Copyright takedowns are the wrong way to fight PewDiePie

Copyright takedowns are the wrong way to fight PewDiePie
Credit: PewDiePie / YouTube

YouTube personality Felix “Pewdiepie” Kjellberg is back in the news for using bad words, and a game developer is taking him to task via YouTube’s DMCA takedown system.

Over the weekend, Kjellberg used a racial slur during a Twitch livestream. Sean Vanaman of Campo Santo studios threatened to file a claim to have any material related to Campo Santo removed from Kjellberg’s YouTube channel. He’s asking other developers to act with them.

I’m not going to link to any footage of the incident or quote Kjellberg, out of personal taste. And no, the game in question wasn’t Firewatch, Campo Santo’s only game thus far. Still, Vanaman says his reaction is based on how a playthrough of his game on Kjellberg’s channel (which was taken down shortly after Vanaman started tweeting) could be taken as Campo Santo endorsing his behavior.

DMCA takedowns and license claims have historically been a thorny issue for YouTubers. Fair use guidelines sound relatively straightforward in principle when you read YouTube’s page on them, but in practice have been a little harder to parse. Some developers — such as Nintendo — wield them mercilessly against YouTubers. Others are a little more relaxed, reasoning that it’s free advertising. Even Vanaman takes this view, apparently:

Campo Santo’s issue with Kjellberg could be legitimately based in disgust of his language and I wouldn’t blame them one bit. I understand not wanting to be associated in anyway with someone whose habits don’t dovetail with your preferred image, but you don’t really have control over who buys or plays your product once it’s in the wild.

Not everyone who wears a clothing brand is representing the ideals of the company that made it — I think we can take it as read that not every YouTuber playing a game represents the development studio. And going after the biggest of dogs (and calling on other devs to do the same) isn’t going to mean much to the rest of the community considering he’s one of the few solvent enough to take the hit without much of a problem.

We’ve contacted Campo Santo for comment and we’ll update if necessary.

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