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The action role-playing game Genshin Impact reportedly generated a record $3.7 billion in revenue in its first year alone. The game has a massive fanbase but, when fans can’t wait for the next hot news, they turn to Ubatcha, one of Genshin Impact’s most prolific and popular leakers. Information obtained by TorrentFreak reveals that Ubatcha is now facing legal action after a court ordered Discord to hand over his personal data.
Genshin Impact’s development began in 2017 and when it launched in 2020 using a free-to-play model, a $100 million development budget was at stake.
Few could have predicted the astronomical success to come. With 16 million monthly players when it launched in September 2020, there was no doubt developer miHoYo had hit the jackpot.
In the next 12 months alone, reports reported that Genshin Impact’s gacha/loot box game approach generated a record $3.7 billion in revenue.
As of August 2022, Genshin Impact has served 63 million players, including hardcore fans who can’t get enough of the game and want to experience the content before the developers actually release it. The lost art of patience being rare, dedicated leak teams make a point of showing new content early, backed by evidence – much of it copyrighted.
Ubatcha – One of the most popular and prolific leakers
Thanks to a seemingly endless series of high-profile leaks, Genshin Impact specialist Ubatcha has become hugely popular among the game’s huge fan base. Twitter account has over 465,000 subscribers and there is an official Reddit community with over 351,000 members.
When we checked a few hours ago, Ubatcha’s “Wangsheng Funeral Parlor” Discord channel had over 272,000 members and almost 66,000 of them were online. By most standards, these are impressive numbers and a sign that Genshin Impact isn’t going anywhere and Ubatcha is giving fans what they want.
The problem, however, is that Genshin Impact’s publisher, Cognosphere PTE Ltd, has a very different idea of what release schedules to stick to.
Content on Discord pressed the wrong button
On or around July 16, Ubatcha posted a tweet. It was afterwards deleted but, about a month ago, the Genshin Leaks subreddit received a DMCA takedown notice; the very first according to the post announcing it. But more was to come.
In recent social media comments, Ubatcha revealed that Discord issued a warning about leaks posted on the Wangsheng Funeral Parlor channel. Two other people also received similar warnings.
Complaints about the content, posted by Ubatcha and other leakers on another channel, caused the server to shut down completely. The owner of the channel has had his account deleted.
It was not immediately clear when these events took place, but on the exact same day the original Tweet was posted by Ubatcha in mid-July, the leaked content was also posted to Discord. Anti-piracy agents acting for Cognosphere were there to witness it and a few months later things start to get out of hand.
Cognosphere Files DMCA Submission Request
This week, a Los Angeles law firm filed a DMCA subpoena request in a California district court on behalf of Genshin Impact publisher Cognosphere.
“Applicant, Cognosphere Pte. Ltd., through its undersigned attorney of record, hereby requests that the clerk of this Court issue a subpoena to Discord, Inc. to identify the alleged infringers at issue, pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA “), 17 USC § 512(h)”, indicates the application.
DMCA subpoenas compel service providers such as Discord to turn over information they have on alleged offenders, Ubatcha in this case. Cognosphere Law Firm wants Discord to pass Ubatcha’s name, address, phone number, and any email addresses connected to Discord account Ubatcha #2791.
Cognosphere has sent Discord a DMCA takedown notice
A DMCA subpoena can only be requested once the requester has sent a DMCA takedown notice to the service provider requesting removal of the allegedly infringing content. The court filing reveals that Cognosphere sent a takedown notice to Discord on November 29.
He requested the removal of images, videos, and various copyrighted material related to Genshin Impact features, citing one item in particular: [3.0 Beta] New showcase ‘Moss’ Seelie.
If Discord couldn’t remove the content, Cognosphere said the entire channel should be removed. Sample screenshots are low quality after being faxed, but the main element is clear enough to identify.
What happens next is known only to Discord, Cognosphere and its attorneys. The DMCA subpoena request has been approved, so if Discord doesn’t already have it, it soon will. It seems unlikely that Discord will fight back, so within days Ubatcha’s details will be turned over to Cognosphere and/or its attorneys – if Ubatcha hasn’t taken steps to render them useless, of course.
No one can say for sure, but given the size of Ubatcha’s fan base, follow-up legal action in the form of a copyright lawsuit may prove counterproductive for Genshin Impact. That being said, Cognosphere didn’t go through all this trouble for nothing. Stopping future leaks may be the priority, but the company may be interested in how the content was obtained, by what means, and perhaps crucially, by whom.
The DMCA Subpoena Request can be found here (1,2, pdf)
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