Earlier this month, several Destiny 2 videos created by fans were removed from YouTube due to the filing of DMCA takedown notices. Bungie tweeted that they weren't responsible, but that they were "aware of a series of copyright takedowns" and were actively investigating. Some of their own videos had also been taken offline.
Now Bungie have filed a lawsuit in Washington against ten John Does, hoping to make an example of those who filed the "fraudulent" takedown notices.
The lawsuit, which can be read in full via TorrentFreak, argues that the takedown notices "caused Bungie significant reputational and economic damage." It also explicitly criticises YouTube's response to the DMCA notices.
The DMCA, or Digital Millennium Copyright Act, is designed to limit the liability of content hosts like YouTube as long as they respond promptly to takedown notices alerting them to copyright infringement. YouTube consequently responds to any DMCA takedown notice by immediately taking the content offline pending an appeal by the uploader. As Bungie's lawsuit points out, "any person, anywhere in the world, can issue takedown notices on behalf of any rights holder, anywhere." This system is ripe for abuse - as Google themselves have argued in the past.
In this instance, the lawsuit alleges that several fake Gmail addresses were used to file takedown notices against videos featuring game footage from Destiny or its sequel. These email addresses were designed to look similar to those used by CSC, a third-party company used by Bungie to protect its copyright and send legitimate takedown notices.
While Bungie don't know who filed the takedown notices, one of the accounts used to file the DMCAs seemingly sent a Destiny video creator an email which the lawsuit describes as "like a hackneyed 'look what you made me do' letter from the serial killer in a bad novel." In this email, the anonymous sender admits to sending some of the false DMCA takedowns, but says they did it to highlight flaws in YouTube's system and to get Bungie to act to reverse fraudulent takedowns supposedly being filed by another user.
The problem is that those other takedown notices were not fraudulent, the lawsuit says, but legitimately filed by CSC on Bungie's behalf. Bungie files against videos which it deems to have violated its content policies, such as those that directly upload unedited game soundtracks or cutscenes.
Bungie are requesting a jury trial and seek "damages in an amount to be proven at trial." Without identifying the persons who sent the DMCAs, that obviously can't happen, but Bungie are sending a clear signal that they take these false DMCAs seriously.