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Developer accused of using copyright takedown to censor critic (updated)
Developer accused of using copyright takedown to censor critic (updated)
October 21, 2013 | By Kris Ligman

Update: Wild Games Studio made an apology in a statement to several news outlets, including Gamasutra. The statement reads in part: "Monetizing wasn't mentioned in our communications and it was an error on our part to not have clarified the issue. It was for that particular fact that Wild Games Studio had asked the video's removal." TotalBiscuit's original video has been restored as well.

Wild Games Studio has been accused of unlawfully using Youtube's copyright protection features to censor a highly critical review of its recently released survival game, Day One: Garry's Incident.

The popular Youtube personality John Bain, better known under the handle "TotalBiscuit," took to social media to blast the developer for submitting a copyright claim on a video review for which Bain had obtained a review code.

"It's horrendously anti-consumer. It's unquestionably censorship," Bain says in a new video uploaded in response to the takedown notice.

Wild Games Studio's position is that since the video review included ads, thus allowing Bain and his network to draw revenue from the video, the review constituted an illegal appropriation of its game's images.

"We protected out copyright because TotalBiscuit has no right to make advertising revenues with our license," studio CEO Stephane Woods said via a Steam forum post.

In response, Bain excerpts the exact email his network sent to Wild Games Studio requesting the review code, in which the network explains its policies for coverage and ad monetization, as well as Woods's reply containing the review code. Bain also points out that several other monetized videos about the game, including full Let's Plays and walkthroughs, have been allowed to remain up on Youtube.

"Isn't it... a little odd, that the only video that didn't have the right to monetize was the most viewed, top ranked, and the most highly critical of the title?" Bain questions, adding that there is no way the studio could not have been fully aware of the video long before the takedown.

Youtube's automated copyright protection feature has come under fire for facilitating abuses in the past. Most recently, Nintendo received criticism for appropriating the ad revenue of fan videos including Let's Plays.

"I'm asking [Youtube parent] Google to take a stand against censorship, as they have in the past, and take a long, hard look at their implementation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and see how it can be improved," Bain concludes in the last leg of his video.

Gamasutra has reached out to Wild Games Studio for comment.

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Michael Hahn
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community management 101 = dont do anything controversial make you look bad in the press - I didnt see the video but they were better off thanking him for the video and saying his feedback is appreciated

This happens a lot on other mediums.

Rodolfo Rosini
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It gets better, they are apparently astroturfing metacritic user reviews.

John Potter
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Here is the video refereed to in the article

Jennis Kartens
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Quite hilarious.

How to destroy your companies image in 5 minutes.

Jonathan Jennings
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I just don't understand how in the age of rampant social media and people attacking individuals and organizations for no reason why you would give people fuel . how was word not going to spread that you are deleting comments from your forums and negative reactions to your game in general ? Definitely wasn't thought out very well and as the others said it really hurts your studios credibility which now looks like it was just trying to milk as many gamers as it could for their money before the negative reactions spread any further .

Alexander Womack
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The issue with the DMCA is there is effectively no penalty for false notices. A primary right should never be suborned to a secondary... The severity of the crime (I use crime with intention) would be enough to get the founding fathers lined up, muskets at the ready with paper about the tree of liberty and the blood of tyrants.

As such my changes to the DMCA would be the following
1: Any claim where copyright ownership is proven and the claim is made bad faith, said copyright will be irreversibly and immediately placed into the public domain.

2. Any claim made by a 3rd party regardless of consent by copyright owner is to hereby in bad faith.

3. Any claim made not entirely by human means, automated takedowns and 'bots' is hereby in bad faith.

Now as this takes away the fines that would otherwise be mandatory for the severity of the crime (100,000$ per count, plus 10 years federal prison).

Certain parties speak of the needs to balance the needs of artist against primary personal liberties... Certainly so, personal liberties need to win every time. ..In terms of speech and in terms of privacy... The DMCA should never have survived it's first abuse.

John Wallace
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I don't understand the strategic thinking of who-ever decided to strike the video.

TotalBiscuit has already gone on tirades on free speech and against bad business practices, often to hundreds of thousands of views, like SEGA's copyright takedown claims. He has a subscriber base of 1 million people, who will most likely see TotalBiscuit's anti-consorship video one point.

TotalBiscuit has personal connections to other popular gaming commentators including Angry Joe. Their fans will probably hear of the incident and react as well.

On an unrelated note, I could swear the background sky box in the game's main menu is very similar to the default sky box in UDK.

TC Weidner
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He was playing the game and commenting on it ( very accurately IMHO). It's not as if he was just making things up out of the blue. This is a released commercial product after all and to be honest, one that looks to have many, many issues. Now they could of just taking the criticism and perhaps even remarked, " we thank you for bringing some issues to our attention, and that the hope to address them in up coming patches. Please keep the feedback coming", or something along those lines.

Instead they took everything way to personal and pretty much messed up with a PR bungle that has really put them in a catch 22.

Moral of the story, dont release buggy games, and if you do, dont be surprised if people notice and call you out on it.

Steven Christian
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They could have definitely swung it in their favor "We've listened to player's feedback and will be improving these features: blah blah".

Players like their critisims to be taken on board. They larger corporations often fail to do this and this is where indies can shine. They could have come out looking better than before the video aired..

David Paris
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Clearly agreed. Address it with humor and sincerity and you're good to go. They already knew their game was a pile of turd. Now take the attention and do something useful with it.

Thinking they could somehow hide their turdiness wasn't going to get them any additional sales. The difference between a total loser game that everyone knows is a loser, and a total loser game that no one has heard about, revenue-wise is nil.

Frank Moolah
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Total no-no... They're gonna learn today