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

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Author Topic: Stardock Litigation Discussion  (Read 49684 times)
Elestan
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #510 on: January 15, 2019, 01:54:03 am »

But a judge will not be convinced by this argumentation of Mr. Wardell.
Which will then create a very difficult situation for Stardock and their fans.... (since the fans will be unaccepting of how a judge could gave decided against Stardock...)

I don't want to presume what the Judge will decide, let alone the jury.  It's entirely possible that P&F's theory of infringement could be perfectly valid, but the infringing parts of SC:O are found to be insufficiently substantial to warrant liability.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #511 on: January 15, 2019, 08:13:26 am »

Indeed.
I should've formulated my post less definite, or conditional on the case that Origin is found to infringe copyright in certain parts.


With the story (Melnorme, Zebranky, ZFP, ..., as far as I saw them in "let's play" videos) I find the references in Origins personally to be more like a nod to a previous game to be insubstantial enough (as you cannot do anything about those stories, just read them, but not interact) (nods which should nevertheless not have appeared because of the ongoing dispute), but especially the hyperspace of Origins is made substantially similar to the HyperSpace of UQM, IMHO.
Which should not be too much of a problem to change substantially (e.g. change music, colour, "moving streaks of light"), and then sales of Origins can continue.
A minimap in a corner is basically a necessity, hence that element may contribute to likeliness, but should not cause infringement; the same is true for the use of an autopilot.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2019, 08:16:19 am by Krulle » Logged
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #512 on: January 15, 2019, 09:23:59 pm »

So what do you think of the comparison table at the end of the Injunction Junction post? Currently it seems to me that F&P's arguments for copyright infringement in this particular case are very weak. Most of the points they have listed seem to be completely irrelevant, as they are generic concepts, gameplay elements or UI elements, neither of which is copyrightable as far as I know (otherwise why would we have so many video game clones?). The only parts that do seem relevant are the visual appearance of hyperspace and maybe the "true space" name (which in itself would not constitute copyright infringement, but may contribute to substantial similarity - IANAL, though, and currently I'm inclined to think that this is also irrelevant). And yet, there are still some ways in which the expression of hyperspace travel in SCO is different from that of SC2, though still obviously inspired by it. So I'm currently on the fence whether the court is going to rule that as infringing, as there are good reasons to believe it won't (I'm personally amazed at how Accolade managed to avoid a lawsuit from whoever owns the copyright to the 2001: A Space Odyssey film, when ICOM in SC3 looks like this). This post by Brad on the SCO forum and the Kotaku link he gives are also interesting.

I think you can make the argument, as Brad has done, that each individual piece is weak.

It's the accumulation of the various pieces that makes the argument more compelling. If you copy one or two pieces, you can call it a tribute, an inspiration or even a coincidence.

Copy everything about something and it becomes a much more compelling case.
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Narsham
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #513 on: January 16, 2019, 01:39:11 am »

So what do you think of the comparison table at the end of the Injunction Junction post? Currently it seems to me that F&P's arguments for copyright infringement in this particular case are very weak. Most of the points they have listed seem to be completely irrelevant, as they are generic concepts, gameplay elements or UI elements, neither of which is copyrightable as far as I know (otherwise why would we have so many video game clones?). The only parts that do seem relevant are the visual appearance of hyperspace and maybe the "true space" name (which in itself would not constitute copyright infringement, but may contribute to substantial similarity - IANAL, though, and currently I'm inclined to think that this is also irrelevant). And yet, there are still some ways in which the expression of hyperspace travel in SCO is different from that of SC2, though still obviously inspired by it. So I'm currently on the fence whether the court is going to rule that as infringing, as there are good reasons to believe it won't (I'm personally amazed at how Accolade managed to avoid a lawsuit from whoever owns the copyright to the 2001: A Space Odyssey film, when ICOM in SC3 looks like this). This post by Brad on the SCO forum and the Kotaku link he gives are also interesting.

Brad seems to think that his arguments online are legal arguments (the judge seems to disagree). P&F do not appear to think that. Their post isn't a legal argument, it's merely suggestive. And here's what it is suggestive of (and why all the SC3 items are in that middle column):
Situation 1. Stardock is developing Star Control: Origins, owns the name and all the SC3 stuff not licensed from P&F, and needs to make some interface decisions like "how does travel work?"
A. Follow in SC3's footsteps with a similar interface to make the game seem "of a piece" with SC3. The problem is that new players haven't heard of SC3 and most of those who played it now insist that it never happened. (It also isn't a great interface.)
B. It's been decades. Come up with an entirely new interface that looks nothing like SC2 or SC3. For instance, make travel from star to star work like in the Gal Civ series. Of course, why make a "Star Control" game after buying the rights if that game isn't going to look anything like Star Control?
C. Everybody loves SC2. Make it look like SC2, with some modifications and updates.

Perhaps there's a backer/Founder ITT who knows what early development Hyperspace looked like. Certainly this should come out in discovery. C isn't necessarily fatal to the case. It's Situation 2 that introduces problems.

Situation2. Stardock has filed a lawsuit, P&F file a counter-claim. There's anything up to and including a DCMA takedown threat to the game. Development isn't yet complete. Which do you do?
A. Make the interface look more like SC3, which you own (at least in part) free and clear. That protects you against the counterclaim and the DCMA threat because not only do you not infringe, you can show that you made extra effort not to infringe. Of course, the fans of SC2 will hate the interface.
B. Make the interface look unique or unlike SC2. This will take longer and require more development, but again, you'd be showing you have gone out of your way not to infringe. (And if you didn't choose C originally, it isn't actually going to take more development.)
C. Make the interface look the same as before (if you picked C) or deliberately modify it to intensify the comparison between SC2 and your game. After all, your CEO has filed to trademark race names and expressed the theory that if he has orange one-eyed aliens that sell things in exchange for biological data and are called the Maelnym (or something similar), that's protected.

Worst-case here for Stardock is a situation 1 A or B followed by situation 2 C. It's not merely that the interface may infringe, it is that choices were made about the combined elements of the interface during development with the deliberate intent to infringe. "Vindicator" isn't owned by P&F, it's associated with the game folks love, so make the ship default to "Vindicator" and tell P&F to suck it. (It's also a trivial change to make if you wanted to avoid even the appearance of infringing content.)

Since Brad seems determined to assert that he owns the content that P&F claim to be their IP, and seems to believe that using that content in his game strengthens his case, most likely a case can be made that deliberate choices were made to shift Origins closer to the SC1/2 continuity in order to assert control over the content in dispute. In court, faced with that case, Brad's lawyers are going to need a better argument than "nobody owns 'red,' your honor" and I'm unsure that discovery is going to help matters for them.
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Elestan
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #514 on: January 16, 2019, 03:00:15 am »

Perhaps there's a backer/Founder ITT who knows what early development Hyperspace looked like. Certainly this should come out in discovery.

A founder posted about that here.

Apparently hyperspace in SC:O was originally purple, but was changed to red to make it more like SC2.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #515 on: January 16, 2019, 04:13:58 am »

Actually it was pink.

I was the proponent that made Brad change it to red actually.

I was tired of looking at the pink hyperspace example they had up on the Founder forums so I took it, ran it through photoshop, slapped it up on the forums and Brad immediately took to it.
So if anyone dislikes SCO having red hyperspace, I'm the guy to point the finger at because that was a major campaign of mine (#MakeHyperspaceRedAgain) to get it to be that color.

In fact... Quick Google search to see if that image made it pass the NDA...
Yep, sweet, here's the image in question that I'm talking about:



Now just imagine a rushed job of masking off anything that's not hyperspace and tweaking the hue. That would have been my edit.

I got that image from AMD: https://www.amd.com/en/gaming/star-control-origins

EDIT:

And it is so easy at the moment to change the color of Hyperspace barring the particle effects.
I'm partial to it being completely black. It looks neato.


« Last Edit: January 16, 2019, 04:20:40 am by Serosis » Logged

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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #516 on: January 16, 2019, 05:09:56 am »

Sure we can point a finger at you, but Stardock had no obligation to do what you wanted them to do, so in the end it's still their fault that Hyperspace is red.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #517 on: January 16, 2019, 05:51:05 am »

I'm willing to put money on them never changing from pink had I not intervened.

Nobody apart from me cared that much.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #518 on: January 16, 2019, 09:34:15 am »

Whether it's pink or purple or blue, it wouldn't change anything. Nevertheless I don't think a general aesthetic can be owned, or at least, such similarity is not enough to make SCO into an unfairly competing product with UQM or whatever other Star Control game there will be on the market.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #519 on: January 16, 2019, 02:31:22 pm »

Copyright does concern a product as a whole, but also certain recognisable (and potentially defining) elements of said product.
The judges and jury will have to decide on the balance of how small an element that is copyrightable in this case can be, and how large it must be to become copyrightable without covering basic stuff (having FTL-travel, the colour red, holes in hyperspace indicating locations of stars, a minimap, ...).
But the element of HyperSpace as it is expressed in SC2/UQM is by itself a pretty closed element, and can be copyrighted by itself. (Just as the character "Harry Potter" is copyrighted as such, without having the whole content of the magical world as portrayed in the books and films.)
Now jury and judges need to decide on if this form of HyperSpace used by UQM is copyrightable or still generic and the product of a general Sci-Fi setting/knowledge of science/..., and if YES (copyrightable as such), whether this HyperSpace as used in Origins is substantially similar to UQM-HyperSpace.
It's nice of Stardock to point to the Street Fighter game case law, but the Pacman case law points a different direction (and Pacman went through appeal, Street Fighter not).
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #520 on: January 16, 2019, 10:49:16 pm »

Yikes the 2.5D hyperspace makes a return...

I remember the make HS red again movement, also the movement to get animated glowing/pulsating mushrooms into the game, but thankfully the 2.5D Hyperspace map changed into a 2D map before release.
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Narsham
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #521 on: January 17, 2019, 12:53:14 am »

I'm willing to put money on them never changing from pink had I not intervened.

Nobody apart from me cared that much.

If Stardock loses the case badly, let's hope they don't come after you for damages.

I would normally put a smiley after that sentence, but given how this thing has been going, I'm not willing to take the chance.
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Krulle
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #522 on: January 17, 2019, 08:35:25 am »

I would find it very weird if any jury or judge would decide that Stardock could claim damages against the "red HyperSpace" movement...
Even if the idea came from the movement, it remains still the obligation of StarDock to check if this could lead to a copyright infringement.
No matter if fans scream for a game with "a HyperSpace exactly like the one in UQM", they make it and must therefore take care to not copy the artistic expression of others.....
And in this case this would not have required much research, as Stardock knew of the original game from which the requested feature came.

And seeing how in music they scramble over simple guitar riffs, I am astonished how few PC-game cases ever make it to court....

Anyway:
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (comic) puts the question "Can video games be art?" in today's comic...
Nice coincidence for this topic.
But I am not Zinkydoink.
Spoiler: As usual, it does not answer the question directly.
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #523 on: January 18, 2019, 11:41:06 am »

Just an update for your info: Steam has put Origins on sale again.

I don't know why, but I guess Stardock guaranteed to pay any damages against Valve if a judge/jury does find the game to be copyright infringing.
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PRH
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Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion
« Reply #524 on: January 18, 2019, 11:58:37 am »

Or maybe Stardock sent a DMCA counter-notice to Valve (which most likely amounts to the same thing - unless of course Stardock is found guilty of perjury, in which case the punishment is probably going to be a lot harsher).
« Last Edit: January 18, 2019, 12:38:37 pm by PRH » Logged
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