The Third Doctrinal War -- Stardock, Reiche/Ford, and Star Control


jesus christ


I put side by side two comments: one which was actually discussing the point, another which was laughing along - literally - what seemed (and still seems) a sarcastic remark from a third person jumping into the conversation.

Okay you right you didn’t say it, you actually wrote

“Generally… That is the nature of …” seemed to me to be a general statement about DMCA notices. I sill think it is a reasonable reading. But thanks for the clarification of the intent behind the words.

You don’t come across as an “annoying pedant”. The bit about obligations and liability was helpful. The bit about being late to the protest by 20 years… the debate is still quite recent in Europe, and the only laws meant to be “forever” things are the laws of Physics.


He says so many changing comments about the case all over the internet that sometimes I wonder if it is some kind of legal DDOS strategy.


The point there is not any claim to the original music but pointing out that Stardock intentionally chose nearly identical music. It’s another similarity not a violation in and of itself.


Eh. This is a bad point to try and ding Stardock on. It’s literally how copyright is supposed to work. The composer retained the rights to his work, and then licensed it (with some additional work) to Stardock.

If there was a similar structure in place for, say, the art for the Arilou, it’d be similarly in Stardock’s favor.


The paragraph said nothing about the level of oversight requests are given. The statement was that DMCA requests usually happen prior to suit being filed not after a court decision.


This isn’t my fault it’s yours. So 2nd attempt: I was serious and would have appreciated your insights …


Yes, that’s how copyright is supposed to work, though that has nothing to do with the point they are making. The point is that they intentionally had the music be as close to sc2 as possible when they could have done something not intentionally derivative.


That’s a good point. You’re correct that they do have the copyright to that part of the IP. It just struck me, a layman, as a perfect encapsulation of this idea of that StarDock wanted to copy the feel of the original game.


That’s exactly the point of it.


Yeah, sure it is my fault. Guilty as charged. Let me explain to you why I am suspicious: your history on this forum is exactly 1 day old, exclusively posting on this thread. Since “Venjer” doesn’t sound like a real name (a surname perhaps?) chances are that your are a sock puppet from somebody else. In any case, it is true that my first response to you should have been “welcome to the forums”. So, sorry, and welcome.

You chose a mitsudomoe (sp?) as your avatar, which may be meaningful. That I think was the result of some careful choice and gave me some pause. Did you come over to pick fights with people? Or to quell a fire?

Yet judging from this response

I stand by my behaviour of not taking you seriously and thinking that you’re just going back over your words.

But let me bite

My observation is inspired by the case, not a direct commentary on the case. No matter how hard some of seem to think otherwise.

Going back to your “question”.

I disagree with thinking of Stardock as a “rent seeker”. Note that you are entirely entitled to have that point of view.

In my understanding, rent seekers try to minimise their efforts to maximise their revenue, usually by picking up pieces of property and imposing a “tax” on other parties willing to do something productive with the use of that property. Spending 300k on a worthless (?) trademark and then making a game costing to the tune of several million USD does not seem to me consistent with the typical behaviour of a “rent seeker”.

I wasn’t calling P&F “rent seekers” if that’s what you meant: they created the “property” from thin air (and reruns of Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and who knows what else books and comics) so I think it is fair for them to get “rents”. Which I understand to be moral and economic rights. That includes forbidding “remakes” of their games which were pitched as a “homage” but actually turned out to be a take over.

The only people thinking otherwise seem to be Brad Wardell and whoever are those he has convinced to think in his way.

Some of the posters on the thread dispute me that this case sets a precedent for the specifics of DMCA take downs being weaponised. This weaponisation being that the effect of the notice is the automatic interdiction of the normal conduct of business over platforms meant to allow for the distribution of video games. From the discussion, seems that it is very well possible that such weaponisation is possible as the basis for such notices can be arguably thin arguments based on comparisons of functionality, mechanics and the graphical depiction of such mechanics. Which are all highly subjective matters, in principle. In the particular case of Stardock v. P&F the former party has been yelling its intent to infringe for some time.

As @Perky_Goth pointed out very helpfully, such platforms are liable to damages too, and probably that liability has been already tested somewhere else, justifying the existence of such automatic protocols.

I suspect that we will see in the future other X v. Y cases which won’t be as clear cut as Stardock v. P&F. Others here disagree. That is fair comment and I welcome articulate, informative pushing back, as the outcome of such exachanges is that I actually learn something from the discussion.


To be fair (but not in a way that remotely changes your conclusions), it does seem like the final game had less “exploiting [Stardock’s] IP rights in Star Control” than they planned for at one point. Am I right that the Arilou aren’t called the Arilou, the Chenjesu didn’t end up in the game, and the Melnorme are a different race vaguely implied to be distantly related? Is there still an Ur-Quan ship model hanging in the Tywom leader screen?

I don’t know, but I’m guessing in the last couple of months before launch (which I think was when discovery was happening) his legal counsel came back and said, “Maybe you shouldn’t straight-up use any of that copyrighted material after all.” Why they might have said the opposite before (or why Brad might have interpreted them that way), I can’t imagine. It’s like legal counsel saying, “Since you are about to be getting into the cage with that lion, now is the time to start poking it with a couple sharp sticks, just to exploit your advantages as a tool-using human.”


Hah, okay thanks and yes I understand especially on this topic. The domoe is out of respect for my old sensei. It has a deep meaning to me but that’s simply personal. Also it looks cool. Venjer sounded cool but that’s just a screen name. I’m not a sock puppet. I can’t prove that I can only promise you I’m not even wearing socks right now. Also if I was shilling I don’t think I would be putting things out that would give any food for thought to my opposition. I could just make blanket accusations and a bunch of ad hominim / hyperbole elsewhere for that.

I’ll go through the rest and thanks for the genuine reply it is much appreciated.

Okay … okay I’m sorry, that was definitely as you described but it was just a ¯_(ツ)_/¯ it was not malicious. I stand corrected on the attitude. The question was genuine.


Okay this was what I thought you were alluding to. I think I’m just too fuzzy on certain aspects of how the DMCA could be worse than it is now. I do agree with the judge that this is an issue for the congress. As that seems to be the case your concerns would seem totally valid. As in even if P&F are in the right this could lead to a whole slew of unwanted issues which hurt the industry as a whole. Makes total sense and it would be wise to temper schadenfreude without thinking forward of the total ramifications.

I’ve always understood rent seekers to typically be a class of contractors that abuse the regulatory process. Or a subsection of the investor class that also comprise the donor class to our political system. So I think your definition is well put there. It seems to me from a lay perspective that maybe this particular case is too one sided to be a major precedent. But I’m totally unqualified for that position which is why I asked if there was really that big of a difference between a trademark troll and a copyright troll, at least in practical terms.


They definitely walked a lot of content back. There are no longer the Easter egg ships in the Tywom background, and yes, they’re no longer called Arilou (instead, Observers) in game, but the underlying assets are still named Arilou.

The Chenjesu and Arilou DLC’s ended up being mostly (?) music (they’re called Content Packs, implying more than just music) and are now removed from sale. The Melnorme are called Maelnir and look something similar and are interstellar information brokers. So yes, it’s not as blatant as it could have been.

However, even the removed content may still be admissible considering a lot of it was used to market the game or was directly used for profit (in the case of the Arilou and Chenjesu). This whole case started from a blog post which was long ago edited to remove infringing content. If SD is going to hold P&F liable for that, their cut content and removed ads are also (IMO) fair game.

I don’t buy that SD’s legal counsel ever advised him to do what he’s done for most of this case. My take is Brad thought he knew IP law well enough to beat the system. As someone mentioned a long time ago in this thread, he has an engineer’s understanding of the law and he thought he could loophole and/or bully his way into getting SC2 content into his game.


No worries :-)

My qualifications aren’t very big, other than seeing some work I did patented by a third party (with whom I was lawfully sharing the intellectual property) and the briefing I had about the rights and responsibilities of such a thing.

While as pointed out by @Aceris patents and copyrights are different things, yet the lawful protections that go along them can be used “offensively”. The difference boils down to whatever is deemed to be “artistic impression” (and the intent motivating the acquisition of the IP “objects”). Since “entertainment” is seen generally as a form of “artistic” endeavour, machines that run on computers such as software systems designed specifically to entertain strike me as something sitting right on the middle of either form of intellectual property.

But hey, that’s me :-)


And I wholeheartedly agree with that.


One of the reasons I became frustrated enough to come here so I could have dialogue with real people on the topic was the DMCA. I don’t disagree with Stardock’s position on the DMCA necessarily. I disagree with them blaming their opponent for using it. Their argument against the DMCA to the court was shot down because the court is not the legislative. That does not make it less valid on it’s merits just the wrong venue. The court in my view was correct in ruling for the defendant. The issue with congress remains and so your concern of precedent is legitimate. Court interpretation of legislation we are powerless to correct is dangerous.


Absolutely. As someone said (peterb, I think) the list of hyperspace comparisons shows that P&F think the infringing is broader than names and similar character design.


Yes and yes. It’s just cynical rhethorics.