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Firewatch Dev Issues DMCA Takedown Against PewDiePie After He Streamed a Racial Slur [Updated]

Campo Santo is urging other developers to join them.

News by Matt Kim, .

Update: Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg has offered an apology for his actions in a new video.

"You probably won't believe me when I say this but whenever I go online and I hear other players use the same kind of language I did, I always find it extremely immature and stupid. And I hate how I now personally fed into that part of gaming as well," said Kjellberg in the video. ""It was something I said in the heat of the moment. I said the worst word I could possibly think of. And it just sort of slipped out. I'm not going to make any excuses as to why it did because there are no excuses for it."

"I'm disappointed in myself because it seems like I've learned nothing from all these past controversies. And it's not that I think I can say or do whatever I want and get away with it. That's not it at all. I'm just an idiot," he added. "But that doesn't make what I said or how I said it okay. It was not okay. I'm really sorry if I offended, hurt or disappointed anyone with all of this. Being in the position I am, I should know better. I know I can't keep messing up like this. I owe it to my audience and to myself to do better than this because I know I'm better than this."

Firewatch developer Campo Santo has issued a DMCA request to YouTube and have successfully taken down videos of its game as streamed by YouTube personality Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg. The move is seen as a retaliation against Kjellberg for a string of offensive remarks and actions, the latest was over the weekend when Kjellberg used a racial slur during a livestream of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

"We're filing a DMCA takedown of PewDiePie's Firewatch content and any future Campo Santo games," said studio co-founder Sean Vanaman. While Vanaman declined to say whether it is a direct result of Kjellberg's PUBG stream, but he did spend some time tweeting a longer response regarding Kjellberg.

"There is a bit of leeway you have with the internet when [you] wake up every day and make video games. There's also a breaking point.... I am sick of this child getting more and more chances to make money off of what we make."

As of right now, Kjellberg's Firewatch video is unavailable.

While the laws are a bit unclear when it comes to video game streaming, Campo Santo has the same laws that allow a game's corporate owners to limit or monetize off of its own game footage. YouTubers can claim fair use if they add sufficient commentary or criticism, but as YouTube's monetization help page states, "Video game content may be monetized depending on the commercial use rights granted to you by licenses of video game publishers... Without the appropriate license from the publisher, use of video game or software user interface must be minimal."

Kjellberg's latest incident where he used the n-word has drawn massive outcries from gamers and non-gamers alike. As one of the poster childs of YouTube stardom, the episode has drawn headlines from global media outlets like the Guardian and BBC.

Earlier this year Kjellberg was caught up in another incident when the YouTuber lost a contact with Disney after the Wall Street Journal reported on anti-semitic jokes made by Kjellberg. This includes a video where Kjellberg paid freelancers to hold up signs with anti-semitic statements.

While social media's response to the incident is about as much as you would imagine, it was interesting to see some parties come out against Campo Santo; citing the DMCA takedown as a dangerous precedent. Considering though that it's not so much precedent as it is Campo Santo's legal rights, this argument seems misguided.

"He's worse than a closeted racist: he's a propagator of despicable garbage that does real damage to the culture around this industry," wrote Vanaman. He urges other developers to revoke Kjellberg's use of their games in his videos.

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Comments 8

  • Avatar for DrCorndog #1 DrCorndog 10 days ago
    So it's, what, three strikes and you're out? And this is at least the third time I've heard of PewDiePie doing something dumb like this. Makes it even harder to buy his "it's just a joke" defense, too.
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  • Avatar for nimzy #2 nimzy 10 days ago
    Campo Santo is urging other developers to abuse the DMCA? This won't end well.Edited 2 weeks ago by nimzy
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  • Avatar for KaiserWarrior #3 KaiserWarrior 10 days ago
    A) This is a miserable abuse of copyright-law-as-retaliatory-weapon. DMCA is for defending your copyrights from pirates and plagiarists, not selectively and indirectly punishing people you don't like. However vile PDP may be -- and make no mistake, he is -- he's not infringing on their copyright any more than any other person who posts a youtube video of the game that they conveniently choose not to enforce on. This sort of thing sets a dangerous precedent of DMCA being vaguely unenforced, or violations of it even being encouraged, unless and until a violator falls out of favor. And what's to stop this sort of thing from being used as it already has, as a cudgel against, say, unfavorable reviews or critique? If you support enforcement-at-convenience here, you support it everywhere.

    B) Oh how the mighty have fallen. Why, it was only a couple of years ago when PDP was enjoying riotous success and the adoration of millions, and when people like me spoke up and said "This guy doesn't do good work, he does whatever he thinks will make him some quick bucks", all the rest said "Deal with it, he can do what he likes, he's popular therefore he's right". Funny how those same people aren't singing that tune now that he's offended them. It's really too bad that I can't even get decent schadenfreude out of this; it's just sad and embarrassing all the way around.
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  • Avatar for camchow #4 camchow 10 days ago
    I'm surprised at the backlash I'm seeing against the Firewatch dev. I mean at the end of the day this youtuber is using their content to make money, nobody would be surprised he uploaded a let's watch of Star Wars and had that taken down, no matter how much dumb shit he yells over the movie it's not his content to be sharing. Especially for a game like Firewatch. You can't tell me as an artist that uploading the work of all those visual artists, musicians, voice actors etc for all to see is morally superior to pirating the game. Just because you aren't the one holding down W and clicking once or twice every few minutes doesn't really give you the right to experience everything else this game has to offer for free right?

    I mean I guess that's kind of a whole other issue but if they can use their legal rights to prevent assholes from profiting off their hard work, then yeah, I'm all for that. Go for it Campo Santo. Loved Firewatch, good on you guys.
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  • Avatar for TernBird #5 TernBird 9 days ago
    It's a shame that Campo Santo has to resort to a DMCA, but they have the right to protect their IP from negative depictions. If it's associated to negative people, it could hurt them a lot. Pewds ran his mouth, and that could reflect badly on CS, of course they'd want to cut ties with the guy. Nobody is giving Hulk Hogan brand deals after his racist rant, either.
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  • Avatar for Fade2Gray #6 Fade2Gray 9 days ago
    I wonder if Camp Santo was aware of how heated the DMCA issue is on Youtube among gaming personalities and their fans right now. A lot of very popular people (including people that due quite a bit more than simply record lets plays) have been getting hit with a lot of claims out of the blue lately. No matter how justified Campo Santo may have been here (or how nasty PDP's comments were), by issuing a high profile retaliatory DMCA they're playing into the narrative of out of touch game dvs/publisher ruining a lot of excellent content on Youtube out of greed.
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  • Avatar for Chillanodon #7 Chillanodon 8 days ago
    PewDiePie is views and money. The only reason CampoSanto can throw that much money away is that they're getting OUT of the games business and INTO the 'corporate tone police with an "I AM CERTIFIED GUD GAMING DESIGNER AND MY OPINIONS ARE WORTH MORE THAN YOURS" badge.'

    Of course a walking simulator creator is leading the charge now that the bottom's fallen out of his market. Censorious Communist advocates always take over the hosts that are the most easily compromised.
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  • Avatar for Mixingmetaphorsoup #8 Mixingmetaphorsoup 8 days ago
    Good on Campo Santo for stepping up to put an at least temporary stop to this, and good riddance to Kjellberg (though it's not likely this will actually be the end of him making these "mistakes").
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