handed over, the MPAA is still withholding many documents that are relevant to their improper relationship with Hood. However, the documents which were turned over reveal a conspiracy between Hood and the MPAA to pressure Google into altering its service, even though Google was not breaking any law. Emails from Hood’s lawyers to the MPAA detail the following plan:
- A recommendation that NewsCorp would develop and place an editorial in the Wall Street Journal emphasizing that Google’s stock would lose value due to the sustained attack by the Attorney General.
- A suggestion that NBC could run an anti-Google segment on the Today Show.
- A proposal that Hood work with the MPAA, Comcast, and NewsCorp to create a PR firm to attack Google.
- After the media blitz, the PR firm should hire a lawyer with the appropriate expertise to make regulatory filings against Google.
- As a last resort the MPAA would write subpoenas against Google, to be signed by Hood and any other willing state Attorneys General.
Based on this evidence, Google claims that the subpoena issued by the Attorney General was not part of any legitimate investigation, but was merely the final step in a plan to put pressure on Google. This further discredits Hood’s longstanding campaign against Google, which was already on shaky legal ground after a federal court ruled that Hood was acting in bad faith.
Do you think Hood is a puppet of the MPAA? Or is there some legitimate investigation going on here? Leave your comments below.
Xbox Wire has announced that game streaming Xbox games to all Xbox One owners with a Windows 10 PC or tablet. Along with game streaming, the Windows 10 Xbox App will be getting some new and improved features. This announcement comes days away from the official launch of Windows 10, which is July 29.
The Xbox game streaming feature is a interesting feature, which allows you, as the name suggests, to stream your Xbox One console experience to your laptop, PC, or tablet. The streaming allows you full control over your Xbox, although some apps, such as Netflix, do not work with streaming. The Xbox console that is streaming will not be usable by anyone else while streaming. You will also need a wired Xbox One or Xbox 360 controller; you can use a typical USB to Micro USB with the Xbox One controller.
The Xbox App will be getting a host of other new and improved features with this latest update such as:
- Party Chat – In the app above your friends list will be a new option, start a party. This lets you start a party with Xbox friends on Xbox One and the Xbox App on Windows 10.
- My Games – The app will now automatically discover Windows Store games and older non-Windows Store PC games. If a game does not automatically add a game, you can add games manually. The app will continue to be updated with non-Windows Store games to improve automatic discovery over time.
- Home – Easy access to game streaming and quick launching games from recently played have been added. An updated featured games section shows you new and popular games available on the Windows Store.
- Profile – Choose your avatar or gamerpic to be shown to friends. Change your avatar, gamertag, gamerpic, user color, and update your name sharing settings under customize in your Profile.
- Share with your friends – Upload local game clips and screenshots for Windows Store games to your Xbox Live profile, they will then appear on your activity feed on Xbox Live.
- Day One Experience – PC owners new to Xbox will be able to use a new feature to get started easily. It will help you create an account, choose a gamertag, learn the basics of finding games, earning achievements, and using the activity feed.
To use these features you will need the latest version of Windows 10; the Xbox App should update automatically when the update is available in the Windows Store. If you have Windows 10 check out the game streaming function and all the new features as soon as you can, there’s only so much time you’ll be able to act like a snooty hipster towards all your friends who don’t have Windows 10 yet.
I personally haven’t seen anything like this before, and the world of gaming seems to be a step into the interactivity and immersion. Chariot has been a game in the Xbox One library for a while by the guys over at Frima Studios, but they’ve announced a partnership with Royal Philips, the proclaimed “global leader in lighting” to integrate the Philips Hue with Chariot for an immersive gaming experience. Specifically, if you have the Philips Hue lights in your home (as in the light bulbs specifically for home lighting solutions), you’ll be able to use them in conjunction with Chariot for a whole new gaming experience. It’s another step into the world of immersion this year as VR devices such as the Oculus Rift and new experiences like the HoloLens are taking center stage in the world of gaming. The feature was included in the latest update of Chariot on the Xbox, along with the ability to support multiple profiles on Xbox One achievements, along both players in the co-op experience to get the achievements earned.
The Hue lights are able to react to the gameplay of the coop title with over one million downloads worldwide. For example, when enemies attack you in game, the lights will blink red to indicate that you are under attack. In addition, when the plants in the game bloom, the colors will reflect in the room as well. Microsoft has been impressed with the integration as Chris Charla, Director of ID@Xbox, said “Chariot has been a great title in our ID@Xbox portfolio since it launched into Games With Gold last year. We’re thrilled that Frima is pushing the boundaries with this new technology from Philips Hue and are really excited to see it come to Xbox.” You can see some of the interactions with the video below.
Does this kind of immersion interest you in terms of games coming to the real world setting, or does it feel more like a gimmick more then anything else? Would this make you consider getting the Hue lighting in question?