Clerks and Jay and Silent Bob director Kevin Smith has spoken out to voice his support for gaming video creators in the ongoing controversy over YouTube's recently expanded copyright policy. Speaking on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight in Canada, Smith said YouTube's policy is negatively impacting creators' freedom of expression.
"On YouTube they're starting to cull all the these video game clips," Smith said. "And I know a lot of people who have built careers off of taking video game footage and running commentary under it or reviewing it. And so now YouTube's gone like 'You don't have the rights to do this.' And they're starting to pull back on the freedom of expression people have been enjoying on YouTube for a while."
Smith pointed out that various video game companies, including Capcom and Blizzard, had pledged to support creators who have had their videos flagged for copyright infringement. However, Smith acknowledged that doing so is probably in the companies' best interest, as it acts as free promotion for their games.
Overall, Smith said the Let's Play and walkthrough videos fans are creating are harmless.
"They're not hurting anybody with clips of video games," he said. "Don't stamp down someone's creativity; even if it's someone else's creativity with other people's material, because you make found art out of art that you find."
Smith also addressed reports of government snooping, after it was revealed that American and British agents infiltrated World of Warcraft, Second Life, and Xbox Live to hunt terrorists. He said he's not concerned about being watched because he has nothing to hide.
"What are they gonna know? He looks at weird porn? I tell people that all the time [laughs]. So I'm not too afraid; I've got nothing to hide," Smith said.
YouTube said this week that it is standing by its controversial copyright policy after many angry gamers spoke out against it. A letter to affected users featured no apology or policy reversal, but rather an explanation of the scenario and tips for creators going forward.
One developer, Lars Doucet of Level Up Games, is taking a stand. He launched a campaign this week letting video creators know which publishers allow their videos to be monetized and which don't.