League of Legends developer Riot has been forced to wade into a messy rights dispute involving the gameplay streaming of popular player Sanghyuk ‘Faker’ Lee.
A Twitch broadcaster operating under the name SpectateFaker was issued with a DMCA copyright claim by rival streaming firm Azubu demanding that it stop streaming gameplay footage of Lee sourced from the game’s spectator mode. Why? Because Azubu has what it believes are the exclusive rights to stream Lee’s gameply.
Riot Games president Marc Merrill has now come out to say that Azubu’s move was unjust as all players by default sign away the rights of ownership over their gameplay content to Riot when they register for the game.
“Legally, Azubu doesn’t own the streaming content that Faker was producing,” Merrill stated. “As many have pointed out their DMCA action wasn’t based on a valid legal claim of ownership.”
However, in this instance the company agrees with the argument that the stream was damaging to Faker’s brand, and has as a result said it will in fact pursue a takedown of the stream. It has also pledged to judge future disputes on a case-by-case basis.
“We believe the in-game spectator experience for ranked games is a critical part of the LoL gameplay experience, and we have no interest in seeing it crippled,” he added. “Where things become problematic is when a spectator mode for a player (pro or otherwise) is consistently streamed against their wish, and in a way that is harmful.”
“Personally, it’s pretty clear that I should have handled communications around this better. My intent was to jump to the defense of a player (Faker) who was being singled out and streamed against his will. I’m very sensitive to the topic of bullying. It’s a sobering lesson to me that in discussing concerns about it, I may have came across as the bully myself.
“This individual case has brought up a lot of issues that go beyond Faker - or even beyond pro players. It has the power to affect all of us who create and spectate LoL gameplay through the client. We feel the weight of that responsibility, which is why we took some time to really debate this and double check our assumptions before coming back with a thought out response.”