“...letter from the serial killer in a bad novel.” This is how Bungie’s legal team described the manifesto written by a troll targeting Bungie IP on YouTube. These trolls or vigilantes or John Does as they’re legally known until Bungie sues to reveal their identities, had been targeting YouTube channels with fake DMCA takedown notices. But a “manifesto” sent to some of the channels claims they’re doing it for the right reasons. The term “manifesto” itself is definitely creepy (almost as creepy as these other discoveries). 

Bungie, Inc. the developer of iconic games like Destiny, Halo, and Myth is the subject of a high stakes game on YouTube. But it’s not streaming and you won’t be able to catch the VOD. It’s being played behind the scenes, as shadowy figures game YouTube’s sloppy legal system to get Bungie’s videos off the site. The Destiny and Halo series are beloved for their lush, epic soundtracks. But now many of those soundtracks have disappeared from the web. Unknown “John Does”, posing as Bungie itself, have been targeting content creators and reporting to YouTube that the creators are breaking the law by illegally sharing Bungie’s IP. Bungie is biting back at Google (who owns YouTube) and the perpetrators of the faked takedown notices by taking the trolls to court.

Bungie

Protect your IP Guardian.

In an email forwarded to Bungie written by someone calling themselves “Jeremy Wilands”, the takedown troll justifies their actions: “If you’re looking to place blame, place it on YouTube for its sloppy copyright takedown system and Bungie for ignoring this issue for so long I could tell you how I got YouTube to think I was a legitimate representative for Bungie. All it took was a single sentence. No documents, no license, no private information.”

It then goes on to say that “Wilands” only sent the notices because they had been targeted with false takedowns and wanted to bring attention to the issue. Any 'I could but I won't' statement immediately raises a creep flag.

The lawsuit, filed against John Does 1-10 in Washington, would force Google to reveal the identities of those who submitted the false takedown notices. More importantly, it could force Google to change its DMCA practices. This could be a messy battle as both Bungie and YouTube have deep pockets.

Bungie has been beloved by chill content creators for its chill content creation policy. In practice, this meant that YouTubers were able to post Destiny and Destiny 2 soundtracks to YouTube, including rare or deleted music which would not be available elsewhere. So when the strikes began and music began disappearing, the community was freaked out that Bungie had changed its guidelines without notifying them. 

Bungie

Bungie and YouTube are going PVP in the courtroom.

Bungie chooses to have more lax guidelines about who uses their content, but other gaming companies (cough *Nintendo* cough) are very strict. But Bungie’s lawsuit would also be helping those companies. As it stands now, it’s entirely too easy to impersonate any big IP rights holder and disrupt someone’s stream or videos on demand by posing as that company and sending false takedown orders to Google. Google then reaches out to the channel that’s been flagged with a very scary looking note and takes down the video. Bungie is hoping to get Google to tighten up it’s operation and facilitate some way to verify the validity of a takedown request. 

For gaming companies like Bungie, an unwanted DMCA takedown can mean the loss of a big chunk of their advertising strategy. Streamers post videos consisting of hundreds of hours, being broadcast out to hundreds of thousands of people, strengthening communities surrounding a game and keeping fans engaged and thinking about that game. That’s free advertising for Bungie. For the streamers themselves, this can be a major loss of income. Videos with a DMCA takedown get de-monetized.  

This disruption has cost players and Bungie hours and hours of time trying to contact YouTube to fix the issue. Trying to get in contact with the right human being at YouTube, or any human being honestly, takes work and diligence. If you’ve ever had to navigate the byzantine hell hole that is the US Healthcare system, you know what we’re talking about. Undoubtedly harm has been done, but if YouTube tightens up it’s DMCA policies… then at least one vigilante will have achieved their goal. 

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