When popular YouTuber PewDiePie let slip a racial slur during a key moment in one of his recent streams, the developing team behind Firewatch pleaded with fellow developers to take action. Campo Santo Founder Sean Vanaman immediately set into motion his appeal for a DMCA takedown strike to take down all of Pew's content that relates to their games. Now that takedown strike has been accepted by YouTube.
Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg took to his YouTube account to confirm with a new video (seen above) that the takedown request has been accepted by YouTube and the strike was now in affect. According to Kjellberg, when he first saw the Tweets from Vanaman, he immediately privatized the video in question out of "respect" for the developer. Despite this, YouTube and Campo Santo pursued the DMCA. Now that this has officially been taken to the next level, things could get ugly for PewDiePie here in the near future.
The way these strikes work is that if a YouTuber receives three of them, the channel will permanently shut down. Kjellberg admits that this is "a pretty big deal," and that the future of his channel could be in jeopardy if more of these "slips" occur.
In accordance with the policies put into place, the effected accounts that are shut down after a third strike relinquish all videos uploaded via that avenue. All of the attached videos will then be deleted and the user will no longer be able to create another account. Any and all videos PewDiePie has uploaded to YouTube through the years will be confiscated if a third strike goes through.
This whole debacle does bring up a point ... does the team behind Firewatch have a case against Kjellberg for his Let's Play content? According to a Lawyer that spoke with Polygon: yes, with limitations.
“In the case of a Let’s Play video, a content owner like Campo Santo would argue that they can revoke their permissive, non-exclusive license to stream (granted to end users) against anyone who uses their content in a way they find offensive, or in a way that associates their game or brand with something against their values."
Mona Ibrahim, the entertainment lawyer in question, also mentioned that though Vanaman does have a case technically, the reason behind the takedown notice don't really hold much weight in the court of law:
"Under copyright, an author’s underlying justification for bringing an action carries very little weight unless the claim lacks merit. If, as most of my clients believe, Let’s Play is not fair use, Vanaman could issue a take down for any reason or no reason and all, and as long as there is still actual infringement, an argument of “bad faith” probably won’t have much of an effect on the outcome unless you get a very sympathetic judge or jury."
Basically, Kjellberg does have a few options in he remains within Google's policies.
- Wait out the 90 copyright strike while attending a special "copyright school" program
- Contact the Campo Santo Studios in the hopes of a retraction
- Submit a counter notification
With Kjellberg's latest video, submitting a counter notification seems more likely since he finds the reasoning behind this "disappointing" and "has nothing to do with copyright". Pew's counter notification could potentially be accepted under "fair use" if his lawyer has substantial evidence against Vanaman's claims.
Though the studio called for other studios to fall suit, it is unclear at this time how many other DMCA notices have been distributed.