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Riot boss regrets reaction to League of Legends SpectateFaker case

But sticks to his guns.

Riot president and co-founder Marc Merrill has moved to clarify the developer's position on League of Legends streaming rules following a high-profile dispute earlier this week - and expressed regret for the way he initially reacted to it.

Lee Faker Sang-hyeok, Mid Laner for South Korean professional League of Legends team SK Telecom T1.

The "SpectateFaker" streaming case involved Korean pro player Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok, whose gameplay was being broadcast on Twitch by streamer "StarLordLucian".

This upset eSports network Azubu, with whom Faker had signed an exclusivity contract. As a result, Azubu and Faker issued a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice against StarLordLucian's Twitch stream.

Complicating matters, StarLordLucian's Twitch stream was enabled using the standard streaming API for League of Legends. StarLordLucian had been watching Faker's matches in League of Legends as a spectator using a third-party client Riot supports called OP.GG.

After the takedown notice had been filed, StarLordLucian insisted he hadn't done anything illegal or against the League of Legends terms of service, and vowed to continue the stream.

Now that the dust has settled somewhat, Merrill revealed Riot had spent the week debating the issue of balancing access to gameplay footage players want to see, with protection for individual players who do not consent to having a third party stream their games.

In a post on the League of Legends website, Merrill said Riot had "no interest" in seeing the in-game spectator experience for ranked games "crippled".

He added the DMCA issued by Azabu "did not have a legal standing" because Riot, not Azabu, owns League of Legends gameplay content.

However, Riot agreed with Faker that the stream was "harmful to him and to his brand". So, Merrill confirmed, it will honour Faker's request and have the stream removed.

Merrill had commented on the issue earlier this week in a controversial post on Reddit that accused StarLordLucian of "harassment and bullying".

Now that he's had time to think about the post, Merrill expressed regret about its tone, but he stopped short of issuing an apology.

Now Riot's had a think about the SpectateFaker case, it's come up with a position: it will shut down streams it believes are "causing harm to individual players". This, Merrill said, will usually result from a takedown request, so Riot will make it easier for streamers to get in touch with the developer, and will look into requests on a case by case basis.

The upshot: "With regards to the SpectateFaker stream case, we believe strongly that the potential material harm caused to the player is real," Merrill stated. "As such, we'll be honouring Faker's request and pursuing a takedown of the stream."

And it's clear the entire episode has affected Merrill, whose initial comment on Reddit was widely criticised.

"To be honest, a lot of the comments still sting," he concluded, "but we'll learn from this experience and improve going forward."

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