Valve games have become more and more dependent on the Steam Workshop for introducing new content and fuelling play. That's never more the case than in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which is as much about unlocking, buying and trading gun skins as it is familiar CT vs. T battles. So it's interesting to see how Valve deal with copyright infringement within that community. After receiving a DMCA takedown notice about two items, the M4A4 | Howl and a community sticker named Howling Dawn, those items have been swiftly removed from the store and action taken against its creators.
In a CS: GO community post, Valve underlined the seriousness of the infringement, before listing the steps they'd taken to resolve the issue:
- Both contributors have received Steam Community bans. They receive no proceeds from either item, and both items have been removed from the game.
- For owners of the M4A4 | Howl and Howling Dawn sticker, those items have been replaced by an alternative designed by the CS:GO team. These items will never be produced again, and have been assigned the ‘Contraband’ rarity.
- All other in-game items that involve at least one of the contributors in their revenue share have been discontinued.
- The Huntsman Case and Community Sticker Capsule have been revised to replace the copied and discontinued items.
- Moving forward, we will no longer work with the contributors and we will not ship any existing Workshop submission that credits their involvement.
One of the perhaps less obvious difficulties in situations like this is that the infringing skin wasn't exactly cheap: Howl cost $240 if bought 'Factory New'. That means that while Valve couldn't continue selling the item, they couldn't exactly just remove it from the marketplace either.
Replacing that item with something wholly new, designed by the CS:GO team themselves and never released in any other form, is a smart solution. The rarity of that new skin will cause its price on the Steam marketplace to skyrocket, likely netting a profit for anyone who previously bought Howl and now wants to part with its replacement.
Aside from the punishments for the creators of the infringing work, the post stresses the community's reliance on honestly and fairness from everyone involved. "To ensure that we don’t have issues in the future, we need your help. Please only contribute original work. If you see any items that appear to violate the Workshop copyright policy, please direct the copyright owner to tell us via Valve’s DMCA takedown page. Together we can keep the Workshop a safe place for artists and their hard work."
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, gambling CS:GO skins on esports matches. But hey, at least they were original works.