A few days ago, the world's largest YouTuber Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, found himself wrapped up in yet another controversy: this time for using a racial slur in a PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds broadcast. Although the YouTuber took down the video and issued an apology for overstepping bounds, it appears that some people still aren't satisfied with his response.
One such person is Sean Vanaman, the co-founder of Campo Santo, a studio that developed a different game called Firewatch. The developer tweeted that he is filing a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown request against PewDiePie's years-old Firewatch videos because he is "sick of this child getting more and more chances to make money off of what we make". Apparently, this copyright strike went through, prompting PewDiePie to give another statement on the matter.
Kjellberg argued that he considers the DMCA takedown an abuse of the law because it isn't because the let's play content isn't under fair use, but because Vanaman considers PewDiePie a "closeted racist" and a "propagator of despicable garbage". Kjellberg went on to say that:
Developers benefit massively from let's players or streamers, this is pretty commonly known. Minecraft is a billion-dollar title because of streamers, largely because of streamers and YouTubers. That's why even though, yes, we are making money through your game, it's still seen as something positive.
Kjellberg also took a few shots at Firewatch itself, saying that although he enjoyed the game, the "walking simulator" was very linear in design and and slightly shorter than it should have been.
Regarding the Firewatch DMCA case, Kjellberg noted that after reading Vanaman's tweet about him, he had already privatized the let's play video of the game, and as such, he was very disappointed that the copyright strike had still gone through. He also stated that Firewatch's FAQ page explicitly allows streamers to broadcast monetized videos of it, going on to say that:
Imagine if I made some artwork, and I told people [that] "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?
[...] As far as I'm concerned, I didn't use any abusive language in this [Firewatch] video. I didn't do anything that I think that would be considered offensive. This video was uploaded, as far as I can say, two years ago. [...] Whether you like me or not, Mr. Vanaman, these laws are made for people to take down content. And whenever there is power to do so, it's going to be abused, and especially when the reason to take down the copyright content has nothing to do with copyright, it sort of shows that.
[...] I could probably fight this in court and I would probably win, but I've just decided to delete the video and not waste everyone's time. Like I said, everything about this was my fault, the whole drama. I'm the one starting it, but I still think it's an interesting discussion to talk about, and I think it's important that we don't abuse these laws because they exist to protect artists, not to make any form of censorship or abusive claims.
PewDiePie arguably has a strong claim regarding the Firewatch video being made a victim of wrongful DMCA takedown, because it has nothing to do with copyright laws, especially given that Campo Santo explicitly allows streamers to broadcast monetized content of Firewatch. It will be interesting to see if Vanaman responds to PewDiePie's claims of DMCA abuse.
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