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 2)
on Jan 03, 2019

Brad is it possible to share the terms of the Atari firesale/purchase - They make an interesting comment in their post about it and I'm interested to read the legalese of it, if it wouldn't be a hassle.

on Jan 03, 2019

Gawd, Brad, you're in so deep you can't see the forest for the trees.

on Jan 03, 2019



Quoting Frogboy,

Do you have any idea how many Harry Potter clones books are out there with just a few changes?  SCO is not a clone of SC2 but even if it were, it's obviously a very different game experience.



Do you have any idea how many of those have faced legal action, and either settled out of court or been barred from sale in the US? You might want to choose an example that doesn't involve "prohibiting the [fan's] use of “any names, places or objects from the series”"

(Hmmm, prohibiting the use of names, places, and objects, why does that sound familiar...)

There's an entire series called "The Magicians" that to me is a pretty blatant clone of Harry Potter.

on Jan 04, 2019

Frogboy


Quoting GMOrz,






Quoting Frogboy,



Do you have any idea how many Harry Potter clones books are out there with just a few changes?  SCO is not a clone of SC2 but even if it were, it's obviously a very different game experience.



Do you have any idea how many of those have faced legal action, and either settled out of court or been barred from sale in the US? You might want to choose an example that doesn't involve "prohibiting the [fan's] use of “any names, places or objects from the series”"

(Hmmm, prohibiting the use of names, places, and objects, why does that sound familiar...)



There's an entire series called "The Magicians" that to me is a pretty blatant clone of Harry Potter.

 

Harry Potter is just a rip off of The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman.

 

https://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/mt/2015/03/vertigoscholastic/lead_720_405.jpg?mod=1533691733

on Jan 04, 2019

Frogboy

There's an entire series called "The Magicians" that to me is a pretty blatant clone of Harry Potter.

Unless the TV show has vastly misled me, it borrows from Harry Potter, Narnia, and the raunchy college sitcom genre in equal measure. And very definitely earns it's "R" rating. If it had a protagonist named "Hermione", horcruxes, and a nearly identical "Latin words are magical" system, you'd have a solid comparison, but it lacks all of those.

A judge already ruled against your injunction, and authorized this DMCA. An expert in law, who has had time to review the evidence, felt that this DMCA claim was warranted: "Insofar as Plaintiff questions the wisdom of the DMCA process, however, its quarrel is with Congress".

The judge actually seems pretty unhappy with Stardock: "In view of the foregoing, the harm Plaintiff complains of is indeed of its own making. Plaintiff had knowledge of Defendants’ copyright claims from the outset. Despite that knowledge, it developed potentially infringing material without resolution of the IP ownership issues, and then publicized the release of that material during the pendency of this action. It now claims that its investment in Origins and reputation are on the line. Given that Plaintiff largely created the foregoing predicament, the Court is disinclined to extricate Plaintiff from a peril of its own making. "

Somehow I suspect that if JK Rowling tried to sue Lev Grossman over "The Magicians", a judge would have something very different to say about the matter.

 
on Jan 04, 2019

So, you change the color of hyperspace to green. Streaks are just about universal to denote movement in hyperspace in any number of games and tv shows, as is the term hyperspace.

Given Stardock does have a right to derivative works from Star Control 3, I can't see a win coming from the color choice. 

on Jan 04, 2019

I had never heard of Star Control prior to Star Control Origins.

I was in fact made aware of it when trawling the net for an updated StarFlight.

It was the game's obvious resemblance to StarFlight (stuff like mining resources on alien worlds, having to buy upgrades, a Space Command you reported to etc) that encouraged me to give the game a go.

on Jan 04, 2019

Lotus sued competitors over "look and feel" infringement because of the similarities between Lotus 123 and their products.

They won a handful of cosmetic changes but nothing significant. I don't think Lotus 123 is even a product today.

on Jan 04, 2019

Latin words are magic has been pretty standard at least as far as The Exorcist.

on Jan 04, 2019

"A judge already ruled against your injunction, and authorized this DMCA. An expert in law, who has had time to review the evidence, felt that this DMCA claim was warranted: "Insofar as Plaintiff questions the wisdom of the DMCA process, however, its quarrel is with Congress"."

This refers solely to the injunction and Brad being unqualified to make commentary on what is and is not copyrightable. It has no bearing what-so-ever on the copyright claim itself.

on Jan 04, 2019

Copyright does not protect the idea for a game, its name or title, or the method or methods
for playing it. Nor does copyright protect any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material
involved in developing, merchandising, or playing a game. Once a game has been made
public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on
similar principles. Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author’s expression in
literary, artistic, or musical form.

Source

on Jan 04, 2019

You're arguing details, semantics and legalities, while it's completely clear that lots of content in SC:O is derived (or just straight-up copied) from SC2. Which you shouldn't do if you don't have rights to the IP nor the original creators' blessing. I've no idea how it will be settled in courts, or whether Stardock manages to evade consequences or not, but the basic principle seems perfectly clear in this case.

Splitting the hyperspace example into details until they're too small to matter individually, ignoring the bigger picture, and trying to arrive at the conclusion of "we're not infringing SC2" is a huge exercise in mental gymnastics.

on Jan 04, 2019

Game design is not copyrightable. As stated by a worker of the Copyright Office to P&F's lawyer.

on Jan 04, 2019

That letter...I was always on Brad's side, but now I know why his confidence is so high. Design/idea/concept/format/layout is 100% what Toys For Bob is pointing out with the chart they recently released. None of it, based on this letter from the copyright office to their lawyer, is basis for a claim.

If it was, then Blizzard could've been sued for Warcraft being too much like Dune II all those years ago, and Microprose could've put a claim in against Brad for Galactic Civilizations being too much like Civilization and Master of Orion. It's simply a road that we as gamers don't want to go down (if so, then Star Control would never have been made, because it's essentially a fancier version of Spacewar!).

on Jan 04, 2019
IP law is so messed up, the only winners are lawers (which btw includes the judge and those in charge of making the laws!) No work in any field can exist in vacuum. Every author has read 100's or even 1000's of books. Infact there are only 7 different type of stories, one of which star control falls under. Every invention requires other inventions; Can't make a light bulb without electricity. Oh, and btw, there are fair use reason to legally copy copyrighted works.(this has been chiseled away because of lawyers) But if say Stardock make a game that was a parody of Star control, like how space balls is to StarWars(there is even an X rated film that does this, G. lucas fought and lost btw)... Anyways as I was saying, Stardock could make a Star Balls making fun of Star Control, they can get away with stealing those characters, story elements, etc.