The last time developer Christopher Boomer appeared on our radar was back in July 2022 when he attempted to unmask thousands of alleged copyright infringers using the DMCA subpoena process.
As the developer behind the Weightlifting Simulator series of games, among others, Boomer has enjoyed extraordinary success in the Roblox community. Billions of plays of the developer’s games are an endorsement of his work; for some, it’s also a signal to publish similar if not identical games, to generate revenue for themselves.
Boomer’s earlier attempt at using the DMCA subpoena process, to unmask potentially thousands of targets, failed Roblox weighed in. While it was clear that the developer had at least some genuine claims, a DMCA subpoena was the wrong mechanism to obtain alleged infringers’ identities.
New Lawsuit Filed in the United States
A new lawsuit filed in a California court this week faces no such obstacles. The complaint states that Boomer is the author of the massively popular Roblox games Weight Lifting Simulator (released in 2017/18) and a game with a similar theme called Muscles Legends (2019).
Key features of the games include a play area with weights, benches, treadmills, and other sundry objects. When the player interacts with these items their in-game character becomes larger and stronger in appearance, which leads to progression in the game.
Get Muscles Simulator
Released on the Roblox platform in January 2022, Get Muscles Simulator “appears to be based on the same idea and features the same underlying mechanics as Mr. Boomer’s Weightlifting Games,” the complaint notes.
In Weight Lifting Simulator, player avatars interact with in-game objects to increase attributes, and can also battle other avatars. The same gameplay mechanics also appear in Get Muscles Simulator but the complaint alleges that copying goes well beyond that.
“[T]he infringing game blatantly copies Mr. Boomer’s protectable expression, including, inter alia, its artwork, level design, animations, design aesthetics, game pieces, user interface and the selection and coordination of game elements, colors, and shapes.”
“Indeed, the presence of these elements in Defendant’s game makes it readily apparent that it is a blatant clone of Mr. Boomer’s game. As the non-exhaustive examples [above] show, the main elements of Defendant’s Get Muscles Simulator are substantially similar to the constituent elements of Mr. Boomer’s Weightlifting Games that are original.”
DMCA Counter-Notices Should Be Taken Seriously
As previously reported, a thriving and cut-price cottage industry has sprung up in recent years promising to remove infringing content from the internet using DMCA notices. The same operations also claim that if a client’s content is taken down, they will file DMCA counter-notices to ensure content is restored.
Unfortunately, many of these DIY operations have a cavalier attitude to counter-notices and few warn of the consequences when things go wrong. As this case shows, no matter who sends a counter-notice, they should be taken seriously.
Around January 24, 2024, Boomer submitted a DMCA takedown notice to Roblox with the aim of removing Get Muscles Simulator from the platform. Three days later, around January 27, the developer of the allegedly-infringing game responded with a DMCA counter-notice to Roblox.
A DMCA counter-notice allows those targeted by a DMCA takedown notice to challenge its validity and ask for the removed content to be restored. However, this also triggers a 14-day period in which the original complainant has an opportunity to sue to prevent restoration.
If no lawsuit is filed, the content should be restored between day 10 and day 14. In this case, Boomer sued.
Under Penalty of Perjury, Don’t Provide False Information
Counter-notices must contain an address where the sender can be reached and here, the counter-notice sender provided an address in Montana. According to Boomer’s complaint, that statement was false. In a second counter-notice, submitted around January 31, the developer of Get Muscles Simulator provided an address in California.
Whether that address is accurate is unclear, but other things also need to be taken into account.
Counter-notices require the sender to state, under penalty of perjury, that they have a good faith belief that their content should not have been taken down. In this case, Boomer’s lawsuit makes his position clear; Get Muscles Simulator is a blatant copy of his copyrighted game. The defendant will have to satisfy the court that simply isn’t true.
When submitting a counter-notice, senders are required to consent to the jurisdiction of a federal court in the district where they live. In this case, Boomer’s complaint states that there are no jurisdiction issues to consider because the defendant consented in writing to the jurisdiction of the court in the counter-notice submitted to Roblox.
Claim for Damages
The complaint notes that Get Muscles Simulator copies substantial original elements from Boomer’s game. It further alleges that the game’s developer, identified as Alexander Koshkin, is a deliberate and willful infringer, who generated unjust profits, gains, and advantages by competing against Boomer’s game hoping to “poach the market” for his weightlifting games.
Boomer requests a preliminary and/or permanent injunction to prevent further infringement, an award for damages, costs and attorney’s fees, interest, and a trial by jury.