This week, some prominent Counter-Strike: Global Offensive streamers received DMCA takedowns for broadcasting play from the Berlin Major 2019. Event organiser StarLadder maintains that it holds exclusive rights to broadcast tournament action, while streamers say they’ve always been able to co-broadcast Majors in the past.
This is the first time StarLadder has hosted a CS:GO Major, but these biannual, Valve-sponsored tournaments represent the biggest competitive events for the venerable shooter. In addition to streaming broadcasts through Twitch and the like, you can also view the action in-game through the GOTV viewer, and this is where the trouble starts.
Players who’d been restreaming the Berlin Major from GOTV soon received DCMA takedowns from StarLadder. Mythic’s Erik ‘fl0m’ Flom tells theScore esports that he received no prior notice before the DMCA was issued, and that – contrary to how past Major rebroadcasts have worked – StarLadder later told him that he should’ve reached out to the organisers before starting his broadcast.
“It wasn’t like anybody was watching the stream that StarLadder was providing,” fl0m says. “We’re not using their casters, we’re not using any of their assets, we’re actually watching a relay of a spectator client that is built into the game of Counter-Strike.”
In a public statement, StarLadder says that for the variety of languages its official broadcasts represent, the organisation “has media contracts and is required to comply with them,” though it “welcomes” community broadcasts in any other languages. StarLadder is giving the okay to community broadcast channels which reach out for partnerships, as well.
It’s a similar situation to what happened back in 2017, when StarLadder issued similar takedowns over community-hosted DotaTV broadcasts of an event it had organised. For its part, Valve said that “in addition to the official, fully-produced streams from the tournament organizer itself, we believe that anyone should be able to broadcast a match from DotaTV for their audience” – but the company has yet to issue an official statement on the CS:GO situation.
fl0m says that “if this is going to change, this isn’t just something you add to a rulebook somewhere that someone has to go deep into a website to find your rulebook and rules. This is something you should be publicly stating. Both sides – StarLadder should’ve mentioned ‘hey, this is our ruleset, if you want to stream it, here’s our terms and conditions, and here’s how you stream the Major. And then from the other side – Valve, if they’re selling exclusive rights to people, they need to come out and tell everybody that they’re doing that.”