Why Riot Is Pissed Off At A League Of Legends Streamer

Why Riot Is Pissed Off At A League Of Legends Streamer

If you’re a popular League of Legends eSports player, who actually owns streams of your matches? That’s a complicated question, but in the case of ultra-popular pro Sanghyuk “Faker” Lee, the answer seems clear cut. A streamer, however, found a loophole that’s thrown it all into question. And controversy.

Twitch streamer StarLordLucian runs a channel that automatically streams all of Faker’s solo-queue matches. Competitive LoL matches run on Twitch all the time, but Faker’s shouldn’t be. The SK Telecom T1 player has a deal with streaming platform Azubu that grants them exclusive rights to his matches.

So naturally, Azubu lobbed a DMCA takedown notice at Lucian’s stream and figured that was that. But it wasn’t.

Thing is, StarLordLucian isn’t swiping footage from Azubu’s streams. Instead, he’s watching Faker’s matches in League of Legends‘ as a spectator using a third-party client — that Riot supports — called OP.GG and passing that along to his stream.

Now, here’s the bit that’s probably of interest to you even if you’re not a LoL pro with major companies playing tug-of-war for your table scraps. The short version? LoL creator Riot owns all of your shit. Their game, their in-game assets. As PCGamesN points out in their post on the matter, Riot’s terms of service read:

“You acknowledge and agree that you shall have no ownership or other property interest in your account, and you further acknowledge and agree that, other than your limited access to use the account, all rights in and to the account are and shall forever be owned by and inure to the benefit of Riot Games. You acknowledge and agree that you have no claim, right, title, ownership or other proprietary interest in the game assets.”

Lucian is running his stream with that information in mind. He explained: “Right now nothing my stream does is illegal or against the League of Legends terms of service. Riot can always change their terms. And Riot can DMCA my stream at anytime, as they have the power to put any League related IP or Project to an end.”

OK then, what does Riot think about all of this? Well, president Marc Merrill isn’t pleased. Not one bit. He posted a response to Lucian’s actions on Reddit:

“You are rationalizing and trying to justify the fact that you have singled out a player against their will and broadcasting their games in a way that he can do nothing about. That reeks of harassment and bullying – Azubu vs Twitch is irrelevant in my view.”

“If you can’t see how this potentially harms Faker and/or anyone else in this situation, then that is more reinforcement that we need to take the appropriate action to protect players from this type of unique situation.”

“As to the comments about our API, of course we want 3rd party devs to do cool things with spectator. But when people utilise one of its components to harm / harass an individual, then we need to potentially re-evaluate our rules.”

It’s a bit of a curious response given that a) I’m not sure how an auto-stream of solo matches constitutes bullying and b) Azubu and Twitch are obviously interested parties when it comes to big streamer business; they are very relevant here. Still, this situation might lead Riot to make confetti out of their current rule book and come up with something that guards against similar situations in the future. Services like OP.GG might have to change too. As for how, well, that’s up in the air right now.

Lucian, however, argues that Faker himself has yet to express that he’s in any way upset with the stream. Until Faker/SK Telecom take aim directly at the stream or Riot issues a DMCA notice of their own, Lucian said, the show will go on. “‘Harassment and bullying’? Yeah no. I am a big Faker fan. If Faker himself personally ever requested my stream to be shut down, I would oblige instantly.”

He also claimed that keeping the stream going is — after everything that’s happened — about a lot more than simply being Twitch’s number one destination for all things Faker.

“I know some people will disagree with this and bring up ethics, but I think this whole issue is about a lot more than Faker,” he wrote. “It’s about Riot not enforcing their own legal terms of service. It’s about a co-owner of Riot Games being completely out of touch with esports and the spectator mode. It’s about a company (Azubu) issuing a false DMCA claim for content they didn’t even own. These are issues that will affect the future of the game and the spectator mode. All of this needs to be debated for the future of League of Legends and esports.”

As of now, the stream is still up. As Lucian pointed out, Riot can have it taken down at any time — and they might just do so soon. So far, though, they have yet to change their current rules, let alone enforce the old ones. I’ve sent a mail to Riot to find out what their next step is in this situation. I’ll update this post as soon as I hear back.


  • couldnt Faker just block the spectator ports? surely it uses a differnet port to rest of the game

      • If I was Faker I would let it go for as however long as it does… Publicity, publicity, publicity.

        • On the other hand, he has sold exclusive streaming rights to Azubu. It’s one thing for a third party to stream his matches without his cooperation. If he endorsed that stream, Azubu would have grounds for a contract breach law suit.

          • He doesn’t have to endorse it… But I highly doubt they can force him to tell some guy completely unrelated to said contract to take down a stream.

  • This clearly falls under the ‘oh come on’ provision that it seems many Australian laws have, where loophole exploiting of this kind is still breaking the law.

    The discussion it sounds like Lucian wants to have is a bit more basic than he claims: should Azubu be able to claim exclusive rights on a player’s stream?

    • Azubu obviously thinks they can because they paid someone for those rights.

      The real question is whether Faker (or his team) actually owned the rights that he sold to Azubu.

    • that seems to be what they are ignoring on purpose.

      If everything is owned by riot then on selling your stream rights shouldn’t be enabled.

      And you could stream any other player like this and unless you were obviously being a ass about it. They wouldn’t be claiming bullying or harassment.

      It’s one of those situations where there is an established status quo and then someone does something to upset it.

      Kinda reminds me of Minecraft and their server jazz. They had no vocalised problem with that Wild West until parents started complaining about certain servers and they took action.

      They had no issue with azubu’s method of operation until someone did something to disrupt it

  • I’m not really sure what side I would take. On the one hand, it feels a bit like the recent lawsuits trying to punish someone because a site they linked to had content that infringed copyright, on the other, it’s similar to recording a movie at the cinema with a video camera.

    • It’s nothing like recording a movie with camera in a cinema. Those sort of actions are strictly against the law. As the cinema is a private property you purchasing a ticket only affords you the right of entry and consumption or authorised goods. It doesn’t not grant you privileges of recording both a private viewing of copywrite material nor does it allow to record other persons in said private area without the express permission.

      I do hope yo’re joking but I don’t think you are.

      • I don’t think he was talking strictly legally, more if you were going to change the rules (Or riots terms and conditions) what is it similar to
        In that way it is similar, you are using riots servers and accessing their machines, similar to being on private property.
        There is an EULA that you agree to to install the software required which only afford you the rights specified within it. If that agreement doesn’t allow for the recording or distribution of what you are accessing then I don’t see how it is much different.

        • One is strictly policy of said company the other(my example) is legislated law. EULA are mostly useless in any context outside of the companies usage. Where filming in a cinema already has precedents which have been established, enforced and recognised.

          His first example was fine but his second analogy was terribly off the mark.

  • Exclusive rights are exclusive rights. You don’t have to use the official footage, it applies to any source. If you go to the tennis and film a match on your phone, the organisers have the right to boot you from the arena and the exclusive rights holder has the right to have material taken down. Just because a means is available doesn’t mean it’s legal.

    • The problem is, that by the current wording of the rules, it is legal.

      And as someone said above, according to the ToS, is Faker in the position to be able to give rights to exclusive streaming, when he doesn’t own it?

      • As long as the streamer is entitled to sell the rights to his streams, I don’t believe it is legal. Lucian’s argument is that he filmed his own footage of the event, but as with other sporting events it doesn’t matter if you film your own or rebroadcast someone else’s footage, no film is allowed unless it’s by the rights holders. It’s not something that needs to be spelt out explicitly, it’s the default state unless the original rights holder reassigns their rights.

        Whether Faker has the rights to sell in the first place, I couldn’t say right now as I haven’t had the time to research what exactly Riot offers. I’m just saying that if he does have the rights, and an exclusive right is assigned, Lucian can’t broadcast what he wants regardless of how he came across the footage, even if he filmed it himself.

  • Failing to acknowledge when you’ve been genuinely and fairly beaten at something makes you a pathetic human/company. Riot, Azubu… YOU LOST. Why can’t you just accept that? Instead of desperately claiming there must be some mistake, looking around for some excuse.

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