The Digital Homicide case highlights flaws of new job models


Indie games developer Digital Homicide’s $15 million lawsuit against YouTuber and former Destructoid editor Jim Sterling has come to a close.  The verdict: dismissal.

While this conclusion was whole fully suspected, with the man behind Digital Homicide, James Romine, representing himself in court, the fact that a small indie developer had the gaul to even pursue this case in court is concerning, especially considering the fact that Romine lacked the basic understanding that the Fair Use clause in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act does not literally mean “fair” use.

Since the cases’s introduction, the internet has changed drastically. While in many regards, it is still the “wild west” for content creators, new institutions are starting to form. Google has announced YouTube TV, a service that would allow for user-generated videos to be more integrated with traditional TV shows, which might ultimately reign in some of the platform’s content. Google has already started demonetizing videos it deems not “advertiser-friendly,” and Steam, the online games distribution site which Digital Homicide used to publish their games, has announced plans for stricter regulation.

While it seems standards are being raised, security for new media workers like Sterling is still lacking. In fact, as the internet is becoming more and more corporate, these positions are becoming increasingly less secure, as new corporate models are emerging, with anything that doesn’t fit those models being left out in the cold.

I wouldn’t expect proper health care packages or 401k agreements to be included anytime soon in these new media jobs, all the while they are left unprotected from attacks by even the lowest common denominator, ranging from companies like Digital Homicide to the “triple A” developer Electronic Arts.

And this does not apply just to those seeking to obtain careers as entertainers, journalists or game developers. This model has been unceremoniously applied to companies like Uber and Airbnb, in which employees fulfill the roles of traditional jobs (transportation and hostel services), but with much less job security and supposed liability.

The United States is entering a new age of opportunity through increased connectivity, but in doing so it is throwing away previously established security nets for workers. The age of Unions is long gone, and the race to the bottom is only just getting started.