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News: Paul & Fred have reached a settlement with Stardock!

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31  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: January 16, 2019, 03:00:15 am
Perhaps there's a backer/Founder ITT who knows what early development Hyperspace looked like. Certainly this should come out in discovery.

A founder posted about that here.

Apparently hyperspace in SC:O was originally purple, but was changed to red to make it more like SC2.
32  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: January 15, 2019, 01:54:03 am
But a judge will not be convinced by this argumentation of Mr. Wardell.
Which will then create a very difficult situation for Stardock and their fans.... (since the fans will be unaccepting of how a judge could gave decided against Stardock...)

I don't want to presume what the Judge will decide, let alone the jury.  It's entirely possible that P&F's theory of infringement could be perfectly valid, but the infringing parts of SC:O are found to be insufficiently substantial to warrant liability.
33  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: January 14, 2019, 05:42:54 pm
it seems to me that F&P's arguments for copyright infringement in this particular case are very weak. Most of the points they have listed seem to be completely irrelevant, as they are generic concepts, gameplay elements or UI elements, neither of which is copyrightable as far as I know (otherwise why would we have so many video game clones?).

One thing to keep in mind is that even though the color 'red' itself is clearly not copyrighted, the fact that two different items are both red can still be a point of similarity when deciding whether one is "substantially similar" to the other.  Brad is trying (with some success) to make P&F look unreasonable, by misrepresenting their post as though they were actually claiming to have a copyright on the individual items in their table, when that is not at all the case.

Unfortunately, many of the people reading Brad's twitter feed do not catch on to that distinction.
34  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: January 02, 2019, 07:03:51 pm
This policy from Valve and GOG makes sense. As I understand the DMCA takedown process, an online service provider can avoid liability for copyright infringement itself if it complies with a takedown notice. When a work is taken down following a takedown notice, the party accused of infringement can send a DMCA counter notice, and the online service provider can then restore the work without liability to itself.

So the next step for Stardock, if they really were acting in good faith, would be to send a counter notice to Steam and GOG to have SC:O reinstated.
However, the counter notice must include a statement sworn under penalty of perjury that Stardock has a good-faith belief that the material was removed as a result of a mistake or misidentification of the material. Falsely making such a statement would make Stardock criminally liable.

There are a couple of caveats on the DMCA counter-notice process:

First, there is a minimum 10 day (maximum 14 day) waiting period between takedown and restoration. 

Second, if there is ongoing litigation about the IP, the material must remain down for the safe harbor to be retained.

The DMCA was written under a lot of influence by the recording and movie industries, and therefore tends to lean in favor of the copyright holder.
35  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: November 23, 2018, 06:54:40 pm
Maybe someone can enlighten me here: I thought that if you have to spend $X on a court battle, and you win, isn't it pretty much a given that the loser can then be sued to pay for the court costs?
If yes, are F&P going to do that so that they can pay their supporters back in the event that they win?  Or are they just going to keep the money?  Or not bother recouping it (after all, it's someone else's money...)?

Getting your legal fees from the other side is really rare in the U.S. court system, and I wouldn't expect to see it happen here.  In the unlikely event that it does happen, my expectation is that P&F would use the money from the defense fund to help pay for developing their game.

What F&P are on the hook for is chump change, what Stardock is on the hook for is potentially huge if they get hit with willful copyright infringement.

It's not so one-sided as that...the variance in possible awards for trademark infringement is huge, and depends on how persuasive Stardock's expert is in convincing the jury that P&F caused them harm.  And Stardock's damages for copyright infringement prior to last April are limited because P&F hadn't registered their copyrights.  If SC:O itself were found to be infringing, that could be large, but the case there is far from ironclad.

Quote from: orzophile
It's worth noting that given my exposure to IP-related court cases, the current amount of the FDF is probably at best 25% of F&P's likely legal costs after the trial is all said and done, and most probably much less.

I would assume much less.  The fund is just shy of $39k, and they've had two lawyers working this case for over a year now, and recently added a third.  Maybe Mark (P&F's generalist laywer) only bills $200/hour, but Stephen, their lead IP attorney, probably bills $400/hour, and Tiffany (who might be their planned trial lawyer?) is probably somewhere in between.  All of these lawyers are probably not full-time on the case, but the math adds up pretty fast.
36  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: October 27, 2018, 02:38:53 am
If Brad has a flaw, it's probably an extra helping of impulsiveness combined with not much in the way of a filter. As entertaining as it was to read the back-and-forth earlier on, in no universe was coming on here to argue about a major ongoing legal dispute with people who, to put it bluntly, don't even matter, a smart move thanks to the significant risk of self sabotage -- a risk that has probably solidified into fact on at least a few occasions.

In Brad's defence, game developers tend to be extremely self-censoring, and it's always a breath of fresh air when someone bucks the trend. Does he go too far in the other direction? Probably. But I still prefer that to the typical tight-lipped alternative.

Impulsiveness, however, cannot explain or excuse the more calculated things he's done, like attempting to trick Serge into signing away the UQM project's rights, or trying to trademark UQM's names in the first place.  Those seem to be deliberate actions designed to further his legal case at the expense of a community that he has, on various occasions, professed to be a part of and care deeply about.  And even if we assume that most of the more belligerent things he's said were simply thoughtless angry outbursts, he has not, to my knowledge, given any indication of genuine remorse or contrition for them.  This suggests that the picture of him one would draw from those statements is not, in fact, an inaccurate one.
37  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: October 21, 2018, 05:09:21 pm
Plus, by publicly asserting how right he is all over this and other forums, Brad has put himself in the position where anything less than a settlement or ruling strongly in his favor is going to make him lose face, and he appears to place a lot of importance on his image.  Note this quote from him:

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.

In his mind, the problem is not that he ignored his lawyers' advice and backed himself into a corner by publicly arguing the case with non-parties; the problem is that the SC2 fans (most of the ones here, anyway) took P&F's side, so now he feels compelled to take the case all the way in order to vindicate the arguments he's made.

I'm still not getting that logic, to be honest. How on earth are the opinions of the posters here (who are NOT parties to the lawsuit) going to FORCE Stardock to take the take-no-prisoners route? If Stardock really has no legitimate claim to the SC1 and SC2 copyrights (as it currently seems), the best thing Stardock can hope for if they keep their current position is going out with a bang. Is this really more important to Brad than doing what is best for his own company (and the franchise he's supposedly been a fan of for decades), as you are implying? I certainly hope not.

I would hope not too, but Stardock is asking the court for an injunction against "The Ur-Quan Masters", is asserting that the code release that formed UQM was illegitimate, and has tried to trick the project admins into signing the project's IP rights to them, while on separate occasions (in private) threatening to "eliminate" us and saying that we "may need to go away".

I have difficulty making the logic of these actions work unless I infer that his top priority is the establishment of complete control over everything derived from Star Control.  The whole lawsuit doesn't make sense from a financial standpoint; the costs of litigation and loss of reputation to Stardock dwarf any hypothetical harm from P&F's allegedly infringing blog post.
38  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: October 20, 2018, 10:58:51 am
One thing I haven't seen commented on: https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.cand.320268/gov.uscourts.cand.320268.71.8.pdf

Exhibit 8 is the "Bill of Sale" from the bankruptcy, and lists the 1988 agreement without an expiration date. Until 2017, it's not unreasonable for Stardock to have assumed they really did have publishing rights.

The bankruptcy sales contract said that Atari was making no guarantees about the IP, so it was Stardock's responsibility to rigorously check everything; that little summary in the bill of sale is not a substitute for reading the full contract.  Stardock received a copy of the original contract, and if its lawyers didn't verify that there was a continuous record of at least $1000/year in royalties paid to Paul (evidently overlooking the decade-long gap in sales), and didn't notice the "This agreement ends if the publisher goes bankrupt" clause when they were buying it at a bankruptcy auction, that doesn't seem like Paul's problem.
39  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: October 19, 2018, 05:14:46 pm
This was exactly the solution proposed in F&P's March 22 settlement agreement. So why exactly hasn't this happened yet, damn it?

To be fair, P&F's settlement proposal did overreach a bit, by trying to restrict things like the music.  But Stardock's proposal strongly suggested that they weren't interested in settling at all, at least at that time.

Quote
I really hope it's only about the differences in how each side interprets "SC2-related creatives" and "using the Star Control trademark", and that these differences can be reconciled. Because the alternative is that at least one of the sides is lying about their intentions – and that would make settlement impossible.

Whether P&F can say "sequel to Star Control II" certainly seems to be a sticking point.  But Brad's emails to Paul make it pretty clear that Brad really, really, really wanted to get the SC2 copyrights.  I don't think we have any way to tell if he's genuinely given up on that desire or not.  Plus, by publicly asserting how right he is all over this and other forums, Brad has put himself in the position where anything less than a settlement or ruling strongly in his favor is going to make him lose face, and he appears to place a lot of importance on his image.  Note this quote from him:

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.

In his mind, the problem is not that he ignored his lawyers' advice and backed himself into a corner by publicly arguing the case with non-parties; the problem is that the SC2 fans (most of the ones here, anyway) took P&F's side, so now he feels compelled to take the case all the way in order to vindicate the arguments he's made.

Quote
I'm also getting the impression that F&P are extremely inflexible in their legal tactics – that the only tool they use is the DMCA, even where there are much more effective approaches at their disposal. Nothing seems to have harmed their case more than this.

What more effective legal tactics do you think they aren't using that they should have?
40  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: October 17, 2018, 04:54:06 pm
Wait, on what basis are P&F trying to stop sale of SCO? I thought the infringing stuff was gone.

There may still be some parts that could be argued over (apparently the ZFP have a cameo, and the "Watchers" are the Arilou by another name).  But I think the issue now is that Brad has repeatedly said that he intends to use the SC2 aliens in future DLC, and has actually put some of them in at various points, so even if SC:O isn't currently infringing, it's not unreasonable to conclude that he'll continue to push that boundary unless a court ruling makes him back off.
41  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: October 17, 2018, 03:57:08 am
If SC2 is a joint work, which seems most likely, P&F need only prove they contributed something copyrightable. That gives them (and every other author) copyright in the whole work, and the open source licenses (being non-exclusive) are valid.

Wouldn't Stardock love that? Then they'd only need one author to grant them a license to use the whole thing. Assuming they could find one who was willing to.

I would be shocked if Stardock didn't attempt long ago to induce the other members of the SC2 team to assign or license their copyrights to Stardock, instead of to P&F.
42  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: October 16, 2018, 05:00:46 pm
the 1988 agreement specified quite explicitly that all trademarks connected to Star Control were Accolade's property.

You're missing an important caveat:  The 1988 agreement only says that for marks that were "used in the marketing of the Work".  The alien names weren't used to market the game, and even the "Ur-Quan Masters" subtitle couldn't be seen until the consumer had already bought, installed, and started the game.
43  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock 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.
44  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock 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.
45  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion 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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