Epic Games makes the wildly successful multiplayer free-to-play game Fortnite, which is the locus of a pitched battle between players and publisher over game-mods, especially cheat-hacks that give unfair advantage to some players.
A 14 year old boy named Caleb “Sky Orbit” Rogers made a video in which he demonstrated the use of one of these hacks. In response, the company sent Youtube a heavy-handed copyright takedown, claiming that capturing incidental footage of gameplay was a copyright violation, and that demonstrating the functionality of one of these aftermarket add-ons is also a copyright violation.
Then Caleb Rogers correctly asserted that there was no copyright infringement here….
When Caleb Rogers filed a put-back notice with Youtube that reinstated his video, Epic responded by filing a lawsuit against him, repeating the incorrect claim that Rogers’ video was a copyright infringing derivative work, and claiming that Rogers had formed, and then breached, a contract with Epic by playing their game and then talking about how to cheat in it.
In response, Rogers’ mother, Lauren Rogers, has filed an outstanding memo with the court explaining some of the problems with Epic’s suit….
Epic has claimed that after Caleb Rogers filed his put-back notice on Youtube, they were obliged to sue him, or they’d lose the right to sue other people who did the same thing. This is wrong….
Caleb Rogers did some obnoxious things: cheating, boasting about cheating, then making a video about his takedown in which he said intemperate things about companies.
But you know what’s more obnoxious that 14 year old cheaters? Corporations staffed by grown-ass humans who file lawsuits against 14 year olds that advance absurd theories about copyright, infringement, fair use, contracts, and EULAs. If Epic wins its suit, the precedent it sets will not be limited to corporations who are upset about obnoxious teens — it will establish that capturing incidental footage of games (the heart of Let’s Play videos and innumerable other forms of online communication, criticism and analysis) is a copyright infringement if you hurt some corporate overlord’s feelings in the process.
Caleb’s video: “Epic Games is Suing Me”: