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

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Author Topic: My take on Stardock  (Read 71179 times)
Elestan
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Re: New Trademark Filings
« Reply #675 on: April 26, 2018, 02:18:38 am »

Copyright protects creative works including descriptions and names

Careful with that reference; I believe there is a distinction between a character and a name, and even for the characters that may be protectable by copyright, there appear to be a number of subjective factors that get weighed.
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Re: New Trademark Filings
« Reply #676 on: April 26, 2018, 02:49:42 am »

Copyright protects creative works including descriptions and names

Careful with that reference; I believe there is a distinction between a character and a name, and even for the characters that may be protectable by copyright, there appear to be a number of subjective factors that get weighed.

The copyright associated with the name is fairly powerful on it's own. Middle-earth enterprises has proven this repeatedly with 'Hobbit' and killing attempts to trademark the name. The collection of work surrounding a name makes the name itself part of the copyright. All of the races in Star Control I & II are sufficiently unique to copyright and protect each individually.
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Elestan
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Re: New Trademark Filings
« Reply #677 on: April 26, 2018, 03:18:09 am »

The copyright associated with the name is fairly powerful on it's own. Middle-earth enterprises has proven this repeatedly with 'Hobbit' and killing attempts to trademark the name. The collection of work surrounding a name makes the name itself part of the copyright. All of the races in Star Control I & II are sufficiently unique to copyright and protect each individually.

Middle-Earth Enterprises has trademarked "Hobbit", in several categories.  Can you find a reference where they specifically used copyright?  I'm not saying you're wrong, but I'd like to get a clear example of where a name, especially a race name, was protected by copyright.
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huhlig
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Re: New Trademark Filings
« Reply #678 on: April 26, 2018, 04:02:59 am »

The copyright associated with the name is fairly powerful on it's own. Middle-earth enterprises has proven this repeatedly with 'Hobbit' and killing attempts to trademark the name. The collection of work surrounding a name makes the name itself part of the copyright. All of the races in Star Control I & II are sufficiently unique to copyright and protect each individually.

Middle-Earth Enterprises has trademarked "Hobbit", in several categories.  Can you find a reference where they specifically used copyright?  I'm not saying you're wrong, but I'd like to get a clear example of where a name, especially a race name, was protected by copyright.

Middle-earth copyright cases
1974 - Threat of copyright action from Tolkien Enterprises to TSR prompted the name changes of hobbit to 'halfling', ent to 'treant', and balrog to 'balor'.

2011 - A campsite owner from West Stow in Suffolk was threatened with legal action over his plan to build a so-called 'Hobbit hole.' When the owners asked the the Tolkien literary legacy for permission to use the Hobbit name, they received letters from lawyers claiming it was an infringement of copyright and threatened him with legal action.

2011 – A Birmingham cafe called the Hungry Hobbit was accused of copyright infringement by lawyers representing The Saul Zaentz Company, which Middle Earth enterprises is a division of. The cafe was told to phase out the use of the name on menus, websites and signs.

2012 – A Southampton pub that had been called The Hobbit for more than 20 years was accused of copyright infringement. Stephen Fry later confirmed that he and Sir Ian McKellen paid a copyright licence fee so that the pub could carry on trading as The Hobbit.

2015 - Stuart and Elise Whittaker set up Giraffe and Hobbit, a company that imports wine from small vineyards in Provence, France, and pokes fun at their difference in height. Middle-earth Enterprises has tried to block the couple's attempt to register the company, which was launched in 2014, as a trademark.

An actual court case I can find details about. Also a second one. Most seem to get settled out of court and getting documents besides news reports is kind of difficult. Note it's the copyright being enforced, not a trademark.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2018, 04:11:23 am by huhlig » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #679 on: April 26, 2018, 04:48:24 am »

A character used in a movie, book, game, etc. is copyrightable, and a character includes a name. A name might be one of the most distinctive parts of a character, the same way that courts care that a chorus is the most distinctive part of a song. The legal issue won't be whether the Star Control characters are protected by copyright, but whether there is any infringement in Stardock's new game if they copy even partial aspects of those characters.

I know Stardock is counting on the idea that there's a lot of video game clones that never get sued. But courts have a much easier time wrapping their heads around books or movies. That LOTR copyright stuff is pretty interesting, because they're suing for characters appearing on a slot machine, or quotes appearing on merchandise. These are not atypical. There are lots of times where people get in trouble for plagiarizing even a small piece of someone else's fiction. Maybe I'm stating the obvious, but you don't need to lift an entire copyrighted work to infringe someone else's copyright.
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huhlig
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #680 on: April 26, 2018, 05:17:40 am »

Another thing to note is that Stardock isn't even trying to hide their infringement anymore. You can compare it to the original. Any normal person would find these two ships to have "substantial similarity" which is the general test for infringement and while "Humans" is too general a term to have copyright applied, the ship created for them in Star Control certainly isn't.
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Elestan
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #681 on: April 26, 2018, 05:20:34 am »

A character used in a movie, book, game, etc. is copyrightable, and a character includes a name. A name might be one of the most distinctive parts of a character, the same way that courts care that a chorus is the most distinctive part of a song. The legal issue won't be whether the Star Control characters are protected by copyright, but whether there is any infringement in Stardock's new game if they copy even partial aspects of those characters.

I'm wondering about the Wikipedia article, where is says:
Quote
stock characters or archetypical and hackneyed elements are disqualified from protection by virtue of the fact that they are not unique in their expression.

I'm pondering whether the fact that most of the "characters" in UQM are racial archetypes rather than individuals might cause them to be considered "archetypical".  The Captain, Fwiffo, Cmdr Hayes, ZEX, Talana, and the Dynarri are the only individuals you really talk with, although I suppose you could argue that each time you visit a homeworld, you're speaking with the same central authority figure.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2018, 06:03:02 am by Elestan » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #682 on: April 26, 2018, 05:41:16 am »

A character used in a movie, book, game, etc. is copyrightable, and a character includes a name. A name might be one of the most distinctive parts of a character, the same way that courts care that a chorus is the most distinctive part of a song. The legal issue won't be whether the Star Control characters are protected by copyright, but whether there is any infringement in Stardock's new game if they copy even partial aspects of those characters.

I'm wondering about Wikipedia article, where is says:
Quote
stock characters or archetypical and hackneyed elements are disqualified from protection by virtue of the fact that they are not unique in their expression.

I'm pondering whether the fact that most of the "characters" in UQM are racial archetypes rather than individuals might cause them to be considered "archetypical".  The Captain, Fwiffo, Cmdr Hayes, ZEX, Talana, and the Dynarri are the only individuals you really talk with, although I suppose you could argue that each time you visit a homeworld, you're speaking with the same central authority figure.

To the best of my knowledge that applies to archetypes considered common in culture. I.E. The damsel in distress, The old wise mentor, The token black guy killed in every horror film. They have no depth or anything making them unique and distinct from every other character sharing the same archetype. Klingons, Hobbits, Centauri, and Ur-Quan all have unique histories, lore, mannerisms, and representation that qualify them as a unique creative work. You can't copyright a vampire or a werewolf because it's a common archetype in media. You could however copyright a Camirilla Vampire or a Tribal Garou as they both have unique defining qualities.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2018, 05:45:33 am by huhlig » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #683 on: April 26, 2018, 06:33:15 pm »

Another thing to note is that Stardock isn't even trying to hide their infringement anymore. You can compare it to the original. Any normal person would find these two ships to have "substantial similarity" which is the general test for infringement and while "Humans" is too general a term to have copyright applied, the ship created for them in Star Control certainly isn't.

The Earthling ship has been in the game since the very beginning. What is the "not hiding it anymore" business?
P&F don't even care about that ship. The copyright infringement part of their case has to do with these things:

The Eluder and Dreadnought models hanging from the ceiling at the top-left:


And this series of fan-art that P&F alleged that Stardock used to promote Origins (But was really to promote the 25th Anniversary of Star Control in general):


They also take offense that fans can recreate their ships in the editor and want Stardock to remove the editor entirely and/or police the Steam workshop to prevent this infringement:

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1197550444

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1309682754
« Last Edit: April 26, 2018, 06:42:51 pm by Serosis » Logged

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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #684 on: April 26, 2018, 06:58:37 pm »

And this series of fan-art that P&F alleged that Stardock used to promote Origins (But was really to promote the 25th Anniversary of Star Control in general):

Well, they put it on the site banner alongside their own aliens and sent the images to a journalistic article about Origins that also implied the Ur-quan universe would be closely connected to their game. That crosses the line beyond just fan art to celebrate the game in a forum post, I think.

2017 was also the 15th anniversary of Firefly. If they put pictures of Serenity and its crew next to the Tywom (or whatever) and said "it was just to celebrate a great sci-fi universe", I doubt Joss Whedon and/or Fox (whoever owns the rights) would be very happy. Or even Star Wars, since 2017 was its 40th.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2018, 07:07:42 pm by Mormont » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #685 on: April 26, 2018, 07:57:36 pm »

And this series of fan-art that P&F alleged that Stardock used to promote Origins (But was really to promote the 25th Anniversary of Star Control in general):

Well, they put it on the site banner alongside their own aliens and sent the images to a journalistic article about Origins that also implied the Ur-quan universe would be closely connected to their game. That crosses the line beyond just fan art to celebrate the game in a forum post, I think.

2017 was also the 15th anniversary of Firefly. If they put pictures of Serenity and its crew next to the Tywom (or whatever) and said "it was just to celebrate a great sci-fi universe", I doubt Joss Whedon and/or Fox (whoever owns the rights) would be very happy. Or even Star Wars, since 2017 was its 40th.

I do not see a problem with any of your examples. As long as the art itself is properly credited there shouldn't be a problem.

Not to mention that 2017 shot of the Universe Selection screen is just a mock-up and not actually in the game.
It was there to explain how Star Control 1/2 were in a different reality as well as Kessari being in its own reality, both being separate from the Origins reality.
Basically you assumed the opposite of the intention of information.

No idea what a Drengin is though. Probably something related to Galactic Civilizations.

On topic of the images again, Stardock took the images down when P&F asked. So again, there should not have been a problem.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #686 on: April 26, 2018, 08:12:39 pm »

Not to mention that 2017 shot of the Universe Selection screen is just a mock-up and not actually in the game.
It was there to explain how Star Control 1/2 were in a different reality as well as Kessari being in its own reality, both being separate from the Origins reality.
Basically you assumed the opposite of the intention of information.

On topic of the images again, Stardock took the images down when P&F asked. So again, there should not have been a problem.
It's a screenshot complete with UI (even if mocked up) that suggests the Ur-quan Universe is one of many universes you can visit within Origins or future expansions. I don't think they could do that with any other sci-fi universe without a license - now whether they actually have one is of course part of this dispute. At the very least images like this are a rather confusing way to say the games' storylines are unrelated.

Fred and Paul also removed "sequel to Star Control 2" from their site at some point before the controversy broke, though I don't know exactly when or what the communications were like up till then.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2018, 08:22:05 pm by Mormont » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #687 on: April 26, 2018, 08:24:34 pm »

It's an in-game screenshot (even if mocked up)

That's an oxymoron. It can't be in-game if it's mocked up.
It was made to look like it was in-game.

The main attraction here is that you can see the Ur-Quan and Kessari storylines are selectable, they aren't, there were never plans by Brad or Stardock to recreate those games in Origins.
But beyond that the language is specific that this is a Universe Selection screen, meaning that these different universes share no continuity with each other. Especially if a GalCiv Universe was thrown into the mix.

Not to mention the constant updates Stardock rolls out stating as such. Origins happens way earlier than UQM and will not cross-over into the UQM Universe.

In fact the only way I can prove that they haven't been working on it is because I and a few other modders have been working on it. Just getting the Starmap right is a pain in the ass.
I can't go into exact details because of the NDA, but there will be a fan created UQM & Kessari Universe in Origins eventually.
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #688 on: April 26, 2018, 08:29:26 pm »

It's an in-game screenshot (even if mocked up)

That's an oxymoron. It can't be in-game if it's mocked up.
It was made to look like it was in-game.
It wasn't the best choice of words. I meant that it's supposed to look like part of the game, including UI, and not just an abstract conceptual diagram. My point is that the image suggests that the Ur-quan Universe is in some way accessible in the broader game, even with no direct story connection to the Scryve universe.

Quote
In fact the only way I can prove that they haven't been working on it is because I and a few other modders have been working on it. Just getting the Starmap right is a pain in the ass.
I can't go into exact details because of the NDA, but there will be a fan created UQM & Kessari Universe in Origins eventually.
My view is that a reasonable compromise on modded content (which I agree Paul and Fred's settlement offer would probably need to be amended on) is that fans can do whatever they want and SD is not responsible for it, but Stardock can't officially host, directly acknowledge, or promote work that uses Fred and Paul's aliens. I'm pretty sure this is how game companies generally treat fan modding that uses licensed content anyway.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2018, 08:36:45 pm by Mormont » Logged
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Re: My take on Stardock
« Reply #689 on: April 26, 2018, 08:43:46 pm »

It's an in-game screenshot (even if mocked up)

That's an oxymoron. It can't be in-game if it's mocked up.
It was made to look like it was in-game.
It wasn't the best choice of words. I meant that it's supposed to look like part of the game, including UI, and not just an abstract conceptual diagram. My point is that the diagram suggests that the Ur-quan Universe is in some way accessible in the broader game, even with no direct story connection to the Scryve universe.

Quote
In fact the only way I can prove that they haven't been working on it is because I and a few other modders have been working on it. Just getting the Starmap right is a pain in the ass.
I can't go into exact details because of the NDA, but there will be a fan created UQM & Kessari Universe in Origins eventually.
My view is that a reasonable compromise on modded content (which I agree Paul and Fred's settlement offer would need to be amended on) is that fans can do whatever they want and SD is not responsible for it, but Stardock can't officially host, directly acknowledge, or promote their work. I'm pretty sure this is how game companies generally treat fan modding that uses licensed content anyway.

Well that was back in 2017 before everything went down.

I'm sure Stardock can promote it because the content used will be licensed under GPL and Creative Commons.
Which means we'll have to be diligent in making sure that the respective licenses are distributed with the content we provide or P&F can have a slap at us

But Stardock can't promote it as being a part of their release since that would violate the non-commercial use portion of the CC.
They could only do a simple blog post pointing out the free, non-commercial, fan-mod.

We'll be dealing mainly with the Creative Commons license since the source code from UQM will not apply too often.
Starmap, ship handling/mechanics, and comm trees. Everything else can be thrown up in the air because I don't want to make a picture perfect UQM or Kessari Remake.
I don't need that kind of stress in my life.
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