YouTuber Sentenced To Two Years In Prison For Posting A Let’s Play

It’s been announced that a YouTuber called Shinobu Yoshida was found guilty of copyright infringement by Sendai District Court earlier this week, with a Stein’s Gate: My Darling’s Embrace Let’s Play series mentioned as one of the main causes.



In an article from Japanese outlet Asahi Digital (translated by Twitter user KaroshiMyriad), it’s been revealed that Yoshida has been sentenced to either two years in prison or a five year suspended sentence, and whacked with a 1 million yen fine. Judge Koichi Nakamura found Yoshida guilty of copyright infringement for posting a Let’s Play series of Stein’s Gate: My Darling’s Embrace (a dating sim based on the anime of the same name), as well as edited video of the Spy x Family anime series.

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Yoshida claimed in court that all he wanted to do was share content as one of his hobbies, but prosectuors apparently argued that doing so negatively impacted the sales of both products and that Yoshida’s actions “maliciously trampled on efforts of content creation”. It’s unknown what route Yoshida is going to take or what the conditions of his potential five year suspended sentence are, but what we do know is that this is the first time that a content creator has been found guilty of copyright infringement over posting gameplay videos to YouTube.

Yoshida was arrested for this case back in April earlier this year for posting several “spoiler videos” of Stein’s Gate: My Darling’s Embrace and Spy x Family to YouTube without permission form their respective studios. At the time, Yoshida apparently confessed that he “posted the videos knowing that they were illegal” during police questioning, and admitted to all of the charges against him.

Laws surrounding copyright have always been pretty complicated, varying to different degrees depending on which country you’re in. Most people you meet with thoughts on the subject would probably classify the majority of Let’s Plays under Fair Use since they’re adding to an existing product with their own presence. Big publishers could probably shut down unpermitted Let’s Plays if they so desired, but pretty much all of them have this unspoken agreement that doing so would more than likely cause a PR disaster.

It’s much easier, and sometimes beneficial, for developers and publishers to allow Let’s Plays to be uploaded to social media. Games like Among Us and Sons of the Forest would not have the popularity they enjoy now if not for word of mouth and videos on Twitch and YouTube. Yoshida’s case is more than likely a one-off rather than an incoming trend, but you’re probably better off not posting spoilers of visual novels all over YouTube just in case.

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