It took just a day and one stream for StarLordLucian to become the most controversial figure in eSports. All he did was create a stream devoted to Sanghyuk “Faker” Lee.
He’s had a DMCA takedown notice and lawyers investigating his activities. Even the president of Riot Games has taken to Twitter to say his stream “reeks of harassment and bullying.”
It’s the story of how one legal loophole has exposed a flaw in eSports ownership.
The problem arose when Lucian set up a Twitch stream which automatically streams all of Faker’s solo-que matches. Faker plays for the Korean eSports team SK Telecom T1. His games wouldn’t normally appear on Twitch as he’s signed a deal with streaming platform Azubu to exclusively stream his games through their client.
When Azubu saw Lucian’s Twitch channel, SpectateFaker, they sent Twitch a DMCA takedown notice, claiming they owned the content in Lucian’s stream.
However, Lucian didn’t stream the Azubu stream itself. Instead he watched Faker’s games as a spectator, using the OP.GG client, and streamed his spectator’s view of the game to Twitch. OP.GG is a third-party service supported by Riot themselves. Lucian denies Azubu own the stream’s content.
“Azubu does not own what I was broadcasting,” Lucian says. “I was broadcasting live spectate games from OP.GG which is content made available by Riot Games and owned solely by Riot Games. Azubu does not own the trademark or brand “Faker” – I checked. I never broadcasted any game directly from Azubu.”
“Faker does not have any rights over the game assets,” Lucian argues. “I am streaming game assets – the spectator client, not anything Faker or Azubu owns.
“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.”
Lucian’s not receiving any money from the stream, while his Twitch channel serves ads any revenue made from those goes to Twitch.
The Daily Dot contacted eSports lawyer Bryce Blum to investigate Lucian’s position and Blum says he’s in the right. Azubu don’t own the content he’s streaming and can’t issue a takedown. Riot own the content of Faker’s games and they can issue the takedown.
This is something StarLordLucian doesn’t deny: “If Riot does DMCA my stream that will be the end of it, I won’t counter them or try to make a new stream.”
Instead of sending Lucian a takedown notice, Riot’s president, Marc Merrill said what he was doing “reeks of harassment and bullying.”
“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 utilize one of its components to harm / harass an individual, then we need to potentially re-evaluate our rules.”
Lucian says that ethics and morality aren’t relevant to what he’s doing, he’s highlighting the legal loopholes that allow him to stream another player’s game, regardless of whether he has an exclusivity contract or not. “I won’t be listening to anyone else from Riot or on Reddit lecture to me about morals anymore,” Lucian wrote. “This whole issue is about a lot more than Faker. 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.”
Lucian’s stream is still live over on Twitch and he says this will continue until Riot sends him a takedown notice: “I’m doing this stream because I can legally and it’s allowed by League of Legends’ legal terms.”