Activision Sues YouTuber After He Tried Charging For TikTok Vid

Update 8/11/23 4:50 p.m. ET: As spotted by Reuters, Activision Blizzard has dropped its counter-lawsuit against Anthony Fantano, the super popular music critic behind the well-known YouTube channel The Needle Drop.

In court documents filed on August 10, the company said it “dismisses this entire action,” which includes every claim made in the suit. Activision’s doing this with prejudice, meaning it can’t refile the lawsuit later if it wanted to.

Original story follows…

On July 24, Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard filed a lawsuit in California alleging that YouTuber Anthony Fantano, a music critic who runs the immensely popular channel The Needle Drop, is misusing intellectual property law and “leveraging the popularity” of a widespread TikTok voice clip he created for financial gain. The company said that Fantano, widely known as “the internet’s busiest music nerd,” has embarked on a “scheme” to sue certain users of the clip unless they pay him “extortionate amounts of money,” with Activision Blizzard apparently being Fantano’s largest target.

At the center of the dispute is a widely used voice clip of Fantano saying “it’s enough slices!” The clip originates in a 2021 TikTok that features Fantano reacting to a pizza being cut into increasingly smaller slices. Fantano looks on appreciatively for a while but the slicing just doesn’t stop, prompting him to eventually scream the now-famous line.

The video garnered millions of views and spawned thousands of copycats, leading Activision Blizzard to create their own rendition of the meme in a now-deleted June 2023 TikTok promoting some Crash Bandicoot shoes. Apparently, Fantano wasn’t about it, alleging it created a “false endorsement” of the product without him actually being associated with it. He sent the company a cease-and-desist letter on June 27 demanding that Activision Blizzard stopped using the audio and made a six-figure settlement payment to him. If the company didn’t pay up, he would “initiate litigation.” Interestingly, though, Activision’s lawsuit alleges that Fantano himself opted to put the clip in TikTok’s “Commercial Sounds” library, specifically designating it as usable in advertisements.

“In reliance on TikTok’s explicit representation that the ‘Slices Audio’ was part of its ‘Commercial Sounds’ library— described as ‘sounds that are licensed for commercial use’—Activision paired that video with the ‘Slices Audio,’” the company wrote in the 33-page lawsuit. ‘Notwithstanding that thousands of TikTok videos containing the Slices Audio have been available on TikTok for years without complaint, Fantano suddenly decided that Activision’s video infringed his publicity rights and constituted a false endorsement.”

Activision is effectively arguing that Fantano is trying to game the law for his own gain, with the company’s lawyers writing, “Fantano has embarked on a scheme whereby he selectively threatens to sue certain users of the Slices Audio unless they pay him extortionate amounts of money for their alleged use.”

“This dispute is a textbook example of how intellectual property law can be misused by individuals to leverage unfair cash payments,” Activision’s lawyers wrote. “Fantano was very happy to receive the benefit of the public use of the Slices Video. It was only after he identified a financial opportunity—namely, receiving unjustified settlement payments—that he suddenly decided that his consent was limited. The law does not permit, and the court should not countenance, such overt gamesmanship.”

The company is seeking reimbursement of its legal expenses and a ruling declaring that Fantano cannot sue TikTok users for using the voice clip.

Richard Hoeg, a lawyer who specializes in digital and video game law, told Kotaku in an email that while he hasn’t seen all of the materials in the lawsuit, based on what he knows this far, the company has a decent case here.

“As described by Activision (and remembering theirs is only one side of the story), it would seem they have a good case,” Hoeg said. “The TikTok audio library appears to allow for general commercial use on TikTok, so anyone placing content in the library should be limited in their rights to challenge. That said, there still could be facts we don’t know like whether an unauthorized third party actually effected the sound’s inclusion or even whether it might have been automated.”

Kotaku reached out to Activision Blizzard and Fantano for comment.


FIFA 23 Tiktok Trend Sees Fans Rewriting The Women’s World Cup

If you, like me, are furious that your team is out of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, there’s a TikTok trend that serves as a good outlet for your rage. All you have to do is boot up FIFA 23 and get your revenge by beating the absolute piss out of, say, Sweden, racking up the score until it’s high enough that you could mistake it for a basketball game.

This “revenge game” trend isn’t new (there’s older TikTok videos of players doing similar things in NBA 2K games or boxing titles), but it is going viral during this current Women’s World Cup. When the U.S. Women’s National Team was unceremoniously booted from the round of 16 after losing to Sweden in penalty kicks, one TikTok user almost immediately uploaded a video of them walloping the Swedes in an FIFA 23 match.

Read More: Women Are Staying In FC 24 Ultimate Team, Go Cry About It

The USWNT are even wearing the same uniforms they did during that fateful August 6 game, though in this version of events, they win by at least 17 goals. “Had to get my anger out,” the caption on the video reads as audio of someone aggressively breathing plays over it.

If you’re Australian and bummed that your team is no longer in the running even though you’re the host country, you can play England in FIFA 23 and pretend that late, third goal in the August 16 semi-final game never happened. Someone on TikTok already has, putting a different heavy, angry breathing audio track over a clip of Australia beating England 94-0. The on-screen graphics even perfectly match the branding for the ‘23 WWC, a testament to how dedicated FIFA 23 is to realism (except for, ya know, the score). “It’s only been 4 hours,” someone commented.

It’s unclear what settings these players are inputting in order to rack up such ridiculously high goal numbers, but FIFA 23 does have its own Women’s World Cup mode where you can select what stage you want to play in (group stage, round of 16, semi-finals, and so on), and what teams you want to see face off. It also has player ratings based on this tournament, with Australia’s Sam Kerr at the very top (no surprise there).

I don’t have FIFA 23, but I’m seriously considering getting it just so I can see the Women’s World Cup play out as it should have: Lynn Williams would start every match, Crystal Dunn would be back at forward, and Carli Lloyd and Alexi Lalas would be on mute.

Big Oil Using Fortnite And TikTok To Get Kids Into Fossil Fuel

Kids today only care about online free-to-play shooter Fortnite. They don’t even talk about how great gasoline is! Luckily for us, one large oil company wants to change that using Fortnite, TikTok stars, and Twitch streamers. Welcome to Hell.

Climate change is bad. I think we can all agree on that. But for kids, who have long lives and futures ahead of them, the prospect of the planet turning into a nightmare sphere of extreme weather and chaos is particularly scary. But don’t worry about all that, kids. Instead, Shell—a massive oil company and one of the many entities directly responsible for destroying our planet—wants you all to know just how rad its fossil fuel products are, and even made a whole Fortnite world for you to enjoy! But to truly enjoy it, you’ll need to use Shell’s V-Power® NiTRO+ Premium Gasoline, of course.

As reported by Media Matters earlier this week, Shell has partnered with map creators to develop “Shell Ultimate Road Trips”, a Fortnite world featuring six different areas to explore in the car of your choice. In the middle of these worlds, players will find a lonely, sad-looking Shell gas station acting as the map’s hub.

The campaign—part of Shell’s pivot back to focusing on gasoline over cleaner energy sources— is designed to promote the company’s “new and improved” premium gasoline. The idea is that in the map, players will need to occasionally fill up at the central Shell gas station and use its new V-Power NiTRO+ fuel to successfully navigate obstacles and courses.

Content creators are being enlisted to create big oil propaganda

To help promote this terrible collaboration, Shell has enlisted various TikTok creators and Twitch streamers in an effort to connect with their large audiences made up of mostly younger individuals.

Media Matters reportedly identified at least a half dozen streamers—including folks like Punisher, NateHill, Chica, and brookeab—with a combined Twitch following of over 5.5 million subscribers—who helped promote Shell’s Fortnite map and fossil fuel products during sponsored streams that racked up over a million views. Some of these creators also promoted the sponsored streams on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok to their millions of followers. Media Matters also identified three content creators who advertised the ShellxFortnite map in several videos posted on the gas company’s official YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram accounts.

The creators directly promoting Shell’s gasoline propaganda have a combined audience of 8.5 million TikTok followers, 1.5 million Instagram followers, and over 11 million YouTube subscribers.

In August, Shell even paid out for a sponsored post on IGN as well as a three-part series featuring IGN staff playing Fortnite and exploring the Shell-sponsored map. The videos are covered in Shell logos and featured on a fancy IGN-hosted website dedicated to the oil company’s Fortnite map.

Kids aren’t buying this crap

So how’s all this money and effort paying off? As far as I can tell, not great. For example, looking at that IGN article, it’s got only two comments and both are negative. On YouTube, the IGN videos have mostly received negative comments from viewers, with many calling out the outlet for sponsoring an oil company. Elsewhere, the official trailers put out by Shell for their Fortnite creation are similarly receiving negative comments.

“Drop in this season and complete the objective: ‘Do irreparable damage to the environment with Shell!” is the top-rated comment on this trailer for the map.

This is all part of an ongoing campaign by big oil companies, like Shell, to connect with younger people via online influencers and content creators. In 2021, Earther reported that Shell and Phillips 66 had started campaigns with Instagram influencers. These sponsored deals and ads aren’t just about promoting oil companies and their products. These large corporations know that as climate change gets worse, it’s getting harder to convince young people to keep buying gas-powered cars and supporting the fossil fuel industry.

As Media Matters pointed out, in a 2021 survey of young people between the ages of 16-25, about 75% said the future is frightening because of climate change. It’s hard to sell gasoline and diesel to teens who know it’s destroying the planet and their futures. And it doesn’t look like some Instagram models and Fortnite videos on IGN promoting Shell are going to be enough to change their minds.


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