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 5)
on Jan 28, 2019

Well that's pretty simple, Stardock can continue not saying in game that SC2 is part of the SCO multiverse.

on Jan 28, 2019

Prof_Hari_Seldon

Well that's pretty simple, Stardock can continue not saying in game that SC2 is part of the SCO multiverse.

And that would be for the best.

on Jan 30, 2019

Sir_On_The_Edge

They had already said this, it's the same point as their previous post. How does it further anything?

It's the same subject, but they elaborated on it to defend their position. Seems like a genuine attempt at discussion to me.

on Jan 30, 2019

Sir_On_The_Edge

@Kazriko - a build that Linux native is in the works, if you but the PC version now you'll get both when it's out as that's how steam works

Yeah, I know that works. I usually wait to purchase something until it has a Linux version so that they get money specifically for making the linux version, but in this case I went ahead and bought it ahead of time anyway. 

on Jan 31, 2019

PRHMro

However, these "grey areas", as you put it, are exactly the problem. And while SCO's hyperspace expression definitely counts as a "grey area", the multiverse claim does not. If SCO takes place in the same multiverse as UQM (let alone shares characters with it), it is a derivative work of UQM (since being in one universe/multiverse or another is a question of story, and story is definitely covered by copyright). Derivative works can only be made by those who own the copyright to the original work or a license to it. Since Stardock has neither, Stardock claiming that SCO takes place in the same multiverse as UQM would be copyright infringement.

That's not how copyright works.

If it's an association issue, it's trademark.  Stardock owns the trademark free and clear.  The Star Control games exist within the Star Control multiverse because we say what is and isn't in the Star Control multiverse.  If we were to say that the Star Wars universe is in Star Control universe, that would be an issue because of the trademark (consumer confusion) not because of copyright.

If you can't put A and B next to each other and get a person to agree (or disagree) that one is a copy (substantially similar) of the other then it's not a copyright question.

Most of the mistaken arguments I've seen on this dispute is the association fallacy.  Trademark controls association. Not copyright.

on Jan 31, 2019

Frogboy

That's not how copyright works.

If it's an association issue, it's trademark.  Stardock owns the trademark free and clear.  The Star Control games exist within the Star Control multiverse because we say what is and isn't in the Star Control multiverse.  If we were to say that the Star Wars universe is in Star Control universe, that would be an issue because of the trademark (consumer confusion) not because of copyright.

If you can't put A and B next to each other and get a person to agree (or disagree) that one is a copy (substantially similar) of the other then it's not a copyright question.

Most of the mistaken arguments I've seen on this dispute is the association fallacy.  Trademark controls association. Not copyright.

As I understand it (though of course I may still be wrong here), consumer confusion is all about real-world associations - for example, a product that is marketed under the Star Control trademark is associated with the current owner of the mark (Stardock). You are correct in that you can slap the Star Control trademark on various products that you own and declare them part of the Star Control multiverse.

I'm not talking about real-world associations, though. I'm talking about fictional associations in a fictional universe. SCO makes references to other universes existing in addition to the Origins universe that the game is set in. Therefore we can assume that from the point of view of, say, the Captain, the Precursors, the Observers, etc. there are other universes out there, that there is, as F&P put it, a "hyper-dimensional" connection between the UQM universe and the SCO universe. That's a story issue.

So if you say that the UQM universe (which is owned by F&P) is part of the Star Control multiverse, then to an observer from the UQM universe the SCO universe also exists as a real entity. Basically, F&P must edit their story against their will because someone other than them owns the Star Control trademark? Don't copyright owners hold exclusive rights to their stories?

I realize that I've already had a similar discussion with you over half a year ago on the UQM forum, and I realize it's up to the court to decide who is right... So I'll understand if you don't want to continue this discussion.

on Jan 31, 2019

Copyright does not grant P&F ownership over the "UQM" universe. It grants them control over distribution of the expression of the story that exists in SC1 and 2, and it also grants them a certain degree of control for "derivations" of the material in those two games. Ownership of the "universe" however requires the ability to control usage of things like names, which copyright does not grant. Trademark does, which means P&F do not have legal standing to even expand the UQM story if they wanted to without the consent of the Star Control trademark holder, which in this case is Stardock.

on Jan 31, 2019

The USPTO interprets copyright of videogames to only be for source code and audiovisual material, not design ideas/concepts.  They left lore out for some reason.  The USPTO also did not bring up SCO possibly being a "derivative work" of SC2 for some reason.

on Jan 31, 2019

Prof_Hari_Seldon

The USPTO interprets copyright of videogames to only be for source code and audiovisual material, not design ideas/concepts.  They left lore out for some reason.

I believe that lore is covered by "script/screenplay", which is present in F&P's second copyright registration for SC2, which covers just that and audiovisual material. The source code was covered by their earlier copyright registration.

on Jan 31, 2019

zwabbit's post just now might have the answer.

 

I still don't know how to decide if something is a "derivative work" or not, though.

on Jan 31, 2019

So many internet lawyers...

I'll refer to the fairly straight forward example I gave earlier.

If you can't put A and B next to each other and compare, then it's not a copyright discussion.