EA DMCAs Trump/Mass Effect Mashup Video Claiming Trump Re-Tweeting It Made Its Use 'Political'

from the don't-fear-the-reapers dept

The political season lingers upon us, for all the world appearing to be less democracy in action and more likely some kind of test initiated by aliens to see exactly how much mind-numbing stupidity a populace can handle. In any case, for some reason presidential politics brings out the touchiest behavior amongst us. For instance, take a quick look at this brilliantly, if unintentionally, hilarious “trailer” a Donald Trump Supporter put together.

Hopefully you can still see the trailer embedded there, but more on that in a moment. So, the Donald retweeted the video out after the author had brought it to his attention, causing some in the press to comment on how it was a “fake movie trailer”, and how it was the “most over the top” thing any candidate has done ever. Those of us in the gaming community, of course, just laughed, because the entire thing was a mashup of political footage and Mass Effect 2. The best part of the whole thing, intentional or not, is that the trailer is narrated in its original form by Martin Sheen, who plays a major villain role in the game and who has been “indoctrinated” by the bad guys into doing evil. If you aren’t laughing at the irony at this point, you need to see your doctor because your sense of humor is busted.

Electronic Arts, publishers of the Mass Effect franchise, almost immediately DMCA’d the shit out of every form of this video it could find.

Publisher Electronic Arts took action against this video, removing it from YouTube and later from Twitter on copyright claims. It’s company policy that its assets are not used for political gain.

“The video was an unauthorized use of our IP,” a senior communications representative for EA told GameSpot today. “We do not support our assets being used in political campaigns.”

And here’s where things get tricky. Let’s establish first that EA doesn’t have any actual problem with people using its “assets” to create mock up trailers and fan videos. It’s even cool with people doing so in a mocking or funny way, evidenced by it hosting a mocking trailer for Mass Effect 3 on its own YouTube page. The claim here is entirely about the footage and sounds being used by a political campaign.

But was it? Trump didn’t create the video; he merely tweeted it out to all of this followers. This is complicated by the fact that so much of Trump’s popularity has been built upon his rather deft use of both social media and the admittedly masterful way he conjures the press with a wave of his hands so that they might cover whatever thing he has to say at the moment. But is that a campaign at work, or just a private citizen doing private citizen-y things? This wasn’t some paid political advertisement, nor was it shown at a rally. This is Twitter being used in its intended way: to share things with followers that might be of interest.

Regardless, the video is almost certainly covered by Fair Use, being transformative, non-commercial, and limited in its use. But EA DMCA’d it anyway, likely because it doesn’t want its property being associated with The Donald. Which I understand, except that post-DMCAing the video, here we all are talking about it, watching it some more, and pumping even more conversation into Donald Trump’s strange co-opted media machine. That’s the Streisand Effect at work, and the Streisand Effect is more powerful than the Mass Effect, it seems.

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Companies: electronic arts

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Comments on “EA DMCAs Trump/Mass Effect Mashup Video Claiming Trump Re-Tweeting It Made Its Use 'Political'”

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Anonymous Coward says:

EA is a shit gaming company I refuse to buy products from. Given it’s disdain for it’s customers always seeming to be on display, it’s no surprise it would go this route.

If you buy a game made by EA you deserve what you get in the form of what EA might decide later on it wants to do, be damn the customer who spent money on their products.

Anonymous Coward says:

Have we finally forgotten the distinction between links to content and the content itself? The very idea that a TWEET can contain enough copyrighted material to be subject to a DMCA complaint is preposterous on its face. The fact that Twitter even has a copyright complaint mechanism is an indictment of 21st Century society.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If you want a DMCA-mechanism, it may be necessary to also include Twitter for embedded and otherwise unquestionable content. When that is said, a tweet without embedded content should not be able to contain enough for it to be infringing.

In this case, the problem should be dealt with through Youtube.

freedomfan (profile) says:

1) I am no fan of EA.
2) I am no fan of Mr. Trump.
3) I am no fan of most DMCA take-downs.
4) I totally agree that the video has a very strong fair use claim.
5) I think EA are idiots for doing this, if their actual goal was to reduce the exposure to the video. It’s hard for me to imagine EA’s lawyers didn’t know this thing would get 10x the attention once their take-down effort transformed this from an amusing fan video that some of Trump’s followers would see into an IP-versus-fair-use-with-a-side-dish-of-free-political-expression issue that has some actual news value. (I suspect they have another goal, probably a mundane one.)

But, all that is somewhat beside the point. EA never said its IP had to be used by a political campaign for them to oppose its use in a political campaign. Someone doesn’t have be a candidate or even work for a one to do campaigning or otherwise become part of a campaign, and this video pretty clearly is being used in the campaign. To be doubly clear, I don’t think the take-down effort has much merit, but EA doesn’t need to argue that Trump’s re-tweet is what pushed the video over the line of “being used in political campaigns”.

Anonymous Coward says:


Man makes mashup conflating Trump with Mass Effect Villain

Trump thinks it’s promotional, and retweets

EA thinks it’s political, and DMCAs it

Reddit/TD/etc. see it has been DMCA’d and:

a) spread the story, upset that the DMCA has yet again been abused

b) laugh at Trump for failing to get that this video is the ‘libel’ he so often creates SLAPP suits over

c) really want an interview with the creator to see whether the mashup was meant as game satire (free speech), political satire (free speech), or was really meant as honest Trump promotion (still free speech).

Paraquat (profile) says:

Why the Apollo program was really cancelled

When Neil Armstrong first set foot on the surface of the Moon in 1969, he said:

“That’s one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.”

This has been quoted many times, used in films, TV shows, satires, and so on.

Unfortunately, it’s use violates the DMCA, and thus it was necessary to cancel the Apollo lunar exploration program in order to protect NASA’s intellectual property.

This is also why we can’t send humans to Mars, unless they’re deaf mutes.

However, it’s not a problem with robotic exploration of the solar system, since robots can’t own intellectual property…

…yet. However, after the TPP becomes law, we can at last extend copyright law to robots, and such copyrights would be for a period of the robot’s life plus 70 years. Since it’s difficult to determine if a robot on Mars is still alive, we could be seeing quite a few “stranded copyrights” lasting until the solar system gets swallowed up by a big black hole.

DV Henkel-Wallace (profile) says:

I think they "had" to

Sure, they don’t care if you make a fan trailer and so I assume their lawyers don’t think this case threatens Mass Effect either. They just don’t want people to think the company supports any candidate in particular — because that could affect sales.

So it doesn’t matter to them if their DMCA claim works or not – it just serves to get their message out to their audience.

Which is the real story here.

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