British Website Forced To Pay $1.8 Million Over Red Dead Redemption 2 Leak

The British website TrustedReviews today pulled an article, apologised to publisher Take-Two Games, and said it was donating 1 million pounds ($1.805 million) to charity after publishing leaked information about Red Dead Redemption 2 in February of this year. It’s a radical move that raises serious questions about editorial independence and legal threats against the press.

TrustedReviews, which is owned by TI Media (formerly Time Inc, UK), is a technology website that publishes deals and reviews. In February, it published an article, sourcing a leaked internal Rockstar document, that listed details from Red Dead Redemption 2, which would come out eight months later.

The article contained a list of bullet-points that claimed, among other things, that you’d be able to play all of Red Dead 2 in first-person (true) and that the online component would have a battle royale mode (to be determined).

Now, that article is gone.

“On February 6, 2018, we published an article that was sourced from a confidential corporate document,” the website now reads.

“We should have known this information was confidential and should not have published it. We unreservedly apologise to Take-Two Games and we have undertaken not to repeat such actions again. We have also agreed to donate over £1 million to charities chosen by Take-Two Games.”

The editor-in-chief of TrustedReviews did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in an e-mailed statement, a Rockstar spokesperson confirmed that this was the result of litigation:

“Take-Two takes security seriously and will take legal action against people or publications who leak confidential information. Because this situation involved information about Red Dead Redemption 2, Rockstar Games directed the settlement funds to these three great charities: the American Indian College Fund, the American Prairie Reserve, and the First Nations Development Institute.”

It’s not clear whether TrustedReviews violated any British or American laws in obtaining the Rockstar document, or if Take-Two went after the website for publishing information that was leaked to them.

Either way, it’s unusual to see an independent editorial outlet apologise for reporting on leaked information, a common occurrence in all fields of media. Of course, the legal costs for defending oneself can often make the act of litigation itself punishment enough. The incident raises a whole lot of questions and offers very few clear answers.


Comments

    I'm surprised they were able to drop that much to a charity.

      I didn't think that sort of website made that sort of cash, I'm in the wrong business.

        I would reply to this but I can't see it over the 300 ads this one page is popping up.

          Get an adblocker. If you are visiting on a phone, I commend your tenacity in coming back here.

            I think he was pointing out the fact that all the ads are how they can donate so much money

            I have used an ad blocker for ages, so I forgot what this site looked like without one. I turned it off to see what ruddaga was talking about and... wow... It was blocking 13 ads on this page alone. 13... I can see why people without one are so turned off this site now. It was terrible to try and read the article.

    I'm a bit confused by this, isn't it the job of a journalist to report information? I assumed there were some free-speech type protections in most democracies which would ensure a journalist is able to report based on leaks and confidential sources without being pursued for damages by a party being reported about.

    I'd be really curious to see the cause of action Rockstar sent. I have to assume they were claiming damages due to missed marketing opportunities, but the sales figures put that argument to bed, there was no damage.

    Does corporate interest outweigh journalism?

      Do you mean journalism for a corporate interest? This isn't the ABC news. This isn't a story about pay gap or gender inequality or child exploitation.

      They used stolen IP to generate a news story to generate revenue for a *corporate interest*.

      Discuss.

        Litigate the staff that leaked it, not the news outlet that ran a story.

        Pathetic.

          I would agree with that. The confidentiality of a document is usually limited to the people who agreed to abide by that confidentiality, like employees or contractors, I thought.

          No. Both must be held accountable.

          Through your line of logic, only the employee divulging confidential information should be punished in a case of insider trading, not the accomplice?

      There's a difference between publishing leaked information and publishing part of a confidential document. If the publisher had been smart, they would have made sure they never saw the document and would have made sure their source never said where the information came from. The fact that Take Two could pin them with having seen the document itself, and the fact that it published for profit, meant bad news for the publisher.

        They might not have been able to fight the litigation either, and this was the best settlement offer.

        Got a feeling there's a lot more to this we haven't heard. From a basic view, there's nothing legally awry about reporting on documents that have been provided to a journo anonymously; the legal risk is on the person leaking the documents and what contracts or terms they were bound under.

        Fun change of mentality: not seeing anyone in the comments here argue that sites should have been prosecuted for reporting on the Harry Potter footage that leaked recently. Or that we should have been sued into the ground when Jason reported that No Man's Sky was going to be delayed. Or when we co-broke (along with Austin Walker, IIRC) the PS4 Pro.

        People should not be so flippant about the seriousness of this.

          I'm not versed on the UK law for this, but in the US trade secret laws apply both to publication and acquisition, so both a media outlet and its source may be liable depending on the circumstances. The most common defence in US law is that the reporting is in the public interest, but that protection is via the first amendment so it may not have an analogue in UK law.

          People shouldn't be flippant about it, but we also shouldn't be running for our pitchforks to defend the freedom of the press - which shouldn't be above criticism if certain lines are crossed.

          It's an unusual outcome, and therefore we have to assume the circumstances surrounding it were unusual. My initial thoughts run to how TR got the info and whether TakeTwo could prove they did something wrong.

          Until more is known, judgement should be reserved either way.

        I don't think that's true. My employment contract is confidential, but if you shared it online I would be the one in trouble. My employer can't bind you by terms they bind me with.

    I remember that leak. And I think it was wrong of the company to have to pay out for that. Isn't there whistleblower laws that protect this kind of thing?

      I don't think this is in the public interest

    I believe sites should have been prosecuted for reporting on the Harry Potter footage that leaked recently. Also Kotaku should have been sued into the ground when Jason reported that No Man's Sky was going to be delayed.

    The donation will be tax deductible don't forget:)

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