It’s been quite a controversial year for YouTube’s biggest star, PewDiePie. Back in February, the Let’s Player made headlines after posting videos with anti-semitic comments. Last month, he vowed to stop making Nazi and white supremacist jokes after the violent events in Charlottesville, Virginia. And today (September 10), the drama continued.
Polygon reports that PewDiePie recently uploaded a video of himself playing Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds. In the video, he was unable to shoot an enemy, at which point he called the opposing player a “f——g n—-r” (the words were not censored in the video, but you get the idea). This incident seems to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for Sean Vanaman, co-founder of Campo Santo, developer of the game Firewatch.
We’re filing a DMCA takedown of PewDiePie’s Firewatch content and any future Campo Santo games.
— Sean Vanaman (@vanaman) September 10, 2017
Vanaman, who also wrote for Telltale Games’ critically acclaimed The Walking Dead, announced via Twitter that Campo Santo is filing for the removal of all videos featuring Campo Santo games, both present and future, from PewDiePie’s channel. He states, “[PewDiePie is] worse than a closeted racist: he’s a propagator of despicable garbage that does real damage to the culture around this industry.” Since Vanaman’s statements, all of PewDiePie’s videos in which he played Firewatch have been removed from his channel. Vanaman explains in other Twitter posts that in allowing PewDiePie or other YouTubers to play Campo Santo’s games and make videos of them, they are being complicit about the language those YouTubers use. Vanaman explains that he loves streamers, stating that he watches them regularly and sends codes out to many of them to play his games, but that he will not tolerate language that normalizes racist rhetoric and that he will also be urging other developers to send DMCA filings to have videos of their games removed from PewDiePie’s channel as well.
While many have praised Vanaman’s remarks denouncing racist language, there are also plenty of people who are upset, viewing Campo Santo’s DMCA filings as infringing on PewDiePie’s freedom of speech. But while PewDiePie may have the right to freedom of expression, Campo Santo also has the right to not allow others to use their properties in ways they do not approve of. Vanaman explains that, technically speaking, all Let’s Play videos infringe on the copyrights of the copyright owners, but that many developers, including Campo Santo, tolerate this technical infringement because it creates a sense of goodwill among fans as well as basically acting as free publicity for their games. However, all developers are well within their rights to make YouTubers remove videos featuring their games if those videos also contain features that the developer does not wish to have associated with their games, such as racial slurs.