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Alex Mauer, 34, was a highly known chiptune artist that made countless songs that people enjoyed. While they were originally a male, they chose to change genders and become a female at some point in the second half of 2016. That’s the only time in this piece I will go out of the way to specifically point that out. You know that now. If it comes up again during this story, it’s not in a way that disrupts the flow of writing.
What matters here is the person’s actions. Not what gender they are.
Now. Onto the story.
There’s this old interview with Alex that was done over on the Megabeep website back in January 2012. Here’s the gist of it, so you can get a better personal understanding of Mauer.
I do love many classic game soundtracks. I want my chip music to sound enough like a classic game that if you heard it, you wouldn’t know it was a new composition. I have no formal music training what-so-ever. I am 80% composer, 19% engineer, and 1% gamer. I was 100% gamer as a kid… and as I got older, I had the chances to use computers and synthesizers here and there. Now, I own computers and synthesizers and my devotion to gaming is at an all time low. I am very particular about what sounds I use when composing (thats the 19% engineer part) but I don’t get too caught up in programming or mastering. I have a few different approaches to composing. There’s the most straight forward, I just imagine the music in my head and then hit the computer and plug it all in.
It’s noted that Mauer would be working with Imagos Films as far as back then.
For every climbing up in the world, there’s always the chance for a fall. Alex Mauer went off the cliff. Skydived their credibility and name in the gaming industry, straight to rock bottom. What they did to Starr Mazer could have happened to anyone. There was no way of knowing beforehand Alex Mauer was a ticking time-bomb waiting to explode.
When it comes to understanding the Starr Mazer developers, the brand names apparently confused people.
“Imagos Softworks is a brand under Imagos Films. Imagos Films LLC is the actual company. All payments and business actions are done through Imagos Films LLC.,” a representative of the company told me.
Imagos Softworks launched their Starr Mazer Kickstarter on January 22nd 2015. Starr Mazer and Starr Mazer: DSP are two separate games both in the same sort of series. The former is a point-and-click shoot ’em up adventure that takes place in space. The latter is a rogue-lite horizontal scrolling shooter title set within Star Mazer‘s universe.
Got it? Good.
The best way to introduce the controversy is by hearing it generally summed up by someone who was close to Alex Mauer in the situation. I have contacted Maximo Lorenzo (former Art Director at Imagos Softworks) directly and have permission to use this post he made on a forum.
The timeline for Alex works kinda like this, EXTREMELY abusive childhood ( from her mothers side of the family, her Dad’s is kinda soft but tries to help ) Alex spends her whole life being repressed and just doing whatever people tell Alex to do, Alex doesn’t have 1 mean bone in her body and just takes abuse without ever standing up for herself, her wife, her job, everything is just terrible, but Alex does 1 thing well and thats make music. I was a fan for a few years, we became friends and eventually Alex got to work on a project called Starr Mazer. Alex the repressed introvert is working on the project where the boss wants all this stuff that puts tons of pressure on Alex, interviews, live concerts, daily twitch shows, selling at conventions. All this stuff Alex simply was not made to do, and Alex didn’t know how to say “no” she asked me and I was like “if you dont want to do it tell them to fuck off and dont do it”. But the boss exudes lots of pressure, that’s how he gets stuff done. And I watch in slow motion Alex completely cracks under the pressure of having no money ( he moved to a pricey apartment to be close to the job ), publicity that she cant handle and so on and so forth. The Boss now see’s Alex become completely paranoid, manic, and Alex is starting to have VISUAL DELUSIONS ( I wish I was kidding ). Talking to the boss, I work with him to get Alex into a mental health place where they can chick [sic] her out.
And basically after 2 days of effort, she gets some medication and is ok for a little while… Then Alex moves back home to where she came from massively in debt and with medical bills starting to come in. Alex NEVER liked ( himself ) or how ( he ) looked, Alex had really bad problems even looking in the mirror, so after ALL THIS Alex announces they are going to transition from Male to Female, and this makes a lot of sense knowing Alex’s personality and self hatred. Well Alex snaps a few more times and stops medication and starts lashing out at ANYONE, me and her boss included. Alex gets it into her head the boss owes him a lot more money than he actually does because reality is real fucked at this point. I argue really badly with Alex telling Alex going after his boss is NOT WORTH IT, MOVE ON, MAKE MUSIC. But years after being pushed around and bullied and told what to do Alex only wants to fight, FIGHT ANYTHING even if this hurts Alex.
I took the time to ask Maximo if Alex’s boss was to blame. According to him, it was quite the contrary. Maximo says Don did what a boss needed to do: push the potential of people to maximize their work ethic. The boss didn’t force Alex to do anything, Mauer just didn’t know how to properly say “no” to them. Maximo says that while everyone played a bit of a role in making Mauer snap, nobody can really be blamed for not knowing about the underlying mental instability of Alex until it was too late.
“[The Boss] definitely made mistakes. But I wouldn’t say you could blame him for Alex’s condition,” Maximo told me.
Alex Mauer was brought on the Starr Mazer project at the ground floor with their Kickstarter. They were seen as an influential figure that could draw in attention and backers.
“The game will feature a collaborative soundtrack by Alex Mauer (VEGAVOX, Serious Sam: Random Encounter), Manami Matsumae (Mega Man), The Protomen, Virt (Shovel Knight) and many more!,” the Kickstarter page said.
Imagos often promoted Mauer’s talent when applicable. They had Mauer do a behind the scenes sort of video so people can see how the game development magic happened, and included Alex in streams throughout the Summer of 2015 to show off their music. To be clear, Mauer had primarily worked from home in Pennsylvania. Imagos Softworks had meetings with their remote staff via Google Hangouts on a routine basis, and work was submitted through file-sharing websites. Despite the distance, Imagos managed to get Alex to come out to Seattle for PAX that year. Alongside helping promote Starr Mazer, Mauer was a hit at parties and concerts that went on day and night. It was unbeknownst to Imagos that Mauer hated being on livestreams, keeping those sorts of things to themselves.
July 8th 2015. An interview with Mauer over on Synthtopia happens. We get a better idea of what Alex’s responsibilities are behind the scenes.
“I am the Music Director and Lead Composer for Starr Mazer. We have around 30 guest musicians contributing tracks to the OST. I’m writing the core songs and establishing the style, then directing the guests to match the style. You can check out the progress on Starr Mazer on our Twitch stream Starr Mazer TV. I host a show called Starr Jamz once every 4 weeks, showing the music progress.”
At the time, Alex refers to themselves as co-founder of Imagos Softworks. We learn that Mauer is also the in-house composer at Imagos Films, and did work on commercials for Adult Swim games. Who, by the way, were the publishers originally. But the change in Starr Mazer‘s overall scope and idea direction began migrating things away from the original vision agreed to.
“The Boss” referred to earlier by Maximo was someone who was going to balance all of this at once. Let’s meet him.
In November 2015 Imagos Softworks Don Thacker would help move Mauer to Seattle. The two had worked together (since 2011) previously on Thacker’s 2013 film Motivational Growth. The intent of this trek was to help Alex focus on their music, as they were going through divorce proceedings at the time. This change in location caused Alex’s coherence and stability to deteriorate within the span of months.
The break-up between Playism and Adult Swim happened around February 2016. Don Thacker kept things afloat for the company by raising money on his own. The new publisher, Playism, came on board by June 2016. They were strict about their monthly milestones and allocated budgets. This would definitely come at odds to Mauer’s habits with missing meetings and not responding to people for large chunks of time.
This detachment from reality led to efforts by both members of the Imagos team and Mauer’s family to try and hospitalize Alex in late Summer 2016. By this point they were accusing Don and other people on the development team of conspiring to confuse/trick Mauer, with someone somewhere outside apparently working against them through their technology (on one occasion, Alex thought there was a conspiracy to hack Mauer’s Dropbox and send secret messages). This mental health episode resulted in Alex moving back home to Pennsylvania.
Alex faced trouble after they had parted ways with Imagos. The change in Mauer’s personality came after they returned to Pennsylvania and began their efforts to change their gender. Multiple people aware of the situation tell me this was a combination of hormones being altered and Alex’s refusal to take their medication for their mental disorders. Mauer had to be detained on at least one occasion for assaulting their father. Alex became irate when they were prohibited to take his vehicle to New York to try and get a lawyer so they could sue someone in the family.
On August 13th 2016 Alex Mauer was charged with “Receiving Stolen Property” and “Disorder Conduct Hazardous/Physi Off” according to this criminal docket. Part of the requirement in the 1-year probation they received was they get a mental health evaluation and abide by recommendations. Mauer’s sanity is further cast into doubt when they mention the fact they can’t buy a gun. One of the questions on the forms involved in the purchasing process for a firearm is “Have you ever been adjudicated as a mental defective OR have you ever been committed to a mental institution?,” under section 11f. Alex publicly threatened to stab anyone who’d break in to their house.
As seen in this Facebook post, the incident in question involved stealing packages off of doorsteps.
Alex Mauer explains their point of view on the story in a series of tweets (after someone tweeted them a link to the docket). Calling their situation “hilarious,” Alex says they stole a package from a doorstep and opened it to discover an exercise DVD. They were allegedly caught while attempting to return it. Mauer tells someone that they plead guilty to the lesser charge of disorderly conduct, which is apparently called that based on these stolen goods involved. But also in the mix is the pending charges that Alex hit a cop, with Mauer claiming that is a lie.
In Autumn 2016, Alex Mauer began their arguments that Imagos Softworks owed them some sort of back pay. In October of that year, they offered a “solution” that involved a Kickstarter campaign for some sort of surgery on Alex’s larynx. Why Kickstarter? Mauer believed other crowdfunding websites didn’t feel legitimate enough, despite their desire being a strictly personal thing rather than an actual product. Don agreed to post, support, and even invest in this, so he could support his friend.
In January 2017 Starr Mazer had to begin scaling back their team because of not being able to pay them. They’ve got people ready to go, but the project needs investors in order for that to happen. Discussions courting potential investors came to a dead halt once the Alex Mauer incident came to be. While Starr Mazer: DSP is published by Playism, confidence was shaken in them agreeing to invest any further because of the controversy.
Starr Mazer: DSP‘s publisher at Playism posted an announcement on February 23rd 2017.
The game is currently unavailable due to a copyright infringement claim of assets reported towards Imagos Softworks, the copyright holder / developer of Starr Mazer: DSP.
We are confirming the situation with Imagos Softworks, then will update everyone as soon as possible.
We sincerely apologize to all the users who had trouble and was worried about the sudden closing of the store page.
Alex would end up trying to take the game down on the basis of music, general sound, voiceovers, and other sound elements. One of these takedown requests was because Mauer found sounds in an archive branch of the game’s source code.
By March 1st 2017, Mauer had withdrawn completely from the public eye, taking down their website (briefly), Twitter, and Bandcamp. A week later we’d see exactly what happened when this was published on Alex’s website.
“never gave me a contract for the project” is a point that can be easily disproven immediately. I have a copy of it.
According to Alex Mauer’s contract with Imagos Softworks they started at the beginning of March 2015. They would be paid $40,000 to be their Music Director for the Starr Mazer project, paid $1500 on a bi-weekly basis for 26 payments, with a 27th payment set at $1000. First payment was exactly two weeks from their start date.
To be clear – the information redacted with black represents what Imagos Softworks did before giving me the document at all. I have personally elected to redact additional info (although helpful for verification purposes) with a red marker in the above picture out of respect for Mauer’s privacy.
March 12th 2017. The public would get some answers as to what was going on. According to Don Thacker (Director at Imagos Softworks), Imagos and Alex had a for-hire contract agreement when it came to Starr Mazer/Starr Mazer: DSP along with other side projects. At an unknown point in 2016 Mauer had medical issues that prevented the completion of their work. Regardless, Imagos honored the agreement and paid for what work was done up to that point, and then some. Midway through 2016 Alex Mauer left Imagos Softworks because of their health issues and wanted to “refocus their life”, says Don.
At some point after Alex left, Mauer would contact Don about something to the effect of being owed additional pay of some kind. Imagos Softworks and Don made at least three attempts to come to an agreement with Alex (including shared DSP soundtrack rights, equity share in game revenue) out of human decency and respect towards Mauer’s health situation.
Alex shot these down. Agreed to one, but then decided to dissolve it.
Alex had issued a DMCA takedown request to Valve for Starr Mazer: DSP, forcing Imagos to take it down while an investigation was done. The counterclaim filed asked Alex to provide proof of a rights chain violation, and couldn’t do so successfully. Starr Mazer: DSP was allieved of suspension after providing proof of correct chain of rights and copyright to Valve.
Don notes that Alex’s claims have changed: starting out as not being paid for time put in, to not being paid for the right project, to the assertion there was a conspiracy to defraud Mauer from the get-go. At the time he wrote this statement, Thacker says Alex’s current claims were the work contract not including Starr Mazer: DSP... which would contradict another one of Alex’s earlier claims being that she was not paid in full for their contract when it came to Starr Mazer: DSP.
At one point Alex Mauer tried to release an album on Bandcamp with Starr Mazer: DSP songs within it, and attempted to rally their fans for a boycott. It was something they had threatened to both Imagos and Playism if they didn’t give Alex money. Bandcamp removed the album after they recieved proof of copyright and a DMCA claim from Imagos, along with a substantial amount of evidence that disproved the accusations Alex had made. In response to this Mauer just moved their campaign to a personal website instead.
Don Thacker didn’t want to have this fight with Alex. He offered Mauer a release of rights in return that they stop making outrageous claims. Alex refused. The company replaced Mauer’s Starr Mazer tracks in the meantime while their new music partner Arcade High works on a replacement.
It would take until the end of May 2017 for Starr Mazer: DSP to properly return to Steam.
But Mauer was just getting started.
Shawnphase has known Alex Mauer for at least a decade, if not longer (Mauer themselves says they were friends with Shawn for 12 years). They played drums with Alex Mauer when they did live performances (“best show I ever played” Alex said to Shawn once), and made two remix albums full of Alex’s songs in the past. Shawn is a friend of Don Thacker at Imagos, and worked with him to find a way to fix the problem here. Shawn’s efforts to talk with Alex Mauer through this current dilemma ended up with a falling out.
Of course, Alex would tweet about this.
According to Shawn, Alex Mauer had done what was expected of them when it came to soundtrack and sound effects work at Imagos. The hard part was over. Mauer was involved in both Imagos Softworks and Imagos Films. Video game development is certainly no small feat either. Many different intricate parts need to be made and come together into their final form. For Alex it was test of patience apparently. All that was left for Mauer to do was go on some podcasts to help promote the game in the weeks leading up to release. Shawn says Alex was shy when it came to that sort of media exposure, and it easily could’ve added more stress to their transitioning life at the time. When one of the people on Starr Mazer’s development team left, Mauer wasn’t even entirely sure the game was going to see release at all.
Alex Mauer had outbursts at Shawn in the past. Like this time in 2014 when they shouted at him over Facebook to take a simple photo down.
To fully understand the extent of the damage Mauer has done to the people around them, Shawn explained to me more about how much the Imagos folks went out of their way to help Alex out. When moving to the West Coast, Don Thacker himself flew out to Mauer in Pennsylvania, picked Mauer up and got a rental car, then went on a cross-country trip with them back to Seattle and helped them move. This was in October and November of 2015. Alex sold a lot of their possessions in the meantime, and before they knew it they were in a new city and around new people. Shawn explains to me that it took a lot of convincing early on to get a (rather timid) Mauer to release their work to the public in the first place. After praising Alex’s work and motivating them, Shawn says they got enough momentum going to get into working on video games. When it came to Starr Mazer, Mauer opted for modular gear for the sound effects in order to get the kind of style results that were desired. It’s unclear if Alex or Imagos paid for that. If it was the former, it showed the lust for high quality Mauer wanted out of their product. If it was the latter, it demonstrates the extra mile Imagos was willing to go to accomodate Mauer’s request. Shawn was initially heisistant to trust Don, but he turned out to be a good friend and business partner, in Shawn’s eyes. As we know now, Alex Mauer might not agree with that description. With everything going on in this situation, Shawn says it hits Don harder than most.
When it comes to the transgender aspect of all this, Shawn had a lot to say. He says the DMCA/Imagos Softworks controversy is motivated by Alex Mauer’s desire to “get even” with the companies involved, and get enough money to get a sex change operation. This unpredictable mania is likely fueled by Mauer’s hormone intake (they “possibly doubled down” according to Shawn) which created a moody disposition from Alex as a result. He wanted to ask Alex why they were always moody, but elected against it as he felt Mauer was becoming more abrasive. Putting that another way, Shawn tells me the overall combative and instigative demeanor became more visible as this transition process continued. Before the hormones, he points out that Alex Mauer could still have their moments of upset. But generally stayed buttoned-up and taciturn instead of lashing out.
Alex was a part of a trans support group for a while. They all met up on a regular basis, and Mauer would go with a friend of theirs. During this period of time, people observed Alex’s self-destructive and outrageous behaviors but didn’t exactly engage with it. Shawn says Mauer wanted to make merchandise for trans-people, but nobody seemed to show interest in these ideas from them. But Shawn tells me that Alex’s trans friends were some of the earliest who were shocked by this Imagos Softworks dispute. It seemed out of the blue to them, and they considered themselves part of the circle of friends who would be more knowledgeable. But this came out of nowhere to them.
The DMCA frenzy on YouTubers was intended to “raise awareness” (Shawn points out to me this was Alex’s exact word choice) about the battle with Imagos Softworks.
From these lawsuits Mauer hopes it’ll rake in around $40,000. When it comes to the damages that come with the journey from point A to B, the mindset is Alex believes people will just forget about it. Shawn says he assumes Mauer thinks everything will just “go back to normal” after this sex change happens. That this angle of litigation will work not just with Imagos, but later on with potentially Turner Broadcasting down the line.
So while Alex Mauer may have always been shy about their presence online and off, they think money for a gender reassignment surgery would assuage their problems. Where would the cash come from? From the companies on the other end of these legal battles Mauer has engaged.
The DMCA war they waged was Alex Mauer’s way of forcing some sort of conclusion to this dispute.
The YouTube DMCA system is meant for big companies to maintain and regulate the usage of their content within reasonable limits. It’s assumed by Google that nobody would go wild with it and abuse the system for personal vendettas.
Alex Mauer’s own interpretation of what DMCA takedowns are used for differs strongly from YouTube’s.
“The DMCA is what you use if you own copyrights. The end,” Mauer tweeted.
While that’s a decent start. But later on Alex suggests it’s like a game of tag, Mauer DMCA’ed, and if Leonard French thinks Imagos owns the music they should DMCA Alex back. They use it as a form of leverage to entice people into replying back to their emails. Alex Mauer announces their plans to DMCA because it’s a form of getting attention from the public. It was a big part of Mauer’s overall scheme here, as they kept a meticulous record of their targets throughout this period. They called these DMCA takedown attacks “waves” for that reason. People were subjected to the whim of Mauer’s feelings, as they had briefly recanted their 3rd wave of strikes because they thought it would “stop the bullying” apparently. Actually, that was definitely it, because Mauer said as such in an email to Leonard French. Sometimes they were blocked because of counter-claims, but Alex wasn’t afraid to go all the way and do repeats.
Starr Mazer‘s YouTube channel was taken down entirely for a brief time because of Alex Mauer.
A DMCA is not an attack. It’s a “stop using my music without my permission” – Alex Mauer
Things first came to light on June 23rd with SidAlpha’s first video on the topic, A wave of DMCA strikes hits YouTubers. He explains that Starr Mazer DSP (a title by Imagos Softworks) was removed from Steam in order to fix an issue that had arisen with the original music. The soundtrack composer Alex Mauer was contracted by the developer to create songs for the game, but the two parties had a falling out before Mauer’s work was fully completed. Alex refutes that their contract was for Starr Mazer and not Starr Mazer DSP, but the counterargument from Imagos is that the wording stipulates “Starr Mazer and all Starr Mazer related products.”
What’s most important about this aspect is the “WORK FOR HIRE” section of the document, which defines that Mauer’s body of work produced in the duration of this agreement was property of Imagos.
This is the catalyst for what would eventually unfold. Alex Mauer eventually started going on a DMCA takedown spree on YouTube, targeting any and all Star Mazer content they could find. It would attract the attention of people like TotalBiscuit and Jim Sterling, who had to deal with their own causes of DMCA frauds.
SidAlpha approached Mauer and attempted to reason with them in the hopes they’d back off. TemmieNeko was one of the first impacted by Mauer, leading to this conversation.
Basically Alex wanted the people complaining about these DMCAs at Mauer directly to shift their focus and go after Imagos Softworks for it. SidAlpha points out Alex’s circumstances put them in a position where taking things to court wasn’t out of the question. Filing false DMCAs as Alex Mauer appeared to be doing is illegal and considered perjury in the US.
Sid concludes by directing people’s attention to an email address provided by Imagos, to serve as a point of contact for parties affected by Alex’s actions. They stated the company was willing to provide Mauer’s contract to those who wanted it (to make the DMCA counterclaim process go easier).
We’d get more information on the 24th with SidAlpha’s An update on the Alex Mauer DMCA Wave follow-up. The situation had since caught the eye of TotalBiscuit personally, who threw his top hat into the ring when it came to assisting people with sorting out this DMCA mess.
The massive audience his channel has at its disposal meant the Alex Mauer situation received a lot more attention to the public eye. At the time of writing this, the video he made, Alex Mauer’s Copyright Claim Abuse, has over 300,000 views. If you listen to TB in this one he sounds reluctant to be even doing it in the first place. From the outset he lays out his intention: abuse of the YouTube DMCA takedown system shouldn’t be normalized under any circumstances, given the difficulty involved for smaller channels to get any sort of remedy in these sorts of scenarios. Bottom line? TB signal boosted SidAlpha’s findings. The difference with his take on the situation was he pointed out Alex Mauer’s actions were intentional. TotalBiscuit made the conscious effort to separate Alex Mauer and Imagos Softworks as different parties, and reiterated the responsibility for frivolous DMCA takedowns fell on the former. Not the latter. Biscuit mentions YouTube’s implementation of the DMCA system is as a guideline, and not entirely forced with the same consequences as the actual law. To him, while it was unclear who was “right” and “wrong” in the battle between Mauer and Imagos Softworks, there was a clear display of unethical behavior when it came to how Alex Mauer issued these DMCAs. At the end of TB’s video, he offered direct assistance to the YouTube channels impacted in this erratic take-down attack.
[Let’s jump back to Sid’s video.]
Sid goes on to affirm that Mauer does not have any leg to stand on, making mention of copyright lawyer Leonard French’s analysis of the situation confirming this to be the case.
This is what Alex had to say in light of how the situation was looking at the time:
Mauer was expanding their attack radius, now including Death Road to Canada in their DMCA maelstrom. SidAlpha was mailed a copy of the Cease & Desist letter Mauer sent to Turner Broadcasting (sent via Alex themselves), alleging the broadcasting company also engaged in copyright infringement. Alex was apparently going after “DUCK GAME Live Quacktion Trailer” videos too because they had done work for that as well. Mauer had resorted to selling their music on Bandcamp for the sum of $1000. Alex had also claimed to be forced to work as a lawyer in a statement they gave to a YouTuber named Jupiter Hadley.
SidAlpha brings up Leonard French again, revealing he’s licensed in the same state Alex Mauer resides. Given the scope of the damages Mauer was causing with their DMCA kamikazes to a number of YouTubers, Sid suggests a GoFundMe to raise funds on French’s behalf so he could pursue this was definitely possible.
SidAlpha says Alex was trying to solicit documentation from other YouTubers in order to get them tossed into the ongoing dispute between them and Imagos.
This had evolved into a battle of its own.
On the 25th SidAlpha released UPDATE: Alex Mauer list of DMCA strikes. SidAlpha reveals TemmiePlays (a victim of Mauer’s DMCA frenzy) had emailed him. According to Temmie, Alex was forwarding emails that other people were sending Mauer. For some bizarre reason.
The most recent one was the topic of interest for SidAlpha’s video.
Mauer wrote the following:
Let me know if I missed any videos. In this list the X’s are ones that are already down, and the dots are videos I reported but YouTube is giving some kind of strange delay as if it certain Youtubers are being treated better than others by YouTube’s algorithms. Any videos which do not contain my music or sound effects are safe. Like I asked on the discussion, I have no idea why the game is currently offline considering they supposedly removed all of my music and sound effects. I’ve been trying to get in touch with the devs and no one will answer the very basic question: Why is the game still offline?
Attached to this email sent, is a PDF listing all of Mauer’s DMCA victims so far. Over 70 strikes had been recorded by this point.
(There’s more direct proof of Alex Mauer keeping a list of the channels they targeted, from Mauer themselves on their Twitter account. Why? “I recorded the channel URLs for reference. I will disclose once the goal is achieved,” Mauer says. I have more than one “end game,” they tweeted.)
The only words in response SidAlpha could muster were “utter madness” when describing his opinion about how things were unfolding. Sid questioned Mauer’s state of mind and mental health in light of this new development. TotalBiscuit had the means of speeding up the DMCA counterclaim process and was in the middle of doing so by this point.
After talking about this, SidAlpha had to also clarify about something going on with Lindsey of Imagos Softworks. After directing people to her email address, Lindsey recieved a steady flow of angry emails from people who got the wrong impression that she was somehow responsible for the DMCAs that were running amuck on YouTube.
The 26th is a bit of a break. Jim Sterling would give his two cents on the matter. He ended up making a reupload because there was a harassment issue that arose from a particular segment of footage he used originally.
If you wanted to catch up with everything so far, The Know put out a video that not only summarized the DMCA situation pretty well, but the earlier story that Don Thacker talked about too.
By the 27th, things were getting dramatic. SidAlpha took to Twitlonger to share some disturbing news:
At 6:55 this morning Alex Mauer sent me an email merely containing a screen cap of her phone showing the suicide prevention hotline. I am extremely worried that given her increasingly erratic behavior over the last few days that the worst might happen. If anyone knows her personally, please check in on her.
But of course, the show must go on. The videos were going to continue as long as there were new developments to talk about. For the time being.
SidAlpha released a lengthier update titled Alex Mauer: more on the DMCA Front Lines. According to him, Mauer was continuing their unusual routine of forwarding emails YouTubers had sent them, onward to other YouTubers. Sid’s concerns about Alex’s mental state had deepened. Sid himself was receiving numerous emails from Mauer. One of these items was a letter from the Hyper RPG Twitch channel. The group was hit with a 24-hour ban for covering the Starr Mazer and Mauer situation back in 2016. The timing of the incident was abysmal, impacting the site’s output during the time of the E3 conferences. Not being able to cover any of that news made a huge dent in Hyper RPG’s overall income for that period of time. Sid got in contact with them directly to brief them about the ordeal, and Hyper RPG’s Zack replied they were working with Twitch and Imagos to sort that strike out.
Next, SidAlpha and TotalBiscuit both were forwarded a message from Mauer that shows Alex pleading to ex-Penny Arcade staffer Robert Khoo for assistance.
Sid points out that Mauer was trying to paint the situation as if these YouTubers were directly linked to the fight between them and Imagos, rather than a separate conflict.
When SidAlpha asked Alex for their reasoning when it came to this seemingly random email forwarding, Mauer replied by stating:
You’re supposed to realize that Imagos Softworks isn’t even a registered company, which is not legal in the State of Washington. Neither is not sending 1099 forms to contractors. The emails of people who are owed money by Imagos are there for you to verify the story. I was giving you a chance to break a story, idiot. These documents are supposed to speak for themselves, and you were not smart enough to be the first one to figure it out. I worked with Penny Arcade. Yes, that is really Robert Khoo, and if anything continues as it has been he may not help me. I am willing to lose the business contact in this document leaking war. You assume that I have no idea what I’m talking about when it comes to business. Go ahead and lose your opportunity. Don Thacker is a con artist, and you are helping him.
To put it another way – the “logic” by Mauer was they were hoping SidAlpha would come to some sort of epiphany and assist Alex in their supposed plight.
After that, SidAlpha received a letter written by Mauer’s lawyer. It’s unsigned because it was unfinished and never gave permission for the draft to be sent.
(When someone asked why Alex was using a document dated back from March 2017, they said “It’s not outdated. It is applicable against Leonard French’s current argument that everyone is believing. Imagos has not changed strategy”)
Sid spends the next few minutes just speaking his thoughts about Mauer aloud. He had no idea what the game plan was for Alex anymore. If things hadn’t been considered “off the rails” already, they certainly were now. Sid expresses astonishment at how simple it was for him to google Imagos Softworks business license and prove their legitimacy, thus showing how off-kilter Mauer’s statements were.
SidAlpha confirms Leonard French was going to represent Imagos Softworks in court against Alex Mauer. On top of that, DMCA counter-claims for this situation were reportedly happening on their own without even needing YouTuber input anymore.
Lastly, SidAlpha emphasizes to the public that they shouldn’t harass anyone. He points out that Alex Mauer was openly taking advantage of this angle in an effort to make themselves look like the victim in this controversy.
This part of the video gets extended attention as Alex was having a public meltdown on the Steam forums:
I reached out to TB and that mother ♥♥♥♥er didn’t give two ♥♥♥♥♥ about me so ♥♥♥♥ you Annabella. I am getting death threats and now Leonard French is representing Imagos. I was trying to hire Leonard and he decided to politically choose a client to further his own cause. The world is a♥♥♥♥♥♥place where you can work insanely hard for your dream and someone can steal it from you. Then when you call them out on it they still win anyway. So ♥♥♥♥ you Annabella.
Later statements by Mauer sound furious and disjointed. “If there was a way to DMCA punch you in the face through my computer screen I would,” they commented. Alex believed the DMCA granted them direct control over who can use their music on an individual basis.
In another comment, Alex alludes to the Imagos Softworks effort to assist YouTubers by giving them proof of Mauer’s contract. Alex says their agitation (at the moment, anyway) was that what she referred to as a “former client” had circulated their contact info, a *redacted* SSN, and Mauer’s written signature. They speculated internet trolls were going to do that and abuse it for nefarious purposes. Flirting with the idea of buying a gun, Alex says they might as well arm themselves to respond to anyone who shows up at their house.
Then came Alex Mauer DMCA Update: Imagos gets litigious on the 27th. SidAlpha explains that a YouTuber named Musical Antihero had crossed paths with Mauer. Reaching out to Alex to get a statement about the current situation, and managed to have a civil conversation. In spite of this, Mauer would end up DMCAing Anti Hero’s video going over this discussion. SidAlpha points out that the entirety of the piece had Anti Hero sitting at a desk and filming himself just talking to the camera, there wasn’t any of Alex Mauer’s music involved whatsoever.
When it comes to the conversation between Mauer and Anti Hero, you can read it in full here.
SidAlpha managed to get an explanation from Mauer as to their reasoning for doing this:
“He used an old photograph from before my gender transition in his video. It’s an EXTREMELY sensitive issue for trans people. I asked him to take it down and he said he would. Over 12 hours later it was still up, so I decided to report it. The photo came from my camera and I technically own the copyright.”
Mauer goes on to tell Sid that it differed from the DMCA notifications that they were doleing out for videos using their music, with YouTube defining it as a “strike” because of visual copyrights (this appears to be Alex’s personal conclusion on it, may or may not be true). We come to find out by this point that Mauer has a DMCA list of over 100 videos they targeted. Mauer notes that they believed YouTube’s 3 strike rule was a myth, as they had since targeted channels with reports exceeding that number.
Totalbiscuit would respond in the comments section clarifying how YouTube’s system actually worked.
Sid backs up this point in his video by showing the DMCA notification Chip Music Chronicle got after Mauer reported five videos on that channel.
The second piece of news that came to light was Don Thacker of Imagos Softworks deciding to respond to Mauer via the courts.
“We have become represented by Leonard French in this case and I intend to litigate,” he told Sid. “I am seeking absolutely no damages in this action, and am seeking only a court ordered establishment of our clearly defined rights chain and, subsequently, the place in that chain for youtubers who have been affected.”
“This most recent action, however, while absolutely not the first aggressive act from Alex toward myself, Imagos or our properties, has integrated content creators and we cannot abide this.”
On the 28th things got dramatic for SidAlpha, as explained in his Alex Mauer issues Death Threat video. Mauer emailed SidAlpha various statements people sent them, that encouraged Alex to commit suicide. I looked into this a bit more, and was able to find some examples of these kinds of messages on Mauer’s Twitter page where they publicly shared them (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).
Then Alex sent this to Sid.
There’s little room for interpretation here. We know this because SidAlpha explains while he wasn’t sure Alex wasn’t just forwarding what someone else said or not at first, there was a follow-up message making it clear this was a direct statement.
“You are transphobic. Seriously. You think your fucking cis gender world is al [sic] that exists. You think I don’t own a photograph of myself? Then you’re a fucking robot. I want to kill myself but I have to kill youfirst,” Alex Mauer told SidAlpha.
On Sid’s subreddit he goes over everything Mauer says as well as stating his intent to protect his family from Mauer’s instability.
In a follow-up later that day titled Alex Mauer: An update on the DMCA strikes and everything else, SidAlpha fleshes things out more. Pointing to a Twitlonger by Totalbiscuit, we get confirmation that YouTube gaming escalated all the DMCA counterclaims in this Mauer crisis, essentially meaning the staff themselves looked into it personally to approve. SidAlpha went to the cops over Mauer’s threat, but dismissed the legitimacy of it based on the grounds that Alex lives thousands of miles away from Sid.
Basically things got too intense, and SidAlpha encouraged everyone to take a step back. They wanted to make sure nobody died from this situation.
That evening, Alex Mauer threatened another round of strikes. This was after they threatened to go after @adultswimgames for a Jazzpunk commercial that Alex Mauer had done music for.
On June 29th, a Alex Mauer gets help video would come out on SidAlpha’s channel detailing a sliver of hope to that effect. According to Sid, the clusterfuck of drama that was radiating out of this Alex Mauer dispute would be coming to an abrupt halt. Without going into specifics himself, SidAlpha using the phrase “getting the help she needs” when talking about what was going with Mauer. The damage done in Alex’s wake: over 100 people by this point with DMCAs, the C&D to Turner Broadcasting, and the diverse array of harassment and threats tossed around certainly caused a disruption in people’s routines. Alongside the legal ramifications, Sid expressed a need for consideration on personal reflection for those involved. He reports that the YouTube community was able to raise beyond the baseline asking amount from French’s GoFundMe campaign for legal expenses.
We’d get some more answers about what exactly happened to Alex Mauer in a Twitlonger posted by TotalBiscuit.
This will hopefully be the last time anyone needs to talk about this, but Leonard French informed everyone that last night, Alex Mauer has been taken into custody for her own safety and the safety of others. She had been utilizing information gathered from counterclaims to her dmcas to email, call and threaten some of the channels involved and had yesterday attempted to issue a claim through Youtubes Legal Support department declaring my video illegal, due to alleged harassment she had received as a result of it. When YouTube replied asking which law the video violated and how, she replied saying that all the proof they needed was on her twitter and that YouTube would be personally responsible for attacks on the transgender community and that she would begin issuing death threats as she chose, because the “police had told her the people threatening her were exercising their first amendment rights”.
In the paragraphs that followed, TotalBiscuit assures everyone there was no incitement or call to action, nor was the factor of Alex Mauer being transgender even mentioned. The only point that became involved was after Mauer made repeated mentions of it online as some of defense in response. TotalBiscuit said Mauer’s acts were possibly libelous (at least that’s what he thought personally), but would not pursue a litigatory recourse as it would complicate what he called a “troubled” individual even further. The wrap-up of it has TotalBiscuit expressing sadness towards how the Alex Mauer ordeal was turning out. That he hoped to be wrong when he saw these bizarre and strange posts Mauer was making and diagnosed the source of the problem as mental issues.
Jim Sterling made a Jimquisition episode expanding on his thoughts about the Alex Mauer matter. Going for the angle that YouTube itself kept its head buried in the sand, Sterling says for all the noise and chaos that Mauer was unleashing in this DMCA barrage, the folks over at Google were mum on the subject. The “guilty until proven inncoent” system meant that YouTube channels targeted by Alex Mauer were victim to these strikes guaranteed. The power was completely in Alex’s hands, as it was clear that these claims were automatically processed and not reviewed by an actual human being at first. Sterling urged a change. YouTube needed to make a burden of proof necessary on the part of those making DMCA takedowns before following through with them.
July 3rd, 2017. SidAlpha comes back with a Alex Mauer Returns video. Sid says he was vague about what happened to Alex Mauer previously out of respect to their privacy and the privacy of Mauer’s family. But now, Sid reveals that Alex’s behavior (sending death threats to people, bizarre emails) resulted in them being placed on a 302 psychiatric hold. Committed against their will. After being evaluated, Alex Mauer was released.
I just wanted to let the media know that the video by Leonard French that claims I received “the help that I need” was complete BS. My ex-wife who I have not seen in months filed a 302 against me, and the police forced me out of my house in handcuffs. I explained to them that I already reported the death threats against me to the police and was told it was freedom of speech to make death threats. The cops forced me into a hospitalization against my will.
The first thing that happened at the hospital was that they told me I wasn’t a girl, and gave me a wrist band that said I was male. Next, they took away my female clothing and forced me to wear disposable scrubs. The next day they transported me in an ambulance to a different facility where they did a full strip search of me. At this facility, they asked me many evasive questions including how many sexual partners I’ve had and at what age I was when I had my first sexual encounter.
The police and crisis workers had completely ignored my story about having been told it’s my freedom of speech to use hate speech. The doctor I saw at the 2nd facility understood the story and said “because there is no furtherance of the threat” it’s fine. I was released as immediately as possible. The entire period of time having been away from my house was 5 days. No one in my family showed me any support what so ever. This incidence has lead to me decided to no longer have any communication with anyone in my family at all, because they sided with my opposition.
Keep an eye out for the next big move. It should be coming soon.
Mauer later forwarded an email showing how things were going on the Turner Broadcasting front.
Generally speaking, SidAlpha seemed unphased by this move.
July 4th. Alex Mauer threatens a 2nd wave of DMCA strikes comes out on SidAlpha’s channel. Sid reveals that Alex Mauer was moving forward with another round of DMCA attacks, as foreshadowed by them previously on social media. Back on the 29th of June, Alex made a comment saying they DMCA’ed River City Ransom. However it didn’t go as planned, as Valve gives more scrutiny when it comes to these sorts of claims.
Attached is a photo of the response Valve gave Mauer, as well as Alex’s and Sid’s replies.
It’s worth pointing that this also led to Mauer threatening a River City Ransom developer of Conatus, Daniel Crenna.
There is a hiccup in the Valve DMCA process as you can see in these emails. RCRU would already be offline if the system was working correctly. Dawn Dempsey, the Valve representative, does not believe that I am one of the composers and is preventing me from doing something that is my right. I suggest that Conatus take the game down before Dawn does. I will not stop trying to find a way to get this game taken down until it is down. You need to remove my music from the game, NOW!
On top of that, Alex Mauer was vying to take down their music from Bandcamp.
SidAlpha explains that while Alex Mauer seemed to be doubling down on their attacks, the defense seemed unphased.
July 7th, SidAlpha releases Alex Mauer gets served. Mauer was continuing to forward emails about what they were doing to Sid and other YouTubers. They were trying to continue their DMCA bonanza, but YouTube was starting to take notice of this particular situation.
Alex was sent this by YouTube.
The videos in Mauer’s crosshairs were still up at the time of Sid’s video.
Alex was starting to go after River City Ransom Underground videos, and forwarded Sid a letter they sent to Conatus that goes into the thought process behind this.
I have contacted Daniel Crenna and Rich Vreeland multiple times in the past week explaining that Conatus never secured my signature on any paperwork relating to River City Ransom Underground. Conatus does not have my permission to keep using the soundtrack, and I did compose at least 1/3 of the music. What Conatus needs to do is take the game offline with Steam immediately, and behin the process of removing my contributions to the soundtrack. This will be difficult, because my work appears in nearly every song in the game.
Rich and Dino (the other composers) have all of the original files, including versions of some songs from before I contributed to them, and should be able to immediately start producing a version of the soundtrack that does not contain my music. The game must remain offline until the soundtrack is replaced. The failure to respond to my emails will result in further DMCA strikes on RCRU YouTube videos. I need an immediate response to assess what legal actions to take next.
~ Alex Mauer
I’m just going to take the time to emphasize. Alex Mauer wanted the developers to take their video game down and redo all of the musical scoring for it (basically from scratch). Alex pressured the developers by threatening to take down YouTube videos via DMCA if they didn’t immediately comply with Mauer’s demands.
Leonard French was able to serve Mauer with an initial court summons, and it came to Sid’s attention that Alex was going to be representing themselves in that regard. There was an effort to try and negotiate the matter between each other directly beforehand.
Sid notes that at least one YouTube channel was completely decimated as a result of Alex Mauer’s efforts at this point in time.
Also on the 7th, Alex Mauer The DMCA Reversal is released by SidAlpha. Sid opens up by expressing some optimism that Alex’s tirade on the YouTube website was coming to an end.
“A bunch of successful counter-claims for channels affected by the Starr Mazer DSP thing just went through all at once. For those asking whether or not this is YT intervening, I don’t have a solid answer for you on that. Due to batch nature, it is possible,” Totalbiscuit tweeted in relation to this.
We see this email that Mauer sent to Musical Anti Hero.
Sid takes the time to note all of the infractions that Mauer has committed against human decency up to this point. including threatening his own Youtube channel because he showed an image of Mauer’s birth certificate on screen. He shows it again just to make sure we’d all be on the same page in understanding what he’s referring to.
Sid clarifies that many pieces of identifying information were redacted, and the point behind doing so in the first place was proving what Alex Mauer’s middle name (Thomas) legally was.
While revisiting the death threat Mauer made against Sid, we see that Leonard French was also threatened by Alex.
SidAlpha spends the second half of the video going over the situation once more. He admits to covering the story too much over the past few weeks, and explains that it hit him personally to see these smaller YouTuber channels hit with DMCA strikes and that they would have had no means of remedy or direction on hand on their own accord.
July 11th, SidAlpha comes back with Alex Mauer DMCA strikes continue. This is despite him directly saying in the last video that the DMCA problem seemed to be over. We learn that the reasoning for Alex Mauer’s reversal of DMCA strikes was only so they could be refiled in a way that they’d be counted in YouTube’s system separately.
Basically, when Mauer filed originally, they did it in batches. The way YouTube’s system works means all of the DMCAs filed on a particular channel at once, would only qualify as one strike overall.
“As far as I understand, the channels which are being targeted for takedown are in check for one more strike on each.” tweeted Alex apathetically.
Naturally this caused a heightened sense of fear in the YouTube community. As they were witnessing someone who, that very day, went after DisasterPeace’s Bandcamp account because of the “Ram Son” album which had Alex Mauer’s collaboration work within it.
Mauer wasn’t afraid of burning any bridge down.
“Some of the 3rd wave DMCAs are being blocked by previous counter-claims. The Sid Alpha DMCA is currently blocked by argument of ‘fair use’,” Mauer said in a tweet. In a follow-up after that Alex said they were making a concentrated effort to “push thru” with one for him.
Sid was concerned that Mauer was feeding off the media attention they were generating, and TotalBiscuit agreed. To the extent that they desired Sid not post another video about the subject out of concern it would exacerbate things further. But upon closer inspection, SidAlpha became convinced Mauer was doing this in a state of delusion that they were on “the right side of history,” so to speak.
SidAlpha shares a DM convo someone had with Mauer, revealing that they were planning to speak with an actual lawyer at some point in the future.
(Mauer would later note this is the 4th lawyer they were going for in regards to this case. Elsewhere on that subject, Alex says their previous lawyers condoned the DMCA manuever, but it “fell apart” after Mauer mentioned the Turner Broadcasting stuff.)
All of this in mind, SidAlpha notes that Alex Mauer’s actions were showing the world how out of date DMCA laws were.
On the 14th, SidAlpha uploads the Alex Mauer: Restraining Order and more DMCA strikes video. After a five minute self-reflection about the past month, SidAlpha says Alex Mauer finally hired an attorney that does copyright law. There was going to be a hearing about a temporary restraining order but Mauer’s lawyer requested a continuance so he could catch up with events beforehand.
The hearing happened on the morning of the 13th, and was granted. It applies to the works of Imagos Softworks and Starr Mazer.
Basically Alex Mauer was legally prohibited from issuing DMCA takedowns when it came to Starr Mazer, obligated to pullback on the notices that were already issued, and forbade from making threats against either Imagos Softworks or Leonard French.
Mauer took out the rage on their lawyer, Frank. Alex claims that the lawyer kept asking them to lie. In text chats shared by Mauer, they accuse Frank of being responsible for an array of unsolicited emails that came in (somebody signed up to a bunch of websites with Mauer’s information). They ended up firing Frank because they sent Alex a formal letter instead of texting to them electronically. Accusing Frank of misgendering them, Alex demanded their lawyer resign.
If you look at the email Alex Mauer sent to Leonard French, you can see this formal letter. Which states Mauer was also emailed in addition to the paper copy.
Taking this to a whole ‘nother level, Alex Mauer tweeted the letter they sent the Judge in which they requested their lawyer be fired. I redacted the address and personal information out of this picture. Originally, Mauer did not.
River City Ransom Underground related takedowns were not in play by this. The game itself had been taken down on Steam the day before.
“We are aware that RCRU is down on Steam. We have contacted Valve’s copyright department, and will let you know when access is restored,” the developers tweeted. They invited people who were hit by this DMCA attack to reach out to the company for advice and help.
The Know would put out a follow-up video going over these events. So if your brain is fried from all the information between now and the last video The Know did, you get an easy way to catch-up.
It’s time to back up a bit and go over Leonard French’s side of the story here.
Leonard French announced in the afternoon of June 27th that he was going to represent Imagos Softworks in their litigation with Alex Mauer, along with a GoFundMe to help raise funds for this legal back-n-forth with the help of the community.
The full initial announcement can be read here, but as a basic excerpt:
We hope that Alex pursues the help and assistance that she needs.
Unfortunately, the copyright system in the United States has allowed her to assert rights that she does not actually own. And her assertion of those rights has caused Imagos and Don to lose credibility with many of the people and companies they do business with.
This has resulted in Imagos and Don losing developers, financial support, potential and existing film clients, and that has further caused them all a great deal of stress. They have tried to handle the matter quietly so that Alex would have the best chance of improving.
Alex has recently become very public about the matter. We have decided to pursue court action solely to adjudicate Imagos’ rights and to clear up any dispute with Alex. This is all in the hopes that the developers, including Don, can continue with their first love, development of the game.
It is and always has been my understanding that Imagos owns valid copyrights on all their works for which Alex has issued takedowns. It is also my understanding and position that Alex has no right to issue takedowns for Imagos and related content.
Imagos and Don have engaged me to pursue these legal rights as reasonably and appropriately as possible. It is our primary goal to establish Imagos’ rights and the community’s rights to publish Starr Mazer and Starr Mazer: DSP content.
The GoFundMe funds go to an Escrow account specifically created for the expenses of this case. This is to cover filing fees, a process server, transcripts for depositions, travel expenses for Don Thacker as necessary, and other miscellaneous variables. Any funds leftover in the remainder afterward get donated to Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play charity. French forecasted anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000 as being the overall required amount for the proceedings.
Leonard French made three videos on the subject of Alex Mauer.
- June 25th, Alex Mauer enforces contract by DMCA extortion: This is nearly two hours in length as it appears French gave his thoughts in a livestream. More off-the-cuff first impressions rather than edited prepared statements. From the get-go Leonard offered his skills to pursue this matter because it fit within his field of lawyer expertise. It was his impression that Mauer lived within the same area as him, making it easy to take action in the court system. While introducing the situation, Leonard makes it clear that Mauer’s use of the DMCA system in order to take down Starr Mazer DSP related videos was an inappropriate use of the system. French says Mauer would have needed an explicit copyright assignment in order to have at least some grounds in that respect, but Alex appeared to not have as such. Despite that, Mauer has asserted that they have the power to take down entire YouTube videos of Starr Mazer solely because of their music part within the game. Leonard says it appears Mauer’s rationale for doing so is hoping the outrage would cause Imagos Softworks to buckle under pressure and comply with whatever Alex is demanding. Going over the contract itself, Leonard points out that it doesn’t matter that it only says “Starr Mazer” on the first page (rather than Starr Mazer: DSP) because the SERVICES section of the contract dictates that Mauer’s work can be used however Imagos sees fit and as required. Highlighting the TERM section as important, it says that Mauer’s employment is not for any guaranteed period and Imagos had the right to discharge Alex at any time. When it comes to the payment obligation in these circumstances, Imagos is only subject to that if Mauer doesn’t breach the obligations. What’s also interesting is the agreement can be immediately suspended as a result of postponement or interference of the produciton as a result of “labor controversy,” as well. The main point of interest is the WORK FOR HIRE section, as it makes a blanket license of copyright be the property of Imagos Softworks and not Alex Mauer. Leonard points out that even if Alex Mauer owned the copyrights to their Starr Mazer music, they’d still not have the grounds to DMCA Let’s Play videos on YouTube. When it comes to the argument that if Imagos violated the contract and that Alex Mauer “must own” the copyright as a result? No. That’s not how it works. Producing something for a media show of some kind does not grant that creator the right to interfere with the show itself. A violation of contract does not automatically void a contract. Even if the potential for voiding a contract is possible, it’d need to be taken to court and offically recognized as such. DMCAs assert an assumed copyright on Alex Mauer’s part and take down YouTube videos, which in turn could impact the livelihood of the uploader depending on the size of the channel targeted. Title 17 Chapter 5 Section 512 of the U.S. Code deals with Limitations on liability relating to material online and comes into play with these sorts of matters. Subsection F details that any person who knowingly and materially misrepresents the material being infringed (or having it removed/disabled by mistake and misidentification) is responsible for the damages and costs accumulated as a result of making the copyright owner having to deal with sorting that out. A case that set precedent for this was the September 2015 Lenz v. Universal Music Corp case that happened in the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Stephanie Lenz got a DMCA takedown from Universal Music Corporation because of a video she posted of her kids dancing to “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince. Lenz claimed fair use and took Universal to court over the DMCA because of misrepresentation, with the ruling ending up being copyright holders must consider good faith of fair use before throwing down the DMCA hammer on people. On the Supreme Court level, there was certiorari denied meaning the case was looked at and did not merit further review. It says the courts see no further reason to look into it further – basically showing things are good the way they are. Lenz’s own attorney appealed this because they felt subjective fair use right wasn’t enough, and they wanted the courts to affirm objective fair use right specifically. What it boils down to is Alex Mauer having to prove to the court they made an effort to determine their genuine belief that their copyright was being violated, and not knowingly and willfully misrepresenting that when pursuing DMCA takedowns. Responding to Totalbiscuit’s statement that YouTube’s DMCA system uses the law only as a guideline and doesn’t actually represent the law itself, French argues it’s still an argument of misrepresentation that YouTube themselves would be liable for at the end of the day.
- June 29th, Official: Imagos v. Alex Mauer – Week 1 – The Filing: A stressed out French tells us he took on the task of representing Imagos Softworks, and his expectations about what that work entailed. Alex Mauer began sending a series of “unhinged” messages that eventually evolved into straight up threats. “I was threatened with having my windows broken, my building set on fire… there were some colorful ones in there that I’ll leave out because I don’t want to encourage it,” he said. With that in mind, Leonard French thought it was his ethical duty to find Alex Mauer some help. He thought he had succeeded by the time of uploading this video. On a happier note, the GoFundMe campaign done to help fund French’s legal work was a smashing success. A complaint was going to be filed in the Allentown division of the Eastern district of Pennsylvania, primarily focusing on the DMCA takedowns Alex Mauer had issued and taking the steps to undo that wherever necessary. A court order was going to be pursued that’d stop Alex from doing these things any further.
- July 9th, Official: Imagos v. Alex Mauer – Week 2 – The Complaint: French tells us that the situation has become a lawsuit. Leonard shows us the amended complaint that was filed on July 7th. It was pretty much the same as the original complaint, with corrections made to the defendents name and also adding verification of Don Thacker as the Plantiff. French goes over a basic timeline of events of how this situation came to be in the first place, similar to what I’ve done in this piece here. When it came to the actual charges against Alex Mauer, there’d be several. The first of which would be Copyright Misrepresentation in regards to the (willful and knowing) illegitimate claims made by Mauer in regards to Starr Mazer and Starr Mazer: DSP, and is ignorant of the work-for-hire agreement that they are responsible for knowing, as well as being responsible for the damages caused by this controversy. The second count is a Breach of Contract. Imagos entered a work-for-hire agreement with Alex Mauer in March 2015, and that arrangement specifically requested Mauer keep confidential information a secret. They violated that and caused damages to the Plantiff that they are liable for as a result of their breach of contract. The third count dealt with Defamation per se. Mauer made public claims of ownership as well as public allegations of misconduct against the Plantiff, causing serious damage. The fourth count is for extortion/blackmail. Establishing that Mauer has publicly stated their actions are the byproduct of the contract dispute with Imagos, it’s further said that the Plantiffs went out of their way to resolve this matter with Alex over the past year. While Imagos doesn’t believe Mauer’s claims are legitimate, they attempted to settle in a show of good faith. Mauer made false claims to the property of the Plantiff, and any consent of obtaining property or rights to property was done so by wrongful use of force or the threat of force. In addition to that, Alex has made threats of serious harm to both the Plantiffs, as well as French. The Prayer for Relief (requests made to the court) includes a Temporary Restraining Order, a Preliminary Injunction in addition to a Permanent Injunction as it applies to the copyright claims made by Alex, an overall Declaratory Judgement establishing the Plantiff as legitimate owners of the copyrights in question, Judgements for the damages done by Alex, and whatever else deemed appropriate by the court. Leonard makes it clear that his approach to this situation was offering Alex Mauer an easy out. Alex Mauer refused. French goes on to state that the GoFundMe campaign goal went from $10,000 to $15,000 because the threats aspect of the situation was unexpected at the outset. He goes on to say if Alex really thought there was an issue here, they should have filed a lawsuit against Imagos when it came to the contract.
While the previous section already went over the death threats that Leonard French recieved from Alex Mauer, it’s worth pointing out an additional caveat that unfolded. At one point, French used Mauer’s “dead name” in the court documents. This would later be fixed but not to Alex’s complete liking. It was apparently for that reason that Alex Mauer wanted to get their own lawyer and not have to represent themselves.
This is where we are at.
Alex Mauer’s fall into insanity is one of the most tragic things in recent memory. Not just because of the DMCA attacks they did on the YouTube community, but because of the amount of outrage and disgust their actions have soured themselves in the public eye.
Alex Mauer wasn’t a “bad person,” they just pushed themselves too far and lost control of their reality.