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 Post subject: The Silver Lining Cease and Desist
PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 9:07 am 
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http://www.tsl-game.com/forum/index.php?topic=8394.0


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone up for a cyber attack on Activison?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 10:24 am 
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Given that Activisions statement on us was that we couldn't start anything new, just finish what we were working on, I'm not surprised to hear this, though it's very much a shame. I can't think of a more anticlimactic way for a team to have years of work reach its conclusion.

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 Post subject: Re: Anyone up for a cyber attack on Activison?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 10:57 am 
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That really sucks, but when all is said and done, it's one of the risks all fan-game developers knowingly accept by working on games where the IP belongs to someone else.

It unfortunately seems to be a case where the TSL team were trying to do the right 'legal' thing, so that they could have complete peace of mind when releasing the game... but in order to do so, they had to awaken the sleeping giant, at which point their chances of being issued a C&D became 50/50.

It's quite a shame that these gaming giants who keep purchasing the rights are obviously just going to keep shifting the Sierra IP around without ever reviving it, nor granting licensing opportunities to other developers to fill that niche. It seems like Activision could really take a leaf out of TellTale/LucasArts' book.

In any case, I would not like our case at AGDI to be used as an example as to why Activision should allow the project to proceed if a petition is be started. I request that we not be dragged into this. The difference here is both the original direction, plot-wise, that the TSL game was taking, as well as the commercial aspirations the Phoenix team had for it.


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone up for a cyber attack on Activison?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 11:32 am 
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TSL was never going to be commercial.


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone up for a cyber attack on Activison?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 11:43 am 
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Oops, I misread that. I do seem to recall at one point they had mentioned seeking a commercial license as a possibility, though...

All the same, the original nature of their plot is the differing factor, but I still would not like unnecessary attention drawn to AGDI regarding this. Any attempts at a petition should focus only on the TSL case and its specific circumstances.


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 Post subject: Re: Anyone up for a cyber attack on Activison?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 4:01 pm 
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I'm just hoping Activision will not ask IA, or Magic Mirror to cease and desist, I'm looking forward to remakes or KQ4 and SQ2VGA. :(


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 Post subject: Re: The Silver Lining Cease and Desist
PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 7:34 pm 
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It's a risk you take, just like AGD2 said. What they can do now is change the graphics and then "King Cracker" can go on his adventures in the Silver Lining!

Bt

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 Post subject: Re: The Silver Lining Cease and Desist
PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:28 am 
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:( I was looking forward to this one because it had a style all its own and they seemed to have done such a great job on it so far.


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 Post subject: Re: The Silver Lining Cease and Desist
PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:32 am 
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That's a shame.


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 Post subject: Re: The Silver Lining Cease and Desist
PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:44 am 
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Ridiculous. Activision needs to get a clue.

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 Post subject: Re: The Silver Lining Cease and Desist
PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:37 pm 
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Like I've been saying game companies don't care about fans only the almighty dollar.

There is this then the Chrono Trigger C & D and has anyone heard anything on the Legend of Zelda Link's Awakening 3d remake or did Nintendo screw us out of that one.

One of my personal favorites the way the game companies announce games even have nice artwork and advertisements.

Video Game Juke box for Genesis and SNES. It wasn't a game but it was a solution to having to change game carts constantly.

Oh and Capcom where the hell is my Mega Man Gameboy collection that was supposed to come out when the original anniversary collection came out. You know the one with the old B & W Gameboy games were gonna be in color finally.

Oh and here is a good one for Square Enix Where is Parasite Eve 3rd Birthday I've been hearing about supposed to come out on PSP.

Game companies need to quit screwing us!!! >:

Good to get that off my chest. :D

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 Post subject: Re: The Silver Lining Cease and Desist
PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 7:40 am 
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AGD2, I can assure you the petition(s) we're doing do not and will not have anything to do with AGD, IA, or any other fan-developer group. Our focus is solely and squarely on TSL and the effects the C&D has on TSL and Activision.

I feel what Activision has done is reprehensible... but the Save The Silver Lining Movement will not resort to equally reprehensible tactics to beat the beast.

If you have any questions or concerns about what we are doing to reverse the C&D against TSL, please do not hesitate to shoot me an email (my email address is oberonqa@gmail.com).

-David Reese
Founder of the Save The Silver Lining Movement
oberonqa@gmail.com

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 Post subject: Re: The Silver Lining Cease and Desist
PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:15 am 
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Thanks for the confirmation, Oberonqa.

It's certainly underhanded, in my opinion, for Activision to knowingly wait until a team has a review version of the game before pulling the plug on them. That's like running a marathon and being intentionally tripped and disqualified at the finishing line.

Good luck achieving success with your campaign.


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 Post subject: Re: The Silver Lining Cease and Desist
PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:48 am 
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If that's what Activision is all about as company, then I hope they find themselves bankrupt in 10 years. They clearly lifed their left leg, and relieved themselves upon all the hard-waorking men & women who busted their rear ends off making that game.


I would love to hear what Josh Mandel has to say about this.

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 Post subject: Re: The Silver Lining Cease and Desist
PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:11 pm 
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Josh Mandel was a rather vocal critic of some of the team's views, so his reaction may not be what you expect it to be.

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 Post subject: Re: The Silver Lining Cease and Desist
PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:13 pm 
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Anonymous Game Creator 2 wrote:
It's certainly underhanded, in my opinion, for Activision to knowingly wait until a team has a review version of the game before pulling the plug on them.

Not really. What's the point of shutting down fan projects early when the vast majority of them self-destruct well before completion? Square-Enix did the exact same thing to the Crimson Echoes project, an Chrono fangame. It may be personally rude to individuals, but it makes sense from a corporate, legal, and monetary point of view.

Also, the news of the shutdown is now on The Escapist, along with other various tidbits of wackiness throughout the games industry as a whole.

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 Post subject: Re: The Silver Lining Cease and Desist
PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:02 pm 
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Well from the looks of the comments below the article, Activision is going to be getting a lot of angry, misspelled letters this week.


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 Post subject: Re: The Silver Lining Cease and Desist
PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 6:48 pm 
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Not really. What's the point of shutting down fan projects early when the vast majority of them self-destruct well before completion? Square-Enix did the exact same thing to the Crimson Echoes project, an Chrono fangame. It may be personally rude to individuals, but it makes sense from a corporate, legal, and monetary point of view.


I understand that. Having released a commercial game ourselves, I can comprehend Activision's reasoning behind their decision. And let's face it, they'd have to have rocks in their heads not to expect some fallout, since they're obviously aware of what happened regarding Vivendi's 2005 Cease & Desist. Since this is history repeating, I think Activision probably knew in advance what type of reaction to expect. I'd also suggest that their actions aren't merely rude, but void of any tact whatsoever!

But on the other hand, it's *almost* a catch 22 for Activsion. Regardless of whether they'd shut the TSL project down years ago, or whether they did it now, they'd still have received the same angry fan reaction. I think they anticipated this was an inevitable phase that 'fans' will eventually get over. To be honest, the first time TSL received a C&D back in 2005, I was nervous that Vivendi would see the petition campaign as some sort of blackmail attempt, which would ultimately backfire and result in them revoking the fan license they'd already granted AGDI, resulting in all Sierra remakes being pulled from the net. Thankfully, Vivendi took the unexpected approach and did the opposite. But now, in 2010, I have the same concern. Activision are known to be very strict with their IP, and they're either going to see this in one of two ways:

1) Caving and giving TSL a fan license would be seen as a sign of weakness. Activision will then be known as a company who can be pressured into changing their minds. This would set a precedent which they obviously don't want attached to their company. Activision probably prefers to make an example of TSL so that they won't have to deal with more 'unruly' fans protesting a similar cause if one of their other IPs is conflicted in the future. If potential fan game creators know the outcome, they won't dare attempt even starting a fangame of an Activision product.

2) Upholding the C&D order, battening down the hatches, and waiting till the storm passes. Activision makes more than enough money from World of Warcraft alone to keep them in business and with titles like Diablo 3 from Blizzard and iD Software's games, the huge majority of modern gamers lining their pockets are always going to keep Activision in the black. It will only be an act of "good will" that makes them change their mind on allowing TSL to continue. This is what happened with Vivendi, but I'd be surprised if it happened twice.

That said, I think it's a little short sighted of any company to take such a totalitarian approach without considering all the opportunities. There are ways to deal with this situation that don't involve Activision compromising their IP, pissing off even one of their fans, and wasting the TSL teams' years of effort. A group of people who can work on a game for such an extended period of time, and without money being a primary motivator, should be seen as an asset, not a liability. And if I were the multi-millionaire CEO of a huge gaming conglomerate, this is the kind of productivity I'd want to see in the people who worked for me.


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 Post subject: Re: The Silver Lining Cease and Desist
PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 7:31 pm 
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I would agree with what you wrote AGC2 except for one thing... Bobby Kotic (CEO of Activision) gave a keynote address at this year's DICE in regards to the company's desire to encourage and foster indie game development. The TSL C&D came shortly after DICE and completely destroys Bobby Kotic's credibility with indie game developers.

So while Activision may have foreseen the fan fallout, can the same be said for indie game development fallout as well? Is Activision prepared to have it's CEO be branded the poster boy for backstabbing indie game development efforts?

This ultimately will be something I am prepared to utilize should the situation demand it. An attack on TSL is an attack on indie game development in all it's varied forms and the sad thing is... it was Bobby Kotic's keynote address at DICE that has made it an attack on indie game development. If Activision stands by the C&D, it makes Kotic look like a hypocrite and a liar. That's not a good perception for the CEO of a multi-billion dollar game company.

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 Post subject: Re: The Silver Lining Cease and Desist
PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 2:58 am 
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oberonqa wrote:
I would agree with what you wrote AGC2 except for one thing... Bobby Kotic (CEO of Activision) gave a keynote address at this year's DICE in regards to the company's desire to encourage and foster indie game development. The TSL C&D came shortly after DICE and completely destroys Bobby Kotic's credibility with indie game developers.

You're assuming unpaid tribute fangames = all of the indie development world. Activision can easily support indie development of new titles unrelated to IPs the company currently holds while still keeping old rights tight to the chest. It's annoying, but true.

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 Post subject: Re: The Silver Lining Cease and Desist
PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:36 am 
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Part of me is amused that "Activision" is the evil empire - Activision was founded by people who left the evil empire of "Atari" because they wouldn't credit the authors of their own software. Amazing how the baby grows into the beast.

Bt

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 Post subject: Re: The Silver Lining Cease and Desist
PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 7:03 am 
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Brainiac wrote:
You're assuming unpaid tribute fangames = all of the indie development world. Activision can easily support indie development of new titles unrelated to IPs the company currently holds while still keeping old rights tight to the chest. It's annoying, but true.


Very true... but let me ask you this. If Valve had taken the C&D stance regarding modifying Counterstrike way back when it was a mod, how different would the landscape of the game industry be today? Back when Counterstrike was a mod, it was considered highly controversial due to how it modified the Half Life game. Back then, Valve did not have the policy it became known for regarding open-modding of it's game. It was because of Counterstrike's success that Valve adopted that policy.

Or how about the fan artists that put up a comic featuring Street Fighter characters in a grungy Los Angeles and some rather... interesting pairings (Ken and Chun Li in a back alley for example). They ended up being hired by Capcom to produce the Street Fighter OV anime.

Or how about the hundreds of artists that put up artwork on DeviantArt based on characters in videogames and movies? What is to stop any of them from getting a C&D from an IP owner? It's called freedom of expression and as long as you are not making money off of someone else's work and you give credit to that persons work, it's not a breach of copyright or IP law.

And in the end, that's what TSL is. An interactive fanfic. The only difference between TSL and the hundreds of fanfics about <fill in the blank popular culture IP such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Final Fantasy VII) is it's got a C&D. Actually, FFVII brings up a very good point. Have you ever stopped to wonder why Square Enix never went after the guy who made a Famicon/NES version of Final Fantasy VII? I mean... if there was ever a case of C&D-bait, it would surely be that wouldn't it? But yet... Square Enix has never gone after this guy.

Why?

Because all the game assets in that cartridge/ROM is hand made. The guy didn't rip anything from the official game. Not one character model, background image, sound effect, or music track. The guy hand-drew every single sprite and every single background. He used public-domain MIDI conversions (provided by Square I might add) to make the soundtrack. In short, he made a new game that told the same story as FFVII on the PSX. But yet... he's never gotten a C&D. You could go to Tokyo today and run into him on a street corner and he'd happily give you a boxed copy of the game. And he does it free and clear.

What is so different between that and TSL? No art assets were taken from the KQ games. As you are all aware, every art asset in TSL had to be hand-made due to the conversion to 3D. No music was taken from the game. The story is even original. The only thing that Activision owns that is used by TSL are the names of characters, locations, and references to events of other games. You can't even say the character model of King Graham is copyright infringement because the Graham in TSL is older than he was in KQ6 and there are subtle differences in his outfit (the infamous adventurer's hat is a different shade of blue than the sprite that has quantified the hat in the 2D games).

And that is why the TSL C&D is of concern to the indie development community as a whole. Activision is laying claim to an entire work because they say it's copyright infringement when in reality... only 30% of the game could even be considered possible copyright infringement and only by the loosest definition of the word (especially considering the copyright infringement in question is in regards to an IP that has been inactive for 12 years and has seen sporadic surges in sales on Amazon Marketplace for one reason or another). What is to stop Activision from shutting down an indie game that bears a resemblence to Guitar Hero, but has 7 tracks instead of 5 tracks and is called Octopus Villian? The game would bear a striking resemblence to Guitar Hero... but as we all know Guitar Hero is based around 5 tracks at the hardest difficulty. Basing a game around 7 tracks would make it an entirely new game. But what Activision is saying is that resemblence is enough to shut it down.

That is wrong. It's also hypocracy at it's finest given Kotick's remarks at DICE. Any and all indie developers are at risk from Activision because Activisions games span a wide range of types and demographics. God help the poor group that makes a World War 2 first person shooter to submit for the indie competition... because Activision might consider that to be enough of a resemblence to Call of Duty to shut it down.

I'll close with this one last thought. You cannot copyright an idea. You can only copyright an implementation. A person can copyright a schematic for a toaster. A person cannot copyright the idea for a toaster. Think on that and then apply that reasoning to indie game development and see where it leads you.

-David Reese
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 Post subject: Re: The Silver Lining Cease and Desist
PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 2:29 pm 
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Woo-hoo! Debate time!

oberonqa wrote:
...but let me ask you this. If Valve had taken the C&D stance regarding modifying Counterstrike way back when it was a mod, how different would the landscape of the game industry be today? Back when Counterstrike was a mod, it was considered highly controversial due to how it modified the Half Life game. Back then, Valve did not have the policy it became known for regarding open-modding of it's game. It was because of Counterstrike's success that Valve adopted that policy.

What works for one company may not work for another. Valve has deliberately cultivated the image of a game company for users (and a viable for of "when it's done" mentality). Activision, as Blackthorne said, was founded on the principle of crediting software's author. If you get credit for what you create, it's understandable that you become a bit more protective of the work.

oberonqa wrote:
Or how about the fan artists that put up a comic featuring Street Fighter characters in a grungy Los Angeles and some rather... interesting pairings (Ken and Chun Li in a back alley for example). They ended up being hired by Capcom to produce the Street Fighter OV anime.

Capcom has also cultivated the user-centric image (especially recently). Doujinshi like you mentioned are also fairly uniquely Japanese and thus preceived differently due to a different culture (and thus, different legality). In addition, stand-alone artwork is not a direct impedance to the primary form of the work (i.e. video games). The difficulty in proving infringement on the profitability is actually a key point in defending copyright infringement. It's the reason Bill Watterson had such a problem defending Calvin and Hobbes from all the knockoff trinkets - since he refused to license products, he couldn't argue the bootlegs were harming financial viability.

oberonqa wrote:
Or how about the hundreds of artists that put up artwork on DeviantArt based on characters in videogames and movies? What is to stop any of them from getting a C&D from an IP owner? It's called freedom of expression and as long as you are not making money off of someone else's work and you give credit to that persons work, it's not a breach of copyright or IP law.

Again, different medium. DeviantArt is also a well-established site of an absolute multitude of works, both fan-based and original. It makes it much harder to take down. A stand-alone project like TSL is just that...alone.

oberonqa wrote:
And in the end, that's what TSL is. An interactive fanfic. The only difference between TSL and the hundreds of fanfics about <fill in the blank popular culture IP such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Final Fantasy VII) is it's got a C&D. Actually, FFVII brings up a very good point. Have you ever stopped to wonder why Square Enix never went after the guy who made a Famicon/NES version of Final Fantasy VII? I mean... if there was ever a case of C&D-bait, it would surely be that wouldn't it? But yet... Square Enix has never gone after this guy.

Why?

Because all the game assets in that cartridge/ROM is hand made. The guy didn't rip anything from the official game. Not one character model, background image, sound effect, or music track. The guy hand-drew every single sprite and every single background. He used public-domain MIDI conversions (provided by Square I might add) to make the soundtrack. In short, he made a new game that told the same story as FFVII on the PSX. But yet... he's never gotten a C&D. You could go to Tokyo today and run into him on a street corner and he'd happily give you a boxed copy of the game. And he does it free and clear.

Okay, you're veering into inaccuracy here. First off, Square-Enix has gone after fangames and fan remakes before. They're particularly infamous for going after Chrono projects (various Chrono Trigger remakes and the Crimson Echoes "midquel," for example). As to the infamous FF7 NES game, it's a pirate game, not a fangame. It's also Chinese, not Japanese, and China is fairly notorious for its lax copyright and trademark law. It's also a DOWNGRADE relative to the original title on obsolete hardware rather than an equal or upgraded system like most fan remakes or fan sequels. But in the end, it is STILL Final Fantasy VII. Square-Enix may simply not have gone after them because the company was in China and thus much harder to deal with by law or they may simply have been unaware of the game until it was released (and at that point, the genie isn't going back in the bottle). TSL announced its presence to Activision. They basically painted a target on themselves, and you think it's wrong for a company that makes money from control of IPs not to shoot? I quote Tim Schafer's Twitter concerning Activision's action with Infinity Ward: "Getting mad at Activision for this kind of thing is like getting mad at an ape for throwing feces. It's just how the beast communicates."

oberonqa wrote:
What is so different between that and TSL? No art assets were taken from the KQ games. As you are all aware, every art asset in TSL had to be hand-made due to the conversion to 3D. No music was taken from the game. The story is even original. The only thing that Activision owns that is used by TSL are the names of characters, locations, and references to events of other games. You can't even say the character model of King Graham is copyright infringement because the Graham in TSL is older than he was in KQ6 and there are subtle differences in his outfit (the infamous adventurer's hat is a different shade of blue than the sprite that has quantified the hat in the 2D games).

Again, location matters and making yourself known before release matters. Part of the reason AGDI got their license (besides Vivendi being more permissive) was that by the time the rights holder was aware of the group, the first game was already out. They couldn't unring the bell, so they did damage control as best they could. As to your argument that Graham is completely different due to being older, wearing different clothes and a darker-colored adventurers hat, I REALLY think you need a grounding in copyright law. It's still Graham, it's still King's Quest, it's still the name. It's infringement under the law. You may not like it, but it's true. Not stealing art assets, making it all yourself, is irrelevant. It's still the copyrighted character.

oberonqa wrote:
And that is why the TSL C&D is of concern to the indie development community as a whole. Activision is laying claim to an entire work because they say it's copyright infringement when in reality... only 30% of the game could even be considered possible copyright infringement and only by the loosest definition of the word (especially considering the copyright infringement in question is in regards to an IP that has been inactive for 12 years and has seen sporadic surges in sales on Amazon Marketplace for one reason or another). What is to stop Activision from shutting down an indie game that bears a resemblence to Guitar Hero, but has 7 tracks instead of 5 tracks and is called Octopus Villian? The game would bear a striking resemblence to Guitar Hero... but as we all know Guitar Hero is based around 5 tracks at the hardest difficulty. Basing a game around 7 tracks would make it an entirely new game. But what Activision is saying is that resemblence is enough to shut it down.

You're comparing apples and anvils now. Rock Band isn't Guitar Hero, after all. It's the same genre, the same style, but it's a different title. A game called Octopus Villain with a different track system is certainly not infringing (presuming they don't steal assets or fail to license their songs). But if they called it "Guitar Hero 7-Style," Activision would definitely have full cause to shut them down (and would be quite justified by most people, I'd say). TSL is a King's Quest game. The name and comparison is there, even after the enforced name change from the Vivendi days. Thus, it's infringement, and it is gone.

oberonqa wrote:
That is wrong. It's also hypocracy at it's finest given Kotick's remarks at DICE. Any and all indie developers are at risk from Activision because Activisions games span a wide range of types and demographics. God help the poor group that makes a World War 2 first person shooter to submit for the indie competition... because Activision might consider that to be enough of a resemblence to Call of Duty to shut it down.

Okay, you DEFINITELY can't copyright World War II. You're getting overly extreme here and frankly, lawyers would be snickering at you here...especially Activision's. And again, if you don't call it Call of Duty, don't use unique non-historical characters from those games, and don't blatantly ripoff assets or code, it's not actionable. TSL used characters, continuity, the name, and the fictional world Daventry resides in.

oberonqa wrote:
I'll close with this one last thought. You cannot copyright an idea. You can only copyright an implementation. A person can copyright a schematic for a toaster. A person cannot copyright the idea for a toaster. Think on that and then apply that reasoning to indie game development and see where it leads you.

No, but you can trademark it. Using your toaster example, if I make an improved version of a Oster toaster and market it as a "sequel" to that brand's toasters, I AM IN THE WRONG. Legally speaking, no matter how cool my toaster is, no matter how much the public loves my toaster, I'm breaking the law. Now had I made this toaster, gone to Oster, presented it and asked for support, they could have granted it but insisted I not call it an Oster. That's closer to the potential relationship Bobby Kotick claimed to want at DICE. The whole idea of Intellectual Property and Artistic Rights is that the profit from ideas belongs to someone in the realm of fiction. Stories are different beasts than toasters, after all.

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Last edited by Brainiac on Thu Mar 04, 2010 4:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Silver Lining Cease and Desist
PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:55 pm 
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Er, iD Software is now owned by Bethesda not ActiVision.

And what about Band Hero?

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 Post subject: Re: The Silver Lining Cease and Desist
PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 4:15 pm 
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Where does iD enter into the discussion, MI? I think I missed something.

And technically, ZeniMax Media owns iD Software along with Bethesda rather than Bethesda owning iD.

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