Bungie Sues Does Over ‘Destiny’ DMCA Takedowns, Slams YouTube’s DMCA Process
from the to-the-woodshed dept
In our somewhat limited discussions about video game publisher Bungie, our remarks about the company certainly haven’t always been positive. And perhaps that colored my thinking when I recently wrote about a DMCA takedown blitz occurring among the Destiny community, with all kinds of uploads from fans being on the receiving end of takedowns on YouTube. But Bungie insisted it wasn’t them, a claim bolstered by the fact that some of Bungie’s own official videos on its channel also got hit with takedowns. Still, the statement from the company about all of this left some room for interpretation, with Bungie indicating that these takedowns weren’t happening at “the request” of Bungie, leading plenty of folks to assume this was an automated copyright enforcement bot or a 3rd party enforcement agency going rogue.
Well, I think we can safely put that theory to rest now. Bungie has not only sued 10 “John Does” over all of this, but also used its filing to take YouTube’s DMCA takedown process to the woodshed and absolutely beat the shit out of it. The filing starts off with a description of just what happened here: new Gmail accounts created to fraudulently impersonate Bungie enforcers of copyright, strikes coming from those newly created Gmail accounts, as well as a deep campaign by those accounts to claim that the actual legit Gmail accounts used for enforcement of Bungie copyrights were the fraudulent ones.
And then the filing goes in on YouTube’s process:
Doe Defendants were able to do this because of a hole in YouTube’s DMCA-process security, which allows any person to claim to be representing any rights holder in the world for purposes of issuing a DMCA takedown.
In other words, as far as YouTube is concerned, any person, anywhere in the world, can issue takedown notices on behalf of any rights holder, anywhere. A disgruntled infringer or a competitive content producer, for example, can issue takedown notices purportedly on behalf of Disney, or Fox, or Universal—or even Google itself. All they need to do is: (1) fill out the video removal form… (2) have a Google account—including, upon information and belief, one created that same day and with fake information; and (3) fill out information and click verification buttons fraudulently certifying that they have the right to submit the takedown request, with no verification done by YouTube.
Welcome to the team, Bungie. Here at Techdirt, we’ve been shouting to the world about how wide open the DMCA notice and takedown process is to fraud and abuse for years. Nice of you folks to finally catch up.
The filing then goes into great detail about the harm this has caused Bungie. To the company’s credit, the filing details Bungie’s fairly lenient policy on what fans can share and upload when it comes to footage of the company’s products. Still, Bungie has also utilized a third party, CSC, to takedown some videos featuring music from its games. This fraudulent blitz appears to have occurred after those CSC takedowns. The filing also notes the deluge of negative press and public response due to these takedowns.
Between March 2 and March 16, CSC initiated and completed 41 DMCA takedowns of YouTube videos on Bungie’s behalf. All of them “related to music from Destiny 2’s original soundtracks,” the lawsuit said.
The YouTubers whose videos were taken down included the Doe defendants, the lawsuit said. “Beginning on or about March 17, 2022, Doe Defendants began submitting unauthorized DMCA takedown notices to YouTube for videos that allegedly infringed Bungie’s copyrights,” the complaint said. “Upon information and belief, Doe Defendants created fake [name]firstname.lastname@example.org Google accounts in order to submit the Fraudulent Takedown Notices.” In the notices, the defendants “identified themselves as ‘Bungie, Inc.'” or “as Bungie’s authorized agents.”
Oddly, at least one bit of communication from someone claiming to be sending false takedown notices said they did it intending to get caught so as to spotlight how shitty YouTube’s DMCA policy is.
I was directly affected by false takedowns from “David Thomson” several months ago, and many others were issued false takedowns by this person over the past several years. I believed with enough attention, Bungie might have been prompted to step in. The first few channels that were hit by takedowns didn’t seem to grab anyone’s attention, so I had to escalate the matter.
Bungie, for its part, is simply not playing around with this. The company is asking for $150k per fraudulent takedown notice sent and is seeking to unmask the ten John Does it has filed against.
So, while this is all very strange, it is clear these takedowns weren’t Bungie’s doing. It’s also very clear that everyone hates YouTube’s DMCA takedown process.
Filed Under: 512(f), copyright, dmca, dmca 512, fake takedowns, takedowns
Companies: bungie, bungie studios
Comments on “Bungie Sues Does Over ‘Destiny’ DMCA Takedowns, Slams YouTube’s DMCA Process”
One can hope Bungie learns from this for the future as well. They are on the right side now because they are being negatively impacted. Where was that concern when they were sicking CSC on folks for content that was still very much positive for the company thru popularity?
But the problem is for some stupid reason they didn’t bother to get the rights for the music to be in the background of players videos.
So to avoid getting sued themselves, they have to issue takedowns to remove the music.
They’ve helped make this problem but everyone near copyright is pretty much insane demanding their cut of the million dollars they think is generated everytime someone hears some game music, so there is no one (but the public who no one gives a shit about) pointing out that video & streamers generate more interest in the product which increases sales.
There will be much lamenting how these evil hacker kids were able to do this, but no understanding that major corporations do these things thousands of times a day.
Its bad when it happens to us!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAAAAAAAAAAAA.
You have to be fscking kidding me.
They use Gmail.
They make more than $20 pretty sure they might already own a domain or 3 but they do offical work using Gmail.
“The company is asking for $150k per fraudulent takedown notice sent”
Do they not understand what they are setting themselves up for?
Lets create this cause of action and watch the screaming as some major players end up bankrupt in a week give the sheer number of shitty notices they send out.
I’m gonna swear more.
Sigh… if someone finds my comments let me know.
I mean I get I trip moderation, but 24 hours later and they’ve not shown up is annoying.
I had a thought about how demanding $150K for a bogus notice might lead to destroying several companies if they were held to account for everytime they sent a bogus notice.
Youtube’s system is broken as hell to be sure from what’s described yet at the same time I can’t say I’m surprised at it given how one-sided the law is.
Take an accusation of infringement at face value and take down content, only to find out that the claim was bogus? No cost for you.
Receive a claim and ignore it or otherwise not follow through on it and it turns out to be legitimate? You might be on the hook for not doing so.
With the law heavily encouraging treating every claim as legitimate and taking things down on demand it’s disturbing how trivial it is to weaponize the system but not surprising that that’s what happened as it seems pretty clear to be working as intended.
I’m not sure I’d go as far as saying this is the law working as intended. That may be giving the legislators in question more credit than they deserve.
I think it’s likely more a product of their casual disregard for the easily-foreseeable consequences of their shitty one-sided laws.
But, you know, po-tay-to/po-tah-to…
Re: Re: slight correction.
“legislators” are usually NOT the writers of the laws they pass – Lobbyists are – the legislators are just paid to vote the way they are told to.
Re: Re: Re:
And sadly, this is entirely true.
Systems that rely on honor will always be abused by those who have no honor.
(For reference, just check out our political system.)
They could always have a proccess to verify the agent have the right to file takedowns from the owner of the content.
If only a simple way of identifying the owners of content existed. It has to be capable of tracking what every person in the world creates, and any copyright transfers creating a new owner. Or are you thinking like a politician, and that the only copyright worth worrying about is the fraction of a percent of human creativity bought and owned by corporations.
DMCA Takedowns as Civil Disobedience?
Never saw that before, but I bet it would be quite an effective protest if Disney or another big company lost days of revenue that way.
Hmmmmm, good idea
Would be funny to see any prolific abuser of the DMCA or similar to be hit hard with whatever law they abused
Even better if it negatively affects those who lobbied for said law and/or those who voted it in and/or anyone who might actually be able to get them significantly weakened or even removed.
Bonus points if it affects Big Media
… but only when it isn’t working in their favor. Before the DMCA takedown process cost Bungie a PR black eye, they had no complaints.
Look at the bright side...
$150k per fraudulent takedown would set a pretty precedent, no?
I get what you mean, but 150 thousand dollars is excessive considering that these Does seem to have acted as individuals. The RIAA, on the other hand, should pay much more than $150K per fraudulent takedown notice.
It was really only a matter of time that someone would highlight the problems with the system in the most inconvenient way possible – the unfortunate thing is that this didn’t happen years earlier when HBO asked Google to remove mentions of HBO.com from their search engine.
It’s possible that this might set a precedent of copyright holders risking significant penalties if their trigger fingers get a little too twitchy, but I think it’s far likelier that they scream at YouTube to “just nerd harder” like they always have.
Any law that does not allow for proper verification of the owner of the copyright will be abused and used by trolls or fraudsters the dmca is a bad law as it has no significant penaltys for ip owners who claim Fair use content or claim a video that for instance a few seconds of music in
a hour long video
YouTube has to take down videos or it could be legally liable penaltys but it could put in place a process to identify fraudsters or false dmca claims
Easy to say, but extremely hard to do when there is no real registry of who owns what when it comes to copyright and you are dealing with thousands of notices per hour. The system was designed, and is used in a fashion so that about the only thing that recipients of a notice can do is take down the identified work, and automate the handling of notices so that they can deal with the volume.
This is just another example of the old tale of the sword that cuts both ways.
Hopefully the original problem isn’t just resolved with Google giving Bungie some private access to a “counter-notice hotline” or whatever.