A year-long legal battle has ended in favor of a YouTube video game critic. A court has dismissed developer Digital Homicide’s case against YouTuber Jim Sterling, thus defending Sterling’s 2014 panning of Digital Homicide’s game Slaughtering Grounds.
The details of the case reveal Digital Homicide as a studio with a penchant for frivolous litigation. After Sterling gave Slaughtering Grounds a poor review, calling it a contender for the worst game of the year, Digital Homicide claimed the video constituted an improper use of copyrighted material, stating for all intents and purposes that Sterling did not give the game a fair shake. After a battle in the DMCA arena proved fruitless for Digital Homicide, the studio sued Sterling, asking for $10 million.
Sterling, in a recent statement, called the suit a “waste of time and money,” and the court seemed to agree. As part of the decision to dismiss the case, Digital Homicide had to agree “to refrain from taking action against Defendant’s business” without first considering Sterling’s right to fair use.
The ultimate decision seems to please Sterling, though the critic and other YouTubers have lamented that such an unnecessary lawsuit was able to put a significant tax on Sterling’s finances thanks to the legal fees he had to pay. “That it got as far as it did, went on for as long as it did, is atrocious,” said Sterling, who has dealt with his fair share of fair use-related disputes in the past, “especially when this is a case that amounts to a game developer wanting to silence a game critic.”
More context is available in a recent video from Philip DeFranco, who provided an overview of Sterling’s case and urged YouTubers to band together when a member of the community finds him or herself under legal fire.