Was Epic Games Right to Sue a 14-Year Old?
Fortnite

When companies create games, they need to go to all sorts of trouble to protect them. This can involve lawsuits to ensure their property is secure. Naturally, some people do exactly what they aren’t supposed to do, which forces companies to step up. Such a thing has happened with Epic Games and Fortnite, as it has needed to take legal action against… a 14-year old?

Yes, this was a strange, but true situation. Let’s go through the facts. The 14-year-old in question was playing Fortnite. He used Addicted Cheats on the game to make it easier for himself and win. He made a video of himself doing so, also promoting the cheat website and its products in the process. Epic Games filed a DMCA to have the video taken down, because cheats are a breach of the contract to play the game and the video should not have been made. The kid then filed an appeal to have the video remain. Epic Games is taking the teen to court, because it is necessary to back up the DMCA claim. Clearly, this is a situation where the kid was being an idiot, broke the contract, is in the wrong, should have pulled the video, and now should be responsible for his actions. Right?

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Well, his mother came up to bat, and she was not happy. To summarize, she said that her kid is a scapegoat. He didn’t make the software, she claims this is about Epic Games losing alleged profits, she says that Delaware release of information on minors laws have been violated, and that she did not give parental consent for him, a minor, to even play. While all of this sounds impressive and fierce, frankly her arguments don’t have a strong basis. While it would of course be a bad legal strategy to admit any wrong-doing, she goes out of her way to make it seem like her son is some innocent victim in all this, when both she and her kid have some lessons to learn.

Epic Games has to pursue this lawsuit. If it does not, it has to drop its valid DMCA claim. Having videos online showing how you can cheat in Fortnite and pointing you to the website that can provide you with this opportunity is a horrible thing. It steals profits from the game creators. It ruins the game for all the legitimate players who want to enjoy it. The 14-year-old was wrong to use the cheats, make the video showing himself using the cheats, promote the website that offered the cheats, and appeal the valid DMCA claim. Yes, he is a minor and outing him was a bad move, but one could argue Epic Games did not realize his age when all this went down. But since minors can not be sued, this points to Epic Games not even realizing that until all the details came out.

And this kid’s mother is just as wrong. First, let’s look at her point where she says Fortnite requires parental consent to play. How does she not know what her kid is doing and playing? How is it Epic Games’ fault that this teen did what a lot of children his age do, falsely provide information to play, even though it had framework in place to request consent. Doesn’t she realize she was wrong and neglectful for not being there for not being involved? She bears as much guilt as the kid for her neglect. Her kid screwed up, and she screwed up too. 

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Doesn’t she notice that the lawsuit is not about him creating the cheat software? It is about him promoting such things with an unlawful video and then, when Epic Games did what was right, trying to keep it online. Presumably because he wanted the fame and maybe even monetization that would come from having a video on cheating about one of the most popular games at the moment. She is saying that because Epic Games isn’t doing enough to immediately stopping the source of cheats, they have no right to go after the people using the cheats and promoting them, which again is wrong.

Sometimes, examples need to be made. Companies need to protect their products. This is an unfortunate situation, in some ways. But, it also involves a child that, when caught doing something wrong, did not just follow what the DMCA said and give up. He doubled down on his inappropriate behavior. And now, his mom has come in swinging to try and somehow justify what he has done with various excuses. While Epic Games should not be targeting minors, it absolutely should be doing exactly what it is doing with this lawsuit. It can take time to go after the actual creators and distributors of products, and in the meantime it has to make examples of people by filing DMCA claims and standing by them. If Epic Games doesn’t act, other people will see this weakness and cite their letting this pass as precedent to go wild not only with this game, but other games plagued by unlawful cheaters.

Jenni Lada
Jenni Lada
JMariye

Site Editor
Date: 12/01/2017

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