Bungie has sued the individuals behind a recent storm of fake DMCA claim takedowns of Destiny content hosted on YouTube, in the process condemning the reporting system as “easily-gamed.”
Around mid-March, YouTubers uploading content from Destiny and Destiny 2 suddenly found themselves being struck with DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) claims regarding their content.
PC Gamer reports two such cases included YouTubers MyNameIsByf and Aztecross.
The video game news outlet also reported that this wave of fake claims was not just affecting fans, but Bungie’s own Destiny content as well. As such, Bungie took to Twitter to confirm what was happening.
“We’re aware of a series of copyright takedowns on YouTube and we’re actively investigating,” Bungie informed players. “This includes content on our own Bungie channels. These actions are NOT being taken at the request of Bungie or our partners. Please standby for future updates.”
It should be noted that these takedowns were unlikely to be orchestrated by the company themselves as doing so would violate their own intellectual property & trademarks guidelines, specifically those “On Fan-Created Media And Art”.
“Bungie strongly supports the efforts of our community,” the developer states, “to produce non-commercial content using video images, footage, music, sounds, dialogue, or other assets from our games, subject to a few conditions.”
They further make it clear that “these creations can be freely shared with other players in places like the Bungie.net creations page or your own personal channels. Bungie also generally approves streaming or commentary through approved platforms like Twitch, YouTube, or Facebook.”
While they ban selling content using their licenses, Bungie note that they will “generally not request takedown if at least 20% of the content within the video has been created by the player.”
On March 24th, the studio announced that they had uncovered the cause of the problem, revealing that the claims had come “from fraudulent accounts created to impersonate our [intellectual property] protection service.”
This service, provided by IP security company CSC, typically sees all their actions “reviewed and authorized by Bungie.”
However, as Bungie noted, “Because these are human processes, in rare occurrences human error has occurred, in which we have quickly worked to correct any issues.”
“Bungie investigated the claims of suspicious takedowns and found that several strikes were perpetrated by a ‘bad actor’ that is not affiliated with Bungie or CSC, but who has impersonated CSC by falsifying look-alike email aliases,” they explained.
In the aftermath, Bungie noted that “Google has confirmed that the accounts that have submitted fraudulent legal requests to YouTube have been terminated and will no longer have access to Google products,” and and “All fraudulent submissions from these accounts will be reversed (some have already, the rest should come through shortly).””The processing of these takedowns was an enforcement mistake by Google,” the developer elaborated, “and beyond rescinding the strikes and reinstating the videos, they are also working on process improvements to reduce the likelihood of any similar mistakes in the future.”
Then, on March 28th, TorrentFreak reported that Bungie had taken the matter further and issued a lawsuit against ten “John Does” on the grounds that they had issued “a series of fradulent DMCA takedown notices […] to YouTube with respect to content that supposedly infringed Bungie’s copyrights in its popular and successful Destiny franchise.”
These actions, said the developer, were responsible for “disrupting Bungie’s community of players, streamers, and fans and causing Bungie nearly incalculable damage.”
The lawsuit also takes a swipe at YouTube’s DMCA enforcement, accusing that the “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,” the lawsuit indignantly stated. “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. ”
Elaborating on this process, the lawsuit laid out, “All they need to do is: (1) fill out the video removal form located at [link]; (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.”
Accusing the Does of having “exploited that gaping security loophole to issue takedowns,” the lawsuit claimed that the attacks were only successful “thanks to YouTube’s easily-gamed reporting system.”
It also states Bungie’s efforts to restore the accounts hit by DMCAs were “complicated by the fact that while YouTube has a form that allows anyone to claim to represent a copyright holder and issue copyright strikes,” as the platform “has no dedicated mechanism for copyright holders who are being impersonated to let YouTube know about the DMCA fraud.”
“This meant that Bungie had to work through several layers of YouTube contacts before it could adequately communicate and begin addressing the problem,” the filing lamented.
At this time, the identities of the John Does are unknown, but Bungie promises that they “will discover them soon, via §512(h) subpoena or otherwise, and will promptly amend this Complaint once it does.”
Do you agree with Bungie’s appraisal of YouTube’s DMCA system? Let us know on social media and in the comments below.