Here we go again…
If you’ve been reading Falcon Game Reviews for a while, you may remember me talking about the controversy surrounding PewDiePie and the Wall Street Journal, and game developers taking shots at content creators. Well, it appears that Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg is stirring up trouble again, but this time it’s not because of perceived sympathies with extremists. No, this time he’s in hot water over his use of racial slurs.
Facepalms All Around
First, I’m not in the market of throwing around racial slurs. I use bad language, sure. However, there are some words that I refuse to make part of my vocabulary. I fancy myself a well-versed individual, so it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll ever hear me utter a word like the one Mr. Kjellberg used. While I’m not afraid of the word, I’m just not one to use it. It honestly sends shivers up my spine every time I hear it, much like any other racial slur.
The issue in this particular controversy however, is that Mr. Kjellberg used the offending word in a livestream of PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds. The context of the situation being that he was in a firefight with another player, and he was expressing his frustration with that individual to his viewers.
Sure, fine… PewDiePie is a YouTuber that often veers into the shocking from time to time. That doesn’t change the fact that he doesn’t need to use that kind of language, even if it’s just a word. It’s an abrasive and offensive word to say the very least though, and it makes me shudder just hearing it. I still figured that a word like that wouldn’t be used by a YouTuber in Mr. Kjellberg’s position, considering that I’ve only previously heard it used by gamers of the 12 year old variety.
That’s not why I’m writing this post however.
A Nuclear Response
Not long after the stream, a developer got onto Twitter and declared that they’d be issuing Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedowns of some of PewDiePie’s footage as a response to his behavior. Not Bluehole Studios though, Campo Santo… The maker’s of Firewatch.
We’re filing a DMCA takedown of PewDiePie’s Firewatch content and any future Campo Santo games.
— Sean Vanaman (@vanaman) September 10, 2017
You may be scratching your head a little, so I’ll elaborate. One of Campo Santo’s founders, Sean Vanaman, expressed his displeasure with Mr. Kjellberg’s use of racial slurs in his stream of PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds, so his team decided the best course of action would be to take legal action against the YouTuber by taking down his footage of Firewatch.
Mr. Kjellberg’s word usage, as reprehensible as it is, had nothing to do with their studio. The footage with the offensive language didn’t show up in the stream of their game. He didn’t violate any Campo Santo terms and conditions or code of conduct during the stream of Firewatch; they just wanted to punish him.
And they may very well be within their legal rights to do so, depending on who you ask.
The only difference here is that Campo Santo was previously fine with Mr. Kjellberg’s antics, including his monetization of his footage of Firewatch. They’ve only chosen now to come out and take action against him despite him not violating any rules they’ve put forth.
So why is this an issue? Because it shows that streamers have no effective rights when it comes to broadcasting. We’ve more or less known this for a while, but previous hardliners like Nintendo have been the perpetrators of limiting content creators, and only to protect their intellectual properties. In this situation, Campo Santo is taking down a video in the pursuit of a form of justice.
If I’m going to be perfectly honest, this is one of those situations where everyone sucks.
Felix Kjellberg shouldn’t be using that kind of language unless he’s willing to lose in the court of public opinion. It makes him sound like part of the hordes of bigoted children on Xbox Live during the 360/PS3 era (who have moved in droves to PlayStation Network). One would figure that he would’ve learned to not bite the hand that feeds him, but I doubt he’s going to be hurting for earnings as a result.
Mr. Vanaman, on the other hand, comes across as a bit of a pretentious jackass. His stance on the matter being the equivalent of saying that companies reserve the right to issue DMCA claims against any streamer, at any time, for any reason. That very well may be true and legally sound, but it’s a little petty. Part of Mr. Vanaman’s Twitter thread on the subject speaks volumes about the platform he’s standing on.
All streaming is infringement but devs and pubs allow it because it makes us money too.
— Sean Vanaman (@vanaman) September 10, 2017
How kind of you, Mr. Vanaman, for graciously allowing streamers to advertise for you. They just need to make sure to not piss you off apparently, or they might find themselves on the wrong side of the legal system.
I’d love to see a day where streamers could get onto Twitch, YouTube, or even Mixer to play a game and share the footage, without a spectral guillotine hanging precariously over their necks. It’s just sad to see that while streamers and video creators had it rough before with publishers and developers occasionally taking extreme measures to “protect” their intellectual properties, now they need to fear the same happening as a result of the IP holder’s whims.
Update: Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg has issued an apology regarding his actions. It is monetized, so if you don’t want to factor into the audience that funds him, make sure you have an ad blocker installed.
“I wish there was a clear way to say we don’t want our work associated with hate speech, even accidental hate speech if that’s what it was,” Vanaman told BuzzFeed News. “I regret using a DMCA takedown. Censorship is not the best thing for speech and if I had a way to contact PewDiePie and take the video down, I probably would. He’s a bad fit for us, and we’re a bad fit for him.”
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