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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Filed Under: alex mauer, censorship, contract dispute, copyright, death threats, dmca
Companies: conatus creative

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  1. icon
    mb (profile), 28 Jul 2017 @ 10:15am


    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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