The issue of intellectual property and the associated rights that each entity holds has been a very controversial subject in the world of media.
Video games in particular have had a long and varied history with copyrighted material, from the early days of piracy to the world of today’s online videos.
The surge in popularity of streaming and online video hosting has presented a number of new issues to the gaming community. With games like League of Legends, Dota 2, CS: GO, and Overwatch, gamers from all around the world often share their favorite clips through channels like YouTube.
While many have an entirely innocent mindset while doing so, the fact is that such clips are problematic for the rights holders as well as the players and teams who are often associated with them.
Bigger problems also rise when the uploader profits from these clips in any way as monetizing someone else’s IP and work is a controversial subject on its own.
The latest team to be caught in a web of controversy is SK Telecom T1, the legendary LoL team which has swept tournaments and prizes worldwide. Several YouTube users who had uploaded content featuring SKT players received DMCA takedown requests.
In simple terms, a DMCA takedown notice happens when a copyright holder requests that a video, or other multimedia content, be removed from the hosted website as it has been uploaded in an unauthorized manner.
At first, the requests seemed dubious. The person issuing them claimed to be working with SKT but their credentials were lacking at best. The authenticity of the DMCA takedown notices was called into question and SKT initially failed to communicate their intent.
Soon after, a Reddit thread blew up and prominent members of the LoL community such as MonteCristo chimed in with their own thoughts. Issuing DMCA requests without a certain level of transparency was deemed controversial, particularly because three such notices can completely shut down a channel.
Now, however, SKT has issued its own statement on Twitter, admitting to the DMCA requests and apologizing for taking rash actions. Furthermore, the team explained that the reason behind the requests was that they have now created their very own YouTube channels and that the team should be the sole beneficiary of any monetization schemes related to their own content.
Moreover, SKT suggests that fans confuse official and unofficial sources of content which hurts the team’s income in the long run. SKT has been trying to offer additional sources of income to its players, including new Twitch streams and the newly launched YouTube channel.
One of the most important issues highlighted here is that SKT failed to contact Riot Games about the DMCA requests. Riot is the sole legal owner of any League of Legends content, despite the fact that SKT may be featured in the videos.
Now, it seems like the team will let Riot handle everything about copyrights and will only go through them whenever they believe that their content is being mistreated. In the past, Riot has always honored DMCA requests that have come directly from teams or players, including a past incident concerning SKT’s Faker.
Though the team has now apologized, it seems like the community is very much divided on the issue. The general consensus seems to be that teams should certainly be allowed to monetize their own content but SKT should have known to handle the situation in a better, clearer way.
Copyright issues and monetization methods remain a little-navigated area in the world of online streaming. Riot should definitely look into providing a strict set of guidelines for teams and individual players, or incidents like this will most certainly happen again in the future.