Alex Mauer Gets Another Game Taken Down From Steam Via DMCA As She Sends Imagos' Lawyer Death Threats

from the whoo-boy dept

Last month, we discussed a strange spate of DMCA notices going out from Alex Mauer, a video game music composer. Through her DMCA blitz, she managed to get a game removed from Steam, as well as getting several DMCA strikes against several YouTubers that had covered that game, all apparently as a result of a contract dispute she had with Imagos Softworks and her general inability to understand contractual language and copyright law. The tone of that post was justifiably critical, but some are now concerned that there is a well-being issue at hand. For starters, Mauer has now targeted a second game via DMCA takedown and has managed to get Steam to remove the game from its listings.

A copyright claim by a composer with a tendency to attract legal drama has led Steam to remove the game River City Ransom: Underground. The developers are disputing the claim and say they expect the game to be back on Steam at some point in the future.

On Friday, July 14th, Steam removed River City Ransom: Underground due to a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) claim filed by composer Alex Mauer. In the claim, Mauer said that music she produced for the game was being used without her permission.

Mauer goes on to note that she doesn’t have any documentation of her arrangement with Conatus Creative, developers of the game, but that this actually strengthens her claim, reasoning that if her music appears in the game and there is no written permission, it’s copyright infringement. That seemingly sensical stance is rebutted, however, by Conatus, who does claim to have documentation proving its side of the argument.

Let me make it absolutely clear – Alex Mauer’s claim that the game violates her copyright is false. She is a co-creator of the music, with Dino Lionetti and Rich Vreeland. Our written license agreement is with Rich, who subcontracted Alex and Dino. When Rich offered to pay Alex an equal share of the music fee for her contribution to the game soundtrack, she emailed back: “oh that’s awesome man i’m all for it thanks!” Rich has shown us the documentation that Alex was paid in full.

Our lawyers advise us that there is no legal basis for Alex’s DMCA take-down claims. That’s undeniable by anyone except Alex. But being legally right is only half the story – as a practical matter, the costs of legal action would put console development plans on hold, perhaps indefinitely. We don’t have any interest in spending our time and our energy dealing with this matter further.

So, we’re swapping out the soundtrack. When it’s completed, we hope that it will delight you, and we hope that you keep taking a chance on independent games, on Kickstarter projects, and on all labors of love. They’re worth it.

If all of that is true, and only one side of this fight is claiming to have documented evidence of their position, you can once again see how reckless abuse of the DMCA system can be undertaken by a party that is blatantly in the wrong as a matter of copyright law, while at the same time forcing their targets into unwanted actions due to the costs of the legal action. This, it goes without saying, cannot be what copyright is supposed to be for. If someone can falsely file DMCA notices with this kind of ignorant alacrity, where the most charitable reading of the situation is that Mauer is flatly confused about copyright and contract law, and where the more realistic reading is that she is running a DMCA extortion program, and there are no serious consequences for that abuse, then the DMCA system is plainly broken.

But there are also more serious accusations flying around as part of this, including the legal staff for Imagos, Mauer’s initial DMCA target, being on the receiving end of death threats from her.

After the publication of this story, several people pointed us to a message from Imagos Softworks’ lawyer, Leonard French, claiming that Mauer had sent him death threats. We reached out to Mauer about this and she confirmed that it was true. She said that she had been receiving her own set of threats in the wake of claims by French and other YouTubers, which she reported to the police. “The police told me it was ok for these people to make death threats to me because of freedom of speech,” she said in a private Twitter message. “So my immediate response was to issue death threats to the people who started the defamation crusade against me.”

First, making death threats is a crime, if they are truly serious death threats. I doubt a law enforcement officer told her they are simply “ok because of freedom of speech.” And to then take that as a reason to send more death threats in reply is petulant at best.

Regardless, it should go without saying that through punishment or otherwise, Mauer’s DMCA abuse needs to stop.

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Companies: conatus creative

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Comments on “Alex Mauer Gets Another Game Taken Down From Steam Via DMCA As She Sends Imagos' Lawyer Death Threats”

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Welcome to teh party techdirt )

It always bears repeating – Techdirt is not, and never has been, a primary news source. Apart from the occasional story that has broken here first, it has always been a place for discussion, not breaking news.

If you wish to treat this site as a primary news source, you’re wrong to do so and should seek out additional sources. If you already have those, then you should already be aware that TD doesn’t rush to publish stories on most subjects, and will usually be at least a day or 2 after it’s been “breaking news” elsewhere.

Dave Cortright (profile) says:

I'm not sure another soundtrack will help…

If Alex has shown such blatant disregard in false DMCA takedowns, then I’d bet even odds that she’ll also DMCA the new soundtrack, just because that’s the kind of scorched earth tactic people like her tend to do. She’ll rationalize it saying the new soundtrack was derivative of her work or some other such BS. Conatus had better be prepared to go to court.

That said, if Steam doesn’t have its own system for appealing a takedown and filing evidence to reverse it, then they are equally complicit in this problem. At least with YouTube, whenever I’ve had claims on videos I’ve uploaded, I can send supporting documentation and in all cases I’ve had them reversed.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: I'm not sure another soundtrack will help…

My memory for fine details can be a little spotty, so take this with a grain of salt, but a day or so ago I listened to a video by Leonard French, Imagos Softworks’ lawyer talking about the actions against his client and lo and behold, that was pretty much exactly what she did to them.

She claimed the music was infringing(on her non-existent rights), so they took it out and swapped something else in. Then she issued a claim on the sound-effects, and apparently made it clear that if they tried to swap that out too she would still make a claim against the game(for the life of me I can’t recall on what though).

After dealing with that Leonard asked the judge for a TRO against her and had it granted by the judge such that if she tries that stunt again she’s now in contempt of court(amusingly her lawyer-for-literally-one-hearing tried to argue that the TRO wasn’t necessary because she’d already ‘promised’ not to continue her actions against them, with Leonard arguing successfully that he wanted the TRO in place ‘just in case’ essentially).

Steam has likewise caught on that she’d abusing the system as in the same video it was noted that she can no longer make claims against the game regarding music, so hopefully they realize that it’s not an isolated incident against one game and block her from lashing out against others as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I'm not sure another soundtrack will help…

Unfortunately that isn’t how the DCMA works. The company isn’t supposed to be the one deciding what is and isn’t infringement.

It’s supposed to be claim -> counter-claim -> lawsuit.

Steam is supposed to put the game back up within 14 days if there isn’t a lawsuit filed. When there is a lawsuit filed, then the person making the claim has to appear in court and can be subject to the full court process.

David says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’ve searched around a bit and public evidence for a gender-changed background is sort-of inconclusive on the surface. The court adresses her as “Ms Maurer” and that should be good enough.

Now putting political correctness away for a moment, I do remember a rather strange episode where the maintainer of “GNU libreboot” went overboard with getting it removed from the GNU project/umbrella (which she had sought herself) because she considered the dismissal of another cross-gendered person from the Free Software Foundation inacceptable (I did not see any such reaction from the person herself actually).

That makes me wonder how much of an actual improvement may actually be in stock at least for males who find themselves unable to work and reason with the cards nature dealt them when you substitute their hormonal system with a female one.

I have myself been prescribed Ritalin (which works with somewhat similar receptors as amphetamines/speed) for a number of focus problems affecting my work productivity. I ended up not using it any longer because the admittedly relevant gains in productivity were not worth the deterioration in my already borderline people skills.

Born females are used from puberty onward to dealing with monthly upheavals in their hormonal system and still, at least from a male observer situation, the results do not appear always entirely in line with a consistent self-image.

Starting into such a hormonal upset late in life from an education likely less focused on compromise than that of a woman seems like getting stacked the deck against oneself additionally.

At least one hears this kind of story mostly in relation to male-to-female transitions: the opposite (less common) direction seems to be much less of a magnet for problems in my admittedly quite limited experience.

I don’t envy Alex Mauer but that does not mean that I’d be willing to engage in business relations with her seeing how off-hinged she appears with regard to legal and business matters.

I wish I had better answers. Contempt, chauvinism and genderism are more symptoms of a problem than leads to a solution, dear Anonymous Coward.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Oh Randi Ellen Ziff, you’re such a nuisance. Nobody asked you about your female hormones or about Alex’s female hormones, and yet you feel obliged to tell us all about it.

When you make generalizations about all women, or 50% of the populace, you run the risk of looking like an ass. Or just being one.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Talk about keyword triggers then call people SJWs. Wow. Pot, Kettle, Black. As for “diatribe”… that word… I do not think it means what you think it means. -tpb

Best of luck with your disconnected self. Calling people SJWs in need of triggers doesn’t make your argument stronger. It makes you weak and lacking in substance to support your already ridiculous claims.

Have a great weekend. Tell your therapist the Internet said hi.


Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I’ve known trans people who were unstable, and I’ve known cis people who were unstable. It’s irresponsible to generalize about a demographic based on the actions of a few. Especially since there’s a selection bias at work here: if a trans person is a model (or just a typical) worker and collaborator, then you probably won’t be seeing any news stories about that.

David says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

So? When a mental instability correlates with treatments condoned by society, it becomes society’s responsibility to cater for the respective aid necessary to deal with the consequences.

If “Ok, we’ll make you hormonally and externally female, and you deal with the psychological outfall of the ensuing personality change yourself like a grown-up” doesn’t work reliably enough, one needs to reevaluate the expected cost (and possibly definition) of a successful transition, to society as well as individual.

Bruce C. says:

“Petulant” seems to describe the entire charade…She didn’t hesitate to harm 3rd parties in her crusade against the game company. I hope she has a new career lined up, because regardless of the facts of the case, what game company would contract with her at this point? They don’t have to deal with this kind of risk and drama.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“”Petulant” seems to describe the entire charade”

The problem is, from what I’ve seen, it isn’t a charade. She honestly believes she’s in the right.

Honestly, from I’ve read she does seem to be having some kind of breakdown and is self destructing. I hope she gets the help she needs, but this really just highlights yet again the problems with the system – a single mentally unstable individual should not have the power to bring down the work of others without due process.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The ridiculousness of the situation was described well by sir French wearing a protective jacket when meeting her, because of the ferocity of her comments.

She was put on a 24 hour mental observation hold, but she has not been committed as she was unwilling and she was deemed not to be an immediate danger to herself and her surroundings.

Some mental instability is something we can all have at times, but when offered help you better damn take it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Some mental instability is something we can all have at times, but when offered help you better damn take it.

Sadly, in many cases with mental instability, it clouds your perception in such a way that you think you are the sanest person in the world and everyone else is crazy. Sometimes something snaps to get you to realize that the world hasn’t gone crazy, you have…but sometimes it doesn’t.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Alex Mauer is crazy

Sure, there are lots of crazies on the net like Alex Mauer or Randi Ellen Ziff, but the problem is they don’t think they’re crazy. They think everyone else is out to get them, or use them for free music, or whatever.

It doesn’t matter whether you pity them for being crazy. They are causing real harm, and in this case costing money for software developers.

I have no sympathies for crazies doing stupid stuff that costs other people time and money.


stderric (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Alex Mauer is crazy

I have no sympathies for crazies doing stupid stuff that costs other people time and money.

Tell me about it. Why did they choose the ‘stupidly troublesome’ brand of mental illness instead of the ‘harmlessly amusing’ one when they were asked which they’d prefer? If someone makes a poor lifestyle choice, they deserve to be punished for it.
Self-centered jackasses.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Oh there will be consequences for filing false DMCA claims.

That would certainly be a refreshing change of pace, though if any case is practically perfectly crafting to demonstrate whether or not the penalties ever apply it would be this one.

Making multiple copyright claims falsely claiming ownership over something the one making the claims does not own. Assuming her targets go after her on those grounds if she gets a pass then it will have been demonstrated that nothing can trigger the penalty, and for all intents and purposes it simply does not exist.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That has nothing to do with abusing the DMCA and having the (theoretical) penalties of that come into play though, rather the backlash is likely to be entirely due to her making her reputation so incredible toxic, and it being so risky for anyone to ever hire her again that will sink her career.

The DMCA and it’s ‘shoot first, ask question later’ slant certainly made it easier for her to screw over everyone she could, but the penalties for doing so will almost certainly have nothing to do with the law itself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I completely get what you’re saying and truly this is one of those ‘handed to you on a silver platter’ cases that could set a strong precedent. But no company wants to be known for suing an already mentally unstable ‘trans – what-the-fuck-ever’ into permanent un-employability. Even if they just ask for the bare minimum (which I have no idea what that would be), her ‘career as an industry composer is over. Mauer is doing plenty by ‘herself’ destroying ‘her’ future. Leave it be, it will burn itself out in time. Sooner or later Mauer will either get help and rebuild or will completely fade into obscurity.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

She’s already engaged in actions that make her unemployable, they’d merely be using the opportunity presented to them to make it more difficult for other people in the future to engage in such activity that could harm them, and the funny thing about sending out death threats is that it makes it rather difficult to play the sympathetic defendant card.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

For this case, and others like it, the only real problem is that you need to have the capital to go after the claimant. In itself, it’s not so much a problem of the DMCA, as filing a false report is perfectly punishable (Leonard French’s Livestream went into that on a recent separate case).
But when you’re one person, say on Youtube, against some corporation, it’s hard to see the worth in pursuing the matter, even if you’re absolutely in the right.
That’s Alex’s mistake, here. She’s within reasonable reach of litigation and as undermined any strengths she might have held at every turn.

Anonymous Coward says:

She’s destroyed herself professionally. Not a single person or company in any industry will work with her now. By getting the innocent involved, she’s destroyed herself personally too. Collateral damage and false accusations have that effect. And when a case inevitably goes to court, she’ll be destroyed financially. (Hopefully the case(s) set some good precedent.)

There’s still hope yet. A bit of right to be forgotten magic will wipe the slate clean.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: First Amendment Rights

The privilege to comment anonymously on TechDirt can have funny unintended results… like when you anonymous cowards think you’re being clever with one another but to the rest of us it just seems like you have a bad case of MPD and diarrhea of the keyboard.

If you can’t be bothered to sign your name, stick to discussing the topic, and not “each other” since all your crap looks the same.


Ninja (profile) says:

I’ve been reading about the case and there seem to be psychiatric components to her actions. She seems to need mental care.

Also, seems both Steam and Youtube are considering blocking her from issuing DMCA complaints due to her abuse, specially on Youtube.

Regardless, she probably already cost the games and 3rd-parties she lashed out against quite a few thousand dollars total. If she isn’t severely punished at some point for her bogus claims then the system is broken beyond repair. Not that it isn’t broken, the very fact that it allows her to take down stuff without due process is already evidence that the system is broken. It should be abolished.

mb (profile) says:


reckless abuse of the DMCA system … forcing their targets into unwanted actions due to the costs of the legal action. -TFA

…types of threats sufficient to constitute extortion include those to harm the victim’s business…
Extortion is also a federal offense when it interferes with interstate commerce.

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