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The topic of monetization of live streaming and let’s plays – that is, being paid to generate this type of content – has been a topic of contention for some years now. Numerous companies have come out and said they authorize this type of content to be made from their intellectual property; while others remain ambivalent or against it.

Microsoft Studios has now joined many other companies in implementing a formal policy on this issue. While they are in favor of allowing monetization to occur, they do have some clear rules in order to protect their intellectual property.

One of the major points is that videos cannot be sold, which limits monetization to Twitch/Hitbox streams and Youtube/Blip/etc. They cannot be part of a subscription service, paid site or bought as a stand-alone product and these videos are not even to appear on the same page as something else being sold; make sure to remove that t-shirt sale from your stream!

Another rule is that players cannot use game assets except as they appear in-game. If someone has hacked a game for the files and uses them in any paid endeavor, this violates their rules. All content also confers Microsoft Studios a “royalty-free, non-exclusive, irrevocable, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license” to it. Essentially anything created using any Microsoft Studios IP is theirs for the taking; they do not require permission from the creator nor do they need to compensate for the content.

Another rule that seems to be rather vague is that Microsoft is prohibiting “offensive content” made with their products. Specifically the rules state:

You can’t use Game Content to create an Item (defined as machinima, videos, and other derivative creations) that is pornographic, lewd, obscene, vulgar, discriminatory (on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc.), illegal, hate speech, promoting violence, drug use or any illegal activity, promoting crimes against humanity, genocide or torture, or is otherwise objectionable. Whether an Item is “objectionable” is up to us, but you can expect us to be concerned if a significant number of people in the game’s community or the public at large report the content as offensive.

While most of their library is covered under the new rules, Minecraft is the exception with its own set of rules. These separate rules can be viewed over on Mojang’s website.


What do you think of Microsoft Studios’ new rules? What about the vague “offensive content” rule? Tell us what you think below!

Tanis Pallagi

I've been playing games since the Apple ][ Days. I have a special place in my heart for quirky Japanese games but you'll see me playing anything and everything! I'm also a huge nerd over tabletop RPGs, Warhammer 40k, anime, comic books and birds.

  • Cy

    The offensive content thing might not bother me if any company has shown any interest in enforcing rules like that without bias, but as it is it’s way too easy to abuse. I’m also not sure how I feel about the royalty fee thing. Half of me understands wanting to make money off of your own copyrights, but the other half of me rails against someone trying to take money out of the pocket of someone who made a YouTube video just because it happens to be a YouTube video about Halo. I dunno, it doesn’t really effect me that much, but, to steal an often abused phrase, it seems slightly problematic.

  • Ryan Juel

    My question is, how will this affect Red vs. Blue?

  • Tanis

    Red vs Blue won’t be effected as far as I know.

  • Farmer John Jensen

    They’ve actually had a license officially for a while. But it looks like the new policy would allow streams to do, more or less, what RvB did at first. It’s almost a limited CC license, when you really look at it.

  • Tanis

    That does seem to be the case. Although the rules don’t allow for anything to masquerade as being official.

  • disqus_Nj9jXLoavw

    The description on Microsoft’s site makes it seem like the “royalty free grant” is language to protect themselves from fan fic creators claiming that Microsoft “stole their idea” without compensating them. I’m pretty sure if I were to make a machinima, let’s play, or other gameplay/commentary video that I would own my own addition to their content. Essentially neither one of us could use it without the others permission; they can’t just assume control of it because you used their content(you would have to prove fair use to use their content without permission). It’s kind of scary to think that they might try to do that. Could Rooster Teeth have survived as an entity if Microsoft had attempted to just steal Red vs Blue from them at the start? I’m sure the end result would have been that Microsoft couldn’t just take their added IP without some sort of agreement, but how much would the litigation to stop them from taking it cost?

  • WhiteNut

    That last little excerpt is laughable at best. There is no way they’ll be able to enforce any of that on top of that, I highly doubt M$ would take anyone to court over making porn (and really why have so many different words for it) of their games or anything “discriminatory”.

  • duder

    so if I make a shoe, everyone who walks in them has to pay me even after they bought it?
    These intellectual so called property are bs, pure bs.
    When you buy something, it’s yours to do with as you please; these companies need to get back down to reality.

  • Nick

    It would be interesting to see if microsoft can override fair use doctrine by simply trying to tell people what they can and can’t do.

  • “Offensive content” part is what I have a big problem with. Someone makes a joke or states a political opinion that someone doesn’t agree with and some piece of shit SJW asshole gets offended and claims abuse and M$ takes down the video without even looking into it or they don’t like what someone said on twitter and abuses this rule to try to take that person down, etc. I don’t like their rules in general.

  • I remember everyone cheering when Ballmer stepped down from his position as MS CEO and was replaced by Nadella.

    Well, Ballmer may have had done his share of bad decisions, but unless I’m mistaken, at least he steered well clear of SJW landmines like this one at the end of this article. We’ll have to wait and see what happens with all these rules and how they’re going to be enforced.

  • TeLin特林

    Bet they’ll pay certain YouTube peesonalities.

    Fucking assholes.

  • TeLin特林

    Sure YT will comply with take downs…

  • MRAlias

    Correct me if I’m misunderstanding, but isn’t this hypocritical of Microsoft? Unless I’m reading this wrong the Rooster Teeth series Red Vs Blue is in violation of most of these new rules and Microsoft has (or had) a deal with them.

  • DukeMagus

    but you can expect us to be concerned if a significant number of people in the game’s community or the public at large report the content as offensive.

    That part means a specific group can mob Microsoft to delet content of someone they hate… bad choice