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News: Paul Reiche and Fred Ford want to continue the story they started when they created Star Control II — The Ur-Quan Masters. «Happy days and jubilation!» «But wait!» «There is something wrong here... something which makes my sheath retract and my talons ooze.» «Please, Captain, we need your help!»

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Author Topic: Stardock Litigation Discussion  (Read 19829 times)
Krulle
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #360 on: September 26, 2018, 09:19:55 pm »

Yet the contract language is very clear. Any action... I would also find it extremely hard to believe a judge or jury would allow it, but you never know....
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #361 on: September 26, 2018, 09:28:36 pm »

Okay, lets take that at face value. That could mean,
If Paul and Fred are compelled to pay the court costs
1)Then they should also be responsible for deciding when the litigation is over (unless there is some other clause that allows the publisher to decide on the duration of the lawsuit).
2)Then that should directly deincentive Brad's lawyers since getting the money from them may become difficult after the lawsuit concludes.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #362 on: September 26, 2018, 11:15:20 pm »

The current counts of the current amended claim do not question the ownership of the Star Control 1 and 2 copyrights.  (Strictly trademark related issues and copyright infringement relating to Star Control 3 specific elements.)  Hence, this part isn't applicable in the slightest.  This is a protective measure so the publisher didn't have to spend money settle any disputes that show up with someone contesting ownership of the copyrighted material.  Back in the 80's it was a bit of the wild west when it came to submitting games to publishers and there were a few cases of people in one region of the world submitting material to a publisher in a different region of the world, when they did not have the full rights to do so.  This is what this clause was for.

Also, with written documentation acknowledging ownership from two previous holders of the contract, copyright filings to detail the exact ownership of copyrights for Star Control 2, and multiple parties over the years attesting to the ownership...  This clause is just a historical footnote for the time period the contract was written.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #363 on: October 01, 2018, 10:17:23 pm »

So in the recent court filings, Stardock claims that without Steam or GOG, it's impossible to launch their games:

Quote
Steam and GOG provide the only delivery mechanism for Origins, and if removed from those platforms, access to the game would be eliminated entirely.

- https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.cand.320268/gov.uscourts.cand.320268.66.0.pdf (Page 5, Line 20)

Quote
Third, Defendants claim even if Origins is removed from Steam and GOG (due to their
DMCA notices) then Stardock will still be able to sell its game from its own website. This is
completely incorrect. Stardock relies on Steam and GOG, not only to distribute but to launch and
operate its games as well. (...)  The Steam and GOG sites do not provide
mere download services; they provide the entire installation infrastructure.
- same doc, Page 18, Lines 18-22

Quote
There is no version of Origins, in other words, that is not dependent on the
online delivery mechanisms provided by Steam or GOG. Origins is developed to be accessed and
played through the infrastructure provided by Steam and GOG.
- same doc, Page 19, Lines 5-7

At first this struck me as perfectly reasonable: you can't launch a Steam game without Steam, right?

Then it struck me as a bit odd that they couldn't make a minor tweak to bypass this - surely their programmers aren't all firing up development copies via Steam?

Then I remembered that GOG is DRM free, and none of the GOG installers I have requires using Gog Galaxy... they're just a stand-alone file that will install the game. This is, in fact, an advertised feature of GOG.

So... presumably there's a stand-alone installer, the same one being sold on GOG, that Stardock could offer for sale on their own website?

(I have not purchased the game on GOG - I mostly use it for old DOS games - so I can't confirm that my understanding of how GOG works is accurate in this case)
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rosepatel
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #364 on: October 01, 2018, 11:45:42 pm »

I wouldn't read too much into it. It's somewhat normal for both sides to hit them with "everything they have", and list every conceivable factor, even questionable ones. That said, most lawyers usually draw some line at which they are being unreasonable. But I don't think anyone cares enough to die on this hill.
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CelticMinstrel
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #365 on: October 02, 2018, 02:25:40 am »

It's possible that GoG packages the installer for them, but there's literally no reason why they couldn't package an installer themselves if the game is removed from GoG and Steam. If they have DLCs, that might complicate things though; it could be that some significant amount of work would be needed to produce a version they could sell on their own website. Still... it's definitely possible.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #366 on: October 02, 2018, 09:41:42 am »

The moment the developers have a test version is the moment they have a version they could sell for download.
People aren't stupid enough to be unable to "create a folder wherever you want to install the game, and copy/unpack the files there".

It may not have much securities against copying or parallel downloads by others (as their server would need to get these kind of things first, also potentially their server capacities would have to be extended to be able to cope with the amount of traffic), and they would need to get a payment service, all of this requires quite a lot of work for upgrading their own site, but it is still there.
(And whatever they program themselves for their own servers to sell Origins may not be up to industry standards, but GOG and Steam also started somewhere.)
Question basically is whether Stardock would actually want to go that venue, as it is very easy to outsource this kind of stuff to someone having experience with large traffic volumes, secure downloads, payment options and handling, security around those issues, ... (e.g. GOG, Steam, Facebook, Amazon, Google, Yahoo, ...), instead of having to do all of this yourself.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #367 on: October 02, 2018, 03:47:59 pm »

Wait, did P&F try to get them kicked off of Steam and GoG entirely? Last I checked, they just demanded to have SC1&2 removed.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #368 on: October 02, 2018, 04:44:01 pm »

Last I heard (haven't had time to check lately), Stardock wants an injunction against P&F, so they cannot use the DMCA process to report any Copyright infringing material in SC:O.

Part of Stardock's argument, apparently, is if they get reported on Steam and GOG, then SC:O will become inaccessible.

It's hard to know if P&F are fighting the injunction because they want report SC:O under the DMCA, or they merely want to reserve the right to report some future content that might infringe SC1 and SC2.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #369 on: October 04, 2018, 10:13:00 am »

This is only a bit on topic, but I wanted to give some insight.

Steam's DRM is optional. Games can use it or not use it, and it's not required to use Steam DRM in your game if you want to use the Steamworks API. The DRM is merely a protective executable wrapper.
In games that I have worked on myself, I've managed to remove mandatory dependence on Steam and allow running of games 'DRM-free', while still maintaining the ability to use Steam features when Steam is present.

GOG's installers, on the other hand, are pretty simple. Anyone can make a comparably decent installer using the Nullsoft install system or similar packages. They're surprisingly easy to use and in many cases very flexible.
There is a GOG API that can be used by GOG Galaxy games, but it is by design completely optional, and games using that API can be run without it. Exceptions to that are generally refused by GOG's QA team.

When games are removed from Steam and GOG due to any sort of complaint, they may no longer be purchased, but existing owners do not lose access to them in any way unless the developer intentionally removes it.
That includes games that are removed permanently due to legal issues (for an example, see the copyright-infringing game Motor Rock that was removed from Steam).

However, there is one angle in which it makes a lot of sense: Steam is by far the biggest outlet for sales of PC games right now. GOG comes in as a near second.
If you can't distribute your games on those services, your sales are cut so drastically as to be virtually non-existent by comparison.
Still, their wording is a misrepresentation, even though they have very good reasons to want to avoid losing these outlets.

I hope that I haven't implied any kind of bias in my post here. I'm a frequent reader but it's rare for me to want to speak up.
I'd like to present this information as neutrally and objectively as possible, if I can. I hope I've accomplished that.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #370 on: October 09, 2018, 02:01:15 am »


Quote
14. At Paragraph 40 of Mr. Reiche’s Declaration, he alleges that the 1988 License
Agreement could not have been assigned without his consent and that Atari, Inc. and Stardock
never asked for nor received such consent from Mr. Reiche. As alleged in our Second Amended
Complaint, Stardock believes that Reiche never owned the rights to Star Control I and Star
Control II that he purported to license in the 1988 License Agreement, and thus, there was
nothing owned by Reiche to be assigned. So, his consent was not needed even if it was required
(which Stardock disputes).


I'm sure somewhere in human history there have been completely incompetent people who signed contracts to transfer things they didn't own and somehow everyone involved was so oblivious they went right back to the same people and DID IT AGAIN, although what I'm hearing in the back of my mind here is "ocean front property, in Arizona. From my front porch you can see the sea!"

This reads like a copyright version of the knee-capping plot from "I, Tonya" (which differed from the real events in that they made the people seem less stupid)

The more I think about this, the more bizarre it gets.

So Stardock's position is that Accolade should be seen as the real developers of Star Control and Reiche and Ford were important but still just two contractors among many, right? That SC1 and SC2 were fundamentally Accolade's games. So somehow, despite Accolade driving the development, Reiche was able to hoodwink Accolade into thinking he had done most or all of the work while Accolade coordinated the team. By this version of things Paul Reiche had an smaller role on Accolade's team than we have been led to believe, maybe the hands-off idea man, but his influence also stretched far enough to bury the team's contributions and fool everyone for decades.

Somehow Accolade developed SC2 while also not knowing enough about SC2's development to figure out Reiche was conning them into thinking he owned the copyright. In all seriousness I would guess Accolade had more firsthand knowledge of the development process and how the team worked than can be produced in discovery 25 years later, by the way (due to lost documents, faded memories, etc).

After Reiche and Ford had gone underground for six (?) months to finish the game, Accolade asked Reiche and Ford to make a sequel to the Star Control game that Fred and Paul didn't make. Later Accolade asked for their permission to make SC3. When a possible SC4 came up, Fred and Paul drove a hard bargain in negotiations. Yet Accolade's lawyers were too incompetent to think of going to the people Fred and Paul had defrauded (for leverage if nothing else) and instead went back to negotiate repeatedly, giving Fred and Paul quite a lot in the final deal.

Indeed, Reiche and Ford fooled their fellow team members badly enough that none of them have come forward with complaints in decades and some are still their friends all these years later. While Fred and Paul did all this, they put a memorable credits sequence into SC2 and have frequently mentioned others' contributions through the years.  

Reiche and Ford also had this all masterminded in 1988 when Reiche fraudulently signed a contract that stole credit for games that hadn't been developed yet.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2018, 01:28:28 pm by Mormont » Logged
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #371 on: October 09, 2018, 03:29:35 am »

The more I think about this, the more bizarre it gets.

I think a lot of this is Stardock taking advantage of the fact that P&F lost the presumption of validity on their copyright because they waited so long to register it.  So Stardock is questioning everything because (from their perspective), why not make P&F fight for every inch?

Also, it's important for Stardock to diminish Paul's role in creating the games, because if Paul was the "master mind" behind the game, he is entitled to the rights of being the primary author under the Aalmuhammed precedent.

Also, as Ariloulawleelay noted some time ago, if Stardock can cast enough doubt on P&F being the "Creators of Star Control", then it weakens their trademark fair use defenses for saying that they are.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #372 on: October 09, 2018, 07:04:22 pm »

That's the essence of it. That's why the "creators" isn't just a little semantic issue. It's one of Stardock's main legal arguments.

If the real creators are Accolade, or dozens of people who helped make the game, you could argue that they hold the Copyright. Not Paul and Fred.

Paul and Fred creating Star Control adds to the evidence that they're the Copyright holders, and vice versa.

I'm willing to bet the old team will go to bat for Paul and Fred in court.

If that's established, then Stardock can't just steamroll over P&F by selling the old games (or copying lore and aliens) without their permission. They have some real skin in the game.

It helps give P&F a legitimate right to describe their relationship to Star Control.

Most importantly, it helps give them the legal right to continue the SC1 and SC2 story. Which is maybe the biggest thing at stake.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #373 on: October 11, 2018, 04:17:49 pm »

You know someone cares when they log into an account they created 9 years ago to post for the first time.

Someone over on Reddit found the Zoq-Fot-Pik, complete with mentions of the Zebranky and Frungy, in the new game. This feels like a very strong infringement on Paul’s copyright - am I wrong?

If I’m not wrong, I was hoping someone here was able to contact/inform them to make sure they’re aware for the pending case.

Here’s the link to the ZFP stuff.
https://www.reddit.com/r/starcontrol/comments/9n94u0/zoqfotpik_in_star_control_origins_minor_spoilers/?st=JN4NEK0E&sh=78a3b7ab
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #374 on: October 11, 2018, 08:24:40 pm »

IMHO, an interesting find, but not close enoigh to be actually copyright infrinding.
The ZFP in SC2 weren't fleshed out a lot either, but this case I would just take as a referential nod to the original.

The question is though that there are many such nods, and all have been changed quite a lot, and the mass of references may just be too much.

(And as a nod to SC2 it does not really work, as there is no video screen, and too many changes to be a good nod anyway.
This feels like a wanted nod, but not knowing the original and thus butchering the original...)
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