A League of Legends broadcaster on Twitch is claiming that spectator matches he streamed of Sanghyuk “Faker” Lee' were removed unfairly by rival streaming service Azubu.
Two days ago, a reddit user by the handle StarLordLucian posted on the League of Legends subreddit that his "SpectateFaker" stream on Twitch had received a DMCA takedown from Azubu. The user provided the start of the email which reads:
“Dear Twitch Broadcaster:
The content you streamed and archived on Twitch at www.twitch.tv/spectatefaker was the subject of a takedown notice we received from Azubu pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA"). This organization has asserted that it owns this content and that you streamed that content on Twitch without permission to do so. As a result we have cleared the offending archives, highlights, and episodes from your account and given you a 24 hour restriction from broadcasting...."
Users streaming copyrighted content on Twitch (such as tournament restreams, movies, etc.) are often subject to DMCA takedowns, but the Twitch streamer claims that none of the content he was streaming was owned by Azubu.
Specifically, the streamer operated a channel named “SpectateFaker” which broadcast any matches that World Champion League of Legends player Sanghyuk “Faker” Lee played using the solo-que matchmaking system in the game. Azubu does have a claim to Lee’s personal stream through a deal between the Korean Esports Association and the streaming service, but the effected Twitch streamer was operating his own stream independent of the professional player.
He was able to stream the games by using OP.GG, a service that allows anyone to look up a League of Legends account and then spectate their game directly within the game’s client. He also claims that his stream was not partnered with Twitch, and that he was not personally making any profit off the running of it, but was instead using a chat bot to direct user’s to Lee’s own stream on Azubu.
While the full DMCA takedown notice and email from Twitch have yet to be made public, the streamer writes in his post:
“Azubu does not own what I was broadcasting. I was broadcating live spectate games from OP.GG which is content made available by Riot Games and owned solely by Riot Games. Azubu does not own the trademark or brand "Faker" - I checked. I never broadcasted any game directly from Azubu.”
As is the new trend with many gaming companies that wish to encourage community content creation, Riot Games provides a legal document, entitled “Legal Jibber Jabber” explaining what the company allows in terms of community intellectual property use.
The document explains:
“No Licensing. Generally, you cannot license your videos to any third party for a fee or other value without our approval. However, there are important exceptions:
Partner programs with YouTube or the following streaming websites: own3D.tv, Ustream.tv,Twitch.tv, Justin.tv, Blip.tv (no prior permission from us required).”
Eventually, Riot employees reached out to the streamer on reddit and requested that he submit a support ticket. He later received a response from Riot and updated his original post to include it:
"If you are going to stream another player's games, it makes sense to reach out to that player first (in this case Faker) and get their permission. It's simply the right thing to do. Raising the visibility of a person's match without their knowledge is questionable because they may be assuming that they are just casually playing a game with friends when in reality they are being broadcast to a larger audience."
While the response seems to contradict the company’s own decision to frequently and randomly feature spectating opportunities of highly skilled players in their own client, it also does not address the fact that Azubu, not Riot Games, issued the DMCA takedown notice for content that the streamer claims they do not own.
Yesterday, Matthew Gunnin, Azubu’s Director of Content tweeted that a response to the reddit thread would be published later that day. As of yet, no such comment has been made:
We will comment later today regarding the Reddit DMCA thread and best answer everyone’s questions.— Matthew Gunnin (@MatthewGunnin) February 12, 2015
Based on the information provided by the Redditor, it appears that Azubu had no legal right to issue the takedown notice for his stream and the removal of the content contradicts the streaming policy put into place by Riot Games.
As of press time, Twitch, Azubu, and Riot Games have not responded to requests for comment. The redditor declined a request to comment further.