Video-game streaming platform, Twitch Interactive Inc., filed suit this week in response to a flood of illegal and improper content that started at the end of May. Using third-party sites, the users, which call themselves “Artifact Streams” coordinated their attack in attempts to out-maneuver Twitch’s efforts to remove the content.The attack involved users streaming “hard-core pornography, racist and misogynistic videos, copyrighted movies and television shows, and videos depicting violence, including videos of the March 2019 Christchurch mosque attack.” Although Twitch tried to take down the offending content, the group utilized bots to open new accounts to post more content. The users also artificially inflated the content’s viewership so that the content would be more likely to be flagged as popular, which would make it more likely to be found by Twitch’s normal viewing community.
Discussion among Artifact Streams directed participants on how to modify the code of their bots to open new accounts and repost the content. In response, Twitch had to suspend streaming for all new Twitch accounts. But the users circumvented this solution by using old Twitch accounts and even went as far as buying accounts from normal users to continue the attack. Ultimately, Twitch was able to curb the attack by implementing two-factor authentication for any streaming account, which allowed them to lift the streaming ban.
As set forth in Twitch’s complaint, Artifact Streams was successful in luring in unexpectant users that were “understandably upset.” This led those users to take to Twitter to voice their outrage at what they had seen.
Twitch has brought numerous claims against the anonymous group of users. One claim is for trademark infringement, which stems from Artifact streams using Twitch’s federally registered trademarks, GLITCH and TWITCH. For those not familiar with Twitch, the GLITCH mark resembles a speech bubble with two lines resembling eyes. Artifact Streams used these marks on Twitter and other sites related to the attack.
Twitch is seeking an injunction barring the users from using or accessing Twitch and from using Twitch’s trademarks. Twitch is also seeking restitution and damages, including statutory and punitive damages, along with recovery of its costs and attorney fees.