reproduce a DMCA takedown notice submitted by Paul Reiche
III and Fred Ford against Star Control: Origins
, which results in the
space strategy game no longer being sold on Steam or GOG.com. Ford and Reiche
designed the original Star Control
, and though Stardock acquired rights
to the game from Atari
, questions surfaced
what aspects of the series they do and do not own.
Around a year ago
Ford and Reiche
raised their first legal objection to Stardock's continuation of the series,
leading to lawsuits
flying back and
forth. The last we heard of
the pair was collecting for a legal fund, so further legal action should
be no surprise. Here's the gist of their complaint: "Stardock Systems, Inc. dba
Stardock Entertainment ("Stardock") claims to be the assignee for the name 'Star
Control,' but is not authorized to publish, reproduce, prepare derivative works
based on, or distribute the Works." In
a post on Steam
, Stardock's Bard Wardell gives the other side of the story,
suggesting the takedown is an unprecedented abuse of the DMCA, that Steam and
GOG.com automatically pull games upon receiving such notices, and that Valve
assures them those who already own the game can still play it. He says they are
working to make the game available for purchase once again, but that they will
have to lay off support staff in the meantime:
Unfortunately, rather than
relying on the legal system to resolve this, they have chosen to bypass it by
issuing vague DMCA take-down notices to Steam and GOG (who, btw, Reiche and Ford
are suing using GoFundMe money).
Steam and GOG both have a policy of taking down content that receive DMCA
notices regardless of the merits of the claims.
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.
For those not familiar with copyright law, you CANNOT copyright ideas,
individual or short phrases, concepts, mechanics, game designs, etc.
Star Control: Origins does not contain any copyrighted work of Reiche or Ford.
We spent 5 years working on it making it our own game. It very much plays like
you would expect a Star Control game. But that has nothing to do with copyright.
Stardock, for the record, owns the trademark to Star Control and the copyright
to Star Control 3 and Star Control: Origins has nothing to do with Reche and
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.