Activision targets Call of Duty: Warzone leaks with DMCA takedowns

Artist's conception of Activision lawyers diving into action to issue copyright notices for leaked footage.
Enlarge / Artist’s conception of Activision lawyers diving into action to issue copyright notices for leaked footage.

Activision is using DMCA takedown requests to try to suppress leaked footage of a new Call of Duty: Warzone map that hit the Internet yesterday.

Copies of the leaked footage, which comes as part of a celebrity-filled promotional video for the game, is still available on YouTubeReddit, and other sites as of this writing. Video Games Chronicle confirmed the authenticity of the leaked footage yesterday, though it didn’t cite any specific sources.

This morning, though, VGC reporter Andy Robinson tweeted that his Twitter account had been locked due to a DMCA notice surrounding that coverage. “Still, as if there was any doubt, that’s confirmed our story,” Robinson wrote. An Activision representative was not immediately available to respond to a request for comment from Ars Technica.

One of the first Twitter accounts to initially spread the video, using the handle “On Thin Ice,” now includes an apologetic message saying, “Regarding the Warzone video we shared earlier, our intention was not malicious. We saw it being sent around in multiple discord servers and thought it was already public. Sorry for any negative effect from sharing the video.”

Call of Duty news site Charlie Intel posted a description of the video in question, but the article now notes in the text, “We are unable to show you any images or videos from the leak in this article because of DMCA notice from Activision. The account that originally posted the video has also deleted it because of a DMCA request.”

You’re not supposed to see that yet

In early 2020, Activision used similar DMCA takedown requests to try to limit the spread of leaks regarding the existence of the then-secretive Battle Royale-style Warzone mode. In that case, Activision also reportedly issued a subpoena in an effort to compel Reddit to reveal the leaker’s identity. Activision also issued DMCA takedowns when news of Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War leaked last summer.

Activision is far from alone in making use of the DMCA in this manner. Sony used DMCA requests to limit the spread of spoiler-filled leaks for The Last of Us Part 2 last May. Sony also used the DMCA against discussion of a leaked PS4 software development kit back in 2017.
In 2018, Nintendo used DMCA requests to limit the spread of leaked music and data from early copies of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. And in 2015, Microsoft used the DMCA to take down versions of Halo Online that leaked outside of its closed Russian beta.

Warzone’s new map is widely expected to roll out on April 22, based on an in-game counter for the game’s current Battle Pass season subscription.