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NAMCO Takes Down Student Pac-man Project

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the chasing-ghosts dept.

Education 218

An anonymous reader writes "The core of how people first learn to do stuff — programming, music, writing, etc. — is to imitate others. It's one of the best ways to learn. Apparently a bunch of students using MIT's educational Scratch programming language understand this. But not everyone else does. NAMCO Bandai sent a takedown notice to MIT because some kids had recreated Pac-man with Scratch. The NAMCO letter is pretty condescending as well, noting that it understands the educational purpose of Scratch, but 'part of their education should include concern for the intellectual property of others.'"

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first post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33117014)

first post

Re:first post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33117084)

Really,
            "First Post" is so amateurish, you really need to go with something like "Frosty Piss" in the Subject Line and "Icy Cunt" in the text.

Re:first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33118082)

Mind your own business, you cock-smoking tea-bagger.

Play for free? (4, Insightful)

brainboyz (114458) | about 4 years ago | (#33117018)

Re:Play for free? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33117110)

Look at the source of the page:

"PAC-MAN's 30th Birthday! Doodle with PAC-MAN & ©1980 NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc."

Perhaps Google actually worked with NAMCO?

Re:Play for free? (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 4 years ago | (#33117112)

Makes me wonder if Google got the same take down notice??

Re:Play for free? (1)

loubs001 (1126973) | about 4 years ago | (#33117262)

I bet NAMCO would have loved to sue them. With Google's big fat wallets they're a mouthwatering target for lawyers. They'd probably win too. Imagine the settlement theyd get for all the millions and millions of people that played it. But no, There's no way Google would have made that without permission. They're not stupid. I expect they paid NAMCO a hefty sum for the right to make that. It shows how Google is willing to spend serious cash purely to show off how awesome they are. For all the great publicity it got them, I'd say it was well worth the investment.

Re:Play for free? (4, Funny)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about 4 years ago | (#33117268)

Makes me wonder if Google got the same take down notice??

No, it probably went like this:

Namco: I am big company! Hear me RAWR!
Google: I eat companies like you for breakfast. HEAR ME RAWR!!
Namco: *whimpers*
Google: Yeah, that's right. Back away slowly little one, else Imma buy you and get EVIL on your ass.

Okay, so it was probably done with more legal talk and less Rawrs, but that would have been the idea - or close to it.

Re:Play for free? (1)

OSDever (792851) | about 4 years ago | (#33117314)

I laughed... That being said, I wonder how much it would hurt Google if they actually needed to buy Namco for some reason (warning: theoretical situation with no base in reality.) Namco's gotten pretty big since the Pac-Man days.

Re:Play for free? (1)

BradleyAndersen (1195415) | about 4 years ago | (#33118376)

Google: Yeah, that's right. Back away slowly little one, else Imma buy you and get EVIL on yoh ass.

There. Fixed that foh ya.

Re:Play for free? (2, Insightful)

Restil (31903) | about 4 years ago | (#33118440)

It's also possible, that out of the blue, Google lawyers approach Namco, say they want to make a cool front-page gizmo that emulates a pacman game in light of the 30th anniversary, and works out a contract for the right to do it. Pacman being a classic, but old and relatively profit-less production at this point, probably allowed it for not much more than the name recognition, if that. Getting permission in advance is usually much easier, and besides, if pacman wasn't a realistic option, there are hundreds of other classic games that would work equally well for the educational experience, and certainly ONE of their companies would have allowed it.

Of course, if this were only a project that stayed in the classroom, Namco likely would never of heard of it.

-Restil

Re:Play for free? (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 4 years ago | (#33117994)

No, they just licensed the trademark from Namco. Much easier all round.

Re:Play for free? (4, Interesting)

cosm (1072588) | about 4 years ago | (#33117174)

Not everybody is a fan. [mashable.com]

Re:Play for free? (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about 4 years ago | (#33118666)

It was dumb of them to make the game start playing by default with sound enabled. I wonder how many calls they got in total.

How To Fix Namco's Outlook (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33117656)

We can fix this, guys.

Hi Everyone. I run an intellectual property exchange in the entertainment business. I've also been a hacker since age 11 in 1987 and cannot name a medium that I myself haven't pirated or hacked in some way. My exchange sells rights to companies like Namco and ABC and CBS for use in their productions. For example, if you wanted to use Brad Pitt's image or Wal Mart's storefront or Lady Gaga's "Alejandro" in your film, you actually have to negotiate with Pitt, Walmart or Lady Gaga's people to use their IP (song, image, brand) in your film. As far as the entertainment industry is concerned, there is no such thing as fair use because intra-industry everything is paid for. "The Deadliest Catch" has to pay Bon Jovi, for example, every time they play his music, according to a pre-negotiated arrangement with Bon Jovi. That means when "The Deadliest Catch" plays ONE SECOND of a Bon Jovi song (or less), DeadCatch and Discovery Networks owe Bon Jovi money.

I expect Bando Namcai to pay me when they use IP they buy on our exchange. I expect the same of ABC, CBS, NBC as well. These companies use IP to turn a profit.

By the same token I'm pretty sure that 90% of my gigs of MP3's and 100% of terabytes of films have been acquired by ripping. I am the pirate and the dealer. And you know what?

Everyone in Hollywood is.

That's a good thing. None of us would be able to hack nearly as well as we do were not for the Pirated Software Movement. Why does my company run on Windows that I now pay for? Because I pirated it as a kid and got hooked. (go ahead, snicker you uber geeks.) Now that I am an inventor and entrepreneur I expect businesses to pay for my own software that we write and intellectual inventions I sell them...but I expect consumers to pay for my *physical* inventions or my events. Youtube should pay royalties to Viacom....youtube is making some revenue on Viacom's IP. Should the user pay to license music or film in front of Wal Mart or wear a Brad Pitt mask in a video? I don't think so. I think that when certain ideas are introduced one cannot expect to collect on ALL usages of an idea. Many usages are simply a form of conversation and should be tolerated.

Ikea and even upscale furniture companies, for example, doesn't sue the sites that show you how to build furniture cheaply. It's a GOOD thing that those blogs exist as only the BEST and most USEFUL designs are copied. This an example of the great conversation of human ideas.

However, the entertainment industry IP is protected by a cadre of lawyers. Ironically we NEED the lawyers to protect us against one another, as Hollywood's negotiation ethic is "screw or be screwed." Unfortunately, my industry bretheren are so accustomed to ripping one another off that it is easy for the lawyers to trick us into paying for defense.

Now, I can't tell you who I am cuz I could lose a lot of business...but I do want to change the industry for the better. I do need to be sensitive myself though, as I sell to all the big media companies. Yet -- as Geeks are now a social force, we can start fixing this wrong mindset, but it will take a small swarm of us, acting regularly.

Bando Namcai is a big public company. They have offices in the USA and Japan. Figure out how to email the CEO and the board and everyone with a C-in the beginning of the title. The letter should be VERY professional and courteous, but stern. If a few people sent paper letters that would be EXTREMELY impacting. It is a social hack. When I want someone's attention I send a paper letter. It's an open port that big corporations overweight. It's one of the few ports where you can send a message to the management team and have ALL of senior management at huge companies hammering on their underlings to address your problem.

The nature of the letter should be as such. Identify yourself as a consumer of games, especially if you consume Bando Namcai Games like Soul Calibur, Tekken, etc... and indicate that you believe this policy is garnering bad press and will hurt sales. Indicate that the entire tech community is concerned and believes that if MIT is working on Pac-Man, that Bando Namcai should feel honored. Advise Namco to find a way to cooperate with the MIT department as it will improve relations with Game buyers."

The letter MUST be cogent and must be sent to the CEO and board. It needs to sound like it comes from a sane person who buys products. If you rant or yell you're simply writing bad code. Their brains are trained to accept proper grammar and a firm, but polite tone.

If they receive 5 paper letters to this effect they will likely begin to change their policy. Email may or may not help....you need to make sure you get the emails of the chief executives. Nobody under them will care. Paper letters nearly always get to the senior execs, no matter where those letters originate so the most accessible port via USPS.

Remember, make it clear you buy gaming products. All of us do. We all hack, and we all pirate -- but we all also buy MORE than ever before.

The consumption model is changing.

Let us, my Geek Bretheren, let Hollywood know.

(games count as Hollywood)

Regards,

The Black Fox

Want more information? (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | about 4 years ago | (#33117026)

Google it! [google.com]

More information! (5, Informative)

acomj (20611) | about 4 years ago | (#33117254)

This page is a detailed history of Pac Man, including history and information on the different ghosts move algorithms and speed changes... I find it interesting... Read it while you can, its hosted on comcast.....

http://home.comcast.net/~jpittman2/pacman/pacmandossier.html [comcast.net]

Re:Want more information? (2, Insightful)

Froboz23 (690392) | about 4 years ago | (#33118470)

Speaking of Google, I googled for user 124scratch, and found more of his evil deeds. If you thought NAMCO's response was bad, wait until Nintendo finds out that their beloved Donkey Kong has been reimplemented (a.k.a. pilfered!) Nintendo is on par with Disney for being protective about their copyrights.

http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/124scratch/1217451 [mit.edu]

It's buggy to be sure, but it has the foundations of a very good port. Which in this case, is a bad thing.

I'll stick with Atari 2600 coding, where the graphics are so primitive that modern video game companies couldn't even recognize their game has been ported. Hopefully I'll have Crysis 2600 ready in time for Christmas.

MIT just needs to make it a parody (5, Funny)

Anarchduke (1551707) | about 4 years ago | (#33117040)

Say, have NAMCOman eat the developing brains of college students while being chased by the ghosts of creativity. Then NAMCOman can eat a copy of the DMCA and kill off the creative spirits one by one.

Re:MIT just needs to make it a parody (1)

mkiwi (585287) | about 4 years ago | (#33117586)

Hey, at least NAMCO didn't force the student to wear a big scarlet ©

Re:MIT just needs to make it a parody (2, Funny)

Mantrid42 (972953) | about 4 years ago | (#33117608)

Reminds me of an old Penny Arcade comic [penny-arcade.com] .

Re:MIT just needs to make it a parody (1)

greggman (102198) | about 4 years ago | (#33118612)

Yes, because you know how like copying pacman is a super creative activity and shutting it down is stifling creativity. ::rolleyes::

man (0)

chibiace (898665) | about 4 years ago | (#33117042)

what a load of wankers.

Re:man (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 4 years ago | (#33117632)

My sons primary school teacher sometimes organizes the kids into a game she calls pac man. Its basically Tag with kids organized on a grid in the playground. Its real pac man in real life. I hope they don't get sued.

Re:man (1)

p3anut (1131451) | about 4 years ago | (#33118416)

Love it! So going to do this :P

O'RLY (2, Funny)

cosm (1072588) | about 4 years ago | (#33117056)

because some kids had recreated Pac-man from Scratch

Perhaps if this was the sentence the NAMCO lawyer had read, oh wait, things would have gone down the same.

part of their education should include concern for the intellectual property of others.'"

And part of our collective foots should be up NAMCO's ass.

Re:O'RLY (1)

mangu (126918) | about 4 years ago | (#33117340)

because some kids had recreated Pac-man from Scratch

Perhaps if this was the sentence the NAMCO lawyer had read, oh wait, things would have gone down the same.

Being lawyers, they should look at precedents [wikipedia.org] to realize that "look and feel" isn't "intellectual property".

Re:O'RLY (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#33118304)

Being lawyers, they should look at precedents to realize that "look and feel" isn't "intellectual property".

Namco would rely on Atari v. Philips [wikipedia.org] , a lawsuit over a Pac-Man clone that Atari (Namco's console licensee at the time) won. The difference between that and other look-and-feel cases you're thinking of (Apple v. Microsoft, Capcom v. Data East, and Lotus v. Borland) is that Pac-Man is an identifiable character, and identifiable characters have stronger copyright protection than elements whose form is dictated by function or by stereotype. One could replace Pac-Man and the ghost-monsters with original characters, like Nintendo did in one of the levels of WarioWare for Game Boy Advance, and have less of a chance of breaking copyright law.

But talk this over with your lawyer before acting on it.

Re:O'RLY (1)

AngryNick (891056) | about 4 years ago | (#33118782)

Well, my mom stood in line for an hour to buy the Atari 2600 version of Pacman [youtube.com] when it came out...and it SUCKED, even by 1982 standards. Namco should consider allowing the Scratch project to continue if for no other reason but as retribution for ripping off thousands of kids for that crappy port.

Re:O'RLY (1)

msauve (701917) | about 4 years ago | (#33118048)

part of their education should include concern for the intellectual property of others.

"Intellectual property?" I prefer the term "thought hoarding."

Bad news (1)

copponex (13876) | about 4 years ago | (#33117068)

If the empires of the past sought to control physical resources for their own gain, I don't think it takes too much imagination to see what the future holds for the information economy.

Also, I'm looking forward to all of the sci-fi book recommendations. Can I get them on my Kindle?

Re:Bad news (1)

rich90usa (1255170) | about 4 years ago | (#33117158)

You could get them on your Kindle, sure, but Amazon retains the right to remotely remove books from your Kindle at any time.

Re:Bad news (2, Insightful)

Ant P. (974313) | about 4 years ago | (#33118448)

If the empires of the past had guarded their "intellectual" "property" so jealously as these money-grubbing little cunts, we'd all be shitting in open trenches today.

what about the business majors? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33117090)

why aren't they being taught to respect the rights of others (fair use, etc)? why aren't they being taught that they can't have an indefinite free lunch in a free market? why aren't they being taught that broken business models propped up by government do everyone a disservice?

Re:what about the business majors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33117360)

Fuck. I am out of mod points.
Mod up.

Re:what about the business majors? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33117764)

Do Anonymous Cowards get mod points? Where are mine?

Re:what about the business majors? (0, Offtopic)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 4 years ago | (#33118122)

No, you don't. It's part of the rules.

Re:what about the business majors? (0, Offtopic)

icebraining (1313345) | about 4 years ago | (#33118678)

Don't worry, I don't have any for months either.

Re:what about the business majors? (4, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | about 4 years ago | (#33118012)

Because business is war, only restrained by law, and free of morals. Conventional morality is a liability in business.

The goal of business is profit, and if we would shape its behavior that must be done by imposing fear of punishment as a deterrent acts which we sufficiently disapprove. People respond to fear even if they are amoral. Be ready to inflict pain upon those you would have behave themselves.

Re:what about the business majors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33118152)

I agree. However, if this is the case, these people participating in this 'business' deserve neither respect nor obedience. I would also argue that their profits are being hurt because their financial incestuousness hurts the value of the currency itself...at least in the long run.

Re:what about the business majors? (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 4 years ago | (#33118170)

... fear of punishment has effectively been removed under the protection offered by corporate entities. "We were just doing our job" goes all the way to the top when it gets written into law that corporations must "serve the interests of the share holders" whatever that is interpreted to mean at any given moment. No one is responsible for their actions in a corporation.

Re:what about the business majors? (0, Redundant)

jimmydevice (699057) | about 4 years ago | (#33118276)

Why has couchslug not been modded up Insightful? Mods?

Standing on the shoulders of giants. (5, Insightful)

WoollyMittens (1065278) | about 4 years ago | (#33117118)

A vital part of human culture is that every generation of people can build upon the innovations of the previous. This is how we got from living in caves to reaching for the stars. Greedy corporations are systematically destroying this mechanism for their own personal gain. This must be stopped or our civilization will have no future. Lawrence Lessig dat a much better job at explaining this than I do: http://remix.lessig.org/ [lessig.org]

Re:Standing on the shoulders of giants. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33117386)

What have you ever created in your life? nothing.

It is actually the corporations that create, so why don't you stfu.

Re:Standing on the shoulders of giants. (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 4 years ago | (#33118130)

Good thing corporations don't have any people like him doing research, programming, architectural design, or anything else creative within the company. It's just done by ghosts.

Re:Standing on the shoulders of giants. (4, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | about 4 years ago | (#33117704)

Exactly. If Pac-Man was 3 or 4 years old and still sold on store shelves I would have infinitely more understanding and sympathy for the IP owners.

Over 20 years old, during which you had the opportunity to profit from your work, I have no sympathy at all. In fact, it goes from sympathy to loathing for all the reasons you outlined.

Re:Standing on the shoulders of giants. (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 4 years ago | (#33117730)

I wouldn't be surprised if it were still for sale - as a downloadable game for cell phones.

Re:Standing on the shoulders of giants. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33118184)

Pac-Man is still a viable bit of IP for NAMCO. I can go into stores like Wal-Mart and buy their products.

Oh sure, it's things like the PS2 game, but still, I think it's not beyond conception that they get value from their original work back in the 80s. Is that being negatively impacted by this game here? I don't know, and I doubt Namco can prove it either, but fortunately for them, the law doesn't require them to prove actual damages. All they need to do is point out how it's like their property, which...would seem pretty easy.

Re:Standing on the shoulders of giants. (1)

steelfood (895457) | about 4 years ago | (#33118052)

Imagine the consequences of Mozart suing Beethoven over the first 3 stanzas of Beethoven's First Piano Sonata.

Or for that matter, if copyright had dissuaded Beethoven from creating his Ninth Symphony.

Some of history's greatest pieces of music would never have been...

Re:Standing on the shoulders of giants. (1)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#33118316)

Imagine the consequences of Mozart suing Beethoven over the first 3 stanzas of Beethoven's First Piano Sonata.

Imagine George Harrison getting sued for a song he wrote because it matched the hook from a song that was already on the oldies station. Don't imagine; it happened [vwh.net] .

Or for that matter, if copyright had dissuaded Beethoven from creating his Ninth Symphony.

Some of history's greatest pieces of music would never have been...

I did the math [slashdot.org] in a past life.

Re:Standing on the shoulders of giants. (1)

dissy (172727) | about 4 years ago | (#33118538)

Some of history's greatest pieces of music would never have been...

I would like to take this time to give a moment of silence for the multiple orders of magnitude more music that will never be...

Oops, I just infringed on John Cage's [wikipedia.org] copyright of silence :/

Pretty ironic that Namcos lawyers most likely were infringing the same copyright, while writing the take down notice about MITs copyright infringement

The lawyers must be bored! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33117132)

So NAMCO told some college kids to take down a version of Pac-Man that they made. I'm pretty sure at this point they are not going to lose millions because these college students made there own version of Pac-Man.

"concern" (3, Insightful)

Josh Triplett (874994) | about 4 years ago | (#33117150)

part of their education should include concern for the intellectual property of others

Sounds like a good idea; they should learn to find intellectual property deeply concerning. These students already have, the hard way.

NAMCO stifling real world experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33117160)

it's in the title, but this is a perfect example of stifling the real world experience that these students gained from this project. after all, how else does work get done in the real world?

Don't hate the company, hate the lawyers... (3)

Kildjean (871084) | about 4 years ago | (#33117180)

It is sad that one of the oldest gaming companies in the world has become so shortsighted as to punish a group of students using as inspiration one of the best games ever made, by a bunch of students that want to honor "Pac-Man" by recreating it on Scratch. Not to sell it but to learn. Shame on you Namco (and your lawyers), too bad non of your games now are worth even pirating otherwise i would wish that to you.

Re:Don't hate the company, hate the lawyers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33117460)

A couple of points: if it was just to learn they wouldn't have posted it on a web site where it could get a take down notice. It must have been for either people to play, or people to see it and say, "wow, you guys are great!". Either way, doing it for learning purposes does not require putting it on a public web site where it can get a take down notice. The other thing is that these students learned about how companies misuse take down notices because they (the companies) know that people don't have the money to throw around that it takes to fight them.

Re:Don't hate the company, hate the lawyers... (1)

lavagolemking (1352431) | about 4 years ago | (#33117468)

I'd like to see them try suing over something like that. What exactly would their "losses" be? Was the code copy/pasted, or, what it sounds like to me, written from "Scratch" (no pun intended)?

I'm pretty sure NAMCO shouldn't be making waves. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33117194)

Based on their stock chart [google.com] , I'd say they are not long for this world.

Careful Bandai-Namco (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33117256)

Careful BANDAI-Namco.

The last thing you want is to have the internet turn its evil eye on you. Thousands of bored geeks looking for IP & copyright you infringe on. Sending informing emails to certain Texas law firms. Et cetera.

It's not a threat, it's a warning. For your own good.

One down ... (3, Funny)

StarDrifter (144026) | about 4 years ago | (#33117260)

One down, about 1620 more [google.com] to go.

anon coward bitch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33117294)

yeah - shit most of us learned by writing stuff like tic-tac-toe - so who has the cpryt on that? this is so stupid - they should be happy that after sooooooooo many years that people still like the game. they should be giving him a job!

NAMCO is right and our system is WRONG. (0)

Tei (520358) | about 4 years ago | (#33117308)

NAMCO can have the laws is part, but because our current system is broken. Lets destroy it!

Wait... (1)

Derosian (943622) | about 4 years ago | (#33117316)

Is there a parallel here between seeing a piece of art and recreating it in a new medium. That new piece is like the old piece but created with your flair and in your medium. Isn't this exactly the same, just with programming?

Re:Wait... (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33117654)

If you're doing that you have to be mindful otherwise you could end up in trouble. A painting of a photo for instance, or vice versa, would almost certainly have problems, however it really depends on how it's done. L.H.O.O.Q is sort of the canonical example, as the minor changes make for a very distinct message rather than being a copy of the Mona Lisa.

Do not see that as condescending (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 4 years ago | (#33117326)

To me that did not sound condescending - think of it from the lawyers point of view, they were actually attempting to give what they saw as really good advice! I know it came off kind of arrogant but I don't think that's what they were going for.

It's really true that part of an education is in fact realizing that some people have IP that they will vigorously defend, and that you need to perhaps think more about creating something truly original in order to avoid this issue.

Re:Do not see that as condescending (5, Interesting)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | about 4 years ago | (#33117848)

It's really true that part of an education is in fact realizing that some people have IP that they will vigorously defend, and that you need to perhaps think more about creating something truly original in order to avoid this issue.

Except of course that the true purpose of all the "intellectual property", as the mega-corps and their paid-for politicos envision it, is to prevent exactly that and to ensure that no innovation is possible without it "belonging" to one of the "gate keepers" of all future progress who are busily jockeying for the position in this aristocracy.

And it is already nearly so since every thing ever invented or created always builds on the cumulative knowledge of all the discoveries and developments of the past and the recent past is nearly completely patented, copyrighted and locked down. Locked down forever - for all practical purposes from the point of view of a person living less then 100 years.

Re:Do not see that as condescending (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 4 years ago | (#33118164)

Without patents, we wouldn't have a large portion of the innovation of today; with the current patent system gone amok, we won't have the innovation of tomorrow. Too many rights given to inventors (i.e. 100 year copyright terms) is bad; too few rights (you can't profit from your ideas because someone will just take it immediately) is just as bad.

Re:Do not see that as condescending (3, Insightful)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | about 4 years ago | (#33118394)

Without patents, we wouldn't have a large portion of the innovation of today;

That is merely an assertion of the "intellectual property" would-be landlords, in fact it is easily disproved: progress existed long before patents, in fact patents were present for something like the last 1% of recorded human history. And before you start talking about how fast that last bit developed, that has nothing whatsoever to do with patents but with easy access to and free exchange of information between scientists and inventors, the very thing that is now being restricted, combined with a critical mass of population density and transportation capabilities. Patents were simply inconsequential, having accounted for only a tiny part of the industrial output of that period, not to mention the fact that some industrial powers (I am looking at you USA) developed precisely because they ignored patents claimed by their former bosses (Britain in this case).

Re:Do not see that as condescending (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 4 years ago | (#33118650)

It also has to do with some motivation other than "less beatings" when you come up with something novel.

Look at the successes of a company like Stuller (jewelry business). Their operation is based around the premise that any employee who comes up with a way of saving the company money directly gets half of what the company saves for the first year. With that policy, they've become the single biggest wholesale supplier of findings and mountings, and one of the biggest for stones and finished jewelry. They were founded in 1970; 40 years to be the best in an industry from the founding date, largely because the concept that you, and only you, can be rewarded for your ideas is really novel the the last couple centuries.

If I have no motivation to come up with an idea, I'm not going to, plain and simple. That's a simple fact, and is a significant portion of the reason people think about how to make their lives easier, then sell their goods via infomercial rather than keep it to themselves. The total elimination of patents would bring the economy to a standstill- just the same as the current nonsense is slowing down progress.

Re:Do not see that as condescending (2, Interesting)

cpghost (719344) | about 4 years ago | (#33118224)

And it is already nearly so since every thing ever invented or created always builds on the cumulative knowledge of all the discoveries and developments of the past and the recent past is nearly completely patented, copyrighted and locked down. Locked down forever - for all practical purposes from the point of view of a person living less then 100 years.

Let's see it from an evolutionary standpoint: societies that allow themselves to be shackled, bound, and immobilized by excessive red tape (including all this IP nonsense) will ultimately go the way of the dodo. I.e. they will become extinct, while other, more dynamic societies, will arise and prosper and replace those dinosaurs that our societies have become.

Utter Bullshit, new ideas common and everywhere (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 4 years ago | (#33118800)

Except of course that the true purpose of all the "intellectual property", as the mega-corps and their paid-for politicos envision it, is to prevent exactly that and to ensure that no innovation is possible without it "belonging" to one of the "gate keepers" of all future progress

Come on. New ideas, new worlds (especially in gaming) are made all the time! Where are the scary boogity boo gatekeepers that blocked Doodle Jump? Or Braid?

I agree that the world would be better served by using the original term of copyright, to let old ideas have new life. But the long term grasp the huge companies have on said ideas simply strangles what they have; it simply does not preclude a vast world of new ideas from being born and seeming all the more fresh to a world that craves uniqueness and the unusual.

So I say, let Disney have the mouse for a billion trillion years. They can dance with that hoary skeleton until the end of time while the rest of the world moves past them, and they wonder why they in turn cannot come up with new ideas that work like Pixar can (yes I know technically Disney owns Pixar). And in time of course Disney gets it's own comeuppance, since it can no longer borrow liberally and freely from old treasured children's stories as they, too, are protected forever...

One leg to stand on (1)

roguegramma (982660) | about 4 years ago | (#33117348)

They are probably within their rights if the game is advertised as "pacman" because they will own a trademark to that. I don't know about the images of pacman; if they bothered to file these as a trademark too, they got a second leg to stand on.

Just rename the game as "Pingus Hunt", replace the pacman with a penguin, and the monsters with Bill G's, and no one can complain about their project.

Re:One leg to stand on (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 4 years ago | (#33117692)

Or just replace the pellets with cookies and call it Snack-Man [memebot.com] .

Let's look at this differently ... (0, Troll)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | about 4 years ago | (#33117426)

If the programmers in question had infringed on Linux copyrights and licensing, would /. be as quick to take their side?

Re:Let's look at this differently ... (1, Insightful)

ChrisMP1 (1130781) | about 4 years ago | (#33118610)

Yes, troll. If Tux the Linux penguin was trademarked, and they made a game involving Tux, nobody would give a damn. Shut up and quit trying to be an ass.

Re:Let's look at this differently ... (1)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | about 4 years ago | (#33118780)

Actually, I'm trying to make a serious point. IP laws don't just protect big, greedy, lazy corporations. They also protect everything under the various GPLs, the FreeBSD license, etc. That's the reason that Microsoft can't take Linux kernel 2.6.xx and call it theirs, or use it in a way that its license does not permit. You can't destroy one entity's copyright rights without damaging them for everyone.

Re:Let's look at this differently ... (1)

Mathonwy (160184) | about 4 years ago | (#33118644)

I would argue yes, actually!

Because maybe I'm projecting here, but I think that in the heart of most computer programmer nerds is the memory of how they started programming. So automatically the kid gets some slack, just because most us immediately think "haha, that reminds me of the time I tried to make _____ in BASIC, god my version sucked. Taught me to program though...."

So while I have some trouble imagining a scenario where a budding programmer accidentally violates the GPL or something, I think at the very least that many slashdot readers would be more inclined to say "wow, smart cookie of a kid!" and kindly tell him/her what they did wrong, rather than send a threatening legal letter.

Or at least that's how I hope it would go down?

Re:Let's look at this differently ... (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 4 years ago | (#33118790)

Except Linux is OSS, so it's not possible to infringe its copyrights and licensing by studying or reimplementing it. So the question wouldn't exist.

Learn better (-1, Troll)

Windwraith (932426) | about 4 years ago | (#33117436)

Learn by duplicating? Doesn't sound right to me.
My first game is being pretty much a massive thing, not a Mario/Tetris/Whatever clone. You don't have too much ambition if you just copy something else.
You got the hardest part done for you, in terms of design, mechanics and whatnot (contrary to popular belief, the actual coding is just the icing on the cake as I see it, specially nowadays where 3000+ libraries help with that). Plus, doing "your game" instead of "someone else's game coded by you" will make you a better programmer as I am experiencing myself. "The first game being a replica" is pretty much lost effort.
Learn by making something new. Plus no one will have motives to sue you that way. Everyone will benefit from that.
Anyway, the whole aspect of designing a game is fun by itself, making an engaging story, matching music and sound effects to obtain the desired results or convey actual emotions, making use of ambiance...you don't experience all that by cloning some NES/Arcade/Classic title.

Amusingly this is the motive most "Linux games suck" (quoting the general opinion). They are just mere clones except for a few of them. No wonder they "suck" if they don't venture into offering something new. "Copyright-friendly Mario" is just good for a play or two but it's unlikely to leave any impression at all (unless it's buggy). I am also seeing similar trends with the iPhone's app store, where a HUGE number of games are "copyright friendly" clones of existing games.

The tools and libraries (going into "coding a game whole" as opposed to "using game maker/rpg maker/pre-existing-engine-of-choice" that is even easier) that exist nowadays allow one single person to do the whole weight of a game with minimal effort, even without too much of an artistic talent. One can be coder and director with ease.

Re:Learn better (3, Interesting)

wkurzius (1014229) | about 4 years ago | (#33117766)

The reason answers exist in the back of math textbooks is not for cheating. They are there so you can check your methods and determine if you are going about things the right way.

One of my first programming experiences was making a tic-tac-toe game on the TI-83 my high school gave me. I knew the game already, I knew how it was supposed to look and work, and therefore allowed to me to concentrate on the method only. I had the answer, I just needed to figure out how to get there.

Scratch is a learning tool, aimed at elementary students, perhaps going into high school bit. Maybe the students (assuming they're students) shouldn't have posted the project online, but I encourage them to rip off every game they need to until they're comfortable enough to make their own.

Re:Learn better (1)

Windwraith (932426) | about 4 years ago | (#33118094)

Modded as troll...oh well. I was just pointing out that making new things is a more enriching experience, but read it as you want then.
Ahem, whatever.
But even if you are creating a new game, general basic mechanics like jumping, firing, steering a ship, etc, all have logical results that are, as the example you provide, just needing to figure how to get there. Even if doing something complex like material systems for items, movement of particles, or dynamic lighting, you do know the ideal outcome, allowing to get there equally. That you might need to research how to achieve such result, is exactly the same. A game is after all, the combination of several subsystems working together.

Namco makes a good point (3, Interesting)

Dachannien (617929) | about 4 years ago | (#33117472)

There really is a good lesson about intellectual property to learn here. No, it's not exactly the lesson Namco wants these students to learn, but in this overly litigious society, it's important for everyone getting an education in computer programming to learn about patents, copyrights, and trademarks, both in terms of how they work and in terms of what their limits are. After all, you can create a Pac-Man-like game without treading on Namco's turf, and programmers should take some time to learn just how to do this sort of thing.

No, they don't make a good point. (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 4 years ago | (#33117816)

They are being a bunch of whiney crybabies because somebody copied an *IDEA* that they had... Ideas are not copyrightable.

If the person had actually copied any of Namco's original Pacman code to make the game, then there would be copyright infringement. But that doesn't seem to have happened here... somebody just recreated it (no pun intended) from scratch.

Admittedly, there is still the trademark issue of "Pac Man", and it's only on that premise that they should have any claim whatsoever, but I notice that they didn't go after the other projects on the site that use the trademarked term (and at least one of them even uses the trademarked logo).

Re:No, they don't make a good point. (4, Insightful)

hyphz (179185) | about 4 years ago | (#33117900)

Well, I've taken a look at the site.

What it APPEARS has happened here is that NAMCO have _assumed_, based on the appearance of the site, that what's running on the site is actually a Java emulator running the Pac-Man ROM. I say that because a) the loading sequence that Scratch projects show when invoked via the web looks just like the startup for such a Java emulator, and b) there are still lots of pac-man games on the Scratch site that haven't been affected.

Alternatively, it could be the case that an evil-minded student rival reported the page to NAMCO. See, letting people infringe on your copyright just by turning a blind eye is ok; but if there's an actual paper trail proving that you _knew_ about the copyright infringement, you HAVE to take some legal action to enforce it - otherwise, your copyright can be overturned.

There is definitely something deeper here than what has been reported, and it may be worth reserving judgment until we know what it is.

Re:No, they don't make a good point. (3, Informative)

mark-t (151149) | about 4 years ago | (#33118066)

"if there's an actual paper trail proving that you _knew_ about the copyright infringement, you HAVE to take some legal action to enforce it - otherwise, your copyright can be overturned."

AFAIK, what you're describing happens only with trademarks, not copyrights, so I think you may be confusing the two. At most, people that the copyright holder does not take rightful action against might be construed as having been given implicit permission to copy the work, but that should not remotely affect future cases against other people.

Re:No, they don't make a good point. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33118120)

Oh GODS! Namco can loose their copyright if they don't C&D right now!!! Oh wait that is just for trademarks, you know like making a "zerox" instead of "copy machine copy" or whatever you call it. And just for the sake of argument lets assume you are not a complete moron, and are right about having to defend your copy rights or loose them. Namco could of chosen not to be complete douche-nozzles and given the students limited permission to use the copyrighted material. So what really APPEARS to have happened here is you got your Rand all mixed up in your fanboyism. Sorry I cant help you with that. That's how to troll, noob.

Trademark and sprite ripping (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33117540)

There is another PACMAN in scratch [mit.edu] if you search you'll find a dozen of them.

One of the key differences between those and 124Scratch's version is he used the original sprites from the game. Using those game sprites is a gray area when it comes to fair use (there are like 3 or so basic sprites, hard to copyright such little IP). But the real problem is trademark. NAMCO has a trademark on the PAC-MAN and the ghosts. They license those trademarks often. And in trademark it is protect it or lose it. Every poor student they ignore is a wedge for a some cheap ass software company to use as cover in a court case. Imagine every cheap cell phone with an identical rip-off of pac-man on it, except junky and hard to control. We expect the NAMCO PAC-MAN brand to be a certain quality (although the 3D ones pretty much sucked in terms of gameplay, so maybe not anymore).

Anyways trademark is there for a company to protect their brand. Establishing a brand costs money and maintaining it costs money, it has value and therefor should be protected. And as soon as a company no longer cares about their brand it ceases to be protected. It's a fairer system than the copyright system, in the sense that it actually ends. (copyright lasts like 10,000 years now?)

Mod parent insightful/informative (1)

OneAhead (1495535) | about 4 years ago | (#33118594)

While I always enjoy a good round of DMCA-abuse-bashing, it seems like parent is spot on, and that in this particular case, NAMCO is not overstepping the boundaries of decency. In other words, move on people, nothing to see here.

Part of Our Education (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 4 years ago | (#33117584)

Should include what's broken with current IP law, so that when you get out of school and become a member of the voting public you can be sure to ask you congressman to fix it. Or run for office and fix it yourself.

Just call it (1)

future assassin (639396) | about 4 years ago | (#33117646)

Pill-Man

If they made it from scratch.... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 4 years ago | (#33117732)

... (no pun intended) then, by definition, it is not a copy in any sense of the term that would be applicable to copyright.

It may infringe on trademarks if it used those...

But you can't copyright an idea. It's unfortunate that it appears to have been taken down

Ridiculous. (1)

John Pfeiffer (454131) | about 4 years ago | (#33117924)

Somewhere in the federally-declared disaster area I call an apartment, I have an old programming book that details remaking various arcade classics...on the Commodore 64. I'm not sure, but Pac-Man might have been among them. I guess times change.

Perhaps "Streisand Effect" is another good tag... (1)

_0rm_ (1638559) | about 4 years ago | (#33118076)

Because I personally feel like retaliating. Thats bullshit NAMCO!!!

NAMCO was right in this case (2, Interesting)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | about 4 years ago | (#33118206)

The core of how people first learn to do stuff — programming, music, writing, etc. — is to imitate others. It's one of the best ways to learn

Correct, and I did my share of imitating other's games when I was learning. However, I didn't use the same name as the original, and I didn't take copyrighted artwork or music from the originals.

Using the same name is a clear trademark violation, and NAMCO has to tell them to stop, or they risk losing their trademark here.

As far as copyright goes, you can't copyright the idea of a "be chased around a maze while gathering prizes, and have power-ups that sometimes let you chase the monsters" game. However, there are a lot of ways to express that idea in a game, and copyright protects NAMCO's particular expression. There's plenty of room left for someone to do a similar game, but different enough that it incorporates no protected elements. From the descriptions i've read from people who played it before it was taken down, they did not stray far at all from NAMCO's particular expression.

A damned good case can be made that learning how to imitate the idea of something without copying the expression is an important skill that any professional or serious programmer should learn.

The best things in life are free (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | about 4 years ago | (#33118292)

Intern to troll the interwebs for "violations": $40
Information infrastructure to hand it to a lawyer without thinking about the consequences: $20,000,000
Lawyer to send a nasty letter: $400
Telling MIT how to teach: Priceless

COME ON NAMCO (1)

Icegryphon (715550) | about 4 years ago | (#33118396)

Dang guys, you can't be doing this, I am a devoted fan.
I love Tekken, Soul Calibur, Even Ridge racer is still kind of cool.
NOT COOL GUYS, NOT COOL!
I am still mad at SF4 x Tekken(and vice versa), But I can deal with it.
I dropped capcom for all the stupid crap they have done.
Don't go pissing off your fanbase or we will spend our money elsewhere.

Proposed Federal Law "fair use act" (1)

voss (52565) | about 4 years ago | (#33118690)

1) The non-commercial use of a trademark for educational purposes shall not invalidate said trademark
2) The limited use of copyrighted media in a classroom setting consisting of low resolution pictures or video and music clips less than 30 seconds in length for educational purposes shall not be construed as a violation of copyright
3) Any copyrighted book, magazine, DVD, or computer code, that has been out of print or removed from sale for at least 5 years may be duplicated
for non-commercial,educational, and/or archival purposes.

If you stand on the shoulders of giants (1)

houghi (78078) | about 4 years ago | (#33118752)

nowadays you need to pay them.

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