Will Machinima Videos Be the Next Victims of Copyright Takedowns?

A scene from the popular machinima series Red ...
Image via Wikipedia

If you aren’t familiar with Machinima, it’s basically when people use the graphics of games like Halo combined with voice-overs and sound-effects to create original videos.

One of the best examples of the form is the legendary Red Vs. Blue series:

There are literally millions of other examples and tons of software to help you make your own.  For the time being it seems like various videogame companies are taking different approaches but I am curious to see where the lines will be drawn.

Take a look at this post from Tilzy about another Halo-based series.  Not only is the filmmaker using the game footage but he is also using “authorized” action figures.

Halo is made by Microsoft and I can’t imagine they are real lax when it comes to copyright infringement and one can argue that some of these unauthorized third parties are making some amount of money, however small, by making these videos.

At the same time, even if they were making millions of dollars from this sort of work, would they owe some of it to Microsoft?  Have they re-imagined and re-purposed the original material in such a way as to make it a new, wholly original work? Not to mention how it acts as free publicity for Microsoft – but publicity with a message Microsoft doesn’t control.

Big questions to be explored.  Stay tuned.

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2 responses to “Will Machinima Videos Be the Next Victims of Copyright Takedowns?

  1. Hey David – I think Microsoft IS actually pretty lax about it’s copyrights with Halo. Roosterteeth Productions has been making a living off of RvB since 2003 and I THINK I recall Burnie Burns saying at a conference how Microsoft gave them the a-okay.

    Action figures might be a different story, though, considering McFarlane Toys probably has some stake/ownership.

    • mymediamusings

      MSFT might be lax in this single account but it sets a dangerous precedent for them and a really wonder how long they would put up with widespread use of their gaming images if it were for something other than online use…

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