Past decisions about time travel video game/anime franchise comes back to haunt him.

In the most basic terms, the plot of video game Steins;Gate involves sending messages into the past in order to set changes in motion that will improve the present and future. Odds are that’s something that Shinobu Yoshida wishes he could do right now.

The 52-year-old resident of Nagoya has become the first person arrested in Japan for illegally uploading video game gameplay videos to YouTube. The charges stem from a trio of gameplay videos of Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace, an entry in the franchise which was initially released in 2013 and most recently ported to the Nintendo Switch, Sony’s PlayStation 4, and Windows in 2019. The videos, which were monetized and collecting ad revenue, contained the game’s ending.

In addition to the gameplay videos, Yoshida was also found to have uploaded videos of the Steins;Gate anime adaptation and Spy x Family anime. These were not complete episodes, but instead have been reported as “fast content” or “netabare” videos. In Japan, “fast content” is a term used to describe condensed versions of a series episode or movie. “Netabare” translates most closely to “spoiler,” but in criminal discussions is generally used in reference to videos that extensively show the ending of a published work, as opposed to short reveal-the-plot-twist clips such as Darth Vader saying “I am your father.” Yoshida also reportedly added captions and narration to some or all of the anime videos.

Steins;Gate Zero preview from the official Kadokawa Anime YouTube channel

At the current time, non-monetized video game gameplay videos from Japanese uploaders aren’t hard to find on YouTube. A key difference, though, at least in the eyes of Steins;Gate rights holder Kadokawa, may be the type of game involved in this case. Steins;Gate is a visual novel, and as the name implies, the gameplay consists primarily of reading, with few prompts or inputs required by the player. With the intended appeal being much more watching the narrative unfold than directly controlling the onscreen action, visual novels are, comparatively, closer than other games to a book or movie. Because of that, watching a video of Steins;Gate gameplay is arguably a far more viable substitute for playing (and buying) the game for oneself than it would be with a game with a higher degree of interactivity for the player.

Yoshida has admitted to the charges, saying “I knew it was illegal, even as I was doing it.” In a statement following his arrest, CODA, Japan’s Content Overseas Distribution Promotion Organization, asserted that, “in principle,” any use of gameplay videos requires permission from the rights holder.

Source: Automaton via Jin, NHK
Top image: Pakutaso
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