If you were to ask someone 10 years ago that people would one day film themselves playing videogames, share those videos online, and actually make money off of that, they would probably laugh themselves into a coma. Yet here we are in a future where creative gamers have been able to transform their hobby into a living though Let's Plays, fan art, music, and more. However, these endeavors have stood on very shaky legal ground –big game publishers have opted to leave these people alone for the most part, but there have nonetheless been a few cases where they have asserted their legal authority. But as the popularity and influence of these fans-turned-entertainers increase, publishers have slowly started to cooperate.
In Japan, the media company Dwango is holding a "Game Party Japan 2015" event on January 31 and February 1, where people can play games, hold competitions, and watch Let's Play sessions in person. Nintendo is a special sponsor of the event, and its presence holds special significance. As it turns out, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata has given the thumbs up for fans to monetize derivative video content on Dwango's streaming video service, Niconico. Back in 2011, Niconico launched the "Creative Endorsement Program" to reward well-received videos with money. Nintendo will now allow its games to be used in the program, endorsing content creators who wish to profit off Let's Plays, music covers, and more.
This is huge. Nintendo, one of the biggest game publishers on the planet, has given express permission for fans to make money off derivative works (within certain restrictions, naturally, though the details of that have yet to be outlined). This only applies to Japan, but if Nintendo is willing to play ball in one region of the world, there's no reason to think it's not considering similar moves elsewhere. Can you imagine if North American fan creators finally received official endorsement to do what they've been doing for years without fear of reprisal?