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Game Developer Admits It Filed Bogus Copyright Claims, But Says It Had No Other Way To Silence A Critic


If you can't stand the heat, whip out the DMCA notices, I guess. Earlier this week, in response to criticism, a game developer hit a YouTuber with dozens of bogus DMCA claims. "Eroktic," who has posted several videos of him playing Battlestate Games' multiplayer shooter "Escape from Tarkov," was on the receiving end of nearly 50 claims.

Rather than pretend this is about copyright by claiming it didn't give Eroktic permission to use footage of its game, the Russian developer has been surprisingly open about its abuse of the DMCA system. Comments given to Polygon's Charlie Hall show Battlestate is well aware it's misusing YouTube's copyright claim process, but says that's the only way it can protect its good name.

“We know what this instrument is designed for,” said a representative, referring to the DMCA claim system. “We had to use this tool in order to stop the wave of misinformation. What’s important to be noted is that we didn’t ban this person in-game. We still allow him to play and to stream [on Twitch] because he never cheated, he never broke the rules of the game, and he never broke the rules of the license agreement on the game. But in his videos he spread a lie, and we had to act fast and stop this.”

The "lies" referred to here are statements made by Eroktic referring to an alleged data leak that exposed user info and passwords. Battlestate claims this never happened, but rather than just address this with a denial, it decided to carpet bomb Eroktic's YouTube account with bogus DMCA claims. Even if someone could construe this to be a justifiable way to deal with alleged misinformation, that doesn't explain why Battlestate filed claims on 44 Eroktic videos containing zero discussion of the data leak.

And it's about far more than a discussion of a supposed data leak. Further comments made by Battlestate say it didn't like the "tone" of Eroktic's videos and promised it would issue more bogus copyright claims if videos containing its game contained "negative hype." Transparency like this is stunningly refreshing, even though that's swiftly overwhelmed by the rank odor of horseshit.

Hopefully, YouTube will penalize Battlestate for abusing the claim process. Battlestate's own statements make it clear the claims it issued weren't valid. That should be enough to remove any strikes handed out by YouTube and return Eroktic to good standing. But that all assumes someone at YouTube is paying attention to what's happening. Given that challenges are at the mercy of a mostly-automated system with zero human operators standing by to take YouTubers' calls, a restoration/smackdown is far from guaranteed.

So, it's another "anomaly" we can file with the hundreds of similar anomalies this site has covered over the years. Give someone an automated tool to target and remove content and it will be abused. The only thing anomalous about this abuse is the perpetrator stating up front that it knows it's abusing the system. This should warn plenty of people away from the developer and its offerings. No one wants to give money to a company that has abused a legal process to shut down criticism.


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