This week, SimRacing604 came under attack in the form of a DCMA Takedown. Although it now looks like he will be getting his channel back, it’s important to discuss the the fallout from this, and what it means for Sim Racing and the community, from viewers to content creators.

Thanks to everyone who has supported SimRacing604 this week. It’s been amazing to see the community support.

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By now I’m sure a lot of you are aware of the situation unfolding with popular sim racing channel Sim Racing 604, but just in case you aren’t, a few days ago Mike from Sim Racing 604 published a video drawing attention to a sim racing modding group who are allegedly stealing various publisher and mod creator’s content, repurposing it and selling it as their own. Seemingly in an effort to silence Mike, the company in question issued a series of DCMA copyright claims against his channel, resulting in the video in question being unpublished, removing Mike’s ability to stream or upload any additional content, and putting all existing existing content and the channel itself at risk of permanent deletion should the appeal process be ruled in the claimant’s favour. At the time of writing this script the situation was still unfolding, but thankfully as of today, the copyright strikes have been recinded and it looks like Mike is back in business. Never-the-less this is a very big deal, and the shockwaves from the events that unfolded run deep for reasons we will explore in this video.

I woke up to a flurry of messages regarding the situation around 6 hours after Mike appealed for community support, but unfortunately by that time Mike’s video had already been removed from YouTube so I never had the opportunity to see it, nor am I familiar with Mike’s content other than seeing the odd video here and there over the years, hence me saying “allegedly” when referring to the events described. By all accounts I’ve seen, the video was fair and was doing a service to the sim racing community in bringing a serious issue to light. But again as I have not seen it myself, it’s not my place to comment on it specifically. For this reason I was originally reluctant to weigh in on the situation, and instead spent my time in the background trying to use my industry contacts to make sure the right eyes with the power to fix the immediate problem at hand (getting Mike’s channel back) would see what was going on, but the massive outpouring of community support since by you guys has proven Mike’s character to me, and the more I thought about the situation, the more I realised the impact of this runs far deeper.

It’s been absolutely awesome to see the massive outpouring of community support he has received from numerous content creators who saw his video and stuck their necks out, potentially putting their own channels at potential risk to support him, as well as the wider community in general. This is exactly why I love this community so much. As others have said, the vast majority of content creators get along with each other well and we are all very big on supporting each other.

But even now Mike has his channel back, some big questions remain in the fallout, and I wanted to use this opportunity to hopefully help kickstart the conversation around the wider issue at hand and raise awareness as to how severe of an problem this is, as well as the impact and precedent this sets for the wider community who rely on content creators for entertainment as well as reliable and honest opinions when it comes to reviews and such.

There are plenty of resources available online where you can read up on the DMCA or Digital Millennium Copyright Act and I’ll provide some links in the description of this video for those of you who would like to learn more, but essentially what it boils down to is this…. As it stands right now, anyone can issue a DMCA Copyright Strike or as it’s often called, a “takedown” against any piece of content. While it is of course illegal to abuse the process by making false claims, the burden of proof is on the content creator to prove they haven’t violated the DMCA. Now at face value this seems wrong, and I know many people will argue that the “Guilty until Proven Innocent” approach taken by YouTube is unfair. We have to remember that the illegal weaponization of DMCA Takedowns is the problem here. YouTube’s current system allows content that violates copyright laws to be quickly hidden from the public to protect the intellectual property of the rightful copyright owner, and in a world where it were used appropriately and never abused, this wouldn’t be a problem.

But we don’t live in that world. The reality is that as it stands right now, the DMCA is one of the most widely abused laws in existence. Now I’m not a lawyer or legal expert, so all of this is simply my opinion, but to me at least, the reason for this seems quite simple. The DCMA was written in a time where to have your content made available for public consumption you needed some kind of structure behind you, whether that be an agency or manager, etc. Unless you had the funding to do it all yourself or course, you couldn’t just publish a book, song or video and make it instantly accessible to the entire world as is possible today with the distribution platforms we have available in the form of YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, etc. Back then if there was an issue, publisher A’s legal team would contact publisher B’s legal team and the issue would be resolved either in or out of court in most cases without the need for the content creator to be punished beyond dealing with the specific piece of content in question. This process was of course very expensive and and thus abuse of the system was proportionally less common. Fundamentally, the DCMA was never intended to deal with content distribution platforms which are accessible to anyone with an internet connection, and here-in lies the problem.

The DMCA Takedown process shouldn’t be confused with YouTube’s automated Content ID systems, which are designed to automate the process of proactively ensuring that revenue from any content hosted on the platform goes to the rightful copyright owner. At least to the best of my knowledge, the DMCA Takedown process requires a specific claim to be made manually. And thus in my opinion, the problem isn’t YouTube, the problem is the outdated law which makes the systems provided by YouTube easily abused and weaponised.

The reality is if YouTube were to allow content to remain hosted and published on their platform whilst a potential copyright infringement was being investigated, to my understanding at least, this would make them at least in part liable which is the reason for the seemingly unfair “guilty until proven innocent” stance that is so often labelled as “YouTube not caring about the very people who make them money”. The Content ID system is designed in part to flag potential copyright issues before a video is published so that no rights are violated and any revenue generated goes to its rightful recipient from the get-go.

That’s certainly not to say that YouTube or Google’s systems are perfect. I’ve personally been on the receiving end of false claims in the past that have resulted other business ventures being crippled to death after years of effort. It’s quite common for example for TV Networks to use people’s content without permission in their shows, then upload the episode to YT and the original creator receives a copyright strike for their own content. But we need to see the bigger picture here.

So if Mike get’s his channel back, why do we even care?

There’s a few very important reasons.

Firstly this sets an extremely dangerous precedent. As Ermin Hamidovich so eloquently put in his video covering the same topic, “I will not be a part of a community where people live in fear of speaking out against what they perceive to be unjust simply because they’re afraid of the repercussions.”

As I said before, a DCMA Takedown can be issued by anyone and while false claims are of course illegal, that doesn’t stop people from weaponizing the process and using it to retaliate against content they don’t like for whatever reason.

This is of course a terrifying prospect for content creators like me who’s family depend on the income generated by our channels, but it’s also a major concern to the wider community who rely on our content as an accurate and reliable source of information for the same reason.

If content creators cannot give their honest opinions in their content for fear of the repercussions, this undermines the entire industry.

It doesn’t stop there either. Thankfully, my personal experiences experiences when dealing with manufacturers and distributors has been overwhelmingly positive, and they generally take any negative feedback on board to help improve their brand. However, I’ve personally seen instances where content creators have been blocked from online forums so they can’t defend themselves, then had smear campaigns run against them by manufacturers who didn’t like their reviews to try and discredit them. Thankfully this is a rarity at least in my experience. But it’s still important for you guys to know this kind of thing goes on behind the scenes.

If we as a community allow this behaviour to continue, what happens to smaller channels who don’t have the profile to rally up mass community support when they need it. How many small channels have already been silenced without us even knowing? People running small channels creating content purely out of passion for the community and sharing their raw experiences with products they purchased themselves are arguably the people providing the most value back to the community, and anybody creating content intended to provide honest value should feel they are protected by the community they’re serving, and should be free to offer their unbiased opinions without fear. Likewise people like me running larger channels as their job should not live in fear of their reputation, or their years worth of hard work and sacrifice, as well as their source of income being at the risk of being stripped away because they gave an honest opinion.

Now while of course there is an appeal process available when it comes to DMCA takedowns, the reality is these distribution services receive huge numbers of appeals every day, and while we’d all like to think that every single one of these is given the time it deserves to reach the correct outcome, at least in my experience this doesn’t appear to always be the case. In Mike’s case, this could just have easily gone the other way had he not had your support behind him. Hence us finding ourselves in the situation where we rely on the community making as much noise as possible to drum up support, just like what we have seen for Mike this week.

So I’d like to encourage every one of you to continue to hold the entire industry accountable, from the content distribution services like YouTube, to the content creators and the companies who’s products and services we review. Continue to challenge the authenticity of our work and hold us accountable if you see something you disagree with or doesn’t match your experience. Continue to share your own opinions freely. It’s your right to do so and in my opinion the best value in any of my review videos always comes from the comments from people who own the products for themselves. Continue to call out toxic behaviour when you see it, and do so fearlessly. If not for content creators like me, do it for the little guys who don’t have a voice without you.

I know this video is a bit different from our normal content here on the channel but this is something I thought was important, so I hope it’s helped you better understand the landscape. Please continue to support Mike and your favourite content creators, and if you have any questions at all about anything we’ve discussed in today’s video, please let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction.

Thanks a lot for watching and for supporting Mike through this difficult time, and thanks for seeing it through to what appears to be a positive outcome. It’s a shame it took the Streisand effect to make this happen, but thanks’ to Mike’s big balls, hopefully anyone else thinking of trying the same stunt will think twice, and for that we all owe Mike for taking one for the team.