fredrick-tendong-6ou8gWpS9ns-unsplashCopyright in the present day presents any number of questions for the interested observer, not least of which are questions completely unrelated to copyright itself. New technology presents new challenges to both copyright and to the understanding of people who have aged out of the demographic of said tech.

Take Fortnite for instance. Most of us at least know what Fortnite is, although the level of that knowledge probably declines as chronological age increases, if we were to graph it out. Nevertheless, Fortnite is a huge deal, particularly in the world of streaming platforms like Twitch or YouTube. (Your understanding of why someone would watch others play video games might similarly align to the above graph.) Which makes copyright issues between the game and streaming platforms a big deal, even as older folks continue to be puzzled by the whole thing.

In response to copyright strikes given to Fortnite streamers, Fortnite creators Epic have rolled out the ability to mute emotes in order to avoid any flags for copyrighted content. Emotes, as you may recall, are animated celebration within the game, with the ones in question set to a licensed version of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up." As players recorded and uploaded videos of themselves playing, YouTube's automated filtering and/or vigilant monitoring by the record label flagged the videos for copyright violation.

Where it gets complicated, and perhaps a bit ridiculous, is that the song, as previously noted, was properly licensed by Epic and thus perfectly legal to be in the game. And there is no issue noted with players recording and uploading their gameplay experience to YouTube; if anything, Epic would probably want to encourage it to invite more players, and current players playing longer. No, the issue was with a licensed song within the videos — a song licensed to the game, and a game that the streamers themselves licensed.

If it seems like a somewhat overwrought response to an innocuous issue, you're probably not alone in that thinking. It's unclear what damage the song snippet is meant to have caused the rights holder; it's not as though these snippets could somehow replace the song itself, or that there was no license involved whatsoever. And one wonders how they might have responded to Rickrolling with the current tools available; would the internet have just been shut down in the mid-2000's? There are worthwhile fights to have over copyrights, and there's whatever this is.

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