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Bungie hits YouTuber with a $7.6 million lawsuit for fake DMCA claims

Studio’s complaint says it wants to make an example of Lord Nazo

A Titan runs with the Scythe relic in Destiny 2: Season of the Haunted Image: Bungie
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Bungie is suing a Destiny 2 YouTuber who allegedly struck back at DMCA takedowns leveled on his account by filing false DMCA claims, on Bungie’s behalf, against other streamers and the studio itself. Bungie’s lawsuit, filed in federal court on Wednesday, seeks at least $7.6 million in damages.

The complaint alleges that Nicholas Minor, who broadcasted under the handle Lord Nazo, created two fake Gmail addresses impersonating staff of CSC Global, a copyright management firm representing Bungie. The lawsuit says Lord Nazo used those addresses in February to send YouTube 96 takedown demands, citing the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The takedowns involved videos posted by YouTubers My Name is Byf (who has 974,000 subscribers); Aztecross (615,000 subscribers) and Bungie’s own YouTube account. “Minor’s attack sent shockwaves through the Destiny community,” the complaint said. “Content creators described the chilling effect the false takedowns had on their own work, saying, ‘I’m scared to make new Destiny videos, let alone keep the ones I’ve already made up.’”

Under the DMCA, companies such as YouTube are obligated to remove user-published content that infringes a copyright held by another. Such a broad mandate has enabled abuse of the statute’s provisions, with some filing DMCA declarations to YouTube and elsewhere to thwart business rivals or social media adversaries.

Bungie’s complaint alleges that Minor “exploit[ed] the hole in YouTube’s DMCA-process security that allows anyone at all to claim to be representing a rights holder for purposes of issuing a takedown, with no real safeguards against fraud.”

Bungie said Minor mounted his retaliatory campaign after he himself was served with DMCA takedown demands in December 2021, related to uploading the original soundtrack for 2015’s Destiny: The Taken King. “Ninety-six times, Minor sent DMCA takedown notices […] in order to have YouTube instruct innocent creators to delete their Destiny 2 videos or face copyright strikes, disrupting Bungie’s community of players, streamers, and fans,” the complaint says. “This caused Bungie significant reputational and economic damage, for obvious reasons.”

In March, Bungie alerted fans via Twitter that it was aware of the copyright takedown demands and said they “are NOT being taken at the request of Bungie or our partners.” The complaint quotes a “Manifesto” from Minor, also sent that month to the Destiny community, in which he admits to the false takedowns.

“The Manifesto reads like a hackneyed ‘look what you made me do letter’ from the serial killer in a bad novel,” Bungie’s lawyers wrote.

The lawsuit is filed in the Western District of Washington state, where Bungie’s headquarters are located. In the complaint, Bungie notes that it “permits players to create videos using Destiny gameplay” and upload them to YouTube and other services that monetize the content. But the studio does reserve its intellectual property rights, and the right to enforce them, in cases where the spirit of its user-created content guidelines are violated. Minor’s wholesale uploading of The Taken King’s OST violated those guidelines, the complaint says.

The suit seeks at least $7.6 million, or $150,000 for each of 51 instances in which Minor allegedly infringed Bungie’s registered copyrights in issuing the false takedown demands. Other parts of the suit seek unspecified actual and statutory damages, “to demonstrate that serious consequences await anyone else foolish enough to […] target Bungie’s community for attack.”