Last Sunday in the heat of an internet uproar over Felix Kjellberg's, or PewDiePie, accidental live stream slip up where he used a racial slur, prompted Campo Santo co-founder Sean Vanaman to tweet out that they're filing a DMCA Takedown. A takedown on all Firewatch content posted to the PewDiePie channel as well as any future Campo Santo IPs.
The DMCA, or Digital Millennium Copyright Act, is a 1998 Copyright Act passed by the United States Congress to protect artists and content creators, both big and small, in the new age of technology. The act itself implements two 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization treaties and allows individual IP, or intellectual property, holders to issue takedowns of content that infringes on their copyright.
"We're filing a DMCA takedown of PewDiePie's Firewatch content and any future Campo Santo games. There is a bit of leeway you have with the internet when u wake up every day and make video games. There's a breaking point. I'm sick of this child getting more and more chances to make money off of what we make. He's worse than a closeted racist: he's a propagator of despicable garbage that does real damage to the culture around this industry. I'd urge other developers & will be reaching out to folks much larger than us to cut him off from content that has made him a milionaire."
- Sean Vanaman, Campo Santo Co-Founder - Source
This sparked an online debate of whether or not what Campo Santo did was illegal. The proclaimed video game attorney Ryan Morrison stated on episode 46 of the Robot Congress Podcast, "The easy answer here is yes, they [Campo Santo] are allowed to DMCA PewDiePie's video." The podcast argues the point that the implied licence on the Firewatch website is revocable, streams and videos are two separate things and that the implied licence doesn't say anything about videos, only streams.
Yes Campo Santo as the legal right to revoke PewDiePie's licence for producing future content with their IPs, but they can't DMCA for past content PieDiePie made legally under that licence. Leonard French, a copyright attorney, stated in his video DMCA Abuse over Pewdiepie N-word - What?, "To retroactively say that because we disagree with what PewDiePie said today that we're going to remove his ability to stream a game from 18 months ago that he streamed sometime within the last 18 months. That's not, that's not copyright that's just your social justice...there are no copyright consequences to this screw-up, that's just not how it works. And Firewatch and Campo Santo don't have the right...either they're extremely mistaken and I'm gonna point to this website and say that like how can you forget that you have this on your website. So they're either extremely mistaken about their legal rights or this is just an attention grab that they decided that if he, that this Sean Vanaman, that if he takes a side in this maybe it will, you know, gain his development company some notoriety as being on the better side of the social justice equation."
The Firewatch website does also state that you can monetize videos and stream footage that contain gameplay, unlike what the Robot Congress Podcast claimed. "Can I stream this game? Can I make money off of those streams? Yes. We love that people stream and share their experiences in the game. You are free to monetize your videos as well." That said section on Firewatch's website is an implied licence, which is a valid legal licence tried in the Davis v. Tampa Bay Arena case. In summary, photographer Mitchell Davis filed a lawsuit alleging Tampa Bay Arena of copyright infringement for posting his images on their Facebook page. Davis' agreement with the Tampa Bay Arena grants them "rights to reproduce images for newsletter, advertising, display prints, broadcast, and the [Forum] web site." Their Facebook page was not included with the agreement, however it was found that the Arena was not infringing as Davis' constant emails telling them where to get the images for Facebook granted an implied license.
"Imagine if, I made some artwork, and I told people hey you're free to use this artwork, go ahead everyone. People start using the artwork and then I point to some people and I say no and file a copyright law dispute against that. Doesn't really add up does it."
- Felix Kjellberg (PewDiePie) - About A Copyright Strike
With Campo Santo not having legal right to claim the FIREWATCH (Full Gameplay) video, they still claimed it anyway. PewDiePie respond to the copyright claim in his video About A Copyright Strike, "When I saw these tweets I immediately privatized the video out of respect for his request. But my video got claimed anyway. They got the strike anyway, which is pretty disappointing to be honest. As far as I'm concerned I didn't use any abusive language in this video. I didn't do anything that I think would be considered offensive. This video was uploaded as far as I know two years ago and I gotta say I'm pretty disappointed...these laws are made to for people to take down content and whenever there's power to do so it's going to be abused, and especially when the reason to take down the content has nothing to do with copyright."
In the end it seems like Campo Santo has done more harm than good to their public image and reputation. With let's play content creators and streamers deciding whether or not to produce any more content with any Campo Santo IPs, in fear that this could happen to them for any reason. Campo Santo threatening to throw their weight around and get larger developers to copyright claim videos just for simply being upset with you. A weight given to Campo Santo by the very people they threaten.
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