He said, she said
Towards the end of November we published a story about Sega issuing copyright takedown notices to a variety of different Youtube videos regarding the Shining Force franchise; it didn’t matter which game was being featured, and in some cases, didn’t even matter if a game was featured at all – any video with the words “Shining” and “Force” were being flagged as illegal by Sega of Japan’s “Internet Support” specialist, Mutsuhiro Fujii. A number of people appeared in the comments of that article to point fingers elsewhere, however: Tsuyoshi Sawada. According to these people, Sawada had a vendetta against the classic Shining Force franchise. Most of the evidence regarding this, however, had been long since buried on defunct twitter accounts, so, not sure how exactly to handle a story like that, I backed off and decided to think it over.
Thankfully, it appears that Synbios16 of the Shining Force Central forums has done a lot of the legwork for me, as he’s published a 23 minute video explaining the entire scenario from the very beginning:
To summarize: Shining Force 3 on the Sega Saturn was an early example of episodic gaming, but only Episode 1 was ever localized and released in America. Around the Playstation 2 era, Shining Force fans began a “S.O.S.: Save Our Series!” campaign to let Sega know they’d like to see Episodes 2 and 3 – or, at the very least, any other kind of continuation. Sega of America seemed to be polite and responsive to this campaign, but Sega of Japan was a little more cold and distant, and eventually the campaign leader “Moogie” started receiving rude messages over Twitter from Tsuyoshi Sawada, a long-time employee of Sega Japan and current director of the new Shining games. A series of apparent misunderstandings had given Sawada the impression that the “S.O.S.” campaign was being lead by internet trolls trying to defame him and his new Shining games, to the point where Sega of Japan now absolutely refuses to acknowledge both the S.O.S. Campaign and Tsuyoshi Sawada’s original rude responses.
Given that some of the recent take down notices were issued to videos that were a part of the Shining Force Central S.O.S. Campaign and contained no gameplay footage whatsoever, many are assuming it’s at least partially if not wholly related to the Tsuyoshi Sawada incident and that Sega of Japan is fighting back against what they are misunderstanding as some kind of “attack” on new Shining games. Upon trying to contact Sega over this issue, Shining Force Central user MarauderEX received this response:
We never give explicit permission to use our intellectual property. However, in cases like this, we tend not to take action unless our products are slandered in the derivative works.
Sega Customer Support
Translation: Sega doesn’t officially approve of fan art, fan fiction, fan games, or anything else that fans do with their properties, but they aren’t going to stop you from doing it unless you’re trying to make them look bad. For those of you out there worrying about the sanctity of Sonic the Hedgehog lets plays or other fan projects, this is as close as you’re going to get to an unofficial thumbs up to keep doing that stuff.
The rest of the video goes on to talk about the aftermath of these takedown notices, why it matters, and even includes a segment by TotalBiscuit himself about the issue regarding his boycott of all future Sega products on his channel, so make sure you check it out.
We’ll do our best to keep you posted as this situation evolves.