Sega DMCAs SteamDB Despite That Site Not Hosting Any Pirated Material

from the ready-fire-aim dept

Sega has something of a flip-floppy history when it comes to how restrictive the company chooses to be with intellectual property generally and DMCA takedowns more specifically. The company notably went DMCA happy back in 2012, for instance, over a bunch of fan videos on YouTube for Shining Force, all because it had a planned release for a PSP version of the title. In 2013, the company actually half-apologized for doing so, promising to be more lenient with what it allows, though there were caveats expressed as well. Fast forward to 2016 and Sega quite gleefully poked some fun at its rival, Nintendo, for its DMCA blitzes, instead encouraging fans to make and create cool and fun stuff with some of its IP.

Well, here we are in 2021, and Sega once again is in the news, in this case for a DMCA takedown sent to the SteamDB site.

As SteamDB creator Pavel Djundik shared on Twitter Monday, Sega's lawyers asked that the site and its host take down a page for Yakuza: Like a Dragon. The takedown request alleges that SteamDB is distributing or linking to pirated copies of the game, even though a quick glance at an archived version shows that's not true.

That page, like every other on SteamDB, simply compiles historical data on pricing, concurrent players, and other statistics from Steam's own API and public store pages. While there is a link to install the game near the top, that link directs users to Steam itself, which will attempt to install a legitimate copy if the user owns it.

Just so everyone is clear, SteamDB has literally nothing to do with piracy of games. Instead, SteamDB compiles a ton of interesting statistics about games on Valve's Steam platform. Oh, and SteamDB also pushes visitors looking at game statistics to the totally legit place to buy them on Steam. Unfortunately, due to the either automated way some publishers police piracy of their games, or due to an ill-informed legal team tasked with issuing DMCA notices, SteamDB gets the occasional DMCA takedown request. It's yet another example of how hard policing this sort of thing is, where the actual publishers of these games are doing a ready-fire-aim DMCA approach. In this case, the SteamDB page for Yakuza: Like a Dragon was taken down, though it appears that was rectified afterwards.

Sega has provided the following statement to Ars Technica: "Earlier this week, one of our games was incorrectly flagged on SteamDB. We utilize anti-piracy software to protect our games at a large scale, but sometimes it makes mistakes. Sega will continue to fine-tune these systems to avoid this in the future and we appreciate SteamDB cooperating with us to resolve the issue quickly."

It's not terrible as far as apologies go for this sort of thing, but there is something unfulfilling about a message of: "Hey, you were collateral damage, too bad, so sad." Mistakes like this aren't world-ending, certainly, but they are a nuisance for innocent parties to endure simply because policing copyright infringement at scale is apparently an impossible task.

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Filed Under: copyright, dmca, false takedowns, pavel djundik, steamdb, takedown
Companies: sega, valve


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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 1 Apr 2021 @ 10:10pm

    "Sega will continue to fine-tune these systems to avoid this in the future and we appreciate SteamDB cooperating with us to resolve the issue quickly."

    We'll keep throwing out shit notices knowing that recipients really have no choice but to remove the content, legal or not, at our demand. We're a little pissed they made noise about this but there is nothing that will happen to us so to our fans... a high hearty fuck you!

    This is why notice & staydown is a bad idea.
    They can't even tell the difference between DL CRACKED COPY NOW!! & Hey here are stats about the game to peak your interest & a handy link to purchase it.

    One would see how fast they could fine tune their shit if there was any sort of penalty for these little hiccups. $100 to a site owner to pay for having their chair cleaned after the legal nastygram scared them would be a start. With the number of defective & stupid notices they'd get better much faster.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Apr 2021 @ 10:53pm

    If you want to use automated detection software to flag potential piracy, fine. But then every hit needs to be manually reviewed BEFORE a DMCA notice is sent.

    After all, how can the person signing the DMCA notice form a good faith belief that something is infringing if they never actually looked at it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Apr 2021 @ 3:59am

      Re:

      how can the person signing the DMCA notice form a good faith belief that something is infringing if they never actually looked at it

      Same way as the DMCA has always been applied: under the knowledge that no matter what happens, even mistaken and erroneous enforcement will merit no more than a slap on the wrist with a puff of air. Meanwhile everyone else has to deal with the consequences and inconvenience, because the bogeyman of copyright infringement has been sold as such a threat, even the thought of it means everyone, judges included, are obliged to lick clean the pants of copyright holders after said holders pissed themselves.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    kallethen, 2 Apr 2021 @ 8:28am

    What makes Sega's statement awful to me is that they doubled down on the "You're a pirate!" after SteamDB's initial response. Don't just blame the software. A person must have been involved at thst point.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Apr 2021 @ 2:06pm

      Re:

      A person must have been involved at thst point

      Software can send the same response to all emails appealing a DMCA notice, and why use a person when that is the standard response. It takes noise on social media to get a company to look at appeals against DMCA notices.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    n00bdragon (profile), 2 Apr 2021 @ 10:10am

    Automated legal filings needs to be made illegal. If it's worth enough to sue over then it's worth enough to have a real human being look at it and attach their name to it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Apr 2021 @ 11:50am

      Re:

      A DMCA notice does require someone to attach their name to it. The problem is that there's no penalty for faulty notices, so there's no reason for rightsholders to pay attention to where they send the notices flying off to.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 3 Apr 2021 @ 9:55am

        Re: Re:

        "The problem is that there's no penalty for faulty notices"

        I could be wrong, but my understanding is that the DMCA includes a penalty of perjury for false claims. But, it's never really enforced, and even if it was, how does that apply to a piece of software?

        This is why the system is irrevocably broken - the target of a false claim has to spend time and money going through the courts to have their legal activity renewed, but nobody faces any real penalty for false claims.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2021 @ 8:48pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I could be wrong, but my understanding is that the DMCA includes a penalty of perjury for false claims. But, it's never really enforced, and even if it was, how does that apply to a piece of software?

          Courts have diluted the penalty of perjury statement to uselessness based on grammatical arguments. It's no longer "under penalty of perjury" that the claim is accurate, it's "under penalty of perjury" that you are authorized to make the claim.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Apr 2021 @ 1:39pm

    The proper "social consequence" for companies using automated DMCA spam would be for everyone to stop creating any content for their products. Zero social media presense would quickly disabuse them of their bad habits.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ben S (profile), 2 Apr 2021 @ 2:14pm

    SteamDB has a lot more than just statistics, it holds a lot of backend data. A couple months back, a game I have had an update that broke the game for anyone not on Windows 10. I was able to get Steam to download an older version of the game, one that still worked, by getting the Depot ID and Manifest ID from SteamDB, then accessing the Steam command line and using the download_depot command to download that update. I then shared this with other users who had the game so they could play until the devs fixed the issue with the next update.

    I likely would not have been able to downgrade with out SteamDB. I would hate to see that go down because of bogus DMCA notices.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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