UPDATE: Wargaming has issued an official statement regarding this entire affair, co-signed by four members of the company. The main point, highlighted in yellow text on the World of Tanks website, states that
Our official position is that Wargaming will not take copyright action against opinions based on our publicly released content.
Wargaming also admits to erroneously releasing some statements over the weekend that may have been construed as accusing SirFoch of using homophobic or hate speech, including a statement Jim Sterling received (and included in his video on the topic) that seemed to double down on the threats of copyright action against SirFoch. The matter now seems to have been resolved in the proper matter, with Wargaming “committed to using this incident to grow and improve.”
Original Story: There are a lot of videos on YouTube that basically say “F*** that company.” While crass, insulting, and often childish, they’re typically just emotional outbursts from frustrated consumers. Barring any actual slanderous (i.e., untrue and damaging) statements, it’s generally better for the company being attacked to just let it slide rather than invite a storm of protest from the internet at large.
Not so with Wargaming this week. One of their Community Contributors — a position bestowed upon members of the WG community who help promote the game — SirFoch, posted a, shall we say, less-than-flattering review of a new premium tank in World of Tanks, the Chrysler K GF. You can see it on his Facebook page (language warning) — but not on YouTube. The reason? SirFoch removed the video from YouTube after being threatened with a DMCA takedown notice by a community manager at Wargaming.
It appears that SirFoch was contacted by CM Ph3lan via Discord chat shortly after the video went live. Ph3lan informed SirFoch that he was being removed from the CC program — a valid response to such harsh criticism — but then took things one step further. He asked SirFoch to remove the video from YouTube, and when SirFoch refused, Phelan threatened to “go through YouTube and take it down with a copyright strike.”
Just to clarify, “slander,” which is what Ph3lan accuses SirFoch of in his video, is defined as “the communication of a false statement that harms the reputation” of a person, business, or product — in other words, lying to make someone look bad. Inflammatory as it is, there don’t appear to be any outright falsehoods in SirFoch’s video, making a formal accusation of slander difficult to prove. At the worst, SirFoch calls Wargaming “greedy” and accuses the company of creating the Chrysler K GF simply to make a buck selling premium ammo; if that’s slander, then so is every accusation of pay-to-win ever leveled against a free-to-play game.
The offshoot of all this is, of course, some serious backlash against Wargaming and Ph3lan in particular. There’s the original thread on Reddit, a follow-up from SirFoch (a.k.a. Assassinator) with the screenshots posted above, and a thread on the official WG forums, in which Ph3lan doubles down on his threats, while mentioning another CC who faced similar threats and again accusing SirFoch of slander:
On the bright side, Wargaming’s head of community management, Florian “Nijal” Mentl has chimed in, as you can see at the top of the forum post, stating that WG would never pursue a copyright strike due to criticism and that no such action was ever taken against SirFoch. He’s formally apologized to SirFoch and stated that “We will certainly learn from the situation and will continue to work on the way we communicate.” And give Ph3lan a bit of a talking-to when he gets back in the office, we’d imagine.