Riot will pursue SpectateFaker takedown

Riot Games responded on Friday to the ultimatum leveled against it by Twitch stream SpectateFaker: It will be “pursuing a takedown of the stream

Riot Games responded on Friday to the ultimatum leveled against it by Twitch stream SpectateFaker: It will be “pursuing a takedown of the stream.” Yet Riot Games cofounder Marc Merrill admitted he made “several mistakes” in his response to the issue on social media, noting that Riot has “a lot to learn” in handling situations such as this.

SpectateFaker uses Riot Games’ in-game spectator client to broadcast every solo queue game of the world’s best League of Legends player, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, on Twitch. The problem? Lee has a contract to stream exclusively on a different platform, Azubu. When Azubu issued a Digital Millenium Copyright Act takedown notice against SpectateFaker, it caused a community uproar, garnering a Riot Games response. Merrill tackled the issue on Reddit, but his initial responses were misinformed and he focused on “e-bullying” rather than the major legal issues surrounding ownership of stream content. Originally SpectateFaker was set to shut down after the player himself requested it, but he changed his stance in order to force Riot Games to issue an official response and clarify its position on the important legalities involved.

Riot’s official response included two important details: The original DMCA sent by Azubu has no legal basis, as Riot Games “own the gameplay content,” and Riot is willing to use its muscle to protect player interests, should those players feel threatened as Lee and the Korean Esports Association (KeSPA), which signed his rights to Azubu, do by the SpectateFaker stream.

“In a very real and material sense, the SpectateFaker stream causes Faker harm in his own judgment,” Merrill said. “And we believe he should have the right to see it discontinued.”

As such, Riot Games will shut down streams it believes are causing harm to individual players. That does not apply only to professionals such as Faker. Riot lists other examples such as singling out a Bronze player for his poor play or a female player for harassment.

If a player feels that they are being “targeted for harassment” by their games being streamed through the spectator client, they can submit a ticket to Riot player support and request Riot review their case.

Riot is also considering tweaking its in-game spectator API to address the issue but nothing is forthcoming; the spectator client is here to stay, even if it’s enabling said harassment. It’s the “act of streaming that gameplay” which causes the issue, according to Riot.

The response still leaves a lot of grey area. While Riot does list a couple specific examples, what qualifies as harassment is still seemingly decided through subjective criteria on a case-by-case basis. 

But it at least shows one thing: Riot Games is willing to throw its muscle around. Though it’s important to note that while Riot says it is not “pursuing a takedown” of SpectateFaker, it did not mention doing so through a DMCA notice specifically.

That, likely, is a last resort, but considering SpectateFaker’s ultimatum and Riot’s response, it could be something that will hit stream runner StarLordLucian’s inbox in short order.

Photo via Riot Games