Popular GameStick Project Briefly Deleted From Kickstarter Over DMCA Takedown
from the improved-processes dept
A few months ago, we criticized Kickstarter for the way it handled DMCA notices — basically just deleting the project entirely, without providing any additional info. There didn’t appear to be a counternotice proposal or anything like that. That post actually resulted in a nice conversation with Kickstarter about ways in which they might improve their DMCA process. I’m happy to see that with another high profile DMCA takedown sent to the site, the situation has been handled somewhat better, though I still have some questions about it.
The takedown involved the Gamestick project, an Android-based video game console the size of a USB stick, built into a controller. It’s a really cool project, which you can check out here. Not surprisingly, it has received tons of attention, buzz and (of course) donations. But, yesterday, for a brief time, the campaign disappeared for a period of time due to a DMCA takedown. Unlike in the past, the message on the missing page at least contained a little more info:
This is a message from Kickstarter Support. We’re writing to inform you that a project you backed, GameStick: The Most Portable TV Games Console Ever Created, is the subject of an intellectual property dispute.
The law requires that we remove the project from public view until the process is complete or the dispute is resolved. If we are not able to re-post it within 30 days, we will cancel the project, all pledge authorizations will expire, and the project will be permanently unavailable.
If you’d like to manage your pledge, you can do so through the project page:
If you have any questions, we encourage you to message the creator directly. You can also do this from the project page.
Thanks so much for your patience and cooperation,
The campaign was turned back on after a little while, and the full story came out. Apparently, one of the video games that the company shows working in the video was not “cleared” for use by its creators, and they sent the takedown. Playjam edited the video in the question and Kickstarter quickly put the video back up.
All’s well that end’s well, though there are still a few oddities here. First off, Kickstarter’s notice (while better than no notice!) isn’t really accurate. The law does not require Kickstarter to remove the project from view. It does provide incentives for Kickstarter to do so, but that’s not the same thing. Of course, Kickstarter has the right to remove whatever project it wants, and no one expects them to have to make a full call on each takedown notice, but it’s simply not accurate to say they’re required to do so. It’s just that they risk losing safe harbors if they don’t.
The other oddity: the copyright claim itself. I can’t see how the video itself or anything on the campaign page would be infringing. Misleading? Perhaps, if it implied that the specific game would be on the device that wasn’t fully licensed. But that’s not a copyright issue. The video itself might be evidence that PlayJam itself was infringing on the nameless video game company’s copyright with its use of the game. Perhaps there’s an argument that whatever was seen of the game in the video would be a copyright issue, but that seems like a huge stretch. There would be strong de minimis or fair use responses in both cases. Also, unless there are significant additional circumstances, it seems odd that the video game company didn’t embrace this as a way to get free publicity from a very popular Kickstarter project. So it still strikes me that the Kickstarter page and the video itself should not have been seen as infringing. That they might have been misleading is reason enough to change it, but it’s unfortunate when people automatically assume that situations like this must be a copyright violation.