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Blizzard Won't Stop World of StarCraft Mod

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the uncrossing-wires dept.

Real Time Strategy (Games) 129

On Wednesday we discussed news of an impressive-looking mod for StarCraft II that transformed the game into a WoW lookalike, which quickly drew a copyright infringement warning from Activision Blizzard. The company has now released an official statement green-lighting the mod for continued development. "'It was never our intention to stop development on the mod or discourage the community from expressing their creativity through the StarCraft II editor,' Blizzard said in a statement. 'As always, we actively encourage development of custom maps and mods for StarCraft II, as we've done with our strategy games in the past.' Blizzard went on the say that it's looking forward to seeing development of the mod continue, and that it has invited Winzen to the company's campus to meet the game's development team."

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LAST!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949708)

For now, anyway.

Re:LAST!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34949738)

You fucking asshole.

I was going to get first post.

Re:LAST!!! (0)

flyingkillerrobots (1865630) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950908)

I think he was going for 'funny'.

So basically... (5, Interesting)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949714)

Blizzard first gets you intimidated by their figurative muscle, before the Don walks up to you, making you an offer you can't refuse?

Re:So basically... (5, Insightful)

MartijnL (785261) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949750)

Blizzard first gets you intimidated by their figurative muscle, before the Don walks up to you, making you an offer you can't refuse?

Basically Activision Legal fires off the first shot before people with real brains realize the potential for something like this. The people with the brains probably did not know this existed before the C&D became news.

Re:So basically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34949786)

These are good inhouse attorneys doing their due diligence. Clearly there is no practical risk for Bliz to send this C+D as they can simply withdraw it, but in the event that they did choose to pursue the C+D it is important from an equitable standpoint to show that they made an early effort to stop the infringement.

Re:So basically... (4, Interesting)

MartijnL (785261) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949814)

Doing your due diligence as an attorney could also mean backchecking this with Blizzard first and *then* firing off the C&D if it is still wanted. I'm sure Legal would have the means to check this quickly with someone like Pardo or Metzen or even Morhaime.

Re:So basically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34949894)

I think he's right.

Developers, managers, everyone in the company has his own job to do.

Think of how many trademark and copyright issues such a company deals with. Must the lawyers keep other people out of their work to ask about everything?

Then, they might as well do it themselves. Which leaves the question: Why don't they replace the lawyers?

Re:So basically... (2)

PhrstBrn (751463) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949946)

Given that these lawyers probably send out thousands of C&D letters every week, I doubt the lawyers are required to check anything with Blizzard before sending a C&D. They are probably given a profile and just send out C&Ds to every game and mod that fit the profile.

If they checked everything first it would take several times the manpower to verify every claim, and when in doubt, it's easier to just retract a C&D later rather than fact check everything beforehand.

Re:So basically... (4, Informative)

pelrun (25021) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950098)

Except when you send out a C&D that gets your law firm fired [boingboing.net] ...

Seriously, a little due diligence goes a long way here.

Re:So basically... (2)

PhrstBrn (751463) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950176)

Except when you send out a C&D that gets your law firm fired [boingboing.net] ...

Seriously, a little due diligence goes a long way here.

You can't be serious.... right? You're comparing a law firm who sends C&D over a phrase which is clearly not a proper noun (as it wasn't capitalized), nor was referring to their client in the context, to a law firm who sends a C&D about game mod, which has a similar name to two of their client's existing IPs (and is a clear play on words of both IPs), uses the assets from one IP, and is trying to copy the other IP? Blizzard has more than plenty legal justification to send a C&D.

Some "due diligence" could have been done on the behalf of the mod's author. He could have called his mod "Secrets of the Lost Widgets" (or more likely something more creative) that didn't use Blizzard's characters or IP (only using the ingame assets which he is allowed to use as per the Map Editor license) and avoided the hammer altogether.

Re:So basically... (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950406)

It's kind of funny that they send out a C&D for something that will probably only make them more money. If the mod was for some other company's game then it would make sense, but when it's a mod for one of their own games, they really have nothing to lose at all.

The lawyers might not have the authority to make that call of course, but it appears that at least somebody in there has some business brains. I don't play Starcraft or WoW, and probably never will, but I'm glad they're at least giving the guy a tour, considering how much money he's potentially making them if this thing is a hit with the WoW fraternity.

Re:So basically... (1)

mrxak (727974) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950694)

Yeah... except Blizzard doesn't want WoW players to cancel their subscriptions to go play World of Starcraft. Their big money-maker is people's monthly subscription fees, not a one-time payment and free use of battle.net.

But, on principle, and probably in reality too, a Starcraft mod that throws around some other Blizzard trademarks isn't really a big deal for Blizzard's bottom line.

Re:So basically... (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951004)

I don't know much about Starcraft, but I don't think this will be taking away from WoW any more than a remake of Super Mario in LittleBigPlanet would stop people playing the real Super Mario games. It will however be good advertising for the game and its mod-ability. I think it's win-win for Blizzard.

Besides, I don't see how this game would even be an MMO if it's just a Starcraft mod using the built in editing tools (I haven't played the latest Starcraft, but I'd have thought it was probably limited to say 4 or at a stretch 8 player online matches).

Re:So basically... (2)

dintech (998802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950218)

These days, any externally facing facet of your organisation can be part of its PR. If you have lawyers acting for your company, your lawyers become your PR. That's dangerous. I hope they learned a lesson here.

Re:So basically... (1)

Anonymusing (1450747) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950390)

These days, any externally facing facet of your organisation can be part of its PR. If you have lawyers acting for your company, your lawyers become your PR. That's dangerous. I hope they learned a lesson here.

Amen. Truth is, everyone at your organization engages in PR. Every single one. If your least valuable employee suddenly goes crazy and sends bombs in the mail to politicians, guess what: it's PR.

Re:So basically... (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950262)

All they need to do is check with them if it is a harmless mod. They don't have to check with them about everything else.

Re:So basically... (1)

Saint Gerbil (1155665) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950116)

Blizzard have to send out a C+D in order to be seen to be protecting their IP otherwise another company could steal their ideas and claim that since they haven't protected their IP in the past they shouldn't be able to in the future.

Standard practice send out C+D then withdraw it.

Re:So basically... (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950180)

I thought the requirement to defend only applied to trademarks?

Re:So basically... (1)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950496)

I thought the requirement to defend only applied to trademarks?

AFAIK, that's correct, but only in the sense that if you don't defend a trademark you lose it. However someone else mentioned something equally important: Under equity law, you can't sit on your claim until it best suits you to bring it forward. If they were to want to quash the mod later on, and the mod authors could make a reasonable claim that Blizzard had known about the mod for a while, that might mean trouble for Blizzard. (IANAL, etc etc)

Re:So basically... (0)

cbope (130292) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950242)

Just because it's "standard practice", does not make it the right thing to do. Would you prefer that the police shoot first and then ask questions later? Perhaps they can withdraw their bullets?

This is irresponsible behavior by the Bliz legal department at best. We are talking about someone's reputation here, and a C&D letter, even if retracted, will always be a tarnish mark.

Think about people who have been imprisoned for crimes they did not commit based on bad evidence or mis-trial, and then later released after appeals or a re-trial that proves their innocence. Even though they are no longer guilty of a crime within the legal system, they have the original conviction on their record and subsequently will have difficulties getting a job for the rest of their life. Even a full pardon, which is rarely granted, does not erase the harm done to the individual.

Re:So basically... (4, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950452)

This is not a tarnish on the guy's career. This is a major advertising event which could potentially get him noticed and get him a great job and a big gaming studio.

How you can compare one polite warning (not even a charge) - quickly retracted no less - to shooting someone or putting them in prison, I don't know.

Re:So basically... (1)

HexOxide (1375611) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951234)

Easy! He's on the internet!

Re:So basically... (1)

eth1 (94901) | more than 3 years ago | (#34953580)

... a great job and a big gaming studio.

Isn't this an oxymoron, or something?

Re:So basically... (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34953834)

I meant to write "at a big gaming studio" :/

Re:So basically... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34949800)

Still wrong. The C&D was only ever over trademark issues, not over the mod itself. Which should be bloody obvious if anyone on the internet would stop long enough to read or think things through before making up conclusions.

Re:So basically... (1, Offtopic)

ThanatosST (1896176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949836)

Read or think things through before making up conclusions? Surely you jest, good sir! Why, this is /. after all; why should we let something petty like facts or logic get in the way of a perfectly good nerd-rage?

Re:So basically... (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949828)

One would think they'd kick their legal teams in the balls for that one. Would it have been so hard to point this out to the developers before hitting that big, red C&D button? Marketing should have a field day kicking them in the 'nads right about now.

At least, if they do their jobs.

This is not a Chinese company selling pirated copies or anything, but a community member using Blizzard tools to create content. How that would ever warrant a C&D is beyond me and I have a hard time believing their legal monkeys don't know that difference.

Re:So basically... (5, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950636)

This is not a Chinese company selling pirated copies or anything, but a community member using Blizzard tools to create content. How that would ever warrant a C&D is beyond me and I have a hard time believing their legal monkeys don't know that difference.

Trademarks must be vigorously defended in the United States or you risk losing them. Not copyright, copyright you retain regardless of your desire to use it.

In this way, Trademarks are actually a bit more sane as they require the company to invest a little bit of effort and time in order to maintain them. Let it sit on a shelf, or be neglectful and you lose your right to it if someone else starts extracting some value from the item. It is this way because you can Trademark some seemingly generic terms and keeps people from just trademarking everything in the dictionary (for what, $200 registration?) and then suing everyone.

So, back to Activision.

They own trademarks on Starcraft, and World of Warcraft. Someone comes along and makes a game called World of Starcraft. A mashup of two trademarks which is built on products sold by the company that owns the aforementioned trademarks.

It is incredibly easy to imagine that if a person were to come across this mod or its website that someone would consider the connection between the brand Starcraft, and the brand Warcraft. In fact, that WAS the literal intention of the creator of this mod. His goal in choosing the name was to link Starcraft, and World of Warcraft.

So, in this legal system where you have to vigorously defend your trademark or lose it. You have someone which clearly used two trademarked names in the promotion of his product. If the lawyers DIDN'T respond to this they wouldn't be doing their jobs.

Now, perhaps they could have been a bit more clear in their C&D, but that would open them up to liability. How you ask? What if they said:

"Stop using these trademarked terms until you get permission to use them"

A hell of a lot nicer yes? Except that it could imply that they might be granted permission. If they go through the hassle of trying to request permission, only to find that there is some policy in place that prohibits granting permission to use the trademarks to entities such as themselves then they may have grounds, however slim, to suggest that Activision was simply dicking them around and wasting their time/money. Waste someone's time and money like that and you have the potential for a lawsuit.

So, A Cease and Desist letter is a perfectly reasonable thing to expect when using trademarks in an unauthorized fashion.

Had they called their mod "Our New MMO" and they received a Cease and Desist, I'd consider it outrageous, but as it is, they should have expected one.

Re:So basically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34953358)

The vigorous defense and needing permission theory is nice....but its a mod for a Blizzard released game using blizzard released tools. You would think permission is implied by the creation and release of such tools.

With that said, I'm glad someone at blizzard saw the case, realized the lawyers were being boneheads, and actually had the power to reverse it and go into damage control mode so quickly. It's actually a good sign that at least some people in the company in positions of authority still have their heads on straight.

Re:So basically... (1)

jammer170 (895458) | more than 3 years ago | (#34953452)

All of that would make sense except for the tiny fact that this was a modification of Starcraft (hence, naming it anything with Starcraft in the title is hardly diluting the trademark, and needs no defending). It was also being made with Starcraft editing tools, and could only be used within the Starcraft game, on the Starcraft multi-player service Battle.net, owned by Blizzard. The only one of your statements that might have any weight is "World of", but many things have "World of" in the title (Worlds of Ultima, anyone?), and given that Blizzard owns the trademarks under question, arguing that this is diluting the trademark is insane.

While, like you, I generally agree with the reasonable defense of trademarks, this goes beyond reasonable. It isn't benefiting another company, and it isn't associating any of the trademarks with anything really beyond what it is already associated with. This is just another example of a legal department run amok.

Re:So basically... (3, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949840)

I think more than being concerned about the game mod per se, they were really mostly concerned about a semi-viable product using Starcraft in its name. In other words, more trademark concerns than copyright.

Re:So basically... (3, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950478)

I think more than being concerned about the game mod per se, they were really mostly concerned about a semi-viable product using Starcraft in its name.

Yeah, a Starcraft mod with Starcraft in the name is a dangerous thing that should be stricken down with no mercy.

Seems it's more the "World of" bit that's the issue here.

Re:So basically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34952650)

Trademarks must be defended, otherwise they are lost. You are a fucking idiot.

Re:So basically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34953454)

Is 'world of' a trademark? If so there's a whole load of business that Blizz better get suing!

Starcraft certainly is a TM - but then it was a mod of starcraft, that required the fucking game to play. It would be hard not to mention the damn thing.

Re:So basically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34953542)

How is it hard to not mention it in the mod's title?

I guess this is why there's so many idiots defending the other guy - because he's an idiot too. Do you guys form clubs or something? Unless you're under the age of 5, you should realize that naming your mod after, a. the first half of a company's MMORPG b. the title of a company's most successful game, is a fucking dumb idea.

Re:So basically... (0)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34953470)

So the words "World of" are a trademark owned by Activision? Why didn't they go after World of Goo?

The summary clearly says this was about copyright and not trademarks.

Dumbass.

Re:So basically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34953598)

Not that it changes much, because they'll obviously still want to protect their assets, especially for a game concept that they might already have planned. The mod author is a tool for thinking this would work without at LEAST talking to Blizzard lawyers. They handled this like they should, perfectly. Idiot dumbass.

Re:So basically... (0)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34953928)

I didn't say or even imply in any of my comments that they handled it badly, in fact it's quite the opposite.

I'd appreciate if you could try to engage your brain before writing another comment.

Re:So basically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34953718)

Who gives a crap what the summary says? Reporting is often far from the actual truth.

Re:So basically... (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#34953800)

The summary clearly says this was about copyright and not trademarks.

Summary is full of crap, as it never (either in this or prior article) linked to ANY warnings by Activision/Blizzard. Nowhere in this or the prior articles do I see any C&D, or anything more than what appears to be a forum rant by the mods creator.

Im really not sure where this story came from; it appears that Blizzard is just as confused as I am, and unless someone can produce said C&D Im not sure why I am expected to believe it exists.

Re:So basically... (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#34953756)

Kind of like how canonical asks that people not use the -buntu suffix on non-official remixes of their distro? Seems kind of reasonable to me.

Re:So basically... (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 3 years ago | (#34953892)

Yes because 2D Boy would be very upset.

I think these trademark fights are retarded.

If I want to make a product called "Smoka-Bowla" I shouldn't have to worried about getting sued by Coke.

For those trying to actually knock off a product yes, I can see the use. So no if I am creating a soft drink, that is a cola, that uses a red and white label that also have a similar logo swoosh as coke AND I want to call my self "Soka-Cola", then yes perhaps they might have a point. Simply having a name or a phrase however in my view isn't enough.

Of course this case is even more stupid as they are using the editor tools provided to customers to do exactly that, create more content. Obviously in this case some inexperienced or paranoid lawyer got a little trigger happy.

Re:So basically... (1)

Dan B. (20610) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949982)

I'd say you are pretty spot on with that train of thought. Like many big corporates, the overlords are so disconnected from the worker bees and other talent that they don't even know where or what they sell.

It mist have been someone like Morheim that went in to the top brass and slammed the 'bad press' in their face resulting in the official turn around, plus the bonus "show of good faith" with the invite to Irvine.

Re:So basically... (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950490)

Not to mention pointing out that the mod is for one of their own games, and if anything is just going to make them more money.

Re:So basically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34950724)

This right here. It happens all the time sadly.

I remember some lawyers from Associated Press sent C&D and DMCAs to their OWN YOUTUBE VIDEOS because the idiot lawyers never knew there was an official channel.

Companies need to control their lawyers, or at least make it official policy to Tell The Guy In Charge. (or gal)

Re:So basically... (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949872)

I'm guessing the muscle-flexing is just a way of saying "Hey, we're okay with you using some of our IP for your mod, but don't try to make a profit out of it or we'll come after you".

Re:So basically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34949900)

Either that or the Slashdot effect kicks in (kicks them in the shins a couple thousand times), and they realize that 'gee, maybe the mod ain't so bad after all'. But its more likely that some zealous suit came along, saw an opportunity to bark like a dog, barked, the owners of the house came to see what the dog was barking at, realized that it was someone trying to deliver something good, yelled at the dog 'shaddup', followed by putting the dog in the doghouse with the door shut, and then calling to the stranger from the open back door 'its ok, the pooch is locked up now and won't bother you anymore; come in and have a beer'.

Re:So basically... (1)

davev2.0 (1873518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951138)

No, dumbass, They were protecting their trade marks, World of Warcraft and Starcraft. If one does not defend one's trademark, one loses exclusive use of the trademark. Don't believe me? Try asking any of the companies that have lost trademarks [wikipedia.org] Kleenex about it.

Now, STFU about shit you are ignorant about.

Re:So basically... (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951810)

Kleenex still has their trademark, according to your source. If you're going to be hostile and condescending, you should probably have your facts straight... :/

Re:So basically... (1)

davev2.0 (1873518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951958)

Kleenex has spent millions of dollars KEEPING their trademark by suing people trying to use their trademark.

As it is, part of my post is missing, the line should read "Try asking any of the companies that have lost trademarks or Xerox or Kleenex about it. "

Mixed messages (5, Funny)

senorpoco (1396603) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949776)

I know that I always preface an invitation to dinner with a petty lawsuit. It gives us something to talk about if the conversation runs dry.

Kick them in the ding ding (0)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949784)

The official response comes one day after the company had video of the mod removed from YouTube, a move the company says was part of its routine procedure while reaching out to "discuss with the developer what the mod entailed."

So, to encourage development, they kick people in the ding ding before inviting them to continue doing a good job?

Pardon me while I flip blizzard off.

Re:Kick them in the ding ding (2)

Xveers (1003463) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949850)

No, their first priority is protection of their own IP which they must defend vigorously. Any unofficial "blessing" or slack with that takedown can be used as a chink in their case to retain the IP at a later legal engagement. Rather unlikely, but the law is not filled with many absolute certainties.

I'm certain that the first comment from Blizzard (and not their lawyers) to him was "We apologize for the takedown, but we have to cover our bases. Now, please tell us more about your project. We're a bit curious..." Once actual intent is discovered and identified, I'm willing to bet that they've extended a formal notice of approval to allow him to continue work, and posting videos in the future. Mark my words, in a few days that video will be back up on youtube.

Re:Kick them in the ding ding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34949910)

No, their first priority is protection of their own IP which they must defend vigorously. Any unofficial "blessing" or slack with that takedown can be used as a chink in their case to retain the IP at a later legal engagement. Rather unlikely, but the law is not filled with many absolute certainties.

What the hell is "IP"?

Copyright does not require defense, neither do patents. Knowingly allowing infringement then changing your mind may trap you in a problematic situation but it does not affect the integrity of the patent/copyright with regards to anyone other than the defendant.

The only thing that makes sense is trademark infringement which still doesn't make sense to me since the game was a mod for StarCraft 2, anyone who wanted to get the mod would instantly learn about the original game if they didn't know already. As far as defending trademarks go, a generic C&D is a pretty retarded way to do it — apparently it would have killed their lawyers to add a sentence saying "'StarCraft' is a registered trademark of Activision Blizzard, we require you to cease using it immediately".

Re:Kick them in the ding ding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34950044)

I think it was in response to their use of 'World of ___craft' rather than their use of Starcraft, which is itself a reference to the game the mod is designed for.

Re:Kick them in the ding ding (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950238)

No, their first priority is protection of their own IP which they must defend vigorously. Any unofficial "blessing" or slack with that takedown can be used as a chink in their case to retain the IP at a later legal engagement. Rather unlikely, but the law is not filled with many absolute certainties.

What the hell is "IP"?

In this case, GP is likely referring to trademarks, while do require enforcement to remain valid.

Re:Kick them in the ding ding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34950550)

No, their first priority is protection of their own IP which they must defend vigorously. Any unofficial "blessing" or slack with that takedown can be used as a chink in their case to retain the IP at a later legal engagement.

While most companies behave as if this was actually true, it isn't. They can just license the trademark to the mod-maker for some very specific, (even commercial) use, and retain all other uses and rights of that trademark without any limitations whatsoever. They can even grant this license free of cost - doesn't make a difference.

obligatory (1)

Anonymusing (1450747) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950414)

Shoot first, ask questions later.

Also: no good deed goes unpunished.

Remind me not to discuss stuff with Blizzard (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949830)

The official response comes one day after the company had video of the mod removed from YouTube, a move the company says was part of its routine procedure while reaching out to "discuss with the developer what the mod entailed."

If this is how they reach out to discuss things, I think I'd just rather have left the things unsaid.

At least (1)

mvar (1386987) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949842)

This mod got a lot of publicity and the modder(s) will probably find a job pretty easily in the gaming industry.


FTFA:
In the meantime, a representative from League of Legends developer Riot Games has reportedly reached out to Winzen to speak "about potentially working for Riotgames [sic]."

Re:At least (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949886)

The modder should tell them to fuck off and cease development on the project.

Re:At least (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34949986)

Why? Because you're all whiny and pissed off? He's getting the chance to schmooze with folks, make connections, and probably had personal contact with the people involved, not just second and third-hand reports.

Nothing bad happened to him, no great injustice was performed, simply a case of legal business being worked out.

This is no different than say the FSF working with some company over GPL compliance. The sensible course is not to get worked up, but to properly handle affairs with restraint.

Re:At least (0)

werewolf1031 (869837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950224)

I heard once that the end of the universe will be predicated by the appearance of a rational AC who puts forth a reasonable argument.


...oh, shit! THE END IS NIGH!



But seriously dude, get a /. handle. Need more like you 'round these parts.

Re:At least (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34950608)

He's getting the chance to schmooze with folks, make connections, and probably had personal contact with the people involved, not just second and third-hand reports.

If this was me, I would pull the mod, give B/A the finger and accept the job offer from Riot (or other offers that might be flung my way). It's a principle thing, and Blizzard's damage control afterwards wouldn't mean a thing.

Nothing bad happened to him, no great injustice was performed, simply a case of legal business being worked out.

That it's SOP doesn't make it any more defendable [despair.com] .

This is no different than say the FSF working with some company over GPL compliance.

Except that the FSF does its due diligence before firing shots off the bow.

The sensible course is not to get worked up, but to properly handle affairs with restraint.

Indeed.

Full Statement (5, Informative)

pgn674 (995941) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949878)

Here is the full statement from Blizzard: www.GameInformer.com - Blizzard Responds To World Of StarCraft Mod [gameinformer.com]

Re:Full Statement (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950432)

I can see that Blizzard may have some concerns about the title of the project, but this seems a shitty way of opening negotiations.

It would have been easier to contact the developers saying that you have such concerns, and can you discuss them before the legal department sends out the nastygrams.

Re:Full Statement (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950668)

They are legally required to respond in such a way. An entity was using their trademark in a non-authorized manner. Anything less than a cease and desist could be used by other entities as a claim that Activision was not vigorously defending their trademarks and therefore, that Activision loses the right to the World of... and possibly Starcraft trademarks.

You think any company would dare risk losing the World of ...craft trademark at this point?

Not really (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950750)

They're not legally required to act in this way.

As long as they take action with respect to protecting their trademarks, they are defending it; it was perfectly within their remit to open talks on a less formal basis before the heavy handed approach.

Re:Full Statement (1)

Zorpheus (857617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950436)

They should have added the word "sorry" somewhere. That would have made it a lot better...

Re:Full Statement (1)

jammer170 (895458) | more than 3 years ago | (#34953524)

I noticed they didn't mention or apologize for the cease and desist letter.

naturally, (1)

Paradigma11 (645246) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949898)

blizzard did not want the title "World of Starcraft" be associated with a product they dont have a real influence in. why should they allow such a title and then realize in 5-10 years that they want to make a new mmorpg with the same title but google searches will return links to the old sc2 mod. it's about trademark and not copyrights.

This (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34949926)

It seems like no one has considered the possiblity that Blizzard might actually ALREADY be working on/planning their own World of Starcraft, which would make this a pre-emptive (and I'd argue justified) protection of their branding. Not that the mod people did anything wrong, but it's in Blizzards interests to protect themselves on this one.

Re:This (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34950156)

I just searched the USPTO and was hugely disappointed when 'World of Starcraft' didn't show up.

Not that it really needs to, what with Starcraft in the name, and considering this mod's relation to video games.

Re:This (1)

werewolf1031 (869837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950236)

I think you were searching the wrong office. You probably want copyrights, not patents.

Re:This (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34950400)

The T in USPTO stands for Trademark.

Re:This (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34950434)

And I'm probably an idiot too, since you actually need a living breathing product to establish a valid trademark. Yup, copyright would be better, since it's often registered way before.

Re:This (1)

boxwood (1742976) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950548)

What about trademarks? Note the "T" in USPTO

So what does this mean? (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949966)

That the mod has to change name to avoid infringing on some trademark? Change art assets to avoid WoW infringement?

I mean, they never withdrew what they said first, just that they like development to continue.

If they mean that it's OK to use WoW art and music as public domain assets, that'd be news and unique for coming from Blizzard.

Re:So what does this mean? (1)

werewolf1031 (869837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950240)

The "World of Starcraft" mod for Starcraft II used only Starcraft assets, not WoW assets. At least, from the videos I've seen and from what I've read. I think you're confused?

Bad strategy (4, Insightful)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34949996)

Okay, this is very simple. Blizzard, your process is messed up. If you're looking at mods as being possibly infringing, you should have a customer liason to handle that. Hell, someone whose job description is working with the modder community. When dealing with competing companies, legal notices are routine. When you're dealing with your own loyal customers, and they happen to be stepping on your toes, the first people they hear from should not be your lawyers.

Sample response:

"Hey, this is Anaximander from the Starcraft II community support team at Blizzard. I saw your video on YouTube for the mod you're calling World of Starcraft. It looks pretty sweet, I've been showing it around the office. Great job, guys, can't wait to play it.

Unfortunately, there's a problem with the name you're using. Essentially, while the mod itself is fine, we don't want other people using the name World of Starcraft. (Can't speak on whether we're working on one of our own.) We'd like to ask that you change the name of your mod before continuing to distribute it. We're also asking that you remove the current YouTube video that advertises under the name World of Starcraft, until you guys can get it changed to something else. (I'd suggest something, but I'm terrible at picking names.)

Please understand that we value the work that you've done, and that we think mods like yours are one of the best things about things about the Starcraft II community. We'd like to work with the community, which is why you're hearing from me right now instead of our lawyers.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at: anaximander@blizzard.com"

If they're blatantly infringing on your trademarks and saying, "neener neener neener," or if they're dragging their heels, then a formal C&D is in order. But it seems like if Blizzard had gone through that process, this wouldn't be a story at all.

Re:Bad strategy (1)

bbqsrc (1441981) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950128)

Looks like someone is looking for a PR job, haha. But yes, a solid point.

It seems likely though they'd still have to send the C&D for the trademark infringement, as far as my meager understanding of trademark defense requirements goes, so it wouldn't hurt to conclude with "Please see attached legal jargon that explains what I just said, and have a nice day."

Re:Bad strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34950152)

And a lawyer will tell you that your strategy will almost certainly backfire if it ever comes to court.

Given that bad PR can be alleviated with a smile, but less so in courts, well...

Re:Bad strategy (5, Interesting)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950162)

Except it's cheaper and possibly even better in the long run for their reputation to do things the quick and easy way and then fix their mistakes.

Fire out the C&D letters without spending time & money to investigate - cheap. If one of the C&Ds generates a bit of bad PR, THEN quickly move to respond, showing that you listen, can admit mistakes, and fix 'em. Look at this thread - everyone's pointing out that it was probably the legal department that screwed up and giving kudos to Blizzard's dev team for making things good. Overall that's a huge net win for the entire organization: the lawyers look bad (who cares?) while the people who make the content look great.

Re:Bad strategy (1)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950592)

You know, you're probably right, unfortunately.

Maybe it's not all bad. Plenty of organizations sic their lawyers on people like sadistic hellhounds, and then don't turn around when it turns out to be bad PR. Maybe it's grats to Blizzard for their response. On the other hand, maybe we've all just come to have extremely low standards for corporate civility.

Re:Bad strategy (1)

Dorkmaster Flek (1013045) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951494)

Which is precisely why my first response to this was "Well, that's nice, but you still took a shoot-first-ask-questions-later mentality in the first place." If this is "standard procedure", then what they should be doing is apologizing for the procedure in the first place and changing that.

Re:Bad strategy (2)

C0R1D4N (970153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34952000)

I guarantee it costs a lot more for those lawyers to 'draft up a C&D' (despite them probably being rather generic templates with form fields) then it does to hire on one of your volunteer guides or promote a CSR guy to working with the mod community for a whopping 30k/year

Re:Bad strategy (1)

elsurexiste (1758620) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950700)

Yeah, I agree.

It was never our intention to stop development on the mod or discourage the community from expressing their creativity through the StarCraft II editor

If they don't think sending a C&D before asking for something as simple as a name change is not discouraging, then they are sociopaths.

Re:Bad strategy (4, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951338)

Well, the problem is that when you start to talk about issues like this, the people you're getting advice from have a vested interest in the answer.

Basically, lawyers have every selfish reason to counsel against civility and reasonableness.

Most likely someone waved this 'cool new mod they heard about' in front of the CEO.
CEO said that IS cool, but isn't the name a little close - if we don't defend it, we lose the ability to defend it later.
(Calls the company lawyer for advice)
Lawyer: oh you can't accept that (paints horrific gloom and doom scenario where this mod ends up with the world tearing Blizzard to shreds), CEO thinking of his own fat paycheck reluctantly asks someone to please just take care of it.
Lawyer, who knows he gets billable hours for every second he spends drafting the letter, agrees.
*for purposes of illustration we're assuming everyone here is basically decent and not a cynical greedy pig; well, except the lawyer because that would just be totally unbelievable.

Kudos where they belong (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950062)

@Blizz in this case. Someone made an error, it got corrected. The one involved gets invited to meet the real dev-team. Seems pretty nice to me.

If only bnetd got this civility (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 3 years ago | (#34950248)

If only bnetd got this civility, perhaps there might be some redeeming quality to that company.

Hiring policy (1)

shinigami sama (1980846) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951028)

There's only one explanation for this: they must've hired Jack Thompson for their legal department. Man the subpoena cannons!

what does the mod do...i still dont know (0)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951546)

I am not sure I get it, what does the mod do...make it look like wow inside starcraft, in outer space??? could someone explain what the mod does, i still do not have a startcraft account, therefor do not know what it looks like per se, would like to hear the change per change basis. thanks

Re:what does the mod do...i still dont know (4, Informative)

Shados (741919) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951930)

Starcraft 2 mods are really modules made with the map editor. It is, however, very powerful, and without any form of external game modification or hack, you can make entire games that have little to nothing to do with the original RTS game.

In this case, it was basically a small scale MMORPG-like game based on the starcraft universe, heavily influenced by the WoW mechanics.

Re:what does the mod do...i still dont know (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 3 years ago | (#34953132)

I do play wow, so what u r telling me, is they have figured out a way to create maps and content for the game engine that lets you finish quests, to level up and get gear that allows you to get further in the game and makes beating bosses (or opponents) easier...?

Re:what does the mod do...i still dont know (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 3 years ago | (#34953416)

There's already a lot of maps that can do that for SC2 (a lot of those features are built into the engine, just not used in the campaign). So they did all that and made it look WoW-like. The map editor let you use an XML specification to redefine the UI, so its not "hard", but it still takes a lot of work.

Anyway, short answer to your question: "Yes".

Never your intention to stop development? (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 3 years ago | (#34952792)

Isn't that kinda the meaning behind CEASE and DESIST?

Be careful with the campus visit... (1)

twivel (89696) | more than 3 years ago | (#34952962)

He's invited to meet their developers? He should be careful. The blizzard armed guards might confuse him with the ones working in the sweat shop and he won't get to go home.

Inaccuracies (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 3 years ago | (#34953064)

In traditional /. fashion, I didn't RTFA, but I'm seeing a gross inaccuracy in almost all posts around here: Blizzard did not send a cease & desist, the guy received a DMCA takedown notice. Those could've been issued by anybody, though Blizzard's response seems to indicate it was them (be it Activision or Blizzard) after all. A C&D is a much more heavy-handed response than a DMCA takedown.

What I am really curious about is whether Blizzard's decision to invite the guy for a tour of their office has anything to do with Riot Games' job offer [joystiq.com] .

Where is this guy's website? (1)

PHPNerd (1039992) | more than 3 years ago | (#34953564)

Anyone have the website for this mod developer? I've tried looking, but all the search engines are chocked full of the news stories and none seem to link to his mod development site.
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