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

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Author Topic: My take on Stardock  (Read 71869 times)
Soul Reaver
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #435 on: April 09, 2018, 07:02:15 am »

When I think 'Ur-Quan' I think enormous green predatory catepillar aliens, with a horrifying and tragic tortured past, their damaged psyche driving them to almost compulsively enslave all life around them, too blinded by their own past trauma to see the pain they are causing to other sentient species.  I see imposing, enormous green ships with devestating fusion blasts and swarms of tiny fighters inexorably punching through the Alliance's defences.

I just want to say that I like the way you wrote this, I really imagined what you said. You are a writer? If you are not, you should write a book about The Ur-Quan Masters.

Thank you!  Stories are important to me.  I have a Masters in Media Studies and I write stories and design games as a hobby.  I've designed and written a full-custom mod for Warcraft 3 (you can find the manual/lorebook here: http://www.warpstormstudios.com/tothebitterend/Files/TTBEManual.pdf), have spent many years contributing to a fantasy/sci tandem story, and I'm currently writing a gamebook.

None based on UQM I'm afraid...
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #436 on: April 09, 2018, 07:53:45 am »

Compare that to say Kaminawa. No history. No evidence of having posted anywhere. Could just be a lurker using a different handle. Could also be an interested party’s daughter wanting to participate under an alias.  

I've been on Reddit for five years, and if you can't find evidence of me posting anywhere elsewhere it speaks rather poorly of you.  I'll admit I don't discuss Star Control much anymore. If anyone here is old enough to remember the ancient 90s/00s Star Control 2 RPG forums, I was much more active back then as "goto-10" *waves at any super old-school fans*

I've no relationship to any of the interested parties - I'm just an old fan of the series. I've played out a few collaborations with other fans to tell various versions of the story, so I've got nothing against the idea of Stardock throwing their own ideas in to the multiverse - but I've also spent the last couple of decades hoping that someday we'd finally get the sequel Paul & Fred always talked about making. When Stardock announced Ghost of the Precursors, I got excited and started drifting back towards this community.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #437 on: April 09, 2018, 11:49:21 am »

Wikipedia article that probably has the most information on the topic.  It's seeming like names are generally in trademark territory, but they are close enough to being copyrightable that they can qualify if they pass certain tests that (to me) look pretty subjective.  I'm also not clear on how the tests for particular fictional characters would translate into tests for fictional races.  What this leads me to think is that Paul&Fred might have some grounds to claim copyright on some of the races, but it's not a sure thing one way or the other, and might go different ways for different races.  In other words, it'll be a messy court fight, with the jury having to make a bunch of subjective calls.

Addendum 3 said that Reiche owned the alien names:

Quote
The Reiche Intellectual Property shall include proprietary rights in and to...names (of Starships and races)...in and to (a) - (d) above.

IANAL, but however we parse out the copyright and trademark boundaries Accolade certainly seems to have thought they needed his permission to use the names.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2018, 12:14:51 pm by Mormont » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #438 on: April 09, 2018, 04:08:03 pm »

Addendum 3 said that Reiche owned the alien names:
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The Reiche Intellectual Property shall include proprietary rights in and to...names (of Starships and races)...in and to (a) - (d) above.

IANAL, but however we parse out the copyright and trademark boundaries Accolade certainly seems to have thought they needed his permission to use the names.

Nice find.  The question I'd have about it is whether this is saying "Reiche owns the names, and is licensing them to us", or "Whatever names Reiche owns, he's licensing them to us".  In other words, is it an acknowledgement that Reiche owned the names, or just catch-all language to ensure that if Reiche did own the names, they were included in the license grant?  If the latter, then it falls back to the earlier agreement to see what rights to names Reiche had.

There, if names are only trademarkable, not copyrightable, then 11.5 in the original agreement says that any trademarks are the property of the publisher.  Stardock seems to be putting a twist into things by applying this to common law trademarks, which might include the race names.  But I suspect that when this was written, the parties were really only thinking of the primary product name ("Star Control").

My (non-lawyer) understanding of contract law is that the court will try to determine the intent of the parties when the agreement was signed.  I wonder if any of the original people on Accolade's side might get called upon to say what their intent was.

By the way, if anyone here happens to have access to a good OCR system, it would be amazingly helpful to OCR Exhibits 1-4 in P&F's amended response.  They're currently only available as graphical PDFs, so cut and paste from them isn't possible.  They're in what looks to be a standard fixed-width font (Courier?), so hopefully OCR wouldn't have too hard a time with them.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #439 on: April 09, 2018, 04:54:25 pm »

There, if names are only trademarkable, not copyrightable, then 11.5 in the original agreement says that any trademarks are the property of the publisher.  Stardock seems to be putting a twist into things by applying this to common law trademarks, which might include the race names.  But I suspect that when this was written, the parties were really only thinking of the primary product name ("Star Control").

"Star Control" is the only registered trademark from Accolade, hence it would have been the ONLY trademark to have survived the lack of active use and the bankruptcy of Atari.  From what I've read up so far, common law trademarks are practically non-transferable in this situation.  They have extremely limited and very regional protections that are very fragile at best and are granted no federal level protections, and have to be in constant in use to keep remotely alive.

For example, "The Ur-Quan Masters" trademark filing should easily be undone by the existence of this very website, as it has been actively using the mark as a brand well before Stardock's filing.  And that's all it takes to undo even a federal registered mark, is demonstration of active use before the filing.  Since the ownership of "The Ur-Quan Masters" was never established officially via registration, Stardock could only maybe cite it's use with GOG.com sales as it's earliest use, (despite the fact it was just a subtitle after their registered mark) but...  Technically, Fred and Paul were using it before Stardock with their GOG.com agreement  and even before that ...  So, Stardock has very little to stand on in that regard, as any other party's prior use before their cited use could invalidate the trademark.  Reference:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qzZL2yfUgI&feature=youtu.be

So the attempt to register the alien names by Stardock is very strange, since...  Well, Fred and Paul and the The Ur-Urquan Masters project have precedence over Stardock, since they've been jointly distributing a product that uses the names actively well before Stardock even had a chance to buy anything from Atari and have been actively doing so well before Atari/GOG.com/Fred and Paul did a joint distribution deal through GOG.com.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #440 on: April 09, 2018, 06:14:24 pm »

If you cannot. You should STOP "acting" like you are some form of attorney. You are nothing but a troll throwing out garbage.

Frogboy said you have been on his forum for 11 years. Have you not been able to figure out what this type of outlet is used for?
engaging into a discussion about law while not being a lawyer is what public forums are generally used for. Similarly to talk radio people will talk about sports teams without actually being a professional athlete. They will talk about politics without being a politician, or  talk about cooking without being a chef. I wont go on but the parenting forums are mind numbing LOL. Certain forms of media like discussion forums are acceptable outlets for opinion and potentially false conjecture. Its implied that the poster may not have the knowledge or qualifications to offer advice, legal or otherwise. Users should be and usually are aware of this (with some exceptions of highly moderated forums with qualified employees being the only people responding) Not only is Elestans posts par for the course in this form of media, they are fairly expected. By definition your post demanding a different behavior is more of a troll job than anything Elestan has posted.
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svs
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #441 on: April 09, 2018, 07:53:24 pm »

If you cannot. You should STOP "acting" like you are some form of attorney. You are nothing but a troll throwing out garbage.

Frogboy said you have been on his forum for 11 years. Have you not been able to figure out what this type of outlet is used for?
engaging into a discussion about law while not being a lawyer is what public forums are generally used for. Similarly to talk radio people will talk about sports teams without actually being a professional athlete. They will talk about politics without being a politician, or  talk about cooking without being a chef. I wont go on but the parenting forums are mind numbing LOL. Certain forms of media like discussion forums are acceptable outlets for opinion and potentially false conjecture. Its implied that the poster may not have the knowledge or qualifications to offer advice, legal or otherwise. Users should be and usually are aware of this (with some exceptions of highly moderated forums with qualified employees being the only people responding) Not only is Elestans posts par for the course in this form of media, they are fairly expected. By definition your post demanding a different behavior is more of a troll job than anything Elestan has posted.

Fair enough, Elestan can discuss it. It doesn't mean that I can't discuss how Elestan doesn't have any basis in knowledge or facts for his conclusory statements.

Elestan doesn't actually know the relevant law at issue (it takes years of practicing in this field to have a decent grasp of the subject) and doesn't actually know the complete body of facts (at this point, no party has access to all the facts - much less a non-party to the dispute). Elestan's conclusions are mere conjecture. In my opinion, it is unfortunate that Elestan's statements are being given any weight by any person. I'd have no issue if Elestan discussed what is clearly his opinion on what he'd like to happen or should happen. My quibble is that Elestan makes statements that are conclusive as to the legal outcome of specific issues in dispute with just enough legal terminology thrown into his posts to make the reader think Elestan knows what he is talking about.

I think there will be a great many *shocked* individuals on this forum by the time this dispute is resolved if they rely on Elestan's judgments.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2018, 08:24:32 pm by svs » Logged
bum783
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #442 on: April 09, 2018, 09:45:49 pm »

Fair enough, Elestan can discuss it. It doesn't mean that I can't discuss how Elestan doesn't have any basis in knowledge or facts for his conclusory statements.

Elestan doesn't actually know the relevant law at issue (it takes years of practicing in this field to have a decent grasp of the subject) and doesn't actually know the complete body of facts (at this point, no party has access to all the facts - much less a non-party to the dispute).

Frogboy, you, Elestan himself, and im sure many many others have pretty much made that clear

In my opinion, it is unfortunate that Elestan's statements are being given any weight by any person.

Who cares if someone "gives them weight"  nobody here has any impact on the outcome of the case. Its all just talk. I also don't think anyone here is so impacted by his statements that they suddenly wont buy Origins if they had originally intended to buy it...... I know I wont, in fact the more Frogboy talks about Origins the more excited I am about it.

I'd have no issue if Elestan discussed what is clearly his opinion on what he'd like to happen or should happen. My quibble is that Elestan makes statements that are conclusive as to the legal outcome of specific issues in dispute with just enough legal terminology thrown into his posts to make the reader think Elestan knows what he is talking about.

Its exactly what you just said CLEARLY his opinion. When it is CLEARLY an opinion (and it is pretty clear) I can tolerate a little conclusiveness to his statements.
With that said Im sure Frogboy is a little irritated with the non stop back and forth, but either way I dont think Elestans contributions to the the discussion are being taken as matter of factly by the people here as you think they are
« Last Edit: April 09, 2018, 09:49:42 pm by bum783 » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #443 on: April 09, 2018, 10:03:12 pm »

I think Elestan has hedged more or less every claim he's made with the caveat that he's not a lawyer and that his analysis is based purely on public documents and information. I don't see why he should be castigated for looking at the information in front of all of us and reasoning to the best of his ability (and sharing his outlook). I don't see anyone being misled.

So while I thank for your concern, svs, I think we're all adults here -- we can decide for ourselves how much weight to put in Elestan's point of view. If it consoles your anxiety, though, I certainly do include the possibility he is fully wrong on many counts (as, it seems, does he) and I can assure you I for one have the emotional wherewithal to withstand the disappointment of being mildly surprised should the dispute resolve itself in some fashion altogether different.
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CelticMinstrel
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #444 on: April 10, 2018, 06:21:50 am »

Altarians in GalCiv for OS/2:


[...snip...]

Full line up from 1992:

If I had been a fan of the original OS/2 GalCiv, I think my reaction to the Windows version would likely have been some variant of "Why did they change all these alien races from interesting and diverse species to reskinned humans?" Based solely on the examples you've posted there, I have to conclude that the OS/2 GalCiv is probably the best GalCiv; the newer aliens are just not interesting at all.

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Talonious
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #445 on: April 11, 2018, 03:30:38 am »

Krulle, thank you for giving me a hint of what svs must be feeling.

I cannot possibly see how your first argument is right. The announcement was definitely marketing.
Interesting, as I have not yet seen anywhere that the product will be sold.
I know, this is fa fetched, but I already once wrote I'd love to know the scope of the intended GotP project...

Marketing is also a very broad concept.
Advertisement and marketing are different, for the purpose of law. And the cited passage goes about advertisement, not marketing.
Nit-picking. But that will the lawyers be doing in the end.

TBH...

I think it's a stretch to assume that P&F are going to spend hundreds of hours creating a "true sequel" to Star Control 2 only to give it away for free. I mean, I suppose technically you can make the argument that they announced a brand new game after 25 years, immediately associated it with the beloved previous game that they had indeed sold, and that isn't definitive proof that they're planning on charging money (in some fashion or another) for the next game...

...but I'd consider that to be a bit of a reach just IMHO.
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Talonious
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #446 on: April 11, 2018, 03:43:25 am »

Those two positions are contradictory

Not necessarily.  A recent discussion here suggested that race names are not subject to copyright.  If this is correct, then I think he could put creatures called Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC:O...as long as he didn't make them similar enough to the Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC2 for a court to say that he was copying creative elements protected by Paul's copyright.

And that would be confusing as hell.

I suddenly have this mental image of a race acting like the Kohr-Ah with the name "Spathi" attached.

I mean, what would be the point of having the names if the species themselves have to be utterly dissimilar to the looks and traits of the species in question over the last 25+ years?
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Elestan
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #447 on: April 11, 2018, 04:36:24 am »

A recent discussion here suggested that race names are not subject to copyright.  If this is correct, then I think he could put creatures called Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC:O...as long as he didn't make them similar enough to the Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC2 for a court to say that he was copying creative elements protected by Paul's copyright.

And that would be confusing as hell.

I suddenly have this mental image of a race acting like the Kohr-Ah with the name "Spathi" attached.

I mean, what would be the point of having the names if the species themselves have to be utterly dissimilar to the looks and traits of the species in question over the last 25+ years?

I agree with you.  When Frogboy stated:
For four years, we took lumps for not having Ur-Quan and Spathi and Orz in the Star Control reboot.  People on this very forum have said "Why even call it Star Control if you won't have the Orz or Syreen?".  That's how strongly people associate those names with the Star Control brand.

In my opinion, this is slanting the picture to fit Stardock's legal narrative.  I value the personality, backstory, and appearance of the SC2 aliens (in that order) far more than their names, and I suspect that is true of most fans of SC2 - they don't want races called 'Orz' and 'Syreen'; they want "The Orz" and "The Syreen" from SC2.  I suppose we could do a poll on /r/starcontrol to see what a larger sampling thinks.

Future Star Control games will have the Spathi, Ur-Quan, etc.  They will not contain anything that would violate any copyrights that Paul and Fred may have.  Our Spathi and Orz and such will be expressed very differently due to being in an obviously different universe.

From a bit of reading, it seems like one of the reasons that it's hard to prosecute claims of 'substantial similarity' is that it's pretty hard to prove that one work was really derived from another.  But in this case, Stardock would be putting the aliens in a similar game under the same name as the one the original races came from, and Brad has explicitly said that he's doing it to please the fans of the original races.  To me (as a non-lawyer), that would make it hard to credibly argue that any similarly there might be isn't derived from the original.  It seems like they'd almost be forced to make them radically different, just to make sure they weren't too similar.

I'm really struggling to see what Stardock gains by using the original names, given the restrictions they'd be under.  They could choose a fresh new name, and have total creative freedom to tell a great story without worrying about any legal consequences.  Instead, this course would anger a lot of the old fans, while tying their own hands creatively.  I just don't find it credible that there are enough people who only care about having the names to justify going this way...which, unfortunately, leaves me grasping for any explanation for it other than spitefulness.  I really hope Stardock will reconsider.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2018, 05:01:36 am by Elestan » Logged
Talonious
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #448 on: April 11, 2018, 04:54:33 am »

A recent discussion here suggested that race names are not subject to copyright.  If this is correct, then I think he could put creatures called Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC:O...as long as he didn't make them similar enough to the Spathi and Ur-Quan in SC2 for a court to say that he was copying creative elements protected by Paul's copyright.

And that would be confusing as hell.

I suddenly have this mental image of a race acting like the Kohr-Ah with the name "Spathi" attached.

I mean, what would be the point of having the names if the species themselves have to be utterly dissimilar to the looks and traits of the species in question over the last 25+ years?

I agree with you.  When Frogboy stated:
For four years, we took lumps for not having Ur-Quan and Spathi and Orz in the Star Control reboot.  People on this very forum have said "Why even call it Star Control if you won't have the Orz or Syreen?".  That's how strongly people associate those names with the Star Control brand.

In my opinion, this is slanting the picture to fit Stardock's legal narrative.  I value the personality, backstory, and appearance of the SC2 aliens (in that order) far more than their names, and I suspect that is true of most fans of SC2 - they don't want races called 'Orz' and 'Syreen'; they want "The Orz" and "The Syreen" from SC2.  I suppose we could do a poll on /r/starcontrol to see what a larger sampling thinks.

I suspect you're right on this. I can't comment on the legality question but from what Frogboy is saying, it sounds like he believes Stardock can make a race called "The Spathi" or "The Orz" so long as they are substantially dissimilar to the versions of those races that existed in Star Control 2.

There's even a pretty good setup on how to go about this. The whole "many universes" thing that Origins is predicted upon can be pretty easily reused as a narrative explanation for any differences between SC2 versions of a particular race and how they would be used in a future game. It's how different that they'd have to be to pass legal muster that makes me wonder the value of having them.

On the other hand, I COULD potentially see some fun ways to play around with it depending on how the legal proceedings play out. For example, what if the Ur-Quan had never found the Dynarri? The Ur-Quan's appearance could be radically changed (back to their original brown for instance before the Dynarri tampered with them) and so would their background, history and, most importantly, personality. So would the entire galaxy's history really. There's a lot of fun "what if" scenarios that could be explored by the many universes concept.

But it really depends on just how dissimilar the new versions of the races would have to be to avoid infringing on stuff that belongs (allegedly) to P&F. If they have to be so dissimilar that they are effectively just some brand new race that happens to have the same name as one that the fanbase associates with something completely different slapped onto them then I don't think that will work.

If, on other hand, they don't have to be changed to that extent then it certainly opens up quite a few possibilities in conjunction with the many universes approach.

Edit: The idea that the Dynarri are actually found thousands of years later than they were in the canon of SC2 when the Ur-Quan are basically the leaders of the Sentient Milieu and Earthlings are just now starting to discover warp travel is a pretty fun idea. The Dynarri could be the "big bad" of a new game with the Ur-Quan, and not the Chenjesu or the Chmmr, serving as the leaders of the good guys.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2018, 05:01:10 am by Talonious » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #449 on: April 11, 2018, 05:30:48 am »

I'm really struggling to see what Stardock gains by using the original names, given the restrictions they'd be under.  They could choose a fresh new name, and have total creative freedom to tell a great story without worrying about any legal consequences.  Instead, this course would anger a lot of the old fans, while tying their own hands creatively.  I just don't find it credible that there are enough people who only care about having the names to justify going this way...which, unfortunately, leaves me grasping for any explanation for it other than spitefulness.  I really hope Stardock will reconsider.
Applying occam's razor: Legal retaliation. In my eyes, that's all it is really.

All other justifications are just unconvincing for the reasons already mentioned in this thread.
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