Negative World Of Tanks Video Gets Taken Down After Developer Threatens Copyright Claim

A prominent World of Tanks YouTuber who is a member of a promotional program for the game had to remove a critical video after developer Wargaming threatened a copyright strike against it.

On May 18, SirFoch uploaded a video where he criticised the Chrysler K Grand Finals premium tank (a fully-loaded version of which is priced at $US80 ($107)), which he argued lacked realistic weak points in order to force players to spend more money, despite being part of a program that gives influential World of Tanks players early access to content in exchange for publicity.

In the video, which was re-posted on another YouTube channel, SirFoch said things like, "Fuck Wargaming, fuck their terrible way of making these premium tanks lately, and fuck this premium tank in particular." Specifically, he criticised the tank's lack of weak points behind the machine gun ports by showing viewers its collision model which he argued made the Chrysler K overpowered.

"[B]ut in the collision model, what do we have? No machine gun ports. Why? I don't know 'because how are we gonna make money if we don't force everybody to spend premium ammo and buy premium tanks and buy a fuck'n premium account,'" SirFoch said. "We are greedy fucks at Wargaming, yay!"

"GG Wargaming and fuck you."

On its website, Wargaming describes community contributors as players who "go the extra mile in order to help other players," and who give helpful advice on forums, create video guides and delivery interactive livestreams.

While contributors are allowed to be critical of World of Tanks, Wargaming said in a statement to Kotaku in return for having early access to content, "we require a reasonable level of decorum from those contributors when publicly discussing Wargaming and our products."

In the wake of the video attacking Wargaming for its perceived use of pay-to-win mechanics, a community manager at the company who goes by Zoltan "Ph3lan" Sipos contacted SirFoch over Discord. Ph3lan explained, according to screenshots of the conversation provided by SirFoch, that the YouTuber would be dropped from the program giving him early access to content and would need to take down his video or else Wargaming would be forced to have YouTube remove it for copyright infringement.

This led SirFoch to remove the first video and upload a second one explaining in more detail what he sees as the game's shift toward pay-to-win with expensive new overpowered vehicles and what he perceived as Wargaming's attempt to silence him for his negative remarks.

In response to backlash from some World of Tanks players angry that Wargaming would try to censor criticism of the game through copyright strikes, Ph3lan explained on the game's forums that it was the manner and tone of SirFoch's criticism and not the criticism itself that had led them to both end his involvement in the partner program and seek the removal of the video. While "SirFoch" was known for being "salty," as Ph3lan put it, the YouTuber who runs a channel called TheFochYou ran afoul of the game company once his insults and profanity-laden rants entered into "defamation territory."

"Our contributors are not working for us and they are not being paid by us, however they are representing us to a certain extent towards our players," wrote Ph3lan. He continued,

"While we know that SirFoch is not exactly the best role model at times, but we valued his contribution enough to still include him in the program. This might have been a mistake, since he used his status, influence, and the exclusive preview content he was given to defame Wargaming and World of Tanks. I am sure that his intentions were good, however the end results were clearly not. We have several channels where our contributors can reach us and we are always trying to listen to their feedback and concerns. SirFoch didn't contact us about his clearly strong feeling about the Chrysler producing the video in question instead.

To put it bluntly, we asked him to remove the video because he abused his status as a contributor and the content he received from us to create a video that defamed our company image with the tone and language he used."

YouTube has strict rules about using copyrighted footage, including gameplay capture, that allow developers and publishers to try an manage how their products are treated on the platform. While some companies are happy to see anyone uploading videos about their games, good or bad, others, like Nintendo, are notorious for flagging any YouTube videos that don't have permission to use its footage. But when companies start cherry picking which content to file claims against, it begins to look like targeted censorship.

In the statement Wargaming provided to Kotaku, the company elaborated on its position,

"We are more than willing to give members of our community second chances, but there is a level of toxicity and/or offensive language that is unacceptable. We regret having to go to such extreme measures in SirFoch's case, but we also don't consider those measures to be censorship because we weren't trying to silence SirFoch's opinion, we were simply seeking to curb the extremely profane language of a member of our contributor program. SirFoch's latest claim that we're somehow prohibiting him from making future videos involving our games is completely false — he's more than welcome to make more Wargaming-related videos. If those videos continue to include hate speech and homophobic slurs, we'll take the necessary and appropriate action."

SirCircon, another personality in the World of Tanks community, was also extremely critical of Wargaming this week, calling Highway, one of the game's maps, awful and poorly designed during a Twitch stream. He likened the maps development process to one of the designer's children drawing on a napkin with crayons, having their nose wiped with it, and then the result being presented to the rest of the company to create. Wargaming likewise requested its removal and SirCiron complied.

According to the company, after he "acknowledged that his comments about staff members' families were out of line," he was reinstated into the partner program. SirCiron has not yet responded to a request for comment.

SirFoch has not been reinstated, however, and when reached for comment by Kotaku, referred the site to a recent post of his on Reddit. "Was my Video over the line? Sure it was," he wrote.

"Do I regret making it? Hell no. Did I lose CC status? You betcha. Do I care? Not really. Did WG threaten to Copyright claim the video and future videos of Any WG product? Yes. screenshots."

Wargaming, however, denies that this is the case regarding copyright claims against future World of Tanks videos on SirFoch's channel.

"SirFoch's latest claim that we're somehow prohibiting him from making future videos involving our games is completely false — he's more than welcome to make more Wargaming-related videos. If those videos continue to include hate speech and homophobic slurs, we'll take the necessary and appropriate action," the company said in its statement to Kotaku.

In his Reddit post, SirFoch said he predicted something like this might happen given his vitriolic brand. "I did not have to Sign anything and they did not pay me anything, and I told them right at the start that I wont change my style because of this and that they should not put their jobs on the line if people upstairs get upset," he wrote regarding his original inclusion in Wargaming's community contributor program.

"I have like minded community behind me and they are the ones I represent on my channel...I get payed by my community with the help of Twitch and YouTube, and World of Tanks is just a tool for me to do that."

Additional reporting by Cecilia D'Anastasio.


Comments

    Gotta take the gaming companies side in this case. Checked out his video, while he does have a point about the essential 'cheat factor' of the tank, his vitriol could've been contained a bit and it's obvious the way he swear and carries on got it taken down? All he has to do to test the waters, is refilm it sans swearing and outrage, stating facts and laying it out as it is in reality. Then upload it, then the company has no comeback.

      I agree that he should have toned it down a bit and focused on the core message.

      But ultimately, they've basically admitted to abusing YouTube claims to have the video taken down for copyright infringement. If this is a matter of defamation, then file for defamation. But then again, if what he's saying is true is it really defamation?

        If it's a let's play and not a review. Then it's up to them to allow him to have it their or not. I have not seen the video but it always a balance between how much you can use and claiming it's a criticism or review.

        I'm with you on this. You can't claim copyright infringement if you allowed him to use the material and you're upset about defamation. And when did it jump to hate speech and homophobic slurs (as mentioned in the article)? Yeah it's crude but I wouldn't have said it was either of those.

        The other one is even worse - comparing it to kids drawings isn't offensive and absolutely not copyright infringement. Being made to take it down certainly looks like censorship.

        I'd be curious to see their "contract" as members of this promotional team. Is there anything in there about language and decorum? If not then it's even worse from Wargaming.

          I was confused by the "homophobic slurs" part, too. Unless there was something else in the original video not included in the repost linked above, it could only possibly refer to SirFoch's use of the phrase "fucking AIDS," which while childish is not even remotely a homophobic slur.

          I don't have strong feelings about the initial issue (whether it's acceptable for a company to retroactively rescind permission to use copyrighted material because they're not getting positive coverage with it) but for the company to claim that they are responding to "hate speech and homophobic slurs" is cynical and exploitative beyond the point of excusability.

      My thoughts exacly. That's all he needs to do. If he so wishes, but it wouldn't hurt.

      Its just worth pointing out a couple of things in this case...

      Copyright violations =/= Defamations. As such, claiming defamation and threatening a DMCA strike is not the correct course of action. The resulting backlash over this stand over tactic is quite understandable, another prominent CC "Mighty Jingles" has indicated that his future involvement pivots on WarGaming accepting that they did not approach the situation correctly. They have apologised to Foch, but the story has dread like wild fire. Jim Stirling's got them lined up for the next Jimquisition... And he's not known for holding back.

      Furthermore, the footage shown on the movie is from a website (tanks.gg - I think?) And is not really gameplay, it is a stretch to translate what he's done into copyright violation as opposed to defamation (even defamation is a weak argument).

      Personally I can't help but wonder wtf Sir Foch was thinking though. Its a game that revolves entirely around extracting money from players in an ongoing basis. Maybe he's just sick of being ripped off. In that case he should find a game that doesn't operate like WoT and cover it.

      I think the end game here is that Foch screwed up and wargaming took that screw up and turned it into a monumental PR fustercluck by threatening to abuse the DMCA strike system.

      But hey, WG are known for putting the consumer first, right? *snigger*

        Bahahaha absolutely and I agree with all your points. It's basically a game of 'who can fuck up more!'

        Morally, Wargaming had the higher ground to start with, then Foch could've corrected it all and didn't, then Wargaming didn't just shit the bed, they fucked the dog, fondled the cat, shat in the flowerbed and stuck their tongue out as they walked off. Way to go dumbasses.

      They were definitely within their rights to remove him from their community contributor program: that's something that is at their discretion.

      Threatening him with a copyright strike for the video though? That seems dubious. Despite the profanity, the video is a review/criticism of the content, so there is a good chance that fair use would apply. It is only using a small portion of the original work, and it isn't a substitute for acquiring the game.

      There's also the point that copyright strikes have particularly draconian consequences for YouTube channels, and are difficult to contest. As a game developer that even has a program to work with community members making videos, you have to assume that Wargaming knew this when making the threat.

        It really depends on the T&C of the community contributor program. It's content that general public doesn't have access to so there is likely additional copyright protections build into the program.

          That's a good point. Who knows what conditions he agreed to in order to obtain the CC status.

    I can't see how this is defamation. He is giving his opinion.

    Threatening him with a copyright strike to force him to take it down is not cool.

      SirFoch said:

      "We are greedy fucks at Wargaming, yay!"

      and/or

      "because how are we gonna make money if we don't force everybody to spend premium ammo and buy premium tanks and buy a fuck'n premium account"

      A court may find that these statements impute that Wargaming manipulates players into purchasing "upgrades" to a game that it otherwise markets as free-to-play, and that this would lower its reputation in the eyes of a reasonable person.

      Remember, in Australia (and many other countries with defamation law), defamation is weird because it's not innocent until proven guilty. It's "prove the speech imputes something that could lower the reputation of the plaintiff in the eyes of a reasonable person" and THEN the defendant has to prove the speech is not defamatory according to a bunch of qualifications including truth, public interest, fair comment, special privilege etc.

      If the imputations are found, SirFoch would have to defend both statements, which may be straightforward (especially with a combination of the defences of Truth and Fair Comment) but would you bet your life savings in legal fees on it?

      On the other hand it might be worth the cash to sit there and watch two barristers argue back and forth about the definition and imputations carried by the phrase "greedy fucks" in front of a super-serious looking magistrate...

        We really need some wealthy people to provide more backing for organisations like EFF so some of these issues can actually be run through court. There is a constant erosion of what is "reasonable" by companies. It shouldn't be defamation to call a company "greedy fucks" since practically all companies actually are. The defense should be "common knowledge".

          Uh... I feel like that's a shaky legal argument for fair use of the phrase "greedy fucks". There's a lot of stuff tied up in profanity and unqualified assertions that's always going to be legally complex.

          What I WOULD like to see is legal advice given to these YouTubers along the lines of: "Calling a company 'greedy fucks' can be cathartic, but it doesn't give your audience especially granular information and it opens it up to you having to defend a defamation claim against malice.... so maybe be a little more careful with language.

          "Instead of 'greedy fucks' maybe say: "It is clear with the release of this tank that Wargaming now prioritises profit above all things. User experience, user enjoyment does not seem to be something Wargaming cares about anymore. Am I basically accusing them of being nothing more than a bunch of greedy fucks? This time, I'm sad to say yes, yes I am."

          Remember, truth, public interest and fair comment are NOT defences against defamation if the imputation is found to have been published with "malice".

          If your intention in publishing your comment was explicitly to lower the reputation of the plaintiff, as opposed to just informing consumers, you could end up being liable.

          PROSECUTION BARRISTER: Now... you said Wargaming were greedy fucks. What was your intention in making this statement?

          SIRFOCH: To call them out for being a bunch of greedy f... for being greedy!

          PROSECUTION: I see. And apart from the design of this [lifts paper, reads] tank, do you still enjoy the game otherwise? Is it a good game?

          SIRFOCH: What? No way! It's fu... it's ruined now! They just made it all about buying premium accounts and getting more and more of y-

          PROSECUTION: Thank you, your initial response was sufficient. Now... in publishing this video, what did you hope would happen? What outcome were you looking for?

          SIRFOCH: Why, to punish them! To call them out! To make everyone cancel their account and hit them where it hurts! To cripple their revenue so they know they made a mistake!

          PROSECUTION: Punish them? Your intention was to punish Wargaming?

          DEFENCE: [slightly desperate] Objection your honour, leading surely?

          PROSECUTION: Not at all, I am merely quoting the witness. The record will show it.

          [pause]

          PROSECUTION: Your honour?

          MAGISTRATE: [snapping awake] What? Overruled. Continue.

          PROSECUTION: Did you say your intention was to punish the plaintiff?

          SIRFOCH: Yes. Yes absolutely. Yes I wanted to punish them. To hurt them for this.

          [there's a small thumping noise as the defence barrister's forehead meets the surface of his desk]

          PROSECUTION: No further questions.

          MAGISTRATE: Yes well. Mr Greene, do you have any questions for this witness?

          DEFENCE: [resigned moan]

          MAGISTRATE: Excellent. Let's take an hour for lunch.

      I don't think it's defamation but I think you've got a pretty broad definition of "opinion" there. I've always felt like "It's just my opinion" has always been an excuse to act like an arse. Not everything can just come under the "opinion" banner and be ignored. An opinion doesn't suddenly make wrong things ok.

        Quite right, it has to be a "reasonable opinion genuinely held". You can bet if this did go to court the defence would be wanting to assert that all of this was opinion, every last bit, because opinion is easier to defend.

        Asserting that "greedy fucks" is true would be difficult, in a legal context. Asserting it is a reasonable opinion genuinely held, in the fact of SirFoch's meticulous explanation of the issues, would be more straightforward.

        I have to admit my understanding of defamantion law stops short of knowing whether "greedy fucks" is more problematic than "they are being greedy", whether the use of profanity has any effect in a defamation case.

        I SUSPECT the prosecution might try to use it to show that the opinion was published with malice. If you are found to have defamed someone with malice you are in big trouble, because the defences of truth and fair comment become less... helpful.

        "CEO of Company X is a bad CEO because the company is losing money" is not defamatory if true.

        "CEO of Comany X should never have been made CEO, he is useless and he must be tarred and feathered and driven from society! His gross mismanagement of this company should be punished by a lifetime of unemployment! I hate him and I hate his stupid face and you should not hire him for any other company ever because his face is stupid and he can't even run a business! HOW DO YOU LIKE REJECTING MY EMPLOYMENT APPLICATION NOW HUH? LOSER?" may possibly be found by a court to have been published with malice. Maybe.

    With regards to his video, he was asked to take it down because it stepped over the line of professionalism. He refused to be the bigger man for reasons only he knows, and he got what was coming to him.

    With regards to the tank, it needs to be changed. Those players who witness the flaw will undoubtly have their feelings about wargaming adjusted, just like how my feelings towards bethesda and their bugs have adjusted my views on day-one purchases, but things will work out in the end. Wargaming isn't going to lose 100% of their fans, but SirFoch will lose his 100% of his monetization.

    If SirFoch sees this as a win, then I don't see how.

    wargaming can be a bit pay to win at times... but it usually gets nerfed or able to F2P at a later stage in future revisions

    but seriously youtube needs to sort its flagging abuse out and have a better TOS/use for all its videos that contain and advertise products

    I suppose the future is your own personal cloud. As to tanks, I'm surprised it was never tested in Afghanistan dragging a multi-ton chain with giant steel beads between them.

    If you can't express yourself without swearing and making idiotic comments, you don't really deserve your platform as an influencer.

    if you care that much about a game where you keep having to say "F-" every line, its time to turn off the computer and go outside. seriously. there is constructive and respectful criticism and then there is completely loosing all sense of manners while discussing a $80 digital tank.

    Games like that need to get out and get some air. Just because you have a platform and are annoyed, would you except to get respected and helped or listened to if you spoke to some one in a retail store like that? you would be turf out on your backside.

    Sounds like a crybaby who has only just realised their favourite f2p game is pay2win. WG has been making pay2win stuff for ages now, and even Gaijin is getting in on it lately with the IS-6 RU251 (and before that T29).

    These Russian games are VERY pro pay to win, for him to only realise that after this long is hilarious.

      Don't Forget the Object 252 U / Defender. That thing does lots of damage, High Pen and hard to Pen/Kill. Funny how one new American tank is hard to Penetrate causes complaints. Nobody complained about previous ones that have been released (probably because the own them). Pay to Win sucks but it's also part of what keeps the game running cost wise.

        I saw a lot more hate from the playerbase back on April 1st when they sold the mutant again for $80. After they said that it would never be offered again.

    What a dick. He's basically biting the hand that feeds him because he wants to be provocative and get some attention just like the thousands of other narcissistic you tube 'personalities'.
    Also, this type of game is a cynical pay to win model anyway so what exactly does he expect...

    Foch didn't use any of WoT's assets for the video so there was no reason for them to even threaten him with a copyright strike.

    Look at all these people who aren't seeing the forest for the trees and not acknowledging how a company is essentially threatening to take down a video that's negative with a copyright claim. That's some poor play there, and yet everyone's quick to jump on the guy instead.

    What's with everyone's love for corporations these days, haha.

    acknowledged that his comments about staff members' families were out of line,
    Wait, he went after staff members families. Dang, no wonder they wanted to pull out whatever sticks they could. Backing WG on this, on that basis alone.

      I thought that was the other creator? SirCircon or something? SirFoch just swore a lot.

      I'm not surprised Wargaming are trying to work the system. At the first PAX Australia, during a Q&A Gabe and Tycho said something to the effect of Wargaming's models in the expo hall were told to put stockings on, or be in breach of the booth babe policy. Not sure what the consequences there would have been. But yeah, they strike me as a company prepared to risk crossing the line in an effort to get as close to it as possible.

      Edit: Spelling. Damn tablet keyboard.

      Last edited 22/05/17 10:26 am

    Yea he's a twit, so get rid of him, but you're twits too for abusing the copyright system. Y'all deserve each other.

    For the uninformed people, of the dozens and dozens of premium tanks theyve brought in, this one outclasses them in the fact that theyve made it nigh invunerable from the front/side scraping.
    The model itself has weaknesses (i.e gun ports on the front) that they didnt incorporate into the hit model itself.
    Its literally a gold magnet - WG have forced people to spend gold to actually manage to penetrate it and its the straw that broke the camels back - theyve been power creeping premiums for a while now and this one takes the cake. Its a shallow and very obvious design to get all parties (both p2w and non-p2w) to spend money to combat - where before it was a slight edge now its totally obvious.

    Did Foch handle himself poorly? Yes, god yes. Did his argument have merit? Also yes.
    WG also handled things in a pretty abhorrent way by going after his ability to monetise videos, but i guess they felt it was their right to.

    World of tank is just a dumb game no skill involved it is point and click and hope that the RNG gods guid your shell . There is no absolutly no excuse for this rng of a gun ... try producing a tank in real life and sill it with the comment but the gun has rng .... im sure your tank would sell .... They need to get rid of this dumbass mechanic and instead of this bullshit lets pray my shell goes where i aim add shell drop ... now that takes some what skill to aim instead of this useless point and click and pray system . That and ofc the 10000 million citymaps where the bigger you are the better counts .. not to mention the killing of light tank use also ... you spot 6 other tanks see it shoot and what you know 1k dmg but you get 19 assist uhhmm is it not the light his job to support and spot ??? nope not in this game . this game has the mechanic the bigger of a dumbass you are the better you get the help of rng gods and the extra assist ... ow also with the ass of shelldrop and remove of gun rng we also dont need aimtime anymore because guess what people decide their own aim time !!!! no more bullshit rng snapshot noo if you get hit its skill not RNgesus that helps out .... In Short term every patch the game gets fucked up more and more . Then the MM i am not even going into the eay skillbased mm that never happend .. no the uptiers .. i mean 2 tier difference NP good plan just from 6 to tier 8 hmmm tier 6 tank 600 700 hp ... tier 9 tank 1700 thats more the 100% plus makes for fair play right not to mention the penetration of lower tier tanks and yes hold on to your butss !!! the inaccurate rng god guns tier 6 has ... So people in short if your a dumbass this is the game for you !!!! rng gods and the dumber you are the better !

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