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

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1  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: New player perspective on: July 14, 2020, 07:44:53 pm
For the beast, ZEX gives you the hint that the constellation is something like "a snake that has swallowed the beast." And that the name is close to "Linch-nas-ploh." This is easier to follow if you have a starmap which shows the constellation shapes and connections, which was included on paper the original game.
http://www.star-control.com/files/Starmaps/03.png
2  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Fred and Paul talk Star Control. For two hours! on: July 08, 2020, 06:10:51 pm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cs8RY31Byzg

I've only just started it, but what a treat! Glad they're breaking their silence.
3  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Balance Mod updated on: March 17, 2019, 09:18:39 pm
Cool, I'll try to take a look soon!
4  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: October 30, 2018, 03:49:40 am
Early this year Greg Johnson posted on Stardock's forum saying that, yes, Paul and Fred did in fact create Star Control 2 and he was there for it. Brad's response was something like "Thanks Greg, honored to have you here!" while ignoring the substance of Greg's post.

Was Wardell actually happy to have him there contradicting Stardock's narrative? Probably not.
5  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Paul and Fred discuss SC2's development on: October 27, 2018, 01:26:33 am
A followup on others who helped them:
https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2018/10/video-the-people-who-helped-make-star-control-2-did-a-ton-of-other-stuff/

Nothing directly on Ghosts or the suit, but I feel like the implicit takeaway is  that it was their team, not Accolade's.
6  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: October 25, 2018, 04:08:45 am
I would be surprised if P+F aren't independently wealthy from the skylanders franchise, though it is certainly possible that the lawsuit is a liquidity squeeze for them. I found their GoFundMe in very poor taste but it is more understandable if they are trying to avoid borrowing against their equity in the studio.

Cash flow issues could also explain why they are only now seeking indemnity from GoG. However from the very barebones pleading I have to imagine that the GoG agreement does not actually extend to the current dispute, or includes some condition that they omitted to plead (e.g. no indemnity until favourable final judgment obtained from court of competent jurisdiction). I undertake to review and report back.
Not fluent in legalese but the indemnification part looks really broad to my layman's eyes,. (section 6.2) "GOG shall indemnify, hold harmless, and agree to defend developer...any and all claims, actions, suits, legal proceedings, demands, liabilities...including, without limitation, attorney fees, arising out of or in connection with any actual or alleged breach by GOG..."

I'm sure the lawyers and courts would need to parse out exactly how far it goes, but it doesn't have very many qualifiers. Even looks specifically phrased to cover as much as possible. With a clause like that adding GOG for breach of contract makes some sense IMO.

EDIT: 8.2 has a clause that limits the damages they can claim against GOG though. 8.3 sets the limit for legal action to 12 months after the alleged infringement, which would explain the timing of adding GOG as a party...
7  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Paul and Fred discuss SC2's development on: October 24, 2018, 06:12:33 am
https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2018/10/video-how-star-control-ii-was-almost-a-much-more-boring-game/

There's a well-produced video interview with some interesting tidbits, and some high-res alien art I don't think we've seen before.

This is focused on SC1/2, not the lawsuit or Ghosts.
8  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: October 23, 2018, 12:15:11 am
here brad says they've sold over 50,000 copies...i highly doubt that...
https://forums.starcontrol.com/491316/page/1/#replies
"Nearly" 50,000, not over (though it has been almost a month since). "Nearly" could mean a lot of different things - could be 48k, 40k, or even 35k.

One objective measure we do have is the simultaneous player count on Steamcharts, where it looks like the game is not picking up very many new players after the initial rush.
https://steamcharts.com/app/271260
9  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: October 20, 2018, 12:51:33 am
The most recent counterclaim does have GOG and Valve as defendants for breach of contract by GOG and participation in copyright infringement by both. I understand the breach of contract but don't get the infringement parts - doesn't the DMCA process protect them from liability?

Quote from: Elestan
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.
Yes, Fred and Paul's settlement offer has some overly broad language that Stardock would be reasonable to reject. However, it is a good starting point unlike Stardock's no-prisoners demand. Stardock could have amended it, maybe even tack some reasonable damages on. Then it would have gone back and forth a few times probably.

If Wardell is signalling on his forum that settlement negotiations are going well...that would be good, but I'm pretty skeptical of what he says at this point. We'll see.

Wardell also says that he didn't know about the ZFP and Zebranky...maybe. Despite my general skepticism it's not completely implausible that someone working on the game might just stick this on a remote planet and he wouldn't see it (I gather Origins has a lot of little planetary mini-encounters that don't directly relate to the story).
10  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: October 18, 2018, 03:06:20 am
In the "prayer for relief" there is no mention of  GOG or Valve/steam directly, oonlyt Stardock is mentioned. Requests against all counter-defendants to award damages, costs, punitive damages,... based on accounts, profits, earnings, compensations, and benefits...
So, if Stardock loses, Steam and GOG might have to pay everything they earned to Reiche/Ford as well, but based on Stardock's alleged actions, this would lead Valve/steam and GOG to knock on Stardock's door to get the money for provided services anyway.

Having read through a bunch more of this, it occurred to me that while it's difficult to get yourself into criminal penalties for trademark infringement due to the way the Lanham act and its various successor amendments are written without really going out of your way, the same is not true for copyright infringement. Stardock's legal filings and insistence on continuing with the sale of SC/SC2 via Steam and GOG may actually qualify as "willful" which means this strategy may have opened themselves to criminal penalties independent (and potentially disastrously more severe) that any civil liability or actual losses/cost they'd owe to Valve, GOG, and Reiche.

It's unclear if the court would have any reason to pursue criminal penalties, but if Stardock loses on some of these points and their actions are determined to include fraud, this whole debacle may end up backfiring on them spectacularly.
To pursue criminal penalties the state/federal prosecutors would need to open up their own separate case against Stardock, right? I guess you know how that works better than me, but it seems unlikely unless they find Stardock's offense so egregious an example needs to be made. Well, ti does seem pretty egregious to me, but I'm biased as a fan.

To be fair they did remove SC1/2, sometime in spring I think (at the time I hoped it augured a settlement)...is that still enough of a delay to show bad faith? What about Stardock's filing strengthens the case for "willful" infringement, are their arguments against Fred and Paul's copyright ownership just that strained?
11  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock 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.
12  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock 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.
13  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock 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.
14  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion 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.
15  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: September 25, 2018, 02:13:00 pm
One question for Ariloulawleelay: are these proposals to strike the opposition's declarations just standard legal procedure, as a way of jockeying for as much advantage as possible?

And like I said before, it's really hard to believe everyone involved with the Star Control IP for decades completely misunderstood the legal rights and/or was hoodwinked by Reiche/Ford's cunning schemes (Accolade I'm sure knew quite a bit about SC2's internal development process and who worked on it). Which is what Stardock's narrative requires.
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