If you've got a Super Mario Bros. speedrun posted up on YouTube, you may want to go check on it. Guinness World Records has apologized after it mistakenly claimed a large number of Super Mario Bros speedruns thanks to a mix-up with its official channel's Content ID system.
This whole fiasco began when speedrunner Kosmic gave an interview to Guinness regarding his record 18:59 warpless speedrun. Guinness asked for a copy of Kosmic's video to host on its channel as he was a record holder, along with an interview. Unfortunately, after Guinness hosted it, a content ID error flagged up Kosmic's video on his own channel as it's identical to the one on the GWR channel. Subsequently, many speedruns that looked even vaguely similar to Kosmic's were claimed. Kosmic's warpless 18:59 run - that is, a run through the game without using warp pipes - was claimed, as was his 4:55 any% run (a run using warps and all other glitches).
Before Guinness responded to this mess, YouTuber Karl Jobst reported on the copyright claims. This resulted in other speedrunners such as the European Speedrunner Assembly stepping forward and sharing their own stories of Guinness copyright claims. It turns out it wasn't just Kosmic's video. Other speedruns that looked to have similar content to Kosmic's - a difficult thing to avoid given all of these speedruns are for the same game - were being copyright-claimed by Guinness.
. @GWR is currently claiming significant amounts of arbitrary video game footage on YouTube as theirs via content-id. We'd like to reach out to someone on the board to get to the bottom of this. Does anyone have contacts? pic.twitter.com/uJMFsDGsKH— Andrew (@ontwoplanks) May 25, 2020
They claimed almost any video remotely related to SMB1 speedrunning, especially warpless runs. I know I had about 27 claims from them personally. Plenty of others have had claims as well.— GTAce99 (@gtace99) May 25, 2020
So what has Guinness World Records done here?
It looks like the error was caused by YouTube's Content ID algorithm. The company tweeted that the speedruns were being claimed due to "an error with automatic claims" and that the issue should now be fixed. This wasn't done as a copyright claim, which result in a copyright strike, and would have required manual input. It looks like since Guinness World Records posted the original Kosmic video (with his permission), YouTube extrapolated that any video featuring similar footage - i.e. footage of Super Mario Bros speedruns - was fair game and should be claimed, based on how Guinness had configured their channel. Tut tut, Guinness. Tut tut.
In the end, since this was a computer error and not a manual attempt at sabotage, many Super Mario Bros content creators will likely be able to move past it. Still, it's not good optics for a company as large and influential as Guinness World Records. Despite the relative brevity of the issue and Guinness being fairly fast on the trigger to fix it, there might be some disgruntled speedrunners thinking twice about collaborating with the company next time. We've reached out to Guinness for comment on this story and will bring you more as we get it.
Are you a Super Mario Bros speedrunner whose content has been flagged? Let us know in the comments below!