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Post feature RSS YouTube Safe Mode in your games - countering ContentID

ContentID AI algorithms are going rampart on YouTube and Twitch. With music being an essential part of the fast-paced aim-racing experience in RAYZE we've decided to licence some tracks form our favorite electronic musicians. Cool for us, cool for the players, potentially a HUGE pain in the ass for content creators featuring our game. We had to figure out how to make their lives easier. After all - you don't want to punish your greatest ally in reaching your audience for doing their best!

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RAYZE is a genre-defying hyper-paced music-filled first-person AIM RACER, that we're about to launch to Steam this Friday. It's a simple, but incredibly engaging game that can only be described as a racing game based around First-Person Shooter mechanics, or a aim-training app, but gamified to the factor of 11.

our policy on music

With new retro wave aesthetics, and flashy presentation, the game begged for a rich electronic OST full of dynamic beats making it even more immersive. At Hyperstrange we often pride ourselves by the fact that the music found in our games was created by our in-house team of musicians and sound designers, so it is original and we can fully extend the invitation to any content creator to use it in their materials without the fear of seeing the dreaded copyright strike notice in their YouTube or Twitch inbox. On the contrary - we encourage creators to use our music and officially allow the content on their channels to be monetized.

But for RAYZE, we wanted to take it a step further...

RAYZE release trailer featuring the track Hongdae by our fav electronic/chiptune artist - LukHash

contentID dumpster fire

Licenced music is a great way to go if you want to treat your audience to some familiar tracks and boost your reach. But it comes at the price of complications when it comes to cooperating with content creators - the main driving force behind presenting your indie game to a broad audience. You can purchase a licence giving you the right to use music tracks in your game and marketing assets, and in some rare cases the licence is transferable, so you can allow the content creator to use the music in their derivative works.

Thing is - the ContentID algorithms standing guard of the intellectual property on Twitch and YouTube don't give a damn about your licence until you take action. The videos and streams containing the tracks you've licenced WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY tagged as in violation of copyright. This will cause the videos being demonetized, as well as a number of other potential trouble for the content creator - including possible account suspension if the digital Cerberus thinks it's a repeated case of violation for them.

Imagine going through all that trouble for featuring an indie game. Would you even consider ever trying that again?

The ContentID strikes can be disputed, but it happens on a per-case basis. Ant it will be up to the copyright holder, not you - the one who just purchased a licence - to clear every single case, manually. Doing so using the built-in YouTube or Twitch features takes a lot of time and effort, and you might find yourself between the angry content creators waiting to have their strikes cleared, and the angry copyright holder, sick of having to do all this extra work and taking their time doing so. Chances are none of them will ever want to work with you again. A dumpster fire at the intersection of mindless AI trying to police copyright laws, and humans being humans.

simple to avoid

This is where 'YouTube Safe Mode' comes in. A simple feature in the options menu of your game that will make sure all the tracks that can trigger ContentID strikes will be skipped in the game if the option is selected.

YouTube Safe Mode

All the content creator needs to do is to make sure they turn this setting on before recording or streaming, and that will keep them safe from any pesky AIs hunting for copyright strikes, right? Right. But the solution, simple as it is, comes with a number of flaws, that need to be addressed:

    • you'll need a decent number of safe tracks in your game, that you know that are not enrolled in the ContentID programme, otherwise the gameplay in the streams and videos will be a dull, quiet, poor representation of your game
    • you need to communicate the feature LOUD and CLEAR (YES, ALL CAPS) to the content creators, to make sure they know what the setting does and why it matters to them
    • you need to make sure you get ALL the problematic tracks excluded - if even one flies under your radar and content creators get in trouble with YouTube / Twitch despite taking the precautions you offered, you can bet they won't be happy
    • on that note - you need to keep track of all your tracks (pun sooo intended) - if the musician you work with ever signs up the track they've licenced to you to the ContentID programme, you need to know and add it to the exclusion list

the outtake

Seems like a lot of trouble to go through just to get some nice tunes for your game, doesn't it. Honestly, it is. The ContentID system is broken at its premise and - not unlike DRM - creates a lot of trouble for the legitimate users of the IP (both the licencor, the licencee, and the creators of derivative works), while trying to sort out another problem. Is it worth it, then, to even include licenced tracks in your indie game?

This is a question you'll need to figure out yourself, but I do hope I managed to lay out the landscape of the situation for you. Our very own experience dictates that a YouTube Safe Mode is a good, even if not perfect solution, and including it will not only make your life easier and save you a lot of grief, but can also win you some much needed content creator luv...


and appreciation.


Thanks for reading, and please check out RAYZE, launching Oct. 22 on Steam!
Wojtek | Hyperstrange

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