Epic Games has made some news this month over the announcement that they are filing lawsuits against people cheating in Fortnite. How many lawsuits? This many, so far:
One particular lawsuit has caught greater attention because it turns out that the defendant is 14 years old. Epic Games filed a complaint against Caleb Rogers, or Sky Orbit as he is known on Youtube, one month ago for copyright infringement and breach of contract under North Carolina law. The lawsuit here stems from multiple DMCA stikes against the defendant’s channel by Epic Games, taking down videos showcasing and promoting cheating in the video game Fortnite. The defendant appealed said strikes, and under copyright law the only avenue going further for Epic Games is to file a lawsuit.
Further, Defendant is streaming videos of himself playing and cheating at Fortnite by using cheat software (“cheats” or “hacks”) to unlawfully modify Fortnite’s software. In the videos Defendant posts on YouTube, Defendant promotes and demonstrates a Fortnite cheat, and provides viewers with a link to a site from which they can acquire the cheat for themselves.
Epic Games also notes in the lawsuit that Rogers has been banned from the game at least 14 times, and continued creating accounts and posting videos on Youtube attempting to promote the cheat program, going so far as to create a second Youtube account to circumvent the takedown notice.
Defendant has been banned from playing Fortnite for this conduct at least 14 times. He nevertheless continues to play using other accounts he created using false names. He has also continued to cheat and to publicly perform and display video of himself cheating on YouTube in an effort to induce others to buy the cheat he sells so that they too can cheat at Fortnite.
A response video by the defendant on the lawsuit can be found here where he disputes the number of bans and claims that the 14 count is exaggerated and is “more like 10 or 5.”
Epic has included the Copyright appeal sent to Youtube.
On October 17, 2017, Defendant submitted a counter-notification responding to Epic’s DMCA takedown notice for the First Video in which he stated “i did noting rong this strike is all wrong I was modding in a video game that isn’t against youtubes TOS Why was i striked ?!”
To say that Epic Games is suing a 14 year old because of cheating would be boiling down the story into its base parts and picking out the wrong piece to focus on. It’d be like me covering a burglary and the headline being “Man Arrested For Putting Some Money In His Pocket,” (Note: I’m not equating the two). There is also a misconception going around that Epic cannot sue Rogers as he is 14 and therefore not an adult. This is also not true, as in the United States a child can be sued for willful or malicious damages, in which case his parents would be liable for paying said damages. Most states cap this amount, however North Carolina actually doesn’t have such a cap on damages.
In their lawsuit, Epic Games is seeking injunctive relief, barring the defendant from cheating or sharing further videos of cheating in Fortnite, as well as statutory damages due to the defendant distributing said cheats and advertising them on his Youtube channel. One spot where Epic Games may have lost the mark is in their belief that Rogers had a financial investment in the cheat itself. Unless Epic has access to some information that we don’t, the defendant has expressly denied that he is involved in any way with the creation of said cheat program.
On information and belief, Defendant engages in such conduct to promote the cheat via his Sky Orbit and Sky Orbit V2 YouTube channels because Defendant obtains some financial benefit or value in consideration for his video postings and/or the sale of the cheat he promotes and demonstrates in the First and Third Videos.
The defendant’s mother submitted a letter to the court which may or may not have been a bad idea, as it shows a glaring lack of understanding of both the situation as well as what exactly her son is being sued over, and likely divulges more than any lawyer would advise her to say.
Regardless, it is likely that Epic Games did not know the age of the defendant prior to filing said lawsuit, so whether or not they will pursue the case further will have to be seen. This is just one of at least six lawsuits currently pending from Epic toward cheat makers and promoters.
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