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

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Death 999
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #195 on: March 26, 2018, 08:12:02 pm »

When you rejected this offer, did you send it back with this sort of annotation and explanation? Or preferably even more?

I agree that 'themes' seems like a massive overreach, unless they meant something much more narrow than the face meaning of the word - and that seems likely - but that does mean they need to be more specific. I would expect that UI/UX elements was also similarly meant more narrowly, but they ought to be more specific.

Likenesses does not seem particularly objectionable, but I suppose further clarification to make absolutely sure that it isn't overly expansive would help.

On the sounds and music, though… if you were planning on using any of these sounds or music, who were you going to contact for permission to do so? Even if you're right that they don't have the rights,  that doesn't mean that you do. I suppose this agreement would prevent you from reaching an independent agreement with, say, Eric Berge, Dan Nicholson, or Riku Nuottajärvi, to use their music, which would be a loss for you, if you intend to use them and they retain rights. I see the problem. If Riku retained rights to his work, then yes, he's totally clear to reuse it, and this would be a big concession from you to them.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2018, 09:22:55 pm by Death 999 » Logged
Elestan
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #196 on: March 26, 2018, 09:09:41 pm »

As Death has mentioned, I am often too close to the situation to be objective.  But I am genuinely trying to understand how people who say they're outraged about trademarking the aliens names are okay with Paul and Fred's demand to own things they obviously didn't create

So, looking at the two proposals, Stardock's really is entirely one-sided; the essence of it is that they give you a bunch of stuff, lose all their rights to the UQM IP, not make any similar game for 5 years, and you drop the suit.  I think seeing those demands has convinced a lot of people that Stardock isn't being trying to be reasonable.  F&P's proposal, while it still has problems, does have some give and take in it that could form the basis for a real agreement.  So that's why they came out looking better than you from this round in the PR fight.

You've noted some specific concerns with it here - and I agree with most of them.  So iterate, negotiate - that's what this process is supposed to be about.   I get that they've said things to piss you off personally, but that's really irrelevant to the business concerns of your company's profits and your employees' paychecks.  If you come back to F&P with a list of objections to their proposal, like the ones you just mentioned, and proposed fixes (take out the vague words, etc - I'm sure your lawyers can do them), you'll get back to looking like the reasonable one here.

In broad strokes, my opinion is that Stardock should be able to make its game, it should be able to have a ship combat arena, and it should be able to have user-designed ships.  Inevitably, Stardock is going to have to deal with the problem of users making ships that infringe someone else's copyright, whether its from the old Star Control, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.  That's going to be an issue no matter how this lawsuit goes, and you'll probably need something like a DMCA procedure, just like other sites that allow user content have.  Infringements against the classic SC ships can be handled the same way as an X-Wing or Galaxy-Class Starship would be.

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Riku is the primary composer for Star Control: Origins.  Since when do Paul and Fred own his music?

One big unknown here is whether F&P got a copyright assignment or work-for-hire agreement from the other contributors to the original games.  If they did, then I think they own the music.  If not, then it's probably owned by its creator.  I'm sure that legal language can be put in a settlement to deal with this.

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Since Paul and Fred like to release private documents, perhaps they should start posting all the emails and documents in which they complained about fan art posted on the Star Control forum and Steam and demands to change ships, features, UI, themes, etc.  And these were things they were demanding before the lawsuit.

Well, I just suggested on Reddit that you both allow release of the entire email exchange, so that we can all judge for ourselves.  If they made unreasonable demands (like not having Super-Melee), the fans could put public pressure on them to get them to back off - I'm sure we'd like both games to have melee components.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2018, 09:35:45 pm by Elestan » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #197 on: March 26, 2018, 09:24:26 pm »

It's not like we're fixed, here - once I found out that you had hired Riku Nuottajärvi to do the music, then suddenly the issues around not reusing music made a lot more sense and I updated towards your side.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #198 on: March 26, 2018, 09:32:59 pm »

It's not like we're fixed, here - once I found out that you had hired Riku Nuottajärvi to do the music, then suddenly the issues around not reusing music made a lot more sense and I updated towards your side.

Ditto; I listen to the arguments, do my best to read the legal documents to figure out how solid everyone's claims are, and revise my opinion as new information comes to light.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #199 on: March 26, 2018, 09:46:20 pm »

Riku is the primary composer for Star Control: Origins.  Since when do Paul and Fred own his music? The Hyperspace theme is part of Star Control: Origins for instance.  It doesn't belong to Paul and Fred.   The "and any other similar materials or other such work present in the classic Star Control games" makes it pretty obvious what their intentio
I do not know the type of contract FF and PR3 had with the BBS/usenet users who entered their music for the game...
I know they paid a small sum for each chosen piece, but do not know anything else.
Until they provide the details of the original "contracts", the music may be theirs or not.
I've also not heard of Riku, and what his opinion/memory is.

Paul and Fred have complained about the UI in Star Control: Origins.  For instance, the layout of Fleet Battles.  But that's only the beginning of t.
Here I agree mostly with Stardock.
Also, I've only seen glimpses of Starflight. So I do not know how much of the UI is based on previous games, nor merely the obvious choice in view of the information to be transmitted to the player. E.g. the actual battle seems pretty much like the obvious way to present the information, and therefore barely protectable IMHO.
The ship selector: same thing.
There are only a few ways you present the necessary information and still make sense on the screen.
It's like Apple's (tm) technical and design patents for rounded corners. Avery obvious thing, IMHO. Even with "hindsight".

Stardock has been very clear from the start that Star Control: Origins is very much a Star Control game of the same vein as Star Control II (and Starflight for that matter).  Their settlement would, in effect, give them the power to kill our project and begin laying claim to our other games as well (Galactic Civilizations, Sins of a Solar Empire, etc.).
That's always the risk when going to court.
Usually the other side reaches for maximum effect too.
And it's become obvious both sides will be losers.


Since Paul and Fred like to release private documents, perhaps they should start posting all the emails and documents in which they complained about fan art posted on the Star Control forum and Steam and demands to change ships, features, UI, themes, etc.  And these were things they were demanding before the lawsuit.
The fan art.... Indeed... But then, if Stardock uses that to promote its own game, it is leaning on the goodwill of the original copyrights to promote their own game, and thus created consumer confusion about the involvement of the creators of the original story/lore... But if it's only published by fans on Stardocks forums without Stardock using it for anything (thus "only" hosting), I'd find it on the harsh side.
But the new art you had commissioned, with the Spathi ship hanging in a corner? That's a reference to a game, which itself references many other creations. But here as well, you've been leaning on the goodwill I have for the original lore, which is copyrighted by FF and PR3.
I did see it hanging, but I did not attach any significance toi t when I first saw it.

This is what they consider to be a "win-win".  Kill our game and eliminate most of the value of the IP we acquired (that their fans say isn't valuable yet they seem to want to use it and keep us from making the full use of it).
Not all fans find the IP you bought valueless. I personally find you may have overpaid for it, but honestly I liked many ideas of SC3 (the Ortog, the devolvement, the Lk and their reason why they consider themselves to be the true heirs, the Exquivan monks, the Daktaklakpak (and their haywired degraded programming), the Kzer-Za who rebel and think the Kohr-Ah may have been right (although that does not fit the Kzer-Za as portrayed in SC2, especially if nearly all "defect"), the Harika/Yorn symbiosis and coevolution, the XChaggers), and I disliked many others (the characterisations used, the lack of Supox, ICOM, bubblewarp, the rotating starfield (which I also disliked in SC1, and always set it to stationary), the Eternal1s, the positioning of the Quasispaceportals, ...)
And the trademark name, of course.
But then, there have been other bidders as well, so there does indeed seem to be a marketprice which is higher than I thought.... (although the bid of second place remains unknown).
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #200 on: March 26, 2018, 10:22:23 pm »

I'm not as good at quoting as you are.

Re who owns music:
https://web.archive.org/web/20041220073812/http://www.classicgaming.com:80/starcontrol/history/fford2.shtml

Riku owns his music from SC2 according to Paul and Fred until this past week.

Re the type of game it is:
Unless they have a patent up their sleeve, they have no rights to the idea (unless we signed their agreement)


Re fan art
Copyrights have no good will.  Only trademarks.  If your argument involves the good will of something, then that belongs to the trademark which Stardock owns.  Paul and Fred have no trademarks, common law or otherwise in Star Control.

Re value of the trademark
The value of the trademark is whether it buys $300,000 or more of market awareness in today's market.  And that is obvious.  We have spent far more in advertising on game releases.  With Star Control, people instantly know what type of game it is.  The hard-core fans might care deeply about the lore but most fans might vaguely recall a green caterpillar alien and most consumers will just remember having a good time shooting each other in Super-Melee and having a cool adventures.  The majority of consumers won't have heard of it either way.

I've been participating on this forum for a number of years now.  I would like to think I've established a little bit of good will.  I've done the best I can at being honest and forthcoming and transparent on these matters.

So with that in mind: I personally think that the only way the two sides are going to be able to resolve this is through the courts.  I think the court is the right venue because those judging it will be dispassionate and focused on applying the law.  You can't have settlement negotiations with people who you can't even trust to keep documents that are supposed to remain confidential to not post them on their blog and hire a PR firm to attack us on social media.   The court date isn't even that far into the future, relatively speaking. It's June 24, 2019. 

By then, Star Control: Origins will be released and hopefully fans will be delighted with the love and care we've put into it over these years to bring back the franchise.



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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #201 on: March 26, 2018, 10:49:27 pm »

Had to press "next", but found it:
: I was wondering if you'd mind me putting my own version of your song on the CD... And secondly, I was wondering if I could put the 3DO version of the
Hyperspace theme on the next project of mine, a remix CD.

TFB has no problem with your using the songs, but I don't know if that carries much weight. We told the various musicians who did work for the game that we would
license the use of that music only for the game. So ultimately the owner of the music would be the writer who, in this case, is Riku. If you are selling the CD there may
be some legal ramifications. If not, it's probably no big deal, but you probably should check.

The 3DO remix was done by a fellow named Burke Treischmann who is a really nice guy. He probably wouldn't mind although, again, I don't really know if his O.K.
is the ultimate O.K. I would suspect that Riku would still be the potential stumbling block.
It looks like you're right.
Although the text thereis sufficiently unclear whether they licensed it for all games, or whether Riku is free to relicense if for any other, even similar games, too.
Currently I am inclined to say the latter, that Riku is free to license the sound to you too, even for the same purpose for a similar game.
Which would invoke memories of the goodwill I associate with their story.
But it would be within your right to license it for this purpose.


Edit: I wonder what this means for UQM, if the license could be transferred that easily to the open source project.... Or whether UQM can be considered to be the same game sufficiently to transfer the license from SC2 to UQM, or whether FF and/or PR contacted the original music creators to get their agreement for this new publication....
« Last Edit: March 26, 2018, 10:57:52 pm by Krulle » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #202 on: March 26, 2018, 11:32:05 pm »

What I can say is that this community matters a great deal to me personally.

I lurked on here for years before creating an account 5 or so years ago.  But I have great admiration for it.

I think the people here are very fair minded and if anyone here should feel bad it's me.  If I knew that our revival of Star Control would create this kind of drama, we wouldn't have done it.  Do I think Ghosts would have happened? No.  But at least there would still be the undiluted good cheer. 

I know for myself how terribly I've felt about this whole thing. For almost my entire adult life, Paul and Fred were my heroes.  Fred the god coder and Paul who was not a one-hit wonder but imagined hit after hit.  Mail Order Monsters.  Archon. and of course Star Control.

The most embarrassing thing, in hindsight,is that I major part of my motivation was for them to be pleased with what we had created.  I really thought that if we showed them how good Star Control: Origins was, that they might leave Activision and I would build a studio around them to create games around their imaginations.  That is the, apparently, delusion I operated on for 5 years.

When Derek and I met Paul and Fred (contrary to their statement, we have met in person, they came to our booth and we were supposed to have dinner but our schedules got tight) I was just speechless. I must have looked like just a total fool in hindsight just looking on while Derek did most of the talking. 

I've made a lot of games over the years and developed many technologies that are on your PC right now.  My "fortune" has come from the tech and software, not the games.  But with Star Control, I thought we had the opportunity to give something back.  That the community I cared about, UQM in particular, had waited for years for a new Star Control game.  And if Paul and Fred couldn't do it (and as you know, I offered it to them at our cost) then we would.

I know I have the communication skills of drift wood.  But I hope you guys do understand how important this all is to us.  We could have just as easily called it Stellar Frontier and made a somewhat different game.  But I really believe in what Star Control represents.  This became doubly true after I saw "No Man's Sky" that mistook, IMO, exploration for exploration's sake as a reason unto itself.    Star Control is special because it combines deep lore with lots of subtlety with exploration.

Anyway, it's been a tough couple of weeks as you can imagine.  If you want to know how I feel, imagine having Paul and Fred represent you as they have represented me recently.  It's absolutely crushing.
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Elestan
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #203 on: March 26, 2018, 11:36:46 pm »

Riku owns his music from SC2 according to Paul and Fred until this past week.
https://web.archive.org/web/20041220073812/http://www.classicgaming.com:80/starcontrol/history/fford2.shtml

I tracked down this quote:
Quote from: FredFord
We told the various musicians who did work for the game that we would license the use of that music only for the game.

So Riku owns the copyright  One question left there is whether the license was exclusive.  Based on the fact that they've already released derivative works as the Precursors without any argument from P&F, I would assume it was not.  There could be other questions here about the license terms that it's probably not worth speculating about until we can find some documentation on them.

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Re the type of game it is:
Unless they have a patent up their sleeve, they have no rights to the idea (unless we signed their agreement)

No argument there; I think any settlement should make it clear that you can make a game with some of the same basic ideas (a spacefaring RPG/Action, with a linked arena combat system).

Quote
If your argument involves the good will of something, then that belongs to the trademark which Stardock owns.

There is one point of quibble here.  There could be a lot of good will and reputation that attached to Paul and Fred personally for having made such a great game.  That good will belongs to them, and not to the Star Control franchise.

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Paul and Fred have no trademarks, common law or otherwise in Star Control.

True as such, but I think there is a caveat here too:  There is an argument that when Star Control stopped being sold, and three more years elapsed, all of Accolade's trademarks became vulnerable.  When Paul released Ur-Quan Masters (effectively a new product, which contained most of those same marks (specifically including the subtitle, but excluding packaging and the "Star Control" registered mark itself), and Accolade knew, but did not object or defend them, it further forfeited any right to enforce those unregistered common-law trademarks.

So, I think there is a strong argument that nobody has any common law trademarks in the old games at this point.

Quote
The value of the trademark is whether it buys $300,000 or more of market awareness in today's market.  And that is obvious.  We have spent far more in advertising on game releases.  With Star Control, people instantly know what type of game it is.  The hard-core fans might care deeply about the lore but most fans might vaguely recall a green caterpillar alien and most consumers will just remember having a good time shooting each other in Super-Melee and having a cool adventures.  The majority of consumers won't have heard of it either way.

I can't speak to how many fans of the original game are still playing such games, or what percentage of them know enough about the games for their goodwill to attach to P&F rather than the game franchise.   But certainly, Star Control 3 made a lot of people more aware of the fact that quality comes more from the people involved than it does from a name.

Quote
I've been participating on this forum for a number of years now.  I would like to think I've established a little bit of good will.  I've done the best I can at being honest and forthcoming and transparent on these matters.

Well, you've dodged answering some of the questions and points I've raised here.  But I do recognize that parties in a lawsuit can't always be fully forthcoming.

Quote
So with that in mind: I personally think that the only way the two sides are going to be able to resolve this is through the courts.  I think the court is the right venue because those judging it will be dispassionate and focused on applying the law.

I still think there's room for a settlement, but it takes two to tango, and I'm not even on the *dancing* floor.

Quote
You can't have settlement negotiations with people who you can't even trust to keep documents that are supposed to remain confidential to not post them on their blog and hire a PR firm to attack us on social media.

So, you've made this confidentiality claim a number of times, but the basis cited on Stardock's website (Rule 408) does not seem to apply; it has to do with keeping settlement proposals confidential from the jury.  So you'll need to be more specific about why Paul & Fred had an obligation to keep these documents confidential before I can give weight to that argument.

Moreover, I think you can have settlement negotiations with such a person.  Settlement talks are about writing a set of rules, and public relations issues are orthogonal to that; the thing that matters is the words on the paper that everyone signs.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2018, 11:39:46 pm by Elestan » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #204 on: March 26, 2018, 11:52:15 pm »

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Well, you've dodged answering some of the questions and points I've raised here.  But I do recognize that parties in a lawsuit can't always be fully forthcoming.

I dodge your questions intentionally because even though I like you, you're annoying in that you give the illusion you have some understanding of IP law when you don't.   Nearly everything you write is incorrect and correcting you only would devulge legal strategy to Paul and Fred.

They are waging a PR war because their legal position is very shaky.  If you were half the Internet lawyer, you would have already figured out just exposed they are by now.

As I previously said, I think the courts are the right venue for this at this point. 

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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #205 on: March 27, 2018, 12:00:54 am »

With Star Control, I thought we had the opportunity to give something back.  That the community I cared about, UQM in particular, had waited for years for a new Star Control game.  And if Paul and Fred couldn't do it (and as you know, I offered it to them at our cost) then we would.

I want to make sure you don't underestimate just how valuable a demonstration of good will that was; I do give you much credit for it.  And even though I now believe that you did have the Accolade contract at that point, it still looks like Paul was being coy about his claims over the IP licensing and distribution, and that's a point against him.

Quote
I know I have the communication skills of drift wood.

I've heard worse.  I probably had worse, actually, but I've made a deliberate effort to try to be diplomatic.  I think I recall reading somewhere that you explicitly do not.

Quote
Anyway, it's been a tough couple of weeks as you can imagine.  If you want to know how I feel, imagine having Paul and Fred represent you as they have represented me recently.  It's absolutely crushing.

I do feel for you.  And if you'd back away from some of the more aggressive tactics, I could really get behind you.  I (and probably many others) want you to make a great game, and would back you against P&F if they're being d*cks about keeping you from making a great game.  But that applies the other way too; when you started doing things that would keep them from making their own game, you became the bad guy in the eyes of a lot of people.  You could still recover, if your actions show a desire to still get to a "two-game solution".

Hmm...maybe I shouldn't draw analogies to the Mid-East peace process.  :-P
« Last Edit: March 27, 2018, 02:21:45 am by Elestan » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #206 on: March 27, 2018, 12:16:49 am »

I dodge your questions intentionally because even though I like you, you're annoying in that you give the illusion you have some understanding of IP law when you don't.   Nearly everything you write is incorrect and correcting you only would devulge legal strategy to Paul and Fred.

They are waging a PR war because their legal position is very shaky.  If you were half the Internet lawyer, you would have already figured out just exposed they are by now.

Well, on such a public forum, I hope that anyone with a better grasp of IP law than me will jump on me when I make a mistake.  I certainly could be wrong, but I haven't gotten many corrections, so that means that everyone else is as least as ignorant as I am.  But saying that I'm wrong without explaining yourself is like talking about the overreaching demands P&F made that you can't show us; the words just don't have weight without evidence.  If you ever decide to show me why I'm wrong, you could move my position considerably.

As for revealing legal strategy, if the court is just going to dispassionately apply the law, there shouldn't need to be any sort of secrets, should there?  It should look at the evidence and the law, and the conclusion should just fall out.  :-)
« Last Edit: March 27, 2018, 12:29:21 am by Elestan » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #207 on: March 27, 2018, 02:17:16 am »

Just as a matter of law, you absolutely can copyright a User Interface. It would be infringement to copy art, and it would be infringement to copy code. A UI is art and code. There's precedent for this.

Courts do require a lot of similarity before they might consider it an infringing copy, but point is, it's absolutely reasonable for a copyright holder to ask someone not to copy their UI. The same way that it's reasonable for a Trademark holder not to ask people to not copy their Trademark.

The issue of similarity is just a matter of details, and that can absolutely be hashed out between reasonable people.

And music can obviously be copyrighted. The same way that Stardock is trying to argue that P&F's work is owned by Accolade because they worked for Accolade, it's pretty reasonable to make the same argument about Riku working for P&F. The difference is we can actually SEE the 1988 Accolade agreement that says P&F own the copyright (including the copyright listed on the game box). There's no public record of Riku Nuottajärvi's agreement. Presumably based on what we know about the history of the game music, it was probably a contract with P&F, but it's not impossible that it was with Accolade.

Either way, Paul and Fred made some requests that are entirely consistent with being the copyright holder. If the legal language was unclear or messy, the answer was to fix it and make a counter offer. Instead, Stardock's offer is "you can't make a game even in the same genre for five years -- see you in court".

It's hard to square this with statements of wanting to avoid a battle.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #208 on: March 27, 2018, 02:45:24 am »

Just as a matter of law, you absolutely can copyright a User Interface. It would be infringement to copy art, and it would be infringement to copy code. A UI is art and code. There's precedent for this. Courts do require a lot of similarity before they might consider it an infringing copy, but point is, it's absolutely reasonable for a copyright holder to ask someone not to copy their UI. The same way that it's reasonable for a Trademark holder not to ask people to not copy their Trademark.

I wasn't suggesting that the UI wasn't copyrightable; my point was that I don't see a need for P&F to fight Stardock over UI similarities.  First off, that's a 25-year-old UI, and we can probably do better today.  But also, it's just not worth the pain and annoyance of fighting over exactly what Stardock is allowed to do and where the line is between too similar and not.  I think the things that visually matter are the alien races, the characters, and the ships.  If Stardock avoids duplicating those, I think P&F should guarantee them the ability to do what they want in the UI of SC:O.

Quote
And music can obviously be copyrighted. The same way that Stardock is trying to argue that P&F's work is owned by Accolade because they worked for Accolade, it's pretty reasonable to make the same argument about Riku working for P&F. The difference is we can actually SEE the 1988 Accolade agreement that says P&F own the copyright (including the copyright listed on the game box). There's no public record of Riku Nuottajärvi's agreement. Presumably based on what we know about the history of the game music, it was probably a contract with P&F, but it's not impossible that it was with Accolade.

My point was that the details here matter:  Depending on whether that license exists and what it says, the owner of the music is either Paul or Riku (probably Riku, based on Fred's statement), and Paul could have anywhere from zero to a lot of control over that music and its derivations.  The one thing we can be sure of is that Stardock does not own the music, because of the clause you cited that assigns copyright ownership to Paul.

Quote
Either way, Paul and Fred made some requests that are entirely consistent with being the copyright holder. If the legal language was unclear or messy, the answer was to fix it and make a counter offer. Instead, Stardock's offer is "you can't make a game even in the same genre for five years -- see you in court".

While Paul's requests might be consistent with copyright ownership, I'm not sure I would agree they were reasonable; Paul's settlement proposal is more controlling than I think is necessary.  But yes, Stardock's offer was most definitely not reasonable.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #209 on: March 27, 2018, 04:52:21 am »

Yeah, this is just semantics now.

My main point wasn't to criticize what you were saying. My main point was that Paul and Fred offered something that on the surface is grounded in how copyright and trademark work. It's also very close to the public position Stardock had been taking for months (if not years) -- Paul and Fred get to make a game with their copyrighted characters and stories, and Stardock gets to make a new game called Star Control in a new universe. Two games with a negotiated border between them.

Having it break down as copyright = P&F, trademark = Stardock is basically reasonable in the legal sense. You're right that interpreting that too strictly wouldn't be very cooperative, and unreasonable in a negotiation sense.

But considering that Paul and Fred received no reply to their initial offer, I can't say that they were uncooperative. They might be perfectly willing to hash out some constructive problem solving with Stardock, so that Stardock wouldn't be in trouble for basic similarities in UI and gameplay, and so P&F wouldn't be able to sneak in a lawsuit against Galactic Civilizations or something. Of course, we'll never find out if P&F would actually be cooperative problem solvers, since Stardock has been unwilling to negotiate in good faith. Even in private, their settlement offer makes zero effort at constructive problem solving, and instead offers Paul and Fred pay Stardock for the privilege of exile from the entire space game genre.
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