Blizzard Issues DMCA Notice for Overwatch Porn

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Image courtesy of imflain, of DeviantArt

It seemed only a matter of time, but many Overwatch fans’ worst nightmare has come to pass: Blizzard has begun the process of attempting to censor Overwatch pornography.

Since the game’s closed beta in late 2015, Overwatch’s cast has taken the pornography scene by storm. 2D drawings of characters like Tracer, Widowmaker, and D.Va began popping up across the net. Models were ripped and rebuilt from the game for use in Source Film Maker, a freeware video capturing program developed by Valve. Pornhub reported an unprecedented amount of searches for Overwatch during the closed and open betas, with searches increasing by over 800%.

A massive spike in Overwatch searches occurs the day the open beta goes live.
A massive spike in Overwatch searches occurs the day the open beta goes live.

As of the last week of May, many sites, ranging from Tumblr to dedicated Overwatch pornography sites, started to receive cease and desist notifications from Blizzard. Being the entertainment giant that they are, larger sites like Tumblr and Pornhub bowed to Blizzard’s will. Other sites, such as OverwatchHentai, have had to create disclaimers in order to prevent legal action.

Multiple artists in the Overwatch and SFM porn community have confirmed the DMCA notices, noting that they have had to delete all of their works related to Overwatch from their sites.

Popular 3D artist Ellowas, who employs programs like Maya and SFM, posted a statement to his Tumblr on May 27.

“As you might have noticed, due to the recent media coverage on Overwatch-porn, a lot of creators have been hit with copyright strikes and got their stuff taken down – me being one of them.

I just received my second and final warning from Tumblr, forcing me to strip my blog from any posts, in in order to protect myself from being banned.

No idea how things will go from here.”

Others have taken to twitter and Reddit.

Blizzard has yet to confirm publicly that they have issued the DMCA notices. Though the artists are able to challenge the copyright strike, it may unfortunately not be worth the money and time to do so.

Fair use and parody are difficult subjects to tackle; there are a myriad of factors that can be used to determine whether a pornographic animation or drawing constitutes fair use. In order for the work to fall under the protection of fair use, it needs to be used for parody, review, or educational purposes. Since the 2D and 3D pornography for Overwatch is obviously not educational or for reviewing, it must be considered parody.

A key issue is the 3D modeling: the assets for the videos splattered across porn websites originated from the game itself. The modelers have since customized and recreated many of their features, but they can be traced back to Overwatch. Whether this constitutes fair use is difficult to say.

2D artists have a multitude of court cases to back up the legality of their creations. These works, which take the look of a character and add the artist’s own spin and “personality,” fall under the classification of “derivative work,” which is protected under copyright law.

If the 3D artists can swing this same classification for their own work and essentially convince Blizzard that the models have been changed drastically enough, it may be possible for them to continue their work. At this point in time, no artist has filed a counter-claim.