Campo Santo DMCA takedown of Pewdie Firewatch Countdown


#1

The tweet string: https://twitter.com/vanaman/status/906983575337107456

Hey so, I want to first say that this is not in any way a defense or minimization of what Pewd did. It was serious, and seriously fucked up, and it should be responded to that way.

I also think that Campo Santo’s indie status is kinda irrelevant for these circumstances. They are a game developer (and publisher? did they self publish? I forget), and this strikes me as more akin to situations where like Capcom has had to drop association with members of the fighting game community or something. It’s not an exact fit, obviously campo had far less an asssociation with pewd, but it seems like there was at least implicit, broadstrokes permission to stream/post videos, and that would have included pewd. From their firewatch faq (http://www.firewatchgame.com/about/):

“Can I stream this game? Can I make money off of those streams?
Yes. We love that people stream and share their experiences in the game. You are free to monetize your videos as well.”

So, now it seems like they want to do what they can to revoke that for pewd, given his recent behavior in particular, and his general behavior the last year or so at least, if not beyond. That instinct makes sense to me. But doing it through DMCA makes me feel a little uneasy. I think this is for two reasons.

One is the general, larger, ongoing fight for fair use that has been going on since streaming, youtube videos, and personality-based video gamed themed content has blown up so big. I mean, this is something that should concern all of us who frequent sites like waypoint or giant bomb or whatever, right? These questions remain unanswered, and this is another developer, indie or not, that is using dmca as a weapon in that fight. In this case, pewd has resources, I’m not worried about pewd. But pewd has shown to have trickle down effects, just even this year, and like it or not, wherefore goes puiyd, so goes the youtube nation, to some extent. This part, I don’t know, I’m conflicted here, because you can’t just do nothing. But the people who feel it the worst won’t be pewd. The whole thing sucks.

But secondly, the specifics of a developer giving blanket streaming/monetization rights, and then following that up with a DMCA claim, that bothers me. I want to clarify again, the target doesn’t bother me. I get that they probably feel like they want to do something, and this feels like a pullable lever. Pewd needs consequences and pushback. And I don’t know that there’s a better tactic. But the idea of a developer giving blanket permission, and then pulling the DMCA lever bothers me.

And to this point, I haven’t seen that raised outside of a defense of pewdiepie. So I thought maybe this could be a place where I brought up these points while still absolutely, without reservation, condemning pewdiepie. That’s all I wanted to say.


#2

Sounds to me like you have two separate concerns:

  1. This will strengthen the ability for media producers to limit use of their work frivolously.
  2. The revokation of a permission to use the work based on a particular use that was not previously disclaimed explicitly.

#3

I don’t know that having said something in the past should preclude them from being able to change their minds in the future. Having said that, they ought to update that page.


#4

I don’t think Camp Santo had racist outbursts in mind when they made that statement, but they should probably update that statement to clarify.

Should be their right to relinquish youtube monetization on videos featuring their game if they find the entertainer profiting off their game (even indirectly) with harmful rhetoric. It’s probably in some legal document somewhere, but ideally it shouldn’t have to come with a special preface urging you not to be a racist.

In any case I have no sympathy for Pewdiepie, he hasn’t learned from his mistakes and imo Camp Santo are well within their right to withdraw monetization, just like advertisers and/or partners can cut ties due to harmful practices of the creator, the onus is on the person that says the bad shit.


#5

Update it to say that there is an exception if promote racism and/or misogyny? I think it’s reasonable to put it on the consumer to realize that is assumed.


#6

Hey, I’m no lawyer, but it can’t help their case (should it end up in court) if PDP can just point to that page and say “They not only said it’s fine, they continue to do so now”


#7

Whenever somebody flexes on this stuff there’s always a bit of fear that the nebulous grey area that this huge entertainment system lives in might get a black and white legal precedent slashed through it that lands in a place no one really wants.

To my understanding as the system currently works they have the power to make calls like this, and I can see where people in that position would feel a responsibility to use that power to act up to their beliefs. My feelings over if they should have that power are more complicated, but I suppose not especially relevant to the immediate reality of the situation.


#8

My question is this: what other recourse does Campo Santo have to get that video yanked, because as far as I know, they don’t?


#9

Personally, I’m not looking at this as a legal issue (though I can understand why others may). For me this is just an opportunity for the folks at Campo Santo to make it clear that racial slurs are not cool. If it goes to court then the law can decide, but regardless it’s an anti-racist statement with some power behind it.


#10

Legal matters aside, it’s always a little weird to me how entitled people feel to profit off of someone else’s work. Look if they were nice enough to let you monetize content featuring their game for this long and now would rather you stop and also take it down, this seems very reasonable. In terms of that note on their website, I kind of assume a built in disclaimer excluding you from throwing around slurs/hate speech on your streams, but I guess to some that’s not implied.


#11

If anything was going to set a precendent for mass DMCAs on LPs and streaming it would have been Nintendo’s previous mass DMCAs on LPs and streaming. One little indie company going specifically after one nazi fuck isn’t going to do shit on this when one of the main companies in the industry couldn’t stop it even when they tried.
Personally I’m all for this; when people look up information about Firewatch one of the top resources they get will inevitably be pewdiepie’s video and it makes sense that Campo Santo wouldn’t want to be associated with that. Also, pewdiepie badly needs to face some basic consequences for his being a nazi, and while I doubt this will actually matter to him it’s at least a start.


#12

Making money via Lets Play videos has always been a very grey legal area, but it’s a delicate dance between video personalities and developers because they have mutually beneficial interests.

Sure it might be hypocritical for them to back down on their official statement with regards to this stuff, but when people like Felix have these dominant media platforms, I don’t see much other way for small devs to affect change beyond taking a hardline stance of “you’re not gonna stream our games anymore when you pull stunts like this”.

Because the really godawful thing I fear about it is, I don’t think platforms like YouTube or Twitch will actually take a stance here and will gladly continue hosting an out-and-out bigot.


#13

While they could get in touch him privately and ask him to remove it, there’s no guarantee that he would; even if he quietly did, that conversation being a private one means that a lot of the immediate social emphasis of their DMCA (roughly seeming to be “5.7 million of you may have found our work through his online presence, and we may have made money off his video promoting our work, but we don’t endorse his online presence”, based on that thread) would be lost or stalled out to a moment where we’ve all stopped talking about him again. It could even mean that he might stream/play their next game sometime in the future and they’d end up in the same situation they’re in now.

FWIW, it seems likely to me that it’ll get counterclaimed and the video will go back up – but Campo Santo probably won’t go to court or take further legal action, even if they may be in their rights to do so. They’re indie, which means they don’t have the sizable legal teams that Nintendo or (to use an example from this thread) Capcom do, and they almost certainly couldn’t afford a hit to the budget as huge as a prolonged landmark lawsuit that argues to set new limits on Fair Use on a global scale.


#14

I had the displeasure to check PDP’s profile page but he doesn’t seem to be playing Firewatch at the moment, did they have a recent partnership going on ?

This would be counter-productive, even outside of the costs of legal representation. Everyone knows there’s billions in this side of the entertainment industry that is backed up by the flimsiest legal protection.

PDP could pivot himself outside of games any day of the week an the hit would be minimal, from the little I’ve seen, he’s barely playing games anymore.


#15

He played it when it came out and the recent racial outburst was during a PUBG game. Campo Santo is doing this to 1) make a statement that they disapprove of PDP and LPers in general being racist and 2) to sever any association between PDP and there game. Considering he has such a large presence, any game he plays inevitably draws association to him.

Personally, I support Campo Santo stance to distance themselves from PDP, but I am conflicted that they are using DMCA. On one hand, that is a murky legal area which is just a ticking bomb at this point with huge ramifications. On the other hand, Campo Santo realistically has no other avenue to do this since PDP is an independent media personality, its not like some image-aware corporation can fire him.


#16

I get it now, thanks.

I’m worried that they clumsily shifted the conversation from “what PDP said” to “what does it mean for the entertainment industry in general?”. Right now, there are countless big-name youtubers that are just collectively screaming “what’s gonna happen to my ads” by using every inch of the outreach that they possess, and it’s clear to me a lot of them has a vested interest to deflect the issue of the rampant racism that is visible among a lot big-name youtubers, and enabled PDP to be so comfortable playing with fire for so long.


#17

While I get the concerns about using DMCA takedowns, I don’t see what other options they have. Not like YouTube’s going to do anything themselves. My hope is that this will inspire more developers to take similar actions, start making it clear that Pewdiepie can’t keep getting away with this behavior.


#18

I hadn’t been aware of Firewatch’s FAQ before now, but I do think it’s a point worth drawing out. A few folks in the thread mentioned that Campo Santo should update it to reflect this apparent change in policy, but I’m not sure that’s necessary.

The very fact that CS felt it important to specifically say that you could stream their game with their express permission says something about where they feel the right to stream, make content, and monetise footage of their game comes from. To make that clear, CS have always felt the right to decide is with them; this is only an extension of that policy, as the revocation is a natural part of giving folks that permission initially. I don’t feel that a lack of clearly specified exit clauses is harmful; the fact of the posed question itself shows their position on the issue.


#19

Isn’t this technically the correct use of the DMCA? Even if it’s not the system we’d like to be in place, it’s there so copyright holders have the ability to take control of their content.

What I’m saying is, aren’t Campo just using an existing system that hasn’t gone away for years? The main difference here is that they revoked permission that they had given before. Which I have no qualms about happening here.


#20

If all DMCA takedowns were for reasons as good as this, I don’t think many of us would have a problem with it in general. I don’t think they took this decision lightly, and I think the majority of their user base will be supportive. A vocal minority are speaking out (and that’s fine, I guess?).