I consider myself a (very) minor video game critic, but a video game critic nonetheless. People send me free games to review, and I write weekly about this wonderful hobby.
To some, that makes me a “games journalist.”
But as a “games journalist,” I’m often critical of actual games journalists—the ones who are paid to write about and cover the gaming industry full time. Why? Because many of them are hardly anything more than glorified bloggers who spew pointlessly controversial takes about games to garner hate clicks, and I know they can do better.
On Friday, I was shocked to learn a games journalist had tried to silence some of my criticism.
This is something I’ve talked about endlessly the past couple of days. I made a Twitter thread, YouTube video and podcast episode about this fiasco, and fellow YouTubers have even covered it. Indulge me once again as I share my thoughts on a story I think is incredibly important, especially as a free-speech advocate and journalist.
On May 2, I read an article by games journalist Jeffrey Grubb, who works for GamesBeat. The article is titled “Red Dead Redemption II must deconstruct the American Frontier mythology” and talks at great length about how the upcoming Wild West blockbuster must be a progressive, forward-thinking game.
For reasons I won’t dive into here, I disagreed with a lot of the piece. So, as I often do, I took screenshots of some of the article’s paragraphs I wanted to highlight, threw them together with some criticism of Grubb’s ideas and tweeted it out.
The tweet got a decent amount of attention—almost 200 retweets and more than 500 likes. Though Twitter should never be taken too seriously, people apparently agreed with my views.
Of course, Grubb did not, but I never imagined he would take the low route he did in his attempt to quell my criticism.
I awoke Friday to an email from Twitter that Grubb had filed a Digital Millennium Copyright Act claim against my tweet, claiming it was copyright infringement. Twitter had deleted the screenshots at Grubb’s request.
In his claim, Grubb claimed the screenshots I tweeted contained his “entire article,” which is 100 percent false, as even Grubb himself has admitted. The screenshots I tweeted make up less than a third of Grubb’s article, which you’d think would be obvious to the man who wrote the piece and is willing to do something as serious as filing a copyright claim against someone else.
Regardless of his false claim, I’m certain my tweet and screenshots constitute fair use. I used the screenshots to share my own criticism, making my tweet transformative. The tweet was noncommercial and arguably educational, and it certainly didn’t impact Grubb’s or GamesBeat’s “market.” To me, this is textbook fair use, especially considering screenshotting content to share on Twitter is incredibly common.
Grubb has told me several times since filing his claim that I have his permission to tweet a screenshot of his entire article, so long as I include a link back to his original story. Why Grubb would be OK with that but not with what he filed a claim against me for, I’ll never know.
Regardless, this is just another of several examples of games journalists bullying their readers. Grubb didn’t message me to ask if I would delete the tweet and repost it with a link. Instead, he decided to file a provably false DMCA claim against a Twitter nobody’s insignificant tweet. Tragic, really.
I’m still weighing my options here, but as a journalist and someone who loves the First Amendment like his own mother, I can’t stand idly by while “professionals” abuse a law to silence dissent. At the very least, I have the support of several people who have encouraged me to fight this.
Put up your dukes, Grubb.