Bungie has filed a lawsuit against ten unnamed individuals that issued false copyright takedown requests against Destiny content creators and even Bungie’s own videos in the last few weeks. At the same time, they’ve slammed YouTube’s processes for being far too easy for such faked and fraudulent claims to lead to videos being taken down.
The lawsuit was filed in Washington last week against ten John Does, though Bungie is seeking to reveal the anonymous defendants through subpoenas and other means. Once found, they will be subject to a suit that accuses them of abusing the DMCA process, trademark abuse and violations of consumer protection law, defamation and plenty more. Basically, they’re throwing the book at whoever they can find for this.
Just because these were the actions of some unscrupulous individuals doesn’t mean that Bungie doesn’t have some scorn left over for the platform that has enabled their actions. Bungie says that the John Does basically just set up brand new Google accounts, filled out a takedown request form, checking a bunch of boxes to say that they have the right to handle such takedown requests, and that these were processed by YouTube with basically no due diligence on the video streaming platform’s part. The newly created email addresses were created to look a bit like they came from Bungie’s IP protection service, CRC, but that’s on a par with basic level phishing spam at best.
Their suit states that “As far as YouTube is concerned, any person, anywhere in the world, can issue takedown notices on behalf of any rights holder, anywhere. A disgruntled infringer or a competitive content producer, for example, can issue takedown notices purportedly on behalf of Disney, or Fox, or Universal – or even Google itself.”
They also rail against the obscurity of Google and YouTube’s platforms to directly get in touch. The lawsuit says that without a direct reporting mechanism for Bungie to use, they had to take the issue up with YouTube using their legal team to reach a senior YouTube executive. This took three days after the initial reports were filed.
The DMCA system that YouTube has implemented has been a thorn in the side of content creators for years and years. On the one hand there’s automatic content recognition which actively scans and searches for copyright infringement, but on the other, the DMCA takedown notices have been abused by rights holders and generally disgruntled people.
For video games, it’s led to a generally held understanding that YouTubers can stream and upload videos of game content, publishers and developers typically giving free reign to use an original soundtrack that they hold the licensing rights to, and often including a ‘streamer mode’ that exclusive licensed music that would be flagged by the automated systems.
It’s seemingly the soundtracks that have led to this situation. Bungie suspects that this was a case of petty revenge after they directed CRC to issue takedown noticed on 41 videos that, in Bungie’s opinion, violated their policy that videos should include significant player created content and not just be ripped from their game. Those takedowns came on 16th March and the fraudulent Google accounts were created on 17th March.