Sega forces mistaken DMCA takedown for Steam data tracker

Artist's conception of Sega lawyers coming for SteamDB...
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Here at Ars Technica, we’ve covered plenty of examples of somewhat overzealous uses of DMCA takedown notices, to say the least. But Sega’s latest takedown request, for an innocuous page on a Steam data-tracking site, might take the cake.

As SteamDB creator Pavel Djundik shared on Twitter Monday, Sega’s lawyers asked that the site and its host take down a page for Yakuza: Like a Dragon. The takedown request alleges that SteamDB is distributing or linking to pirated copies of the game, even though a quick glance at an archived version shows that’s not true.

That page, like every other on SteamDB, simply compiles historical data on pricing, concurrent players, and other statistics from Steam’s own API and public store pages. While there is a link to install the game near the top, that link directs users to Steam itself, which will attempt to install a legitimate copy if the user owns it.

“SteamDB does not support piracy, it does not provide downloads, it does not sell keys, it does not link to any websites that do any of these activities,” the site writes on its FAQ page. “SteamDB only embeds Steam’s official widget for purchasing the game… We consider our website to fall under fair use, please do not send us DMCA takedowns.”

Djundik says these kinds of mistaken DMCA requests happen about once a year on SteamDB, and it’s not hard to imagine an overzealous web crawler misidentifying a page for some lawyers seeking to deter software pirates. But Djundik says previous problems have always been quickly resolved with the takedown requester. In Sega’s case, Djundik says the company “did not reply to the first abuse report and sent a new one to our hoster.”

As such, the SteamDB page for Yakuza: Like a Dragon” has been replaced with the following message: “This page was taken down because SEGA is claiming we distribute their game here (we don’t).”

Djundik followed up overnight to say he has been in contact with Sega of America, which hopefully means this snafu should be resolved relatively soon (a Sega representative wasn’t immediately available to respond to a request for comment from Ars Technica). Still, the whole saga is yet another example of how easy it is for completely non-infringing content to sometimes get caught up in the DMCA’s net.