Brad Wardell's site for talking about the customization of Windows.

We have received news today that Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford, contractors on the classic DOS game, Star Control 2 for Accolade and widely credited as being the "creators" of Star Control II have issued a DMCA take down notices to Valve and GOG to take down Star Control: Origins.

(this is the one sent to GOG)

As some of you may know, there is a legal dispute between Stardock and Reiche and Ford regarding the trademarks and copyrights pertaining to Star Control.  Stardock owns the copyright to Star Control 3 and the trademark to Star Control overall.  Reiche and Ford claim to own the copyright to Star Control 2 (though it's not clear what within it they own outside source code).

You can read the history here:
https://www.stardock.com/games/starcontrol/article/487690/qa-regarding-star-control-and-paul-and-fred

Unfortunately, rather than relying on the legal system to resolve this, they have chosen to bypass it by issuing vague DMCA take-down notices to Steam and GOG (who, btw, Reiche and Ford are suing using GoFundMe money).

Steam and GOG both have a policy of taking down content that receive DMCA notices regardless of the merits of the claims. 

To my knowledge, never in the history of our industry has anyone attempted to use the DMCA system to take down a shipping game before. For example, when PubG sued Fortnite for copyright infringement, they didn't try to take Fortnite down with a DMCA notice.

For those not familiar with copyright law, you CANNOT copyright ideas, individual or short phrases, concepts, mechanics, game designs, etc. 

Star Control: Origins does not contain any copyrighted work of Reiche or Ford. We spent 5 years working on it making it our own game. It very much plays like you would expect a Star Control game. But that has nothing to do with copyright. 

We have assurances from GOG and Valve that already purchased games will continue to work.

Unfortunately, without the income from Star Control: Origins, Stardock will have to lay off some of the men and women who are assigned to the game.

We will do our very best to continue to support the game and hopefully Star Control: Origins will return as soon as possible.


Comments (Page 1)
on Dec 31, 2018

Fine little Happy New Year gift, there.

on Jan 01, 2019

I was thinking the same thing. Terrible timing. A good way to sour new years celebrations.

I prefer to stay out of this fight. I don't care much for star control. That said, I think this is a low blow.

on Jan 01, 2019

Hey Brad, how will this affect the update you gave in the founders starbase in regards to future Origins games? Sounds like those plans are axed unless this issue gets resolved. Just want to confirm if that's the case. 

on Jan 01, 2019

Xiaorai

Hey Brad, how will this affect the update you gave in the founders starbase in regards to future Origins games? Sounds like those plans are axed unless this issue gets resolved. Just want to confirm if that's the case. 

Too early to say.

on Jan 01, 2019

I could write a diatribe about this situation and the timing, but it has already been said by others during this fiasco.  Although I'll add that the influx of amateur copyright lawyers on steam defending this is stunning.

I've been a Stardock customer since Gal Civ 1 on OS/2.  This company has ALWAYS treated its customers with respect.  

You guys don't deserve this and I'm truly sorry this is happening.  

 

on Jan 01, 2019

DivineWrath

I was thinking the same thing. Terrible timing.

 

It was intended to cause pain.

These skylander hacks have used opportunistic timing from the beginning, waiting to raise objections, timing their game announcement, timing public statements thick with bullshit to stomp on any stardock publicity. 

I really enjoyed Star Control 2 in 1992, but Toys for Bob aren't the fucking Beatles.  They chose to make licensed games and skylanders instead of more games like star control, and they made a boatload of money.  That's great for them, I would have totally made that same business decision -  but sorry, I don't believe the crocodile tears that they're the naive indie devs befuddled at their life's blood being stolen from them by the corporate giant Stardock.

 

on Jan 01, 2019

P&F claim they own copyrights in SC3 (see the document in Frogboy's post)?! NOOOOOOOOOO!

 

I wish this was a case where the claim is so ridiculous that the judge could throw it out immediately, like when Jim Sterling was sued for millions of dollars for a negative review of Slaughtering Grounds.

 

I hope Steam and GOG pursue monetary compensation for this block of SCO sales and that Stardock gets a cut of that.

on Jan 01, 2019

Sigh, Stardock is no stranger to adversity.  It survived the OS2 exodus, it'll survive this.  That said, it's a real shame that the Paul and Fred are more destructive than creative.  Surely, there was a less destructive way to deal with this.  

on Jan 01, 2019

I sincerely wish Stardock wins as soon as possible and that every PR becomes good PR in this case boosting sales and making it game of the year 2019.

on Jan 01, 2019

Prof_Hari_Seldon

I wish this was a case where the claim is so ridiculous that the judge could throw it out immediately, like when Jim Sterling was sued for millions of dollars for a negative review of Slaughtering Grounds.

My completely non-lawyer reading of the judges decision seemed like more of a technicality that a DMCA isn't the same as a legal injunction so she couldn't legally stop it.   One thing I read in the decision was that the DMCA technically didn't cause "irrevocable harm" to stardock.  The theory is that if the DMCA was invalid,  stardock could recover the money by suing, and recover lost money that way.  It isn't like the judge was going to do a playthrough of the game to make sure Stardock didn't stick some artwork from 1992 in there.

Stardock couldn't claim that a DMCA on Star Control would destroy the company, so they lost the decision.   It is legal bullshit with no judgement on whether the claim was valid or not.

I bet Brad can't comment, but I would think filing that DMCA claim on a game containing none of their characters will actually shift the debate to be much more in Stardock's favor.  (Barring people who will always irrationally hate Brad because gaming blogs like to get clicks by reporting that he is an unrepentant rapist nazi megalomaniac)

 

I hope the people that may lose their jobs are treated as well as possible on the way out.

on Jan 01, 2019

lord999

Stardock is no stranger to adversity.  It survived the OS2 exodus, it'll survive this. 

I pretty much hate every gaming company.  Nowadays it is perfectly acceptable to be rude to your customers, rip them off, etc.  Few companies haven't fallen into that trap.

Nintendo isn't perfect, but when you buy Mario, Zelda, etc you are getting an extraordinarily polished piece of software offering up hundreds of hours of gameplay that another company would want another $100 in DLC for, and still not be as good.

Stardock makes "risky" great games.  When they made (IMO) a terrible decision to charge for Ashes:Escalation as a separate expansion, I was upset - but when they heard the feedback here and from others, they made it free for existing Ashes owners.   That had to be an expensive decision, but they understand that customer loyalty in the long term is more important than short-term sales.  Its why I bought an expensive founders pack WITH NO KNOWLEDGE OF HOW THE GAME WOULD TURN OUT, because I trust Stardock.   I'm not a kickstarter/deluxe pack/season pass in advance person, but I knew stardock couldn't let me down.

That's why this annoys me so much.  Attacking one of the last companies who actually tries to make great, unique games by the people who have been doing the opposite of that (Skylanders is a terrible game with terrible toys to sell to children) for years.

on Jan 01, 2019

athelasloraiel

PR becomes good PR in this case boosting sales and making it game of the year 2019.

 

Sad to say, no way gaming "journalists" would give this game of the year.   If patch 1.6 for Star Control Origins cured all cancer Kotaku and Polygon would write articles about how Brad put female oncologists and oncology nurses out of work because he is THAT much of a misogynist.

on Jan 01, 2019

I wish we could help somehow...

Also, getting Youtubers and Such involved can be Dangerous~
It could really tip the balance of the Public in favor of Stardock... or not.
So, i don't think Actively trying to get famous Internet Personalities involved is a good idea, it COULD Help, or Make things Worse!
(and i know it does not help with the DMCA in itself, but Public opinion and Support helps a lot)

on Jan 01, 2019

ShadeMeadows

It could really tip the balance of the Public in favor of Stardock... or not.

There is so much FUD going around that I've been trying to explain to people on reddit and elsewhere that the Origins game contains NO material from Star Control 1-3, but they're under the impression it does because that's the PR campaign R&F paid for.

Let's assume Brad/Stardock is COMPLETELY WRONG about everything they've said.  No rights to star control 1-3, no rights to characters in SC1-3, no rights to sell anything, no rights to prevent R&F from calling their game the super-real star control sequel.   Even then, there are NO copyright issues in Star Control Origins, and using the DMCA is bullshit.

In a "funny" way, this DMCA takedown has actually convinced people that obviously, Stardock must have included SC2 characters in the game.  I think if people knew the truth they'd be pissed, but again, nobody will defend Brad because of all those homeless people he murdered for sport.*

 

(*No he didn't, I was pretending to be a gaming journalist for a moment)

 

 

on Jan 01, 2019

Wow. What a bunch of shit. Plus, the chicken-shit way they went about it. Wish/hope there's some way Stardock can sue their asses into the ground. Petty, whiny cowards.

I've been w/ Stardock since '03 and really hate to see this happening.

Those guys can burn in Hell. (not that I'm livid or anything...)