Link holds up a recovered YouTube thumbnail.

Image: Nintendo / Retro Studios / DidYouKnowGaming / Kotaku

Early in December 2022, Nintendo had a journalistic documentary about a failed 2004 pitch for a Zelda Tactics game nuked from YouTube. Last week, however, Google’s video sharing platform restored the project after seemingly failing to find any copyright infringement. It’s the rare example of a content creator standing firm and getting a copyright takedown notice reversed.

“We won,” YouTube channel DidYouKnowGaming tweeted on December 28. “The Heroes of Hyrule video is back up.” It added that YouTube confirmed the original copyright takedown notice was indeed from Nintendo and not an imposter, and that the video has received over 20,000 views in its first day back.

The video was originally posted back in October and featured material from a failed Retro Studios pitch to make a Legend of Zelda tactics spin-off for the Nintendo DS called The Heroes of Hyrule. The video poured over the design goals and delved into why the studio best known for Metroid Prime was interested in making it in the first place, all based on an interview with the former developer behind the pitch.

When Nintendo issued a copyright takedown notice against the video months later in December, DidYouKnowGaming accused the beloved gaming company of censoring journalism and hurting efforts at preserving historical records. It told Kotaku it planned to defend the video on fair use grounds, and that campaign now appears to have prevailed.

“When you counter a DMCA on YouTube, the company who DMCA’d you has 10 working days to show that they’ve taken legal action against you, or the video is restored,” tweeted Shane Gill, the owner of DidYouKnowGaming. “So I spent the past two weeks checking my email to see if Nintendo was suing [sic] me.”

Nintendo was not suing, at least not yet. While that option still remains, the Mario maker would now have to take the channel to court to get the video removed again, rather than simply relying on flexing YouTube’s automatic copyright protection policies. “Their intent was to scrub this piece of journalistic work from the internet because they didn’t like what it uncovered,” Gill tweeted.

Nintendo, YouTube, and DidYouKnowGaming didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ethan Gach

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