It’s finally here. After nearly 10 years of development, multiple launch delays, controversies surrounding mandatory crunch and tremendous hype, Cyberpunk 2077 arrives. It is now on PC, Stadia, Xbox and PlayStation (both consoles currently run backwards compatible versions, with next-gen upgrades upcoming). With rave reviews from fans and critics alike, thanks to a freeform open-world, fantastic graphics and the sheer content, it is now widely analyzed, explored and enjoyed by millions.
As we previously mentioned here, CD Projekt Red (of the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt fame) treats its fans better than most contemporaries. While a few years back, we saw big names like EA called out for greedy paywalls in their games, this company stands apart. After all, the Witcher 3 itself grew so iconic thanks to its quality gameplay, reasonably priced DLC and steady support via patches and updates. With Cyberpunk 2077, it may also become equally praised for that too. However, CD Projekt Red just dropped the ball majorly when it comes to protecting streamers legally playing the game.
Despite assurances otherwise, CD Projekt Red left an unsafe track during a crucial mission
In the weeks following up to December 10, CD Projekt Red teased slow trickles of information on their highly-anticipated game. With regular livestreams and official Tweets with new information, fans grew pumped. Many of their features appealed to fans because of the way they encouraged and facilitated streaming. Forming a source of income for many gamers, the company wanted to extend a friendly hand of support. They built in an optional nudity censor (despite the game’s mature, explicit overtones), unlike the Witcher 3. This aimed to help streamers on YouTube evade community guidelines violations.
The other major step they took was sharing the workarounds to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). In the United States, this body of law is used to root out illegal pirating and copyright infringement. While it can help music artists worried about getting their records bootlegged, it has some unintended repercussions. The chiefest of these is that anyone propagating said art without paying an official royalty/copyright may face a ‘strike’. A DMCA strike is a serious punishment, and often platforms like Twitch and YouTube instantly drop affected streamers. That could mean the loss of one’s career right away, along with a hefty fine or other penal injunctions.
In Cyberpunk 2077’s case, CD Projekt Red made it clear that players who wanted to stream gameplay could easily toggle off music. This would mean the rest of the game’s audio would remain unaffected, but the potential risk removed. However, they also recently discovered that the score during an important ‘braindance’ mission maintained unavoidable copyrighted music. This means anyone streaming that particular part of the game could see a sudden DMCA strike.
We just noticed there's a song in the game which might put a DMCA strike on your channel even when playing with “Disable Copyrighted Music” option on. While we work on fixing it, please make sure to turn the sound off during the first two Braindance sequences. Apologies! pic.twitter.com/yfP6Tbdta0
— Cyberpunk 2077 (@CyberpunkGame) December 9, 2020
While they caught this issue early on, the damage may already impact countless unaware Cyberpunk 2077 fans
The first two braindances segments mentioned above, unfortunately, come pretty early into the game. The game, now released almost a full day ago in some areas, may already become a landmine. Undoubtedly, more than a few streamers have already broadcasted these sections of the game, totally unaware of the potential DMCA hammer. And while the company may have caught on and acknowledged the problem, they have no timeline on any solution as of yet.
Furthermore, keep in mind the DMCA don’t just target streamers. Even sharing video game clips to your social media may trigger a warning or possible strike. That means even casual gamers outside of streaming may become affected.
So, as a PSA to any fellow Cyberpunk 2077 fans: please don’t stream or post anything else with any recognizable form of music. Wait a bit, and hopefully CD Projket Red will totally deworm the entire game. Stay tuned for the latest on that!