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

This past week, Activision executives, Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford sent DMCA notices to Steam and GOG demanding the removal of Star Control: Origins on the grounds that Star Control: Origins violates unspecified copyrights of theirs.

Finally, after many months of requesting from them what, specifically, in our game that they they believe they own they finally posted a table outlining their justification for taking down our game.

For those not familiar with copyright, here is a really simple outline of what copyright covers and doesn't cover.

The table is right from their website.  Our comments are next to it.

Next time you play a game, any game, consider how many ideas in it appeared in other games.  For the record, Star Control: Origins is not a clone of Star Control II.  For obviously reasons, it's a 25 year old game and as we have stated countless times, it wasn't commercially viable to continue that story.  We were interested in licensing the ships from Star Control II to include in Fleet Battles but they declined to so we didn't include them.   But even if it were a "Clone" of the gameplay of Star Control II, that doesn't fall under copyright protection. See here for more information on that.

So at long last, the meat of their complaint.  They think they own the ideas listed.  


UPDATE: No, we did not make up this chart.  You can find their chart here.  These are their claims and words. We have not edited their claims.


As a reminder, this table was made by Reiche and Ford.  Not us.  We aren't putting words in their mouths here.  This is what they actually believe.  This is their justification for filing a DMCA to take down a shipping game.

As for their argument that game ideas count as expressions and can be copyrighted, the copyright office already admonished them for this erroneous misinterpretation.



Comments (Page 10)
on Feb 08, 2019

Quoting Frogboy,

There are no copyrighted characters in SC2.  What are you talking about?

It's literally printed on the back of the Star Control 3 box: "Created by Legend Entertainment and based upon characters created and used under license from Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford"

License does not mean copyrighted (I don't know what powers the ability to license or not gives you.  P&F don't own the copyright nor the trademark to the characters so what does "license" mean?).  The US copyright database does not contain copyrights for any of the alien names, the database only contains copyrights for "Star Control", "Star Control II" and "Star Control 3":

What does the "Star Control II" copyright include?:

Pre-existing Material: preexisting music, computer program code.

Basis of Claim: all other audio visual material.,25&Search_Arg=star%20control&Search_Code=TALL&CNT=25&PID=TVuAR2uA4c_qYN_qDW8vQALfvH0v&SEQ=20190208144350&SID=2


That is WHY the USPTO letter to P&F or their lawyer said "generally the copyrightable elements of of a videogame are the computer program code and audiovisual material (artwork, graphics, sounds, music, animation).  The design, in the sense of the idea/concept or format/layout, is not a copyrightable element."


These are the trademarks that P&F filed (they are all from 2018):







WHERE is Stardock infringing in what I just listed?  The Precursors trademark that is still in process?  P&F allowed Stardock to use "Precursors" in GalCiv for over a decade.  And if P&F got that trademark they would have to defend it and sue Halo, Pacific Rim, Subnautica, GalCiv, and SCO for using the term "Precursor" to mean aliens or ancient aliens too.  Characters?  P&F do not have the copyright nor the trademark to them.  Hyperspace?  I already talked about that, let me know if you have something to say.

on Feb 08, 2019


P&F allowed Stardock to use "Precursors" in GalCiv for over a decade. 

Oh, that's ever so nice of them to do that....didn't know an individual could actually own a word.....

"late Middle English: from Latin praecursor, from praecurs- ‘preceded’, from praecurrere, from prae‘beforehand’ + currere ‘to run’."

They probably invented Latin too.....

on Feb 08, 2019

The classic example from SFB was "Phaser".  Star Trek can own "Phaser" because they made up the word itself.  Just like "Klingon" or "Romulan".  They can't own "Transporter" or "Tractor Beam" because the terms are too general.


on Feb 09, 2019

Not sure about "Romulan" - there was this guy & his brother...

on Feb 09, 2019


The Precursors trademark that is still in process?

You can register a trademark for almost anything. Defending it in court is somewhat more difficult.

Cadbury trademarked the colour purple but let it lapse after a couple of court losses made it obvious that they had zero chance of defending it.

Precursor is a common English word and its application to earlier races obvious.:



  1. a person or thing that comes before another of the same kind; a forerunner.
    "a three-stringed precursor of the violin"
on Feb 10, 2019

I think Romulan also belongs to Paramount.  The idea is that if you create a new word you can own it, but there is more too it than that.  The lawyers get involved with usage and prominence, etc.  Romulan is derived from Rome and Romulus & Remus.  The Romulan homeworlds are even called Romulus and Remus.  Phaser is derived from Laser and "Phased"... Phased-Laser = Phaser.  When you make up words, and define them and use them in certain ways they can become yours.  I know for certain that, at least back in the 1980's and early 1990's Paramount owned "Phaser" because they made it up, but not "Transporter" or "Tractor Beam" because they were too general.  This was the classic example back then.


on Feb 17, 2019

I've realized another good example here.  "First Ones".  I use it in many different ways in my own story.  I've been playing Path of Exile again, it changes so much after a year away it is almost a new game going back too it, and they use it too.  "First Ones" is far too general for JMS or Warner Brothers to lay claim too.  Often something like this is "protected" by the fans, who would roll their eyes and think "you stole that from B5", but not always.  "First Ones" or "First One" is a good example of an exception.  In this case, the fans don't mind someone "stealing" it as a cool concept, as long as they use it differently then B5 does.  So in this case it is "not protected" both legally or by the fans. 

"Phaser" is protected both legally and by the fans. Even if you could use "Phaser" legally, the fans wouldn't let you.  They'd just mock and ridicule you for "stealing" Phaser from Star Trek because you couldn't think of anything original on your own.  There are many levels too this issue, which is how and why this endless discussion can rage around it.  Of course, all that matters once the lawyers become involved are the legally relevant issues.