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



Truly the best dick pic.


LOOL. Maybe in 1998. Those numbers are waaaay off.


Yeah, I already admitted upthread I was lowballing things. What would you pin things at? ~300 for most junior people on the team and in the 700-800 range for the partners? Or is even that way too low these days?


Today in things I expected:

is now a redirect to their home page. Could be another DMCA claim, or it could be they’ve decided being in the middle of this mess is just not worth it.


Someone on the Star Control reddit posted this:


Suing someone over a web page that was edited to remove a trademark at your request was such a good idea. Stardock is truly playing 8-dimensional chess.


If true, is that typical in a copyright dispute? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of going after a store’s ISP after the content goes back up due to a counterclaim. Maybe I just haven’t watched enough play out?

I thought, maybe naively, that the process usually went: File DMCA, content removed, file counterclaim, content restored until lawsuit plays out. Is it typical for the content owners to start working their way up the hierarchies of ISPs instead of relying on the lawsuit to settle things?


Yes, it’s typical. You don’t hear about it in the cases we’re most familiar with because the content host is often someone like YouTube/Google, that is large enough to effectively be its own ISP (and any business that large even if it’s not its own ISP undoubtedly has standing indemnification clauses with whoever they are buying bandwidth from.)

Invert your perspective on the DMCA. It’s not “a tool to take down content”. It’s “a tool to free the ISP from liability for carrying the content.” The takedown notice/counterclaim-indemnity freed GOG from (certain) liabilities if Stardock loses. That doesn’t necessarily apply to GOG’s ISP. (An open question, which I don’t know the answer to, is whether that ISP would have to be given an counterclaim by GOG, or by Stardock. I suspect the former, but I don’t know.)


That makes sense. I guess I’d been thinking that the buck stops with GOG, as it were. Once they’ve been indemnified by Stardock, the ISP would be effectively protected by default by GOG’s good faith belief they’re not infringing. I can see why that wouldn’t be the case, it just seems odd too me.


A few times now I’ve said something along the lines of “Brad Wardell did this to his own company.” Let me unpack that a little bit using this as an example.

For most copyright disputes of this nature, the limiting factor on pursuing DMCA takedowns is “How much money and more importantly effort do I, the copyright owner, want to spend squishing the mice underneath this carpet.” In the common case, the answer is going to be “not much.” You send a C+D letter, hope it works, and forget about it.

In this case, by (a) initiating a lawsuit and (b) acting as if no reasonable settlement is possible, Stardock has created a situation where the downside risk of F+P using the DMCA to its fullest extent approaches zero. The costs of DMCAing everyone who is even tangentially related to Star Control: Origins is basically a rounding error compared to what they are having to pay to stay in the court case at all. It was an absolutely predictable result that anyone in F+P’s position would take this step (although I should note it’s not predictable how companies that receive a DMCA notice will react.)


Very good explanation. Thanks very much!


@peterb thanks for all the explanations along the way. It’s been interesting to follow how much more accurate of a view you’ve had on the case based on the limited to public information available due to your knowledge versus people with far more private information available to them.

Turns out being an expert in something is far more useful that googling some legal phrases.


I can’t take any credit. Litigation is all about uncertainty. To the extent I’ve been right luck is playing a major part.

The only thing I’m really confident saying is "Since litigation is all about uncertainty, you try really hard to avoid it and don’t bet your company on it, unless you’re a complete bonehead.


Also from reddit:

The twitter chain involves the person complaining about being subpeona’d and the Wardell acting like they don’t know each other, while the person complaining about being subpeona’d is the head of Stardock’s PR firm.


Derek and Brad are two different people. Derek doesn’t work for Stardock, he just posts as if he has insider knowledge.

#3142 Wardell is at the bottom, agreeing that P&F is subpeonaing ‘random twitter users’ and then later acting like she is completely uninvolved and thus shouldn’t have been dragged in by being subpeona’d.

EDIT: Also I posted the wrong link, and tried like a jerk to pretend I didn’t.


So the person subpoenaed is actually working for Stardock PR but acting like they didn’t?


AgentTinsley is the former (contract) PR rep for Stardock. Maybe she started up with Stardock again, but IIRC she bailed right around the time I resigned from Brad’s marketing department. Which would be…2015? A while back, anyway. I don’t think even the teaser-iest videos for SCO had been released publicly at that point.

Totally going off my top-of-the-head recollection here. Please don’t hold my feet to any fires.


I’m probably just blind but I didn’t see in the thread where he was acting like he didn’t know her, just that he thought it was ridiculous how many subpoenas they were sending.