Update: In an email to USGamer, Patreon issued the following statement regarding the Atlus DMCA incident, writing:
"As a platform, we respect rights holders' intellectual property. We try to balance that with a review process to make sure complaints are not overly broad. In this case we believed the underlying purpose of the creator to be legal and worked with the rights holder to find a solution. Based on our conversations with Altus, we believe an acceptable solution has been reached. If Atlus has further concerns, we would continue our conversation with them to try and reach a fair solution that respects their rights while otherwise allowing for a legal use of Patreon."
A Patreon spokesperson added that since the service is mostly used to for original content, DMCA takedown volume is "fairly low", but that issues with "gray area" situations like this one occurs more frequently.
We reached out to Atlus where a representative repeated that it was the method of circumvention and use of Persona 5 that the company objects to. Atlus also reiterated that no further action is planned at the moment.
Original story: In a move that will no doubt spark a larger debate, Atlus admitted to issuing a DMCA takedown of a Patreon page for a PC PlayStation 3 emulator project over Persona 5's IP. However, Patreon pushed back and refused to acquiesce to the DMCA notice. Now both Atlus and the RPCS3 emulation team have issued comments regarding the incident.
In a lengthy Reddit post on the Emulation subreddit user "ssshadow" of the RPCS3 Team explained the situation from their position. "As quite a few observant people have already noticed, every single mention of "Persona 5" has been deleted from all pages on rpcs3.net including the game's name from the compatibility database." They explained that this was because on September 23, Atlus issued a DMCA notice against the team's Patreon "requesting the removal of Nekotekina & kd-11's Patreon page for RPCS3 development."
The reasons Atlus gave were as follows:
"The PS3 emulator itself is not infringing on our copyrights and trademarks; however, no version of the P5 game should be playable on this platform; and [the RPCS3] developers are infringing on our IP by making such games playable."
However, Patreon refused Atlus' request stating that the company did not believe that removing the Patreon page was a reasonable request given that the Patreon page doesn't specifically infringe Atlus' IP. Furthermore, Patreon believed that the PS3 emulator fell under fair use.
Atlus later issued a public statement on the company's website under a post titled, "Atlus and Emulation". The post issued two reasons why the company issued a DMCA takedown notice, both arguing that Atlus' Persona 5 IP would be damaged if played on a system it was not optimized for.
"We believe that our fans best experience with our titles (like Persona 5) on the actual platforms for which they are developed. We don't want their first experiences to be framerate drops, or crashes, or other issues that can crop up in emulation that we have not personally overseen."
The second reason is not unlike the first with Atlus stating, "We appreciate the awareness generated by the emulation community for Persona 5 and know that it is a fantastic example of how much people are loving our game... Unfortunately, when our content is illegally circumvented and potentially made available for free, in a format we do not think delivers the experience and quality we intend, it undermines our ability to do so by diverting potential support from new audiences."
While the RPCS3 team didn't lose the Patreon page, under Patreon's advice the team removed any mention of Persona 5 from their website. This is a direct response to Atlus' later claim that the PRCS3 instructions on how dump a disc's data was a circumvent around Atlus' DRM protections. Considering that the RPCS3 team's web address host doesn't consider this action illegal, it would seem difficult to enforce this claim as copyright infringement.
This is not the first time Atlus acted aggressively while protecting the Persona 5 IP. Around the game's North American launch, Atlus issued strict warnings against reviewers and streamers posting content from after a specific part of the game. Atlus even ensured that capture and streaming would be shut off on the PlayStation 4 during cutscenes and important gaming moments.
However, Atlus told Waypoint that it has no plans to pursue further action "at this moment." Likewise, RPCS3 issued a warning to be mindful of regional specific IP laws while using the team's open-source project.
We've reached out to several parties in this story and will update the post if any new details arise.
I personally find it particularly interesting that Atlus makes a point to suggest a version of Persona 5 on the PC that the company "personally oversees" could be acceptable.