Have you ever heard of the Streisand effect? is when someone Attempts to suppress information, only to end up spreading it further than it could have otherwise traveled.
For example: Last week, I might have been skeptical if you told me that a podcaster got hold of a casting script for the next Tomb Raider game, one that reveals that a lonely, older Lara Croft can dodge lasers in a “gravity tomb.” “. and strike up a romance with another female character.
but if you what’s more told me that the lead attorney for Tomb Raider studio Crystal Dynamics immediately sent out a DMCA takedown notice, one in which he testified under penalty of perjury that the podcast infringed on the studio’s intellectual property. I absolutely believe that the script and those details are completely, totally real.
That’s exactly what happened in the last few days (via CVG). On Friday, Colin Moriarty’s Sacred Symbols podcast contained an unusual segment featuring part of a purported casting script for British actors playing the role of Lara Croft herself. “They are looking for a woman in her 30s, who is white, five foot seven, athletic, and a prototype for Emily Blunt, Rosamund Pike, etc,” Moriarty read.
He then went on to read a long passage outlining a possible new tone for the new game:
Lara Croft is now at the top of her game. Gone are the days of the fledgling young woman dealing with legacy issues and family reckoning, Lara left her childhood behind and fully embraced a life of adventure and purpose. Her legendary career has been praised in the press and tabloids, tall tales of adventure that have inspired a new generation of Tomb Raiders to seek their fortunes in the world. And with this new phase of her life, Lara fully accepted her place among the ruins.
For many years, Lara plumbed the depths of forgotten places, played cat against mouse with many nefarious opponents, and worked to discover, preserve, and protect the world’s lost secrets from falling into the wrong hands. But over the years, Lara has become a loner at the top. The beginning of this next chapter presents Lara with the quintessential adult problem that she is facing with something too big to handle alone in this new adventure. Lara will face a challenge that she can only overcome with a team by her side. Collaboration is alien to her. She has always been successful alone. So in this situation, she is a fish out of water.
After that, her co-hosts Chris and Dustin acted out the two casting scenes, introducing Lara, a woman named Tanvi, and a man named Devindra (hope I spelled that correctly). Lastly, Moriarty reads a note that the actress they are looking for may have “romantic scenes with another female character” but that there is “no nudity or simulated sex.”
Apparently, all of that was enough to push Square Enix’s Crystal Dynamics to send out the DMCA takedown notice the same day, albeit not to Moriarty, but to the Patreon page where subscribers support his podcast, directly threatening his source of income. .
On Monday afternoon, Patreon sent out the DMCA notice, and after spending $1,000 consulting with his own attorney and time with Patreon’s legal team, Moriarty says he decided to remove that specific segment from the podcast, though he thinks it was probably an act of journalism. “I didn’t steal it, I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t buy it,” he told listeners in a follow-up video about the DMCA takedown. “I was acting on the notion that this is fair use, this is in the great public interest.”
I obtained a copy of Moriarty’s original DMCA notice. While he’s vague about what, exactly, Crystal Dynamics is disagreeing with, there aren’t many possibilities. Even the YouTube version of the mostly audio podcast has no images belonging to Square Enix, no logos or images of Lara, not even transforming. It’s audio only. “I read maybe 2/5 of the cover, usually word for word, and then we acted out the two scenes they gave me,” Moriarty tells me. Removing that audio was enough to satisfy Patreon’s legal team, he says.
Moriarty also says that he doesn’t blame Patreon for not wanting to back down. “I’m not mad at them in this situation, nor do I blame them.” But he doesn’t want to be “a martyr for freedom of expression” either.
“I personally think we could make a ‘fair use’ move, both in news notoriety and our interpretation of the script, but I don’t have the time, means or energy to fight, and I don’t want to open ourselves up to any more trouble. Unfortunately, it is easier to capitulate, which, if I may be conniving, seems to be the point in these cases. I am a person who runs a business from my home; Square Enix is, well, Square Enix,” she tells me.
Richard Hoeg, a lawyer who covers these kinds of topics on his own Virtual Legality podcast (and also has his own Patreon), joined Moriarty in the follow-up video. He explained that it is difficult to know what may or may not be considered fair use.
“If it is the design document […] that you read aloud in your video, that will give the other party more of a chance to file an infringement claim,” Hoeg suggested, while still entertaining the idea that it might be fair use. He concludes that you can’t really know until there’s a verdict in court, and Sacred Symbols has made it clear that they don’t want to fight to find out.
Still, the Sacred Symbols podcast isn’t completely giving in to what they assume to be Square Enix’s demands. The original, unedited version of the podcast will remain on YouTube and its free podcast feeds until Square Enix takes action there as well.
Square Enix did not respond to a request for comment.