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News: Celebrating 30 years of Star Control 2 - The Ur-Quan Masters

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1  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Paul & Fred break the silence! on: June 23, 2021, 11:34:01 am
Launch fighters! 2 : Interdimensional Fatigue--a-loo.

On one hand I want to dive into every channel and forum and beta test opportunity, but on the other I want to be a kid again fiddling with arcane IO settings to enable sound to hear that drum intro with no idea what's about to happen.
2  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: June 13, 2019, 03:19:47 pm
I don't know, can you?

Preemptively open source the code in case that it's ever found?

Maybe?  The trick would be specifying exactly what you were open-sourcing, when you don't have a copy.

They could grant an open-source style license to the art assets and other creative expressions in SC1 as shipped, including the decompiled executables.  Machine generated C of that certainly wouldn't be pretty, but for the purposes in question would still probably be counted as the original copyrighted game AFAIK. Not sure if the Amiga 68k build would be easier to reverse engineer but toolchains definitely existed if someone wanted to trade a month of their life to re-create something like human readable programs.
3  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: June 12, 2019, 05:44:00 am
Well, it ended like it began, a bit absurd, a bit sad, and with way too much effort from the people that did the least wrong.

Maybe we'll get some commemorative mead bottlings out of it though. I'd probably put in for a Fragrant Frungy Private Label.

One thing not mentioned is the status of the1988 agreement; it would be good to know if Stardock conceded that it was terminated.  

That's probably moot if the settlement really prevents everyone from ever re-litigating this as I can't imagine what other party would have a standing to argue about it at this point. But at least for me, seeing firm answers to some of the more bizarre legal questions would have been enlightening.

So essentially Brad cost himself and his victims millions of dollars and wasted years of everyone's time that could have gone into making bigger, better games, because he refused to negotiate in good faith. But now he's running victory laps because Paul said he likes his game and his bees are cool.

Worth noting for the next time you're dealing with your Flat Earther second-uncle-not-far-enough-removed. You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into.
4  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: January 22, 2019, 04:02:42 am
The Hyperspace expression, in and of itself, isn't a slam-dunk sort of argument and if that was the only thing then it probably wouldn't qualify. My assumption is that they simply picked a single example for their blog post and have numerous other elements and expressions they're planning to show in court if it goes that far. In other image or non-verbal expression cases it is often the sum of many elements that ends up determining a derived work.

In a way Stardock seems to have brought a lot of these issues on themselves by aggressively attempting to extend their trademarks and it's not going to be a surprise if that gets turned on them in the copyright decision.

As with many court issues there is no exact analogue, but some of the court's reasoning in cases such as DC COMICS V. TOWLE might be interesting reading (can you copyright the Batmobile?).
5  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: November 23, 2018, 11:46:48 pm
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.

At least from my understanding of US trademark law, nothing about the GOTP announcement would qualify for statutory damages like willful copyright infringement can on the other side. Even if we grant that their expert is a modern Atticus Finch, it's going to be incredibly difficult to establish what I'd consider crippling damages beyond the loss of rights if the case is decided for Stardock's various assertions.

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.

Most likely, yes. If either side gets out of the trial with less than $400,000 USD out of pocket, I'll be shocked. The current FDF maybe covers a single month of billable time, and although most of the legal billing won't be full time, they've certainly at least racked up multiple full weeks worth of time over the course of this debacle.
6  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: November 23, 2018, 08:17:27 am
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?

Not really. It can vary a lot in terms of results, particularly if both parties are determined to have valid complaints

Unfortunately, all these costs have have to paid up front regardless of the outcome. Unlike in class action suits against well-funded organizations, attorneys in the vast majority of court cases or even settlements have limited expectation of any post-trial payout. They bill as professional services, which is typically hourly at fixed rates, possibly with some defined fixed-priced statement of work with and additional time and materials option. These bills have to be paid whether or not you win, which is among the reasons that there are ethical standards for attorneys about misleading their clients, and also why it's a known tactic to try to intimidate the other party with legal costs to force them to a settlement.

In the event that F&P manage to get an overwhelming agreement from the court and jury and take Stardock to the cleaners, they might recoup all costs and then some -- however this isn't a sure bet even given Stardock's mostly preposterous  arguments.

More likely that no matter what, both F&P and Stardock are going to come out of this monetarily poorer unless it truly is a completely one-sided jury decision that assigns all fault to one par ... I can't keep up the facade, assigns all fault to Stardock. 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.

Obviously no one can speak for PR3 if he ends up getting some huge sum in damages from Stardock, but in that event I'd like to hope it goes towards funding the GOTP project. As a donor I don't expect any of that money back, and it's legally classified as a gift, but my willingness to send money to "the good guys" is partially founded in their long history of not being assholes, so I have a modicum of faith they're not going to pocket the trial results and escape to Fiji. If they do, maybe they'll at least fund a Fiji Frungy Beach Party.

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.
7  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Paul and Fred discuss SC2's development on: October 24, 2018, 07:44:13 pm
And by the way, Paul's desire to give SC2 at least some degree of scientific accuracy paid off. I still remember catching a glimpse of the periodic table in a chemistry classroom at school and seeing so many familiar names that I remembered from SC2 - the lanthanides especially. Smiley

I learned the planets in our solar system from Star Control 2. I found it interesting when he said that it wasn't known in 1992 when they made Star Control 2 that other solar systems have planets. I guess most of the kids that played Star Control 2 back then started believing this long before the exoplanets were discovered.

Well the expectation was that other stars had planets, we even had predictive models for which ones did and what kind, but it hadn't been proven since we didn't have a way to detect or observe at the time. It would have been a much bigger shock if none of the stars we were observing now had planets after all.

There were observations back in the mid-1980s that very strongly indicated Gamma Cephei had at least one planet, which was a good candidate for study given where it is in the sky at a relatively stable point near Polaris. Ah, here's the paper --

I remember reading this at university so long ago now Smiley
8  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: October 22, 2018, 10:18:56 pm
I have to wonder if his strategy all along was not simply to try and break P&F's personal finances through the sheer cost of the lawsuit so that they have to trade in all of their rights to him out of desperation.

You don't have to wonder. Given what has been presented to the court, Stardock has one point in their favor (the initial GOTP blog post may have been trademark infringement) and everything else has been a slow-motion dumpster fire that may invalidate that mark entirely. Stardock bluffed, it got called, and now we all get to watch the dumpster burn out.

Maybe you're like me and try to see the best in people and give them the benefit of the doubt, but there's not really any question anymore about the merits of this suit, and that Stardock was well aware of what was in their hand when they came to the table. Their ill-advised attempt to use various Star Control-related materials in commerce, including their DMCA responses, are about as obvious of bad faith as you can get without catching them on video snickering about their schemes.

9  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: October 18, 2018, 04:06:47 am
To be fair they did remove SC1/2, sometime in spring I think (at the time I hoped it augured a settlement) 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?

All their efforts to express use in commerce of various SC-related names, images, ideas, etc, if found to be fraudulent as opposed to simply invalid, when combined with filing DMCA counter-notices on material they knew they never really had rights, shows a prolonged and deliberate effort to infringe on copyrighted material. The district court has the authority to stay a civil case in favor of criminal proceedings but I'm honestly having trouble finding any sort of analogous precedent as so much of this case is just absurd.

Just for the record I don't think it's likely or desirable to have such a thing happen, it was just something that popped into my head looking at the lengths Stardock went to trying to establish "use in commerce" for marks related to copyrighted material they clearly do not own.
10  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: October 18, 2018, 02:50:25 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.
11  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: October 17, 2018, 04:50:36 pm
Well this really has worked out in just about the most dire way possible for essentially everyone involved. I'm not sure I can get behind the legal and other reasoning behind trying to DMCA takedown SC:O versus petitioning for damages based on the use of characterizations and such from SC/SC2, but Stardock may have committed multiple acts of fraud at this point in their trademark applications ... historically the USPTO has not been aggressive on that but it's not a good look for them.

12  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: September 23, 2018, 06:27:50 am
Once this is all over I'd shoulder a hefty bar tab to get some off the record conversation with the people from Nixon-Peabody. That is not some bush-league law firm and I can only imagine the [screams internally] inner-monologue going on over there. That response doesn't even address some of the arguments from the last filing.

For fans of the surreal, we can now smile with Steam going into record as the Walmart of digital game distribution, which is going to be great when it's quoted in some unrelated case in a few years.

This has gone so far into the bizarre that I don't even know how you walk back to sanity from here.

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)

On a side note I'm happy to see that the FDF has jumped over 2000 USD in the last day or two. High five to everybody who helped, or whatever the appropriate number of digits for your species.
13  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: September 18, 2018, 06:06:40 am  for those interested.

As it relates to DMCA notices against SC:O, it seems unlikely those are really going to be meaningful unless Stardock just outright copies art and characterizations from SC1/2, but I can see not wanting to forego the ability without getting something decent in exchange.

It's too late in the evening for me to dig into the exact rules on injunctions and bonds, but that appears to be the most salient part of the filing.
14  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: I've taken the first steps towards Japanese localization on: September 12, 2018, 01:42:30 am
Ur-quan voice sounds great. Was the game previously available in Japanese or are you having to translate it?
15  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: September 12, 2018, 01:37:53 am
The Lanham act 43a is pretty clear.

You have a ... interesting reading of that act, or even its more recent amendments.

Deceiving someone about the origin of goods is intended to prevent an entity from making sales under the mark of another, eg, selling counterfeit goods, or with a counterfeit name ,or under a deceiving circumstance. I would be floored if your legal team had any preceding jurisprudence preventing a lawful copyright holder from using their own material for a derived work purely based on the notion of a false origin. The infringing party would have to be selling or marketing the derived work as if it was the product of another entity entirely.

I highly doubt Stardock is at any risk of Reiche trying to pass off GOTP as a Stardock product, and in some bizarro world in which he was, the legal remedy to that would be a clear statement of origin and a disclaimer to prevent any confusion.
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