Nintendo has provided us with the following statement, largely reiterating what's been suggested in Nintendo Japan's tweets.
Nintendo has been permitting the use of Nintendo copyrighted material in videos on YouTube under appropriate circumstances. Advertisements may accompany those videos, and in keeping with previous policy that revenue is shared between YouTube and Nintendo. In addition, for those who wish to use the material more proactively, we are preparing an affiliate program in which a portion of the advertising profit is given to the creator. Details about this affiliate program will be announced in the future.
As you may recall, YouTube was at the core of some controversy throughout 2013. A change to the Content ID system late in the year (December) led to a flurry of claims and various channels seeing their revenues put on hold as blocks mounted up; it was a logistical problem for channels as even frivolous claims could halt income. Nintendo, more directly, reportedly started aggressively claiming ad revenues on videos earlier in 2013, with a negative backlash seemingly prompting the company to ease off in claiming Let's Play funds, for example.
Such was the reaction last May / June that Nintendo's been largely staying away from Content ID claims — in other words seeking the revenues from videos showing content from its games; in the most recent controversy at the end of the year companies such as the big N and Sony notably steered clear of joining in the aggressive claims. It seems the company has been considering how to monetise videos featuring its content, however, with its official Twitter account in Japan stating that it's preparing an 'affiliate' program for YouTube.
【YouTube映像に関するお知らせ】任天堂は以前より、不適切なものを除いて、YouTube上の任天堂の著作物を含む映像を正式に許諾しています。許諾した映像には広告がつくことがあり、その広告収益は従来のポリシー同様、Googleと任天堂で分配されます。(1/2)— 任天堂株式会社 (@Nintendo) May 27, 2014
【YouTube映像に関するお知らせ】その上で、より積極的な任天堂著作物の利用を希望される方に向けて、広告収益の一部を受け取れるアフィリエイトプログラムを準備しています。アフィリエイトプログラムの詳細については、後日続報いたします。ご理解の程、よろしくお願いいたします。(2/2)— 任天堂株式会社 (@Nintendo) May 27, 2014
Translated, these tweets explain that the company has already begun the process of tagging videos showing Nintendo content to display the company's adverts. Of greater importance, however, is that Nintendo is planning an affiliate program in which content producers can have permission to use Nintendo game footage, with ad revenue then distributed by Nintendo and Google to the content channel. Details on how this will work will be forthcoming, with wording suggesting there may be multiple tiers in the royalty agreements.
We'll need to wait for full details to be officially unveiled; this seems like an attempt for Nintendo to make advertising revenue from YouTube content showing its games — which prompted the controversy last summer — but with a formal agreement in place and some revenue still going to the content creator. It may still prompt a backlash, if Nintendo seeks to make money from what some may consider free advertising on YouTube, and could still deter some popular channels from covering Nintendo games if they can produce other content where all ad revenue is retained. It's also unclear whether such a program will be utilised wholesale across videos uploaded from Mario Kart TV in Mario Kart 8, for example.
We'll see how this develops in the coming days and weeks.