Bungie Wins Legal Battle Against Destiny 2 YouTuber Over Fake DMCA Takedown Claims

By Zuhaad Ali
Image: Bungie via The Game Post

According to the court ruling, a Destiny 2 YouTuber posing as a Bungie brand protection partner has been found liable for issuing fake DMCA takedown notices targeting various Destiny 2-related content on YouTube.

In a dramatic turn of events, gaming giant Bungie has secured a significant legal victory against an individual accused of orchestrating a wave of fraudulent DMCA claims targeting Destiny 2 content creators on YouTube. The saga, which unfolded over twenty-one months, culminated in a court ruling that favored Bungie, shedding light on the intricacies of copyright protection in the digital age.

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The lawsuit traces back to March 2022 when Destiny 2 fans, alongside Bungie itself, found themselves in a web of dubious copyright claims on YouTube. A wave of DMCA notices, apparently issued by Bungie’s brand protection vendor, CSC Global, targeted a plethora of Destiny 2-centric channels, sparking confusion and outrage within the community.

However, what initially appeared to be a routine copyright enforcement effort took a sinister turn as Bungie delved deeper into the matter. With assistance from Google’s data, obtained through a subpoena, Bungie traced and correlated the IP addresses associated with various Google accounts, ultimately pinpointing the alleged perpetrator behind the deceitful takedown notices: Nicholas Minor, also known as “Lord Nazo” online.

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Image: Bungie

Destiny 2 YouTuber Issued Fake DMCA Takedown Requests to “Raise Awareness”

Minor’s trouble began when he received a takedown notice from Bungie on his YouTube video that had been live for eight years, which he strongly believed to be fraudulent. Despite repeated attempts, he was unable to obtain any information from YouTube regarding the takedown.

“Confused” and “angry” Minor resorted to creating multiple email accounts and posing as a Bungie employee to send false DMCA notices on YouTube, hoping to “raise awareness about the lack of transparency around the DMCA takedown process.”

Minor then issued a wave of ninety-six fraudulent DMCA takedown notices against prominent Destiny 2 YouTubers, including My Name Is Byf, Aztecross, The Phoenix, Azrod_FR, and Promethean. The original lawsuit alleged that the Bungie community and fans felt “disregarded and betrayed” and caused “nearly incalculable damage” to Bungie itself.

Bungie Wins Legal Battle Against Destiny 2 YouTuber Over Fake DMCA Takedown Claims
Image: The Game Post

In June 2022, Bungie filed its first amended complaint in which it demanded a total of $7.6m ($7,650,000) in damages against the Destiny 2 YouTuber Nicholas Minor. After Bungie filed a lawsuit, Minor came out and admitted that he “gravely messed up” and “fully accept[ed]” that this was his fault.

“I was so blindly hellbent on eliciting some kind of response to the takedowns that have been happening on YouTube that I also wasn’t thinking clearly,” Minor wrote in an email to one of Bungie’s lawyers. “I was instead oblivious to the reprehensible damage I was causing to the community, Bungie, and their partner CSC Global.”

Court Grants Bungie’s Motion for Summary Judgment

In December 2023, Bungie submitted a motion for partial summary judgment regarding “liability against Nicholas Minor on its claims under Section 512(f) of DMCA,” which Minor did not contest.

“The undisputed record before the Court shows that Minor violated the DMCA by
knowingly, intentionally, and materially misrepresenting to YouTube that the takedown
notifications were authorized by Bungie and that the material itself was infringing,” stated the judgment issued on March 6, 2024, and signed by United States Senior District Judge Marsha J. Pechman. (pdf here)

“Bungie has provided evidence that the materials at issue did not violate its IP Policy, and that the DMCA notices were not properly issued. And, crucially, Minor admits that he had no authority to issue the notices, that he intentionally and knowingly issued the notices, and that he ‘gravely messed up.'”

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Image: Bungie

In a ruling handed down in March 2024, Judge Marsha J. Pechman granted Bungie’s motion for summary judgment, affirming the company’s entitlement “entitled to relief on the merits of its DMCA claim.”

“Bungie has also provided evidence that the fraudulent notices harmed its reputation and caused it to devote significant resources to attempt to remediate the harm. The Court therefore GRANTS summary judgment in Bungie’s favor on this claim and GRANTS the Motion.”

While the summary judgment marks a pivotal milestone in the legal proceedings, it’s important to note that the ruling doesn’t entirely conclude the matter. The court’s decision pertains specifically to the DMCA claim, leaving other allegations and potential damages unresolved.

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“The Court notes that Bungie’s Motion does not resolve the question of the amount of damages, costs, and attorneys’ fees to which Bungie may be entitled. This makes entry of summary judgment partial as to this claim. Nor does it resolve any of the other claims Bungie has alleged against Minor. These issues all remain to be resolved.”

Bungie’s pursuit of justice in this case extends beyond the mere protection of its intellectual property; it serves as a broader statement against deceptive practices that undermine the integrity of online content creation and community engagement.

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