Wed. Dec 8th, 2021
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DMCA: the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. A name that often fills the air with a sense of dread and distaste. DMCA was made with the best intentions of keeping creative works in the hands of creators and preventing people from simply stealing their hard work wholesale with no changes. Stuff like uploading movies or music without any changes are obvious targets for DMCA because that was exactly what it was for: a way to prevent people from taking the work of others and then claiming that it is their own.

What it WASN’T meant for was the assassination of critique through the abuse of DMCA.

If you’ve ever used YouTube, there is a more than likely chance that you have seen a story about DMCA strike abuse where someone uses YouTube’s incredibly susceptible-to-abuse system to remove someone’s voice from a certain topic. Some of the most prolific voices on the platform have been hit with one of these, ESPECIALLY if their channel is focused in the review of other people’s content and work. While the principle of the DMCA is nowhere near a bad thing, what it HAS been used for is.

While probably easy to find, a DMCA strike on a channel affects many parts of one’s channel. Their videos can only be a certain length (I believe 10 minutes), they cannot stream through YouTube (so if you use YouTube to stream, you’re screwed) and if they have two more their channel will be permanently taken down.

As you can see, YouTube takes this very seriously. At least, from the perspective of legality. In truth, the system is very poorly implemented with many exploits and power from the side of the complainant and gives next to no power to those who are given the strike.

There have been many stories to go off of, no less one very recently with the DMCA strike on Jim Sterling whose channel has faced many strikes like this before from equally despicable developers. The problems with each seems to be the same: YouTube’s automated system is ridiculously pathetic at stopping bad claims; the YouTuber is forced to give up a ridiculous amount of information while the person who made the complaint barely has to give anything to the person they are claiming stole their content.

This has led to some of the people who have been affected by unjust DMCA strikes to get unwarranted calls at ungodly times like Sterling who has been directly affected by unstable creators aggravated that Sterling still breathes. Sterling has stated that when he was affected by his most prolific strike, he was getting unexpected calls from the “company” (it was two people that were brothers) Digital Homicide who gave him a DMCA strike after his critique of the much despised Slaughtering Grounds. 

Afterwhich Sterling was sued for defamation over some video game reviews! In which the brothers claim that the amount of stress caused by Sterling is similar to that of telling a family that they had “kidnapped their child and claiming the child had been killed.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qS-LXvhy1Do&ab_channel=JimSterling

The point of it all is that Sterling, despite the fact they were completely within their right to create those reviews as well as the responses to DMCA abuse, he never even met one of the brothers that claimed he had done so much damage to. Even when they were in court, he never met the one brother in particular that had the most ire for Sterling’s behavior toward them, despite the fact that Sterling didn’t write anything that was incorrect spare one small error in an article that was apparently fixed so fast that there is no evidence that the previous version even existed beside’s Sterling’s admission that it did. The only reward that Sterling was given for being right was that he was finally allowed to talk about how in the right he was. To counter sue would be too expensive, and so they thought that the best thing to do would be to simply part ways and not get in each other’s way (that was until the Romine brothers brought him up again in a public blog).

(While I intended on putting the URL of their blog here, it seems like it has either been removed or deleted)

Generally speaking, a majority of the people that commit to DMCA abuse often had online platforms before they committed any of the previously mentioned heinous actions. However, considering that Sterling never even met or heard from one of the brothers, it’s hard to avoid the question: why? Why didn’t Sterling have the right to meet the people that were accusing him of such a crime?

Which is why Gilson B. Pontes’s case is going to be interesting.

Pontes is yet another person who is trying to use the system to silence critique to the point where, like the Romine brothers, is willing to go to court over it. The difference here is that Pontes is a ghost. A near ethereal being with no evidence of being real besides his games and his now recent behavior abusing the DMCA system on YouTube. I haven’t found anything on him besides his video games, and now he may have to reveal himself to get this case through against (yes, it’s them again) Sterling.

But why wasn’t Pontes forced to show any information? When you strike someone, you basically dox them for a lot of information that you don’t have to give unless you want to take it further, meaning that for little to no consequence, a person can strike you and keep your criticism away from the internet while it can gain traction on its own.

It is the same thing with strategic lawsuits against public participation where it soon becomes not worth complaining about things because people are willing to abuse the system to keep bad press out of their hair. Only it’s free, and you need to give almost nothing to make it happen.

YouTube’s systems really need to be changed or more creators with legitimate criticism will simply die out as YouTube does nothing to help the abused dying members of its community.


Edward Park is a third year student with a BsED writings track. EP909767@wcupa.edu

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