cageymaru

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Star Control: Origins is in the process of being removed from digital storefronts such as Steam and GOG as members of the original development team have filed a DMCA take down notice against Stardock. Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford have filed the DMCA take down in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. They allege that they own the Star Control universe that Stardock purchased from Atari for $400,000 in 2013. Atari sold the original Star Control games on GOG for years until Stardock purchased the rights to them. GOG is also being sued by Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford.

The game has already been removed from Steam and it is expected to be removed from GoG shortly. Stardock has posted the email exchange between Stardock owner Brad Wardell, Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford. Initially they seem cordial, but then the exchange becomes hostile the closer that Star Control: Origins was to its release date. Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford even went so far as to announce their own game called "Ghosts of the Precursors" as the true successor to Star Control II. Brad Wardell has announced that he will have to layoff members of the development team since the revenue stream has dried up due to the DMCA take down.

We have received news today that Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford, contractors on the classic DOS game, Star Control 2 for Accolade and widely created as being the "creators" of Star Control have issued a DMCA take down notice to Valve to take down Star Control: Origins. To my knowledge, never in the history of our industry has anyone attempted to use the DMCA system to take down a shipping game before. For example, when PubG sued Fortnite for copyright infringement, they didn't try to take Fortnite down with a DMCA notice. Valve assures us that anyone who has already bought the game should be able to continue to play it. Unfortunately, without the income from Star Control: Origins, Stardock will have to lay off some of the men and women who are assigned to the game. We will do our very best to continue to support the game and hopefully Star Control: Origins will return as soon as possible.
 

cageymaru

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Man this lawsuit is wild! I would have loved to expand upon the dispute, but it was too long to get into the details on the front page. I hope you'll enjoy reading it!
 

filip

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Man this lawsuit is wild! I would have loved to expand upon the dispute, but it was too long to get into the details on the front page. I hope you'll enjoy reading it!

Looks like Paul and Fred want to sue for a copyright they don't own, which by the way they were offered to purchase. Or, stardock got sold nothing for $400,000.

Personally I think Paul and Fred and the lawyer helping them are full of it.
 

cageymaru

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Looks like Paul and Fred want to sue for a copyright they don't own, which by the way they were offered to purchase. Or, stardock got sold nothing for $400,000.

Personally I think Paul and Fred and the lawyer helping them are full of it.
They have those new laws where artists can reclaim ownership of their works from decades ago. I wonder if they are going to try something like that.
 

ir0nw0lf

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There are some YouTube vids on this from months ago, when I first heard of all the headbutting going on over this. Might have been way earlier this year.
 

maclem8223

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All I saw in the email string is a complete lack of promptness in responding until the conversation wasn't going their way. I don't know shit about IP rights, but damn, took you a month to respond? Must be important...:whistle:
 

Ranulfo

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The nonsense continues, its been going on for over a year now since the beta of SC Origins. Good thing I downloaded the game on steam after getting it free with a video card, still haven't played it yet though.
 

filip

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They have those new laws where artists can reclaim ownership of their works from decades ago. I wonder if they are going to try something like that.

Thanks for the info on that, it appears the conditions for termination (reclaim ownership) are only for "In the case of any work other than a work made for hire"

If they were contractors they are not untitled to section 203 of the copyright act (from what I see) but I'm not a lawyer so what ever.
 

Lakados

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Paul And Fred claim that Atari had only licensed the Star Control IP, and that the time in that license has elapsed and that Atari never had ownership of it to sell. Something the Bankruptcy lawyers overlooked so the sale was never valid to begin with. They are taking action now because that license date has now expired so the rights have transferred back to Paul and Fred, this lawsuit has the potential to go the distance.
 

joobjoob

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Wait, your telling me that government legislation is being weaponized and misused? Buh buh combination of fearmongering, good intentions, lobbyists, billionaire run corporate media, and political hacks have never let us down before. :(

It's almost like laws alone are insufficient to control assholes. Damn 2019 what other zaney surprises dost thou hold???
 

T1125P

Weaksauce
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Jan 25, 2004
Messages
86
Well they can take it down all they want it's up on the torrent sites and everyone knows that shit will always be there :D It's just an average game with a 6/10 score. I mean I torrented it, but I'm just adding to a huge collection of games I don't play. Man I feel out of spite, to post the torrent link to one of those lawyers email and say yeah good luck trying to take this down and post the RARBG link LMAO.
 

cjcox

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This is why FOSS wins... (live by the sword, die by the sword). However, with regards to Paul and Fred, who believe they personally have NO VALUE (repeat, they themselves have no value)... they need to decide if they really are "creators", and if so, then the value is in their creative abilities (the next big thing), and not holding onto (very) old ideas and "IP".... trophies of the past. IMHO. Win or lose this battle, right now, as it stands, Paul and Fred are losers. And will be remembered that way. Very disappointing.
 

Inglix_the_Mad

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Wait, your telling me that government legislation is being weaponized and misused? Buh buh combination of fearmongering, good intentions, lobbyists, billionaire run corporate media, and political hacks have never let us down before. :(

It's almost like laws alone are insufficient to control assholes. Damn 2019 what other zaney surprises dost thou hold???

Copyright should be a flat 14 years, with an option to extend for another 14 years, as originally conceived. Copyright was not intended to provide a perpetual revenue stream to the creator but simply: 1) Provide an incentive (via temporary exclusivity) to create new works, and 2) A way for the artist/originator to help support themselves while they created new works. The current crap is ridiculous, 70 years (after the death of the author!) or up to 120 years (works for hire!) which is driven primarily by Walt Disney and Mickey Farking Mouse. Toss in some musical performers/writers who haven't had a hit for decades but think they should be paid nonetheless for perpetuity for stale work, while thinking their children/grandchildren (who created nothing) should continue to get checks for decades after the creator dies. They usually don't amount to much in the form of checks, but be damn glad kids can perform classical music (most of the time) without the schools being forced to ante up blackmail.

I'm practically to the point of saying burn the whole dang copyright / patent systems down, it's gotten that ridiculous.
 

Falkentyne

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Looks like Paul and Fred want to sue for a copyright they don't own, which by the way they were offered to purchase. Or, stardock got sold nothing for $400,000.

Personally I think Paul and Fred and the lawyer helping them are full of it.

You're completely wrong here.
I've been following this case for awhile, and even had the pleasure of Paul emailing me once (not about the lawsuit).
As explained below, F&P were not paid royalties after some time (after 1995 or something?) so from the original terms of the 1990 license agreement, the rights reverted back to Fred and Paul for the universe and aliens. The only thing Accolade still owned (then Atari) was the name "Star Control" and the trademark. But the universe, lore and aliens belonged to the original creators.

Brad simply thought he was acquiring more than he thought he was. While he could make a game called "Star Control", any use of the aliens and storyline from past games means Fred and Paul would have to be paid royalties again. Tl;Dr; Brad is a complete clown.
The judge even knows Brad is a tool-that's why he denied Stardock the injunction from a DMCA takedown.

The original court PDF was shown on the SC subreddit, dated the 28th. Read it.
 

Derangel

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You're completely wrong here.
I've been following this case for awhile, and even had the pleasure of Paul emailing me once (not about the lawsuit).
As explained below, F&P were not paid royalties after some time (after 1995 or something?) so from the original terms of the 1990 license agreement, the rights reverted back to Fred and Paul for the universe and aliens. The only thing Accolade still owned (then Atari) was the name "Star Control" and the trademark. But the universe, lore and aliens belonged to the original creators.

Brad simply thought he was acquiring more than he thought he was. While he could make a game called "Star Control", any use of the aliens and storyline from past games means Fred and Paul would have to be paid royalties again. Tl;Dr; Brad is a complete clown.
The judge even knows Brad is a tool-that's why he denied Stardock the injunction from a DMCA takedown.

The original court PDF was shown on the SC subreddit, dated the 28th. Read it.

So exactly which parts of Stardock's Star Control require licensing? Brad claims to have asked for specifics and claims to have never received a replay. If they're not using any of the alien races or any of the storyline from previous games that would mean they owe nothing.
 
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Paul and Fred come across as whiny little babies in all of this. They had many chances to take control legally, Brad offered to sell them his rights for what he paid for them, in the hopes that they would make a new game for him to play. But they in turn acted friendly just long enough to build a legal case and do some damage to a person who wanted nothing more than to play a new Star Control game.

"Never meet your heroes" very true in this case. In a fair world they would lose it all for pulling this crap.
 

viper1152012

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Paid for the game on day 1.
Was a fresh star control and I enjoyed it.

I would say 9/10.

These guys just want to cash in on the success.

Also feel free to buy it so stardock can keep up the food fight
 

sfsuphysics

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Honestly not sure what to think about it. On one hand sounds like Atari sold something they did not own (not sure the validity of that statement), and these guys actually tried to stop their work from being used as soon as it was released into beta, but in good Apple like mentality they simply said "I don't care, I'm doing it anyways"
 

Advil

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I have Star Control Origins. It was a fun game and worth a few days to beat. That said, this is a bit crazy.

Based on my quick read of the entire situation, it would appear that Stardock and/or Atari made up their ownership of Star Control and it's various assets out of whole cloth. It seems to me that Stardock choosing to comply with the DMCA without a large public fight or getting a temporary injunction against it is kind of a de-facto loss. It would seem to indicate no confidence or ability for them to show Steam or GOG that they have a solid claim to the franchise. You would think that sales would continue pending determining who owns what. It's not an injunction against sales due to copyright... it's straight up DMCA... if the original owners can't instantly back up that claim it should hold for more than a day until they get slapped down. But that doesn't seem to be the case at all. Stardock is already talking about it being unavailable for the long haul and laying off devs.

What is difficult to determine is whether Stardock has also been shafted by actually believing they purchased the rights to use Star Control and the assets from it. If that's the case (I said, IF) then someone or a group of someones who represented that claim of ownership are about to get a long and ugly year in court assuming there is anyone left to go after now that Atari's assets were liquidated and the name sold off.

This kind of thing always confuses me a little, as you would think Stardock would have gotten a rather substantial amount of legal contracts showing rights to Star Control. And you'd also think that SOMEONE would have contacted the creators who were receiving royalties through the GOG sales to find out who holds what rights. I mean, what documentation did Stardock receive that so entirely convinced them they held the complete rights to use the name and assets in a future game they develop?

Neither side is very clear on that point. Which makes sense it's still being litigated. But still, it seems not a good sign to me that first the original creators were successful at removing SC I, II, and III from GOG and then a year later seem to have had success in getting a DMCA to stick with Origins out of the blue. Doesn't look good for Stardock on this one. I like some of Stardock's games quite a bit. I remember thinking when I bought Origins "huh... they bought Star Control... it suits them." Well, obviously there was more to the story.

If this turn out the original creators hold all the cards, I'll donate a few buck to them if they have a means for that. I have fond memories of the original series and they deserve their credit and due.
 

Itrocan

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It seems to me that Stardock choosing to comply with the DMCA without a large public fight or getting a temporary injunction against it is kind of a de-facto loss.
Steam/GOG dropping Star Control sounds less about the DMCA and more about avoiding increasing damages in the event of infringement. Stardock still sells Star Control on their website since DMCA take-downs may not apply.

This kind of thing always confuses me a little, as you would think Stardock would have gotten a rather substantial amount of legal contracts showing rights to Star Control.
I presume another document describing the original contract as (partially?) nulled wasn't properly reviewed. Or the argument is the contract was not followed back in the 90s, and despite the firm handling the liquidation having no knowledge of it, the sale was never fully legal.
 

JcRabbit

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Nov 27, 2008
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I can only hope that Paul and Fred get sued for everything they have. What a pair of opportunistic good-for-nothing clowns.
 

Dead Parrot

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Whatever the merits of the various claims/counter claims, it sounds like the game itself doesn't require a 'always on' connection to play. At least folks that legally purchased it in the past can continue to enjoy their purchase.
 

Fifliffl

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I saw this pop up on my Nvidia Shield the other day. Been wanting to get it but limited time. Star Control 2 on my Panasonic 3DO was the greatest game I played growing up. Captain Fwiffo is my hero.

sad they are fighting like this
 

Ranulfo

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You're completely wrong here.
I've been following this case for awhile, and even had the pleasure of Paul emailing me once (not about the lawsuit).
As explained below, F&P were not paid royalties after some time (after 1995 or something?) so from the original terms of the 1990 license agreement, the rights reverted back to Fred and Paul for the universe and aliens. The only thing Accolade still owned (then Atari) was the name "Star Control" and the trademark. But the universe, lore and aliens belonged to the original creators.

Brad simply thought he was acquiring more than he thought he was. While he could make a game called "Star Control", any use of the aliens and storyline from past games means Fred and Paul would have to be paid royalties again. Tl;Dr; Brad is a complete clown.
The judge even knows Brad is a tool-that's why he denied Stardock the injunction from a DMCA takedown.

The original court PDF was shown on the SC subreddit, dated the 28th. Read it.

It is hard to take Paul and Fred seriously when they clearly didn't do much to protect their so called assets/trademarks and copyrights for years.
 
Joined
Apr 17, 2007
Messages
778
You're completely wrong here.
I've been following this case for awhile, and even had the pleasure of Paul emailing me once (not about the lawsuit).
As explained below, F&P were not paid royalties after some time (after 1995 or something?) so from the original terms of the 1990 license agreement, the rights reverted back to Fred and Paul for the universe and aliens. The only thing Accolade still owned (then Atari) was the name "Star Control" and the trademark. But the universe, lore and aliens belonged to the original creators.

Brad simply thought he was acquiring more than he thought he was. While he could make a game called "Star Control", any use of the aliens and storyline from past games means Fred and Paul would have to be paid royalties again. Tl;Dr; Brad is a complete clown.
The judge even knows Brad is a tool-that's why he denied Stardock the injunction from a DMCA takedown.

The original court PDF was shown on the SC subreddit, dated the 28th. Read it.

then perhaps they should have said something when the IP was being auctioned off a few years ago when atari filed for bankruptcy?
it seem sto me that they had YEARS to try and straighten this out but for some reason didnt. or perhaps tried to make a claim but were told to go pound sand.

something smells fishy in denmark.
 

steakman1971

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I have bought many games from Paul and Fred (Archon on the C64 is the first I remember...Star Control 1 & 2 were great games). I've enjoyed their efforts.
I also like Stardock. I have played several games they have made and consider them to be an independent publisher/development house that is worthy of my support. Galactic Civilizations is a stand out for me.
What confuses me - why didn't the lawyers agree before this was published? From what I read, both sides thought they were in the right. Whenever money is involved, things won't end well. Stardock could easily have changed the name to something like Star Command and had the same overall plot/ideas. Not a lawyer, but I think you could even make a reference to Star Control in describing your product (or let the fans do it).
 

cageymaru

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I have bought many games from Paul and Fred (Archon on the C64 is the first I remember...Star Control 1 & 2 were great games). I've enjoyed their efforts.
I also like Stardock. I have played several games they have made and consider them to be an independent publisher/development house that is worthy of my support. Galactic Civilizations is a stand out for me.
What confuses me - why didn't the lawyers agree before this was published? From what I read, both sides thought they were in the right. Whenever money is involved, things won't end well. Stardock could easily have changed the name to something like Star Command and had the same overall plot/ideas. Not a lawyer, but I think you could even make a reference to Star Control in describing your product (or let the fans do it).
Well they believe that they paid $400,000 for the franchise. Just like the other side believes that they own the franchise. In the end it will be handled in court. :)
 

tungt88

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Messages
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A few fun things to note:

Paul & Fred are the guys behing Skylanders (multi-billion dollar game franchise) -- they definitely aren't hurting for cash (even if most of the proceeds goes to their "parent", Activision). These were the guys who had lootboxes well before it became mainstream. I'm almost certain that they, personally, have a lot more capital than Brad/Stardock does.

From what I gather, P&F were underhanded, and essentially figured on using Stardock's resources to get "free advertising/promotion" -- since P&F felt they had the upper hand with their copyrights (vs. Stardock's trademark rights). They deliberately didn't buy back Stardock's trademark right, b/c they wanted Stardock to promote the game, only to "pull the rug under him" by tossing out a few concept art pieces on the website they tossed together for their "Ghosts of the Precursors" game title (I seriously, seriously doubt much work has been done on that proposed game).The key factor is that they didn't tell Stardock just what rights they did own (or believed they owned) ... and that is HUGE ...

Then, they set up a GoFundMe to crowdfund their lawsuit, implying that they badly needed the cash ... sounds like a pity parade appeal to me.

And now, this DMCA ...

I really don't like how P&F have set up this entire affair -- whatever you might think of Brad/Stardock, they seemed to be trying to act in good faith (and goodwill, even), when they offered the trademark back to P&F, at cost.
What P&F did, in response (well before any "defensive/angry" thoughts appeared in Stardock's head) sounds much like a deliberate set-up ...
 

bigdogchris

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Feb 19, 2008
Messages
18,293
You're completely wrong here.
I've been following this case for awhile, and even had the pleasure of Paul emailing me once (not about the lawsuit).
As explained below, F&P were not paid royalties after some time (after 1995 or something?) so from the original terms of the 1990 license agreement, the rights reverted back to Fred and Paul for the universe and aliens. The only thing Accolade still owned (then Atari) was the name "Star Control" and the trademark. But the universe, lore and aliens belonged to the original creators.

Brad simply thought he was acquiring more than he thought he was. While he could make a game called "Star Control", any use of the aliens and storyline from past games means Fred and Paul would have to be paid royalties again. Tl;Dr; Brad is a complete clown.
The judge even knows Brad is a tool-that's why he denied Stardock the injunction from a DMCA takedown.

The original court PDF was shown on the SC subreddit, dated the 28th. Read it.
I think you're right on this. Looking at the old settlement offers, I think it's funny that Stardock doesn't even want these guys to claim to be the original creators of the franchise. Stardock essentially wants to erase history.
 

sfsuphysics

[H]F Junkie
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Messages
14,727
Damn see a lot of folks who don't know what they are talking about. Before commenting here are a few links to read about the lawsuit
http://wiki.uqm.stack.nl/Stardock_Systems_Inc._v._Paul_Reiche_III_and_Robert_Frederick_Ford
https://www.reddit.com/r/starcontrol/

On that reddit link there are tons of links to court filings.
Seems to be all hinged on the requirement for the license to be in effect they need to get royalties of 1000 per year. Now that stopped so the license would be ended, the question is whether or not the license had provisions to be reinstated if those conditions were once again met. That said since the conditions to the license were not met before Stardock bought it, then there was nothing that should have been for sale.

But whatever man, personally think this idea of copyright is going a bit too far. Just change some of the character names and call it a day.
 

sfsuphysics

[H]F Junkie
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Messages
14,727
They deliberately didn't buy back Stardock's trademark right, b/c ...
Or they figured Stardock got fleeced into buying something that was never really for sale, so why should they pay another company to buy back what they never really had in the first place.

I mean someone sells my car to a third party, and I go to reclaim it but they say "sure just give us the money we paid for it", yeah that's not how it works.
 
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