Valve issues a ruling on recent Dota 2 DMCA takedowns

Valve weighed in on a very important and popular issue in Dota 2.

Image via Valve

Since ESL announced that it sold its exclusive broadcasting rights to Facebook on Jan. 18, Dota 2 fans have been at odds with the tournament organizer. But earlier today, Valve issued its statement on the matter, siding with the community.

With ESL One Genting being broadcast on Facebook, many fans found the live player to be more difficult to use than Twitch. This led to many Twitch streamers simply broadcasting it from their own channels.

But after multiple streamers, including Henrik “AdmiralBulldog” Ahnberg and Brian “BananaSlamJamma” Canavan, were hit with DMCA requests for broadcasting ESL One Genting using the DotaTV in-game feature, the public became enraged with ESL. Many weighed in on whether ESL had the right to issue DMCA takedowns, including prominent esports lawyer Bryce Blum. Blum concluded that ESL’s requests “likely aren’t appropriate because they don’t own the underlying gameplay.”

And that’s the same conclusion that Valve made, according to its statement. The game developer bluntly said that ESL (while not mentioning ESL’s name) had no authority to issue the DMCA notices for streams like AdmiralBulldog and BananaSlamJamma’s. But it did clarify who should and should not be broadcasting off of DotaTV.

“No one besides Valve is allowed to send DMCA notices for games streamed off of DotaTV that aren’t using the broadcasters’ unique content (camera movements, voice, etc),” Valve said. “The second issue is regarding who is permitted to cast off of DotaTV. We designed the DotaTV guidelines to be flexible in order to allow for up and coming casters, or community figures like BSJ or Bulldog that occasionally watch tournament games on their channel, to be able to stream off of DotaTV. It is not to allow commercial organizations like [Beyond The Summit] to compete with the primary stream. It’ll be our judgment alone on who violates this guideline and not any other third party’s.”

The community took Valve’s statement as a huge victory—and a massive loss for ESL—as the game’s subreddit was flooded with celebratory comments. But Blum pointed out that the way Valve will “interpret and enforce its guidelines” hasn’t been made clear.

With the year still very young, we may just see more development in this saga as ESL hosts its events in 2018. But for now, ESL One Genting will run until Jan. 28, when the $400,000 tournament concludes.