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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: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock  (Read 9063 times)
rosepatel
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Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
« Reply #45 on: October 03, 2018, 05:01:19 pm »

It's not complicated. The party with more money always has more bargaining power. The internal processes don't matter that much.

Just be practical. If Stardock releases a smashing success, they can afford to do whatever they want legally. The opposite is true if SC:O is a dud. They'd need to reallocate funds, which would prevent them from being as frivolous with the legal claims.

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ArilouSkuff
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Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
« Reply #46 on: October 03, 2018, 06:24:57 pm »

This is more of a cost benefit analysis situation. The more money Origins brings in, the more inclined Stardock is to continue to spend money fighting Fred and Paul in court. The worse it does, the more inclined they may be to cut their loses by settling. Revenue from the game won't directly flow into the lawsuit, but they will expect revenue from it and/or its sequels to eventually exceed both the game's development costs and these legal expenses.
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Serosis
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Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
« Reply #47 on: October 03, 2018, 07:31:29 pm »

That's just obtuse.

I don't think there's a need to be insulting.

That's the second time i thought a word was something it wasn't.
Sorry about that, I need to start looking these words up before I use them, i used to be good with definitions.
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CelticMinstrel
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Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
« Reply #48 on: October 04, 2018, 05:38:09 am »

To be fair, words often have multiple meanings, so you might be thinking of a particular meaning while forgetting there's another meaning that's quite insulting. For example, Wiktionary lists one meaning of obtuse as "indirect, circuitous".
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ArilouSkuff
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Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
« Reply #49 on: October 04, 2018, 06:34:49 am »

To be fair, words often have multiple meanings, so you might be thinking of a particular meaning while forgetting there's another meaning that's quite insulting. For example, Wiktionary lists one meaning of obtuse as "indirect, circuitous".

Context, however, is key. I'm not aware of "obtuse" being used on people to say they're indirect. That definition is typically reserved for a path or route.
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Serosis
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Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
« Reply #50 on: October 04, 2018, 06:03:05 pm »

Well I didn't want anyone to think I was directly insulting them so I redacted the word for good measure.
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Talonious
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Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
« Reply #51 on: October 09, 2018, 08:08:59 pm »

I've been checking back here every so often as the legal proceedings have played out. Because they tend to play out with dramatic bursts of new information followed by long periods of silence, I didn't feel the need to read every day.

But this is definitely new, and to me personally very disappointing, information. I purchased Star Control: Origins as a founder and, if I wasn't finishing up the post-game content of Dragon Quest XI, I would be playing it right now. It is a game that I was looking forward to despite the legal mess as there just aren't that many similar games out there.

Like many others, I would have been more than content to support both projects: Origins and GOTP

I also think that public opinion outside of Stardock's own forums has swung dramatically against them during the course of the last year and that much of that has been a series of self-inflicted wounds. Initially, I think far more people were of the opinion that F&P had had plenty of time to step up and make a new game and had never done so and that the GOTP announcement timing was suspicious at best than there are now. Still, I assumed a rational compromise would prevail at some point and this mess could be quietly forgotten.

However, after reading the screen shots posted earlier my opinion has changed conclusively. I now regret my purchase of Origins and would be very dubious to support any future Stardock projects going forward despite having a deep fondness for many of their games. The combination of Stardock's legal strategy, their attempt to draw in this fan community, and their CEO's private threatening of future retribution and vengeance despite a far more friendly public persona has convinced me beyond a doubt that they are not to be trusted going forward.

Certainly, an argument can be made that it was just blowing off steam in private and once he had calmed down there would be no attempt to actually ACT on that expressed threat. In fact, I have seen that argument made by him in this thread. But the combination of those threats in private, including the direct statement that the community only exists at his mercy, and the attempts to make the team here sign over legal agreements make the argument it was just idle venting unconvincing to me.
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CelticMinstrel
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Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
« Reply #52 on: October 10, 2018, 02:48:34 pm »

Rather than calling the GOTP announcement timing suspicious, I think it was just an unfortunate coincidence – the announcement was timed to coincide with some anniversary of the game's release or something, after all, and it was just unfortunate that that came close to impinging on SCO, which also had plans timed to coincide with the anniversary.
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Mormont
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Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
« Reply #53 on: October 10, 2018, 04:02:05 pm »

Quote from: Talonious
I also think that public opinion outside of Stardock's own forums has swung dramatically against them during the course of the last year and that much of that has been a series of self-inflicted wounds.

Here is something I wrote back in December ‘17 at the PNF, when the early stages of the controversy had gone public, I had heard some of SD’s perspective as a founder, and I still wanted to believe it was some kind of good-faith misunderstanding.

Quote
Brad,

First of all I will believe you have good intentions and don't want you to be kicked out.

Quote from: Brad Wardell
I'm not a lawyer so I am not going to make speculate on things like the Ur-Quan Masters other than to say Stardock is glad it exists and is supportive of that effort and will never take any action to interfere with it.
That said, it's easy to see how one could read this sort of statement as a subtle threat. If Ur-quan Masters is of questionable legality and exists by Stardock's good graces (which seems to logically follow if we grant all your other premises), that can be revoked at any time. Now I believe you when you say you support UQM and don't want to go after it, but I would still be worried reading that in F&P's place and would probably think "I need a lawyer.”

<snip, talk about F/P’s historic understanding of the SC rights>

Could they be mistaken about this, could there be more ambiguities than they imagined? It's possible, though if they are wrong I doubt things are as definitive as Stardock's side either. But it makes sense that they would feel threatened about being told otherwise, however polite the language. I can understand why they feel backed into a corner, even if I can't assess all the legal arguments and their public blog posts are probably imprudent.
I think I’m trying very hard to be charitable to Stardock there, though even then I didn’t find Wardell’s reassurances about the future of UQM entirely convincing.

So how did I go from this to a vile subversive who deleted Origins from his Steam account? Well, obviously it can only be because Fred and Paul have been so aggressive with their smear campaign and paid Singer PR to seed this forum with sockpuppets.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2018, 04:11:40 pm by Mormont » Logged
Elestan
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Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
« Reply #54 on: October 10, 2018, 04:04:47 pm »

Certainly, an argument can be made that it was just blowing off steam in private and once he had calmed down there would be no attempt to actually ACT on that expressed threat. In fact, I have seen that argument made by him in this thread. But the combination of those threats in private, including the direct statement that the community only exists at his mercy, and the attempts to make the team here sign over legal agreements make the argument it was just idle venting unconvincing to me.

The other problem with the claim that it was just private venting is that that wasn't the first time he'd made the threat:

Quote from: Frogboy on the Founders' Discord on 2018-05-09
The UQM forum may need to go away.
At the rate it's going.
If we're going to be "the devil" anyway, then might as well get rid of the hives.

That shows premeditation; he was thinking about killing off this forum months prior to the screenshotted threat (which appears to have been from early August).  Moreover, the last version of Stardock's complaint asked the court for an injunction enforceable against "The Ur-Quan Masters".  As long as those trademark applications and injunction requests are being pursued, this is like watching someone who has said they want to "eliminate" you pull out and slowly load a legal gun, while promising that they would never, ever, actually shoot you with it.  Is it any surprise that people are suspicious?  This makes it look a lot like we're being held hostage to try to gain leverage against P&F.

As for the license agreement, I do not find his claims credible:
My role is to deliver documents back and forth. If Serge wanted to modify it and send it back I would have forwarded his changes to the appropriate people and they’d evaluate.

He's been posting on these forums since he bought the trademark, and repeatedly claimed both to care about this community, and to be a veteran trademark litigant.  So having both the expertise to read the trademark license, and a personal interest in the outcome, there's no way that he didn't read and understand the implications of the license he sent to Serge and told him to sign.  And I find it quite disingenuous and rather cowardly that he blames his lawyers every time Stardock takes an unpopular legal action.  He is Stardock's CEO, and the lawyers work for him, so he doesn't get to duck that responsibility.  If Serge were to make (another) counter-offer, Brad's lawyers might interpret the language, but Brad would be the one making the decision.  

If Brad really wants to end the threat to UQM, here's my suggestion:  There's a new revision to Stardock's legal complaint due next Monday.  If the injunction request against "The Ur-Quan Masters" was removed, I would take it as a very positive sign.  As an even more positive gesture, he could withdraw his trademark application for "The Ur-Quan Masters" and the SC2 alien race trademarks, thereby conclusively demonstrating that he isn't actually interested in threatening us.

Finally, as to this:

But that those private comments were not about UQM but the forum

He's trying to create a false distinction.  Like any open-source project, UQM is not just code, but also the community that grew around developing it.  Trying to say that he's only threatening the forums is nonsensical.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2018, 05:45:46 am by Elestan » Logged
PRH
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Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
« Reply #55 on: October 10, 2018, 08:14:23 pm »

Wow, Elestan.

I've just read the rest of the chat log you've linked, and Brad threatening to shut this forum down isn't NEARLY the worst thing he said there. Let's just see:

Quote
Frogboy - 05/09/2018
It is better that they just stay neutral.
Right now, we're still inclined to be supportive.
But this: http://wiki.uqm.stack.nl/User:Pat#What_rights_are_protected_under_copyright.3F
Volasaurus - 05/09/2018
I think it's a bit of throwing the baby out with the bath water. The misinformed users need to go, but the modders and the ones who run the site don't need to.
Frogboy - 05/09/2018
is not acceptable.
I don't feel a lot of sympathy for Paul and Fred.
But their fans have done them real harm.
Because now we basically have no choice but to insist they lose completely in court.
Because their fans imagine they have all kinds of say over Star Control.
Let me be crystal clear: Paul and Fred have no rights whatsoever to Star Control.
No legal rights.
At best, they may have some alien paintings that were assigned to them.
and possibly the user manual.
That would be the total sum.
They were credited with a copyright of the DOS source code.
But that's not a federal copyright.
That's just common law and nobody is interested in it.

There will be no Ghosts of the Precursors.
Ever.

Serosis - 05/09/2018
Unless they can bone up and work with Stardock.
Volasaurus - 05/09/2018
Gas of the Precursors.
Frogboy - 05/09/2018

We will never work with them.
Any continuations to that story line will have to happen in some other medium.
Like a book or something.
Maybe.

I'd have to talk to legal on even that.

At this point, there is no reason to hope that Stardock is going to retract any of their claims against F&P, or try to settle the case. The only way it's going to end is in court. The only thing we have left is to hope that F&P are able to defend their copyright and their right to make GotP, however slim the chances of that may be.

...As I read that log again, I realized that I didn't take the date format into account. Initially I automatically assumed that the log was using the European date format, meaning that the conversation took place in September. But then I realized that the log was most likely using the American date format, which means that the conversation took place in May. The latter would make some sense, given that the Ultronomicon page about the litigation was also created in May (as far as I can remember). So if that's the case, I honestly don't know what to make of Brad's words. Either he's a massive hypocrite who has been telling us that he "wants" F&P to make their game while doing everything in his power to prevent it being made, or he was really that angry at the time (which is consistent with his actions in April and May), and cooled off later.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2018, 11:54:23 pm by PRH » Logged
Mormont
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Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
« Reply #56 on: October 11, 2018, 12:58:41 am »

Or maybe Wardell has a tendency to get mad and lash out often. Maybe he vacillates between allowing Ghosts under specific terms in a vassal-overlord relationship (as he basically proposed in one e-mail Stardock released) and not allowing it at all, depending on his mood.

That said, "no Ghosts ever" is consistent with the settlement "offer" and their amended complaint, which wants to invalidate Reiche and Ford's copyrights while Wardell continues to insist he has zero interest in their copyrights.

I'm less optimistic about it now than I was earlier, but there could still be a settlement. Discovery is still ongoing until December - I imagine mostly focused on witness depositions by now (I have never been in litigation, just guessing) and not all the evidence is on the table yet. If either party were to become convinced that they have a pretty good chance of losing and listened to their lawyers, they would probably settle, at least if the other side is willing to offer somewhat reasonable terms.

Remember that Wardell can't really admit to weaknesses in his case, or at most he can say half-hearted things like "maybe the license expired, but it doesn't matter anyway" because anything you say can be used against you as evidence. Conceding a point is a legal liability, afaik. He has to project this absolute confidence even or perhaps especially when speaking in his private chat channel. What his lawyers actually tell him or what he may be thinking off the internet or what's happening in discovery at this point, hard to say.

Which, fair enough, that's how litigation works. But if you're limited in what you can say that's a reason to stay mostly quiet rather than tripling down on your side's narrative and getting in fights all over the internet.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2018, 03:48:28 am by Mormont » Logged
rosepatel
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Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
« Reply #57 on: October 11, 2018, 04:07:19 am »

Lashing out is when you use words you regret and immediately retract them.

Stardock first asked P&F to license their work. When they didn't, they vowed to start selling their games without their consent.

When they were challenged on selling the games without consent, they sued P&F for Trademark infringement.

When they were counter-sued, they then tried to seize the Star Control IP, through questionable Trademark applications and absurd settlement offers.

When they were called on this absurdity, they broke off settlement talks, and vowed that P&F would not make GOTP without their permission.

When several fan communities turned on them, they began looking for ways to attack individuals, let alone shut down entire communities.

The point is that Stardock lashes out with a lot more than words. They lash out with punitive, vindictive actions. When they're called out, they might walk back the words. But the actions keep becoming worse.

This is not a momentary burst of anger.
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Elestan
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Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
« Reply #58 on: October 11, 2018, 06:07:03 am »

Either he's a massive hypocrite who has been telling us that he "wants" F&P to make their game while doing everything in his power to prevent it being made

It's technically deceptiveness, not hypocrisy (the latter imputes a double-standard), but at this point there are enough examples of him keeping up a very polite public face, while being very aggressive, demanding, and/or hostile in emails, settlement offers, and forums that he doesn't think the public will see.  Given that, I simply don't believe that we can take his words at face value; we must look at his actions.  And his actions, from the trademark filings, to the injunction requests, to the underhanded license offer, do not suggest that his intentions for this community are benign.
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Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock
« Reply #59 on: October 12, 2018, 01:35:48 am »

"Hypocrite" also has a more general meaning of a person who displays a false version of themselves to others. The root word is the ancient Greek term for an actor in a play.
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