Riot apologises for DMCA takedown on artist for use of the word 'arcane'

(Image credit: Riot Games/Netflix)

Riot Games has apologised for wrongly copyright claiming a Ukrainian artist's original work, seemingly for use of the word "arcane."

Kutty Sark was hit with the takedown notice on January 28 for a design being sold on TeePublic. It features a character from her original comic series Arcane Flames which has been going since 2019, with the design dating back to a 2018 Inktober challenge. Presumably, the word "arcane" is what landed her on Riot's radar, thanks to its recent hit Netflix show Arcane—which Sark's work has absolutely zero relation to. 

The email Sark received said that she had used Riot's intellectual property, calling it a "valid takedown request." Initial attempts at filing a counterclaim were rejected, with TeePublic saying "we are unable to reinstate this design because it was a DMCA claim from Riot Games." 

"I'm just an independent artist from Ukraine," Sark tweeted after her counterclaim efforts. "I guess I have no voice if such a big company as Riot Games claims my work belongs to them, even if all the facts prove them wrong."

Riot later released a statement, saying the takedown "was made in error" and apologised for the unfortunate events. "Like many large companies, there are a number of teams and third party agencies working to protect our IP," the company tweeted. "While we're still investigating what happened here, it's clear that the takedown request was made in error. We apologise for this experience and wanted to assure you all that we're actively reviewing."

Sark confirmed that Riot had been in contact privately, saying she hoped "this situation with the wrongful DMCA claim will be resolved." While there's a good chance the initial takedown was the unfortunate error of a bot scanning for mentions of the word "arcane," it's mighty frustrating when such broad methods affect small creators. Thankfully, it looks as though things have worked out as the design is now back up for sale on Sark's TeePublic page

Mollie Taylor
Features Producer

Mollie spent her early childhood deeply invested in games like Killer Instinct, Toontown and Audition Online, which continue to form the pillars of her personality today. She joined PC Gamer in 2020 as a news writer and now lends her expertise to write a wealth of features, guides and reviews with a dash of chaos. She can often be found causing mischief in Final Fantasy 14, using those experiences to write neat things about her favourite MMO. When she's not staring at her bunny girl she can be found sweating out rhythm games, pretending to be good at fighting games or spending far too much money at her local arcade.