Thursday, May 19, 2022

Bungie lawsuit aims to expose abusers of copyright claims on YouTube

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YouTube’s copyright claim system has been repeatedly abused for bogus takedown requests, and Bungie has had enough. TorrentFreak reports the game studio has sued 10 anonymous people for allegedly leveling false Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) claims against numerous Lot 2 creators on YouTube, and even Bungie itself. The company said the perpetrators exploited a “hole” in YouTube’s DMCA security that allowed anyone to claim to represent a rights holder, allowing “every person, anywhere” to abuse the system to achieve their own ends.

According to Bungie, the perpetrators created a Gmail account in mid-March that was intended to mimic the developer’s copyright partner CSC. They then issued DMCA takedown notices while falsely claiming to represent Bungie, even trying to fool creators with another account that insisted the first was fraudulent. YouTube failed to notice the fake credentials and hit video producers with copyright strikes, even forcing users to remove videos if they wanted to avoid a ban.

YouTube removed the warnings, suspended Gmail accounts and otherwise let the creators reinstate, but not before Bungie struggled with what it called a “circular loop” of support. The company said it broke the cycle only by emailing its Global Finance Director to Google staff, and Google still wouldn’t “share” information to identify the fraudsters. Bungie hoped a DMCA subpoena and other measures would help identify and punish the attackers, including damages that could amount to $150,000 for each false takedown notice.

We have asked Google for comment. The lawsuit won’t force YouTube to reform its DMCA system, but Bungie clearly hopes it will put some pressure on it. As it stands, the company believes the fake takedown requests have done lasting damage by creating a “chilling effect” for Destination‘s YouTube stars (who were afraid to post new videos) and harm the community at large.

Update 3/29/22 5:40 PM Easter: “We take abuse of our copyright takedown process seriously, and every year we terminate tens of thousands of accounts for violating our policy, which prohibits submitting false information in a takedown request,” a YouTube spokesperson told cafe-madrid via email. “We will continue our work to prevent abuse of our systems, and we are committed to taking appropriate action against those who knowingly misuse our tools.”

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