Weaponized DMCA

So the story up until this point is that PewDiePie said the “N” word with a hard R (you can’t forget the hard R) on a live stream, and now the internet is losing its mind. This brings us to a curious use of the DMCA and the worrying trends in the #RESIST culture.

Somewhere around a year ago PewDiePie uploaded a Let’s Play video on the game of Firewatch.  That video was monetized, and got somewhere on the order of 5.7 million views. Now Sean Vanaman the co-founder of Campo Santo the developer of the game has sworn to use DMCA to punish PewDiePie for his misdeeds.  He has stated omniscience’s Twitter:

We’re filing a DMCA takedown of PewDiePie’s Firewatch content and any future Campo Santo games.


I’d urge other developers & will be reaching out to folks much larger than us to cut him off from the content that has made him a milionaire

What makes this bizarre is that the Firewatch websites FAQ as of a few minutes ago STILL states:

So Campo Santo states in their FAQ on their website that “people” can stream the game and make money off of it, with no further Terms of Service, and yet the co-founder of Campo Santo is going to take legal action against PewDiePie because of something that PewDiePie did that has nothing to do with Firewatch.  The reason he feels he’s entitled to this is:

I am sick of this child getting more and more chances to make money off of what we make.

This is the point in the story where I have to go hit a heavy bag so that I don’t say something really inappropriate.  As you know I came to and left YouTube in a very non traditional way as compared to most creators.  I was a tech professional that happened to walk ass backwards into YouTube, and while YouTube has been an interesting time it in no way “made me”.  I was a professional with a business and employees, the financial crisis happened so I had to change course, I wandered into YouTube, then I wandered out of YouTube. Why this is important is because I am very aware of the concept of “Client Acquisition Cost”.  Good advertising is eye bleedingly expensive. Let me tell you some of my costs back when I had employees:

  • Billboard on I-83 for one month = $5,000 (On sale from $10,000)
  • Billboard on busy street in Baltimore City per month = $1,000
  • Quarter Page Ad on the Back of the City Paper = $465 per week with 20 week commitment
  • TV Ad on CNBC = $50 per 30 second spot
  • Sponsorship of Local Radio Host = $2500 per month (I think)
  • DAILY Spend on AdWords = $250

So long story short.  Back when everyone needed computer repair, and they were willing to pay for it my lowest Client Acquisition Cost came from Google AdWords and it averaged out to $85 per new customer. (I’m not going to even talk about how miserable some of the results were)

The problem that we have in the creator community is that very few of these folks have any experience in business outside of YouTube and so they do not understand the value that they provide.   Putting a game in front of 5.7 MILLION people in an extremely targeted demographic is worth a HUGE amount of money to a game company.  PewDiePie did not make millions from their work, it’s far more the opposite.  THEY profited off of HIS viewer base,  The worst part about this is that Sean does not even seem to recognize that fact.  He throws out a little:

Furthermore, we’re complicit: I’m sure we’ve made money off of the 5.7M views that video has and that’s something for us to think about.

But this in no way recognizes the full value of what PewDiePie gave them.  5.7 Million views at a 1% purchase rate would come to 57,000 copies sold, .1% would be 5700 copies sold and .01 would be 570 copies sold due to PewDiePie’s work. Obviously 57,000 is more impressive than 570, but 570 additional copies sold for no cost to the games publisher is nothing to dismiss lightly.

This shows the greater problem creators and influencers are having with vendors, and I hope shows at least a little bit why I have lost my patience.  We do real work to provide high quality content to our viewer base.  We try to work with vendors to show off their wares to a highly focused demographic many times for pennies or even for free.  Yet vendors still think that THEY are the ones that are important.  Creators are somehow simply riding the coat tales of vendors and as such we should be forever indebted to them.  All I can say is, “have fun with that.”

Sean Vanaman is stating that he should have control over a creators actions simply because that creator happened to advertise the game. Forever after the point a video about a Campo Santo game is uploaded the creator must abide by a morality clause that is not defined and can be reimagined at any time for any reason. Campo Santo seems to state they will take punitive action based on these fever dream induced morality clauses that could not just damage a content creator, but could conceivably wipe them off of YouTube. Why in the hell should any content creator ever go near one of their games again?

To be clear.  What PewDiePie did was wrong, and it is completely understandable if vendors put restrictions on how he promotes their content going FORWARD. But by arbitrarily using his previous work against him shows why no vendor should be trusted.  When YouTube management, viewers, and vendors do not take creators seriously how in the world can the platform last?  Creators are now being pressured to put out more and more content.  The edgier content the better it seems the algorithm thinks.  This means creators will step over the line at some point.  At this point they need a talking to.  They need a smack on the nose.  They may need a temporary hit to their CPM to drive the point home, but vendors going after creators using DMCA is an attack that strikes to the bone. It doesn’t just punish one creator, it forces all creators to rethink what they are doing.

I hope at least a few vendors will grasp my warning.  You have a huge base of people willing to advertise your products for free, but because of vendors insane need for control they will destroy the system. You are dry humping the golden goose to death and expecting to be thanked for it. Vendors need to start recognizing creators as the valuable influencers that they are, or they will not just not have control over the message, but not even have a marginal relationship with the people speaking it…


1 Comment

  1. Stories like this, are why I don’t miss cable TV.
    You can’t pay for this kind of entertainment when it comes to the silly things REAL people actually do in the today’s modern world.

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