Notorious PlayStation 4 Developer Gilson B. Pontes is attempting to take down the YouTube Channel of Independent Games Critic James Stephanie Sterling via fraudulent copyright strikes.
Pontes, who operates under LGS Productions, is an independent game developer who has released one game a year for the PS4’s online store since 2017. The games are notorious for their low quality despite the games costing up to of $29.99, and many in the gaming community on YouTube have criticized Pontes’ games.
Sterling is one of those critics. While they are most famous for their Jimquisition series which tackles the biggest concerns in the video game industry every week, they’ve also done gameplay videos commenting on how bad Pontes’ games are. In fact, a Gilson B. Pontes game has appeared in Sterling’s annual “Top 10 Shittiest Games of the Year” videos every year since the release of Pontes’ first game: Spear of Destiny. As Sterling described, all of Pontes’ games involve the player running for a long time through a game world bereft of content until they find an enemy and get killed by it in one hit.
Now the developer is issuing copyright strikes on Sterling’s videos criticizing his games a few days after Sterling released a gameplay video for Pontes’ latest game: Taishogun: The Rise of Emperor. In fact, Gilson now has four videos of Sterling’s removed and two copyright strikes. If Sterling receives another strike, then their YouTube channel – which has 907,000 subscribers – is eligible for termination with all of their videos removed according to Google’s rules. Sterling’s ability to make new channels will also be revoked.
Update (March 19, 2021): YouTube has reinstated all of Sterling’s videos after Pontes tried issuing three different copyright strikes over three consecutive days (hitting one video on the first day, three on the second, and a final one on the third day), according to a statement by Sterling. The copyright strike he tried to initiate Friday was not honored by YouTube on the grounds that it lacked evidence. YouTube told Sterling that it was “unclear” if Pontes was issuing fraudulent claims, and then Sterling told YouTube and Pontes that if their videos were not reinstated by the end of today, they were more than prepared to take the issue to court and even set precedent for the way things should be done.
Sterling thanked his fans for their support over the past day and credits their pressure in YouTube reversing course.
I am not sure what spurred YouTube to reverse course, but it was pressure without a doubt that did it. Could have been me or the support my platform has received. Either way, one thing is clear – my channel was going to be killed today because one oversensitive little boy got upset at criticism, and the only reason it’s still here is because I had perks others did not.
I had the incredible privilege of resources and the right people at my back. I had lawyers to throw at them, and a history of dealing with this kind of thing. Many others who don’t have that, or the platform to apply pressure, are wiped out.
Update (March 22, 2021): Sterling released the latest in their Jimquisition series where they tell the story of how Pontes tried to take down their channel with fraudulent claims.
In the video, Sterling points out that Pontes is himself guilty of copyright infringement. Before Pontes started releasing a PS4 game a year, he made a number of PlayStation Vita games. One of these games, Solbrain: Knight of Darkness, contains a number of stolen assets. According to Techraptor, the character model is taken from Tera, the character’s shield is from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and the game’s logo is an image from Deviantart user Coocoon. The trailer for the game used music ripped from the soundtrack of Ori and the Blind Forest, which the developers themselves confirmed. Even the game’s description on PlayStation Store seemed taken from the description of another independent game, Odallus: The Dark Call. Solbrain has since been delisted from the PlayStation Store.
A couple of hours after Sterling released the Jimquisition episode, Pontes started trying to claim the videos all over again. However, this time YouTube stepped in to block these strikes and stop the videos from being taken down, citing fair use as a reason.
Update (March 24, 2021): Pontes tried sending another copyright strike, this time aimed at the Jimquisition episode detailing his attempt to kill Sterling’s channel. This strike was also blocked by YouTube itself.
These copyright claims are fraudulent because the videos being claimed fall under fair use, which allows someone to use copyrighted material for limited and “transformative” purposes including criticism according to Stanford Libraries.
Sterling posted a statement on Twitter, saying that they plan on challenging the copyright strikes if their channel is deleted.
It is not a good time for this clownishness and I have no patience for it. This is not 2014, and I have a lot more shit in my life to get on with.
Gilson is fucking with that life because his little feelings got hurt over a fucking review. It’s honestly pathetic.
I always knew the channel would go down eventually, either temporarily or permanently. I’m surprised I went all these years without a full platform takedown yet. I did not expect it’d be thanks to fucking *Gilson* though.
Frankly I am unsure if he is in this country, but we have the registered business address and the contact details YT provided, so I am in touch my my lawyer on this.
The bit about this not being 2014 is in reference to the first time another notorious developer Digital Homicide issued a copyright strike against a video where Sterling criticizes one of their games. The situation with Digital Homicide culminated in 2016 when the developer filed a libel lawsuit asking for $10 million in damages. The case was raised to $15 million before being dismissed with prejudice the next year.
When asked by another user if they will consider a lawsuit if the channel is take down, Sterling said that it hopefully won’t come to that.
Even if the channel is taken down, Sterling said that they’ll still post videos in their flagship series: The Jimquisition, and that they’ll release the videos as royalty-free files viewers can download and upload wherever they please.
“I only care that the work gets out there at the end of the day,” Sterling said.
Sterling came out as trans nonbinary on The Jimquisition last January, though they’ve embraced their non-binary identity ever since coming out as “non-binary pansexual gendertrash” in August 2020. While Sterling now calls themselves James Stephanie Sterling, the YouTube channel and related social media channels still use the branding of Jim Sterling (they’re also fine being referred to as Jim Sterling).
Read More: Jim Sterling: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know