New rumors have sprung up about Nintendo issuing takedowns on artists that parody their IP; however, isn’t this just part of a greater problem? The DMCA system is broken and easily abused – here’s why.
If you follow Censored Gaming , the helpful bunch who document all of gaming’s censorship, you may have heard about Nintendo. In fairness, that’s not so bizarre these days. Nintendo is a fickle lot when it comes to Western localization, with a particular ire for the female form.
This recent turn of events was a little different, however. While it hasn’t been unequivocally proven, there have been reports that Nintendo is issuing DMCA takedown notices to creators. Is this surprising? No, not particularly – at least not for the company that turned its guns on the entirety of YouTube’s gaming community.
While a number of users have shown they’ve been hit by takedowns, current DMCA standards are so woefully poor that you can’t really tell if it was legitimate. We were led down this path when researching the subject, and we found that Tumblr’s DMCA submission page seems easily duped.
While I’m certainly no expert, something didn’t seem right. If you were to head over to Tumblr’s DMCA form yourself, you’d find a number of empty fields for you to enter details. While we can’t test it (after all, filing a false report is illegal!), all Tumblr asks for is an address, an email, and a quick promise not to tell lies.
It doesn’t seem like there’s any further vetting going on, at least not on the surface. Their electronic signature system doesn’t require a flick of the wrist.
A simple checkbox is seemingly all that separates you and the ability to send the notice. So long as the information looks legitimate, a creator can lose his or her work immediately – without any opportunity to fight back. As of late, adult artists in particular have been a major target via mass flagging, so it’s not unrealistic.
As a rather public-facing company, what’s to stop someone finding Nintendo’s address and a company email? The author of this particular post – someone who was hit by a Tumblr DMCA – concludes that their system is likely automated. Asking a person to verify every single notice costs time and money, whereas a robot is relatively efficient at it.
It may seem crazy, until you remember YouTube does the same thing. If you follow H3H3 Productions, you’ll know that they’re being sued over “copyright infringement”. Things got so big that H3H3 created a legal community – FUPA – to help out creators fight false claims.
YouTube also makes use of an automated system, with only a few checkboxes and details necessary to file a claim. Their system doesn’t factor in Fair Use, or other mitigating factors, and it’s painfully easy for claims to be made.
H3H3 isn’t alone in this, as there are a number of YouTubers who battle Fair Use every day. This particularly affects accounts that critique or parody other works, who often have false claims filed on more than one occasion. These claims can be made in spite quite easily; purposefully illegitimate, but a useful way to harm a creator’s revenue.
Realistically, Nintendo is still the likely culprit this time around. Though, you would expect that if Nintendo were to go up against infringing material, they’d go all out like they did with YouTube. Maybe this is just the beginning.
In the end, this is all just part of a bigger problem. Nintendo has personally spearheaded the charge on more than one occasion, and the failure to clean up the DMCA only makes things worse. Creators are unfortunately at the mercy of automated systems right now, whether it’s false claims, mass flagging, or other unscrupulous methods.
Robots can be great for some things – fucking the hell out of you, for one – but making informed, well-reasoned and human judgements isn’t one of them.
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