Samsung Issues Takedown On Video Of Grand Theft Auto 5 Mod Turning Galaxy Note 7 Into A Weapon

from the that's-not-a-copyright-issue dept

Another day, another weird copyright takedown for censorship rather than legit copyright reasons. Adrian Lopez alerts us to a YouTube video that no longer exists at that link. If you go there (as of right now), you get this:

If you can’t quite read the text up top, it says “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Samsung Electronics America, Inc. and its affiliates.”

What that video used to be, according to the original description was:

GTA 5 Mod Showcasing the explosive Samsung Galaxy Note 7. You can blow people up with a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 in GTA V.

And there’s the little thumbnail that was shown in the Twitter card for the video before it disappeared:

In case you still don’t get what’s going on here, let’s lay it out for you: there’s a big story going on these days about how Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 devices are, well, catching fire (some prefer exploding, but it seems that they’re mostly just setting themselves on fire). It’s causing injuries and Samsung is in full on panic mode. It’s now a felony to bring a Galaxy Note 7 on an airplane. This is the kind of stuff that business school case studies are written about years later, describing how Samsung handled this kind of crisis.

GTA 5, of course, is the video game Grand Theft Auto 5. And, like many video games, it’s possible to mod (modify) those video games to add in other elements. And so it appears that someone took the “ripped from the headlines” stories of exploding Note 7s and created a GTA 5 mod that made such things into weapons you could use in the game.

It’s kind of funny, actually.

What it is not, however, is copyright infringement. I don’t care how you slice or dice it. It’s not copyright infringement. Samsung may be embarrassed by its exploding devices, and it may not like people making fun of them or turning them into weapons in video games, but that doesn’t matter. There’s no copyright infringement against Samsung’s copyrights in doing that. And it’s flat out ridiculous that Samsung appears to have made a copyright claim over such a video. Hopefully whoever put up the video challenges this and YouTube comes to its senses…

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Companies: samsung, youtube

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Comments on “Samsung Issues Takedown On Video Of Grand Theft Auto 5 Mod Turning Galaxy Note 7 Into A Weapon”

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Christenson says:

Copyright = Don't Say That!

Well, with Lenz still not ruled on by the supreme court, why not DMCA anything I don’t like?? No penalties (except, of course, the Streisand effect, in operation here)!

Hey! Techdirt! Take down this whole article! GTA5 and your whole article infringe upon my right not to giggle at a game whose whole point is to let people play at behaving badly!

Christenson says:

Re: Re: Next GTA mod...

No, real life hasn’t taken care of that next GTA mod —

Burying your opponent under a blizzard of bogus paperwork is not something you can do in GTA! Now, how to do that visually??? Hmmm….maybe in the module with the courtroom scenes, where the judge chews you out….for not behaving badly enough.

Indy says:

Got that right...

“This is the kind of stuff that business school case studies are written about years later, describing how Samsung handled this kind of crisis. “

Truer words have not been spoken. I’m not sure what we call the people that make decisions at Samsung, but leaders and managers aren’t quite ringing true here.

Exploding phones, well, that never should have happened. Like, R&D and QA should have nipped this in the bud in testing. But everything that has happened since is pertinent evidence that this company is seriously mismanaged on many levels.

Anonymous Coward says:

This may not be copyright, but it is trademark infringement. I don’t see how the the writer can jump to copyright infringement when

“This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by [add name here].”

is a standard Youtube take down notice used for any type of take down. I guess the writer expects Youtube to be more explicit in their wording so the writer is not so easily fooled.

Christenson says:

Re: TMI (Trademark Infringement)

Sorry, the first amendment clearly allows satirical speech such as the GTA mods, whether you or Samsung is offended or not!

It doesn’t protect the GTA franchise from your boycott of it and your public complaints about it’s “low blow” “hit job” humor which you find beyond the pale of decencty.

The purpose of a trademark is to allow someone to identify “their” product when it is for sale without confusion in the marketplace for “their” product.

Here, there’s no sale, no distinctive marks, no confusion (except about what Trademark protects), and yet we have all JUMPED to the conclusion that these “explosively weaponized” phones are Samsung Galaxy 7s…so no Trademark infringement at all.

I have an absolute right to factually discuss my Apple iPhone (with TM). That includes satire — especially as my swipe to unlock has disappeared in the latest iOS update, thank you USPTO, dammit!) TM only prevents me from trying to make you think my Droid phone which I am selling is somehow actually authorized by Apple.

Someone else may point out how the anti-circumvention properties of the DMCA infringe upon that right of speech, but it’s not germane here.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: TMI (Trademark Infringement)

The first amendment right only extends to individuals in this case. Companies are usually forbidden from using trademarks of another company without permission. This misuse of Samsung’s trademark would be okay if a modder had created it and given it to the community.

I use a Mickey Mouse test for infringement. I imagine the misused trademark to be ‘Mickey Mouse’ and think of all the violent games that include him. I always come up with zero times. Disney is a very aggressive defender of their trademarks. Samsung is not wrong in being just as aggressive. Exploding Note 7 phones is very funny though.

John Mayor says:


But the problem is, GTA 5 is making money on the addition of this Galaxy Note 7 “storyline” into their product!

If GTA 5 was some non-profit enterprise, or the reporting of the Samsung exploding phone was merely for some non-commercial purpose, then battling an “NP-GTA 5”, or some other NGO’s/ NPO’s use of Samsung’s failed product line (and, on copyright!) could– and should!– be deemed excessive!

Mike!… you’re censorship concerns are valid!… and, I can’t keep from believing that the cited “take-down” was motivated– in part!– by Samsung’s defence against any further erosion of public confidence (although!… I think that ship has sailed!)! Nevertheless!… business, is business!… and if a GTA 5 wants to use Samsung’s Note 7 as a “theme” in their “for-profit” “venture”… (and regardless of the failure of Samsung’s product!)… then GTA 5 should allow Samsung to receive a “return” on the use of Samsung’s failed effort! And… honestly!… the pennies from a GTA 5 “Galaxy Note 7 theme” may be the “rare return” that Samsung may receive, from its MANUFACTURING DISASTER!

Please!… no emails!

PaulT (profile) says:


I don’t usually engage your silly posts, but:

“GTA 5 is making money on the addition of this Galaxy Note 7 “storyline” into their product!”

How? Are you honestly stating that people are buying copies of GTA5 purely to access this mod? Or, do you believe that the mod itself is a revenue stream for them? If so, show your work.

“if a GTA 5 wants to use Samsung’s Note 7”

“a GTA5” is doing nothing. A user of that game has, independently of developer Rockstar, used the tools available to him to create a modification to the game that includes the phone as a joke.

“the pennies from a GTA 5 “Galaxy Note 7 theme””

Pennies form where? This is a free mod, not a product for sale.

“Please!… no emails!”

You put this at the end of every comment, but it’s nonsense. If it’s to avoid spam, nobody reading the message knows your email address, and no automated script on the server side will ever read this request.

PaulT (profile) says:


Yeah, it was worth a try. That idiotic no emails thing’s been bugging me, was hoping to get a sensible response. Not a chance, it seems… why someone would waste so much time saying nothing is a mystery, especially when they don’t have the basic facts straight. Unlike our usual moron, it doesn’t even look like he’s deliberately trolling so I wanted to give him the benefit of a doubt.

Christenson says:

Re: Troll, Troll, Troll your boat...gently down the stream!

Merrily, Merrily, Merrily
Life is but a dream.

You might want to anchor your boat in the actual law…the Streisand rapids are ahead.

Copyright: Exclusive control over ORIGINAL work, modulo fair use. Fair use is more likely for a non-profit.
Tradmark: No marketplace deception.

We aren’t deceived, and this GTA mod isn’t original to Samsung.

Tanner Andrews (profile) says:

Just Waiting

One of these days, someone whose video is subjected to a takedown notice is going to file suit for a declaration of non-infringement. The sender of the takedown notice is likely to feel sad as a result, especially if the court awards fees to the prevailing video author.

One or two of these will probably not stem the tide of invalid notices, but it could start a trend.

Christenson says:

Re: Just Waiting

My…please read up on the “Dancing Baby” case…Lenz versus Universal Studios…and someone with a little better memory can name the case where Rightscorp managed to undo section 230 protections because of all their fraudulent notices.

Lenz is at the supreme court now…because the lower courts didn’t agree that any fees should have been awarded.

It has also been going on for, literally, YEARS.

bumurmum says:

BS Shiz

best gift for your mother in law… would be a note 7 mwhahaha XD

"S" caused this upon themselves, they should actually be put in prison for sending out bombs, there are no terrorist attacks, it was only "S". besides gta cant be held liable for royalties to "S" for what a user made, otherwise "S" must pay royalties to Sony, cause I had Sony’s backround on my S3 , the shouldve allowed these mods to happen, because lets face it it will be fun for a while then it gets lame, now its going to carry on longer than it would’ve, and if the people buy GTA V just for that mod, well thats the end users money being used, Rockstar cant be held liable for what the end users do with their product

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