Part of my qualms about passing legislation like SOPA or PIPA which would make it easier to make infringement claims was realized this past weekend as video game publisher Wild Game Studios issued a takedown notice to gaming critic TotalBiscuit most likely due to the fact he gave their latest release a negative review. SOPA and PIPA was proposed legislation that would make it easier to take down material or even websites by claiming copyright infringement.
The legislation’s main thrust was providing tools to stop foreign infringing websites from being accessed in the United States and penalizing those websites. Actions such as seizure, cutting off of funds and stopping of advertising are all methods that would be legal through this legislation. Some of these techniques are currently being used today in mass seizure of websites by I.C.E. In reality, the legislation would have affected more than just foreign websites, but those within the United States and the language was broad and rife for abuse. The same sort of abuse through the current system we saw this past weekend.
As reported on Kotaku, the CEO of the video game publisher, “Stephane” posted on the Steam forums claiming:
We protected our copyright because Total Biscuit has no right to make advertising revenues with our license.
But, other videos, some even with negative comments, that gained revenue, were left up, showing this particular video was targeted. This is exactly the type of censorship that I feared when new legislation was being discussed. If anything we need legislation protecting individuals and websites from false take down requests including penalties for those that make them.
Recently we received numerous videos from entertainment companies and their press relations asking us to host teasers, trailers and more. When I uploaded them, more than half were blocked due to copyright claims. This claim was later lifted but held for many days. In the future I’ll be less likely to host those videos or promote their products.
In this case the video game publisher relented too. TotalBiscuit and his YouTube channel providers said they were going to pursue legal matters and with the news of the incident a deluge of vitriol was thrown towards the video game publisher which lead to them relenting. “Stephane” commented to Kotaku:
…after seeing all the negative impact today we decided to withdraw our complaint to YouTube.
There is chatter for a new push for SOPA/PIPA like legislation by the US Congress and if it were to be passed, you better believe we’d experience more of the above.