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Lawsuits That Changed the Games Industry

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the case-of-mario-v.-kong dept.

The Courts 54

Gamasutra has up a piece looking at litigation that changed the way the games industry works. Deep, interesting questions like "Is modding legal?", "Are games covered by the 1st amendment?", and "Are games protected by copyright laws?" have all been decided in legal cases within the last 20 years. The site explores these issues, and ponders issues that are likely to affect the business of the games hobby in the future. From the article: "A variety of laws have been put forth by state legislature to act toward censoring game content or controlling the sale of games. As a rule, be immediately suspicious of any legislation proposed in the name of 'security' or 'protecting our children.' The result is often a jumbo size bite taken out of artistic expression and individual liberty. To date, the ESA has fought and won nine out of nine cases on these issues, having the state laws declared unconstitutional. Furthermore, the ESA has sought and won more than $1.5 million dollars in attorneys fees."

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54 comments

just waiting for it.... (3, Insightful)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 7 years ago | (#17317898)

I know eventually someone's going to sue an MMOG for making them addicted. Probably someone related to those dumb fat people that sued McDonalds for "making" them fat. Ugh, some people. I think I should start a website where I take bets on how soon it'll happen lol. It'd at least be more entertaining than the "Protecting Our Children (from having fun)" bills.

Re:just waiting for it.... (1)

mr_neke (1001861) | more than 7 years ago | (#17318032)

shh, you're giving them ideas!

Re:just waiting for it.... (1)

rhartness (993048) | more than 7 years ago | (#17318222)

I'll place the first bet.

I'll bet that in one week you will be sued for operating an illegal gambling site that also lures children to it because it's "video game" centric.

Re:just waiting for it.... (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 7 years ago | (#17319462)

reeeeeeeally....are you willing to place a wager on that? hehehe

Re:just waiting for it.... (2, Interesting)

DingerX (847589) | more than 7 years ago | (#17318300)

First, try not to get indignant at people who don't exist yet. That's what people in MMORPGs do.

Second, I agree that a class-action suit against one of the really big MMORPGs (or all of them) is overdue. But when it happens, they'll have a stronger case than against McDonalds.

But first McDonalds: McDonalds uses massive ad campaigns targeted at children, a group than any self-respecting state recognizes has an imperfect will: the kid wanting something is not a rational choice. And McDonalds purveys as food substances that fool the senses into thinking they're receiving something extremely nutritive, when in fact, they're getting the obesity and diabetes express. So they're targeting a group not entirely capable of reason with a product that fools the senses. And they're intentionally doing that.
So yeah, "Some people". Some people have free will, and are responsible for their actions. Others, by law, are not.

But what about MMORPGs? Here we have another way to suppress free will: addiction. MMORPGs are marketed like any other game: in boxes in stores; sometimes you can download them, but they are not designed like any other game. In particular, they are designed to encourage addiction. Sorry guys -- but when you give out intermittent reinforcement for work done, and then package that with a community that adds a social value to it, you have a dangerous recipe for addiction. And if you're a game company, you want to capture that addiction, and market it. $1 Bn/year in revenue is nothing to be sneezed at.

So yeah, I see a lawsuit here, and it won't necessarily be a bad thing. Putting in some brakes to the excesses that some players go to (and there are lots of players going to excesses) would be good for the overall experience for everyone.

Re:just waiting for it.... (3, Informative)

Pope (17780) | more than 7 years ago | (#17318448)

And that's why parents exist, to say "No!" to stupid requests from their kids. :)

Eating the occasional fast food meal isn't necesarilly bad for you, eating them habitually most definitely is.

Re:just waiting for it.... (4, Informative)

MeanderingMind (884641) | more than 7 years ago | (#17318798)

Agreed. I don't think a lawsuit is going to solve this problem. If this is really about the children who are not of age to make rational decisions, then we must wonder where the parents were and are.

How many kids, who aren't within shooting distance of being "legally" rational, do you know are even able to get to a McDonalds without their parents? I can't say that before age 12 at the earliest would a kid find themselves able to say, "Mom, I'm going to bike down to the McDs for lunch." That's twelve years where the parents have to make the decision to take their children to the McDonalds.

Similarly, how many people before high school get laptops? Unless you're in a very rich family you're probably stuck using the family computer for World of WarCraft, EverQuest, EvE or whichever poison you pick. Between parental controls and the fact that the computer rests rather immobile in a major room of the house I can't see how parents aren't willfully involved in letting their children be addicted to these games.

In my opinion, while the children may not have the rational capacity to make a decision in these matters they aren't the ones ultimately deciding. The best they can do is put the MMOG on their christmas wish list, or beg their parents for McDonalds. The parent ultimately has to give in or choose to do these things.

Now, if we're talking about rational adults becoming addicted to these games, that's a whole different story.

Re:just waiting for it.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17320248)

Yes, but our 14 year old has his own PC in his room. I lock down the internet, both at router level and with known addresses in his host file pointing back to the loop back port and do not allow any video file to be played on his machine, but I have given him a gateway drug. WoW. I have played MMOs since Asherons Call, and got him hooked on City of Heroes, and then WoW after I moved in with his mother.
I would not sue Blizzard. They provide an escape into a fantasy world. it is up to myself, and my fiancee to enforce a sensible play time limit on him. some weekends we just veg out and play video games pretty much all weekend, others we go out and do things.
The parental controls on WoW are a blessing, AND also frees them from legal issues IMO. you can as a parent or as a self imposition lock out the ability to log on to an account on WoWs web page. They provide you with a means to self evict your self from the game world. Just the same as Casinos give you the option to self evict yourself if you feel you have a problem with gambling (I have worked for casinos for the past five years, so trust me they do offer this, but they do not advertise it too heavily) so if a casino can not be sued for giving you a means to an addiction neither can WoW. Soon i think you will see plenty of MMOs doing the parental controls, if they do not already offer it.

Re:just waiting for it.... (1)

iron-kurton (891451) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322398)

Similarly, how many people before high school get laptops? Unless you're in a very rich family you're probably stuck using the family computer for World of WarCraft, EverQuest, EvE or whichever poison you pick.



A coworker of mine has a 2 year old kid, and he just bought him a laptop. When I was a kid, all I got was a BOX to play with. That's what my kids are getting for Christmas. A box. It encourages imaginative thinking.

Re:just waiting for it.... (1)

Archimagus (978734) | more than 7 years ago | (#17336622)

Here Here on the Box. . . thats what I had too and thats what my kid gets.

Re:just waiting for it.... (1)

Casualposter (572489) | more than 7 years ago | (#17325050)

It's not the kids that I would worry about, but the adults with families who get so hooked on WOW and other MMORPG's that they neglect their children, spouse, work, etc and wind up hurting a lot of innocent people just so that they can spent 22 hours in BWL getting yet another "EPIC" item, which is completely useless by the time the next upgrade for the game comes out. (Hey! I've got the Burning Crusade Beta and the GREENS are better than a lot of the EPICS so many have slaved for in the last year.)

Games like WOW give people with low self-esteem or crappy situations an escape that can be so much more fun and interesting than their real lives that they prefer the escape to reality. This is NOT too different than the people who use alcohol and other mind altering drugs to escape from their real lives. Just as with Alcohol, where a little bit does you a lot of good, but too much ruins your life and your health, MMORPG's are fine in moderation.

So yeah, if the alcohol and tobacco companies can be sued for making an "addictive" product, then so can companies like Blizzard. Fact of the matter is that there will one day be (if not already) a "MMORPG anonymous" in the mold of Alcoholics Anonymous. Destructive behavior that adversely affects the lives of children is a social proplem with measurable costs to society, and will eventually need to be addressed.

Re:just waiting for it.... (5, Funny)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 7 years ago | (#17318652)

But first McDonalds: McDonalds uses massive ad campaigns targeted at children, a group than any self-respecting state recognizes has an imperfect will: the kid wanting something is not a rational choice. And McDonalds purveys as food substances that fool the senses into thinking they're receiving something extremely nutritive, when in fact, they're getting the obesity and diabetes express. So they're targeting a group not entirely capable of reason with a product that fools the senses. And they're intentionally doing that.

Yes, its a horrible thing. The hordes four- and five-year-olds McDonalds has hypnotized. I've seen pictures of them, fives and tens clutched tightly in their tiny little hands, stumbling up to the counter in their jammies; ordering BigMacs and fries - just like they've seen on TV. The glassy stares. The trembling arms as they reach for the poisonous ooze. Oh, the humanity.

Is there nothing that can restrain them? Nothing that can stop them? Something like, say, parents to steer them down the righteous path? No, the government must be called in! Only the military can stop this heinous crime!

That's funny (2, Interesting)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 7 years ago | (#17320018)

My brother's having a really hard time getting my niece to eat healthy. He screwed up when she was really young, and let her drink lots of HFCS filled beverages and eat lots of processed and fast food. The trouble is, stuff like HFCS and meats seasoned with MSG and other chemicals have much stronger flavors than normal food, so now nothing tastes 'right' to her except that junk. Even well prepared food made by a good cook tastes 'off' to her if it's not loaded with that crap. Funny thing about kids, what they eat in their first few years is what they'll want to eat for their whole lives

And as for me? I've just dropped 70lbs through a ton of diet and exercise, and as silly as it sounds, I went through what can only be described as withdrawal symptoms when I gave up fast food. Mild symptoms, but noticeable all the same. When I'd get stressed, I'd really want to hit a fast food joint. Not just any 'ole restaurant either, but specifically a fast food joint. Took about a month to get over the cravings, and nowadays I can hardly stand the stuff, but it was tough going the first month or so.

You've got to remember, this 'food' is chemically engineered to taste good, and to make you want more. e.g. That old slogan "No one can eat just one" isn't just advertising. Those chips are designed by a chemist to make you want another, and another, and another... Read Fredrick Pohl's "The Space Merchants" if you haven't already. Everything he describes in the book is already done on a slightly less overt and evil scale, but it's all there. Real science fiction, and this is comming from a guy with a background in marketing.

Re:That's funny (1)

jpardey (569633) | more than 7 years ago | (#17321458)

Even trying to find good food, without having eaten fast food in your childhood, is hard. Look at the sodium content in some food. After cutting out high sodium friends, a person I know has had far less headaches, and much better blood pressure. Seems to have more effect than most medications. I will probably get modded down for this, but it seems the free market fails on the food front. Why can't I get a healthy meal out of a fast food store? Why must I hear "betcha can't eat just one?"

Re:That's funny (1)

ericlondaits (32714) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326138)

I love vegetarian/vegan food (though I also eat meat occasionally) and many of the times I go to a restaurant it'll be an Indian/vegetarian place. I also cook at home, and one of my most valued cookbooks is an Australian vegetarian book. I get great enjoyment out of a perfectly healthy plate of organic food.

That said... I know that one of the biggest and simplest tricks up any chef's sleeve is adding fat. Either a good chunk of butter (with meats, for instance) or cream (in sauces and the like) works wonders for flavor and enjoyment. Most good restaurants will add some fat just for effect.

It's probably safe if you just get this extra fat every now and then... but still, my point is: there's a relation between good flavor and somewhat unhealthy ingredients, and that relation wasn't invented by Lays or McDonald's. Anyone trying to sell food (without emphasizing the health aspect) will probably exploit those ingredients.

Re:That's funny (1)

reub2000 (705806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323126)

Even well prepared food made by a good cook tastes 'off' to her if it's not loaded with that crap. Funny thing about kids, what they eat in their first few years is what they'll want to eat for their whole lives
Young kids seem to have weird taste buds. I think they mostly grow out of that kind of food.

Re:just waiting for it.... (1)

jpardey (569633) | more than 7 years ago | (#17321358)

Just like the government must be called in to prevent children from drinking! Smoking! Doing crack! My friend, you are more right than you could possibly imagine!

Re:just waiting for it.... (4, Insightful)

Zancarius (414244) | more than 7 years ago | (#17318700)

I suppose, then, that by implication, you cherish the notion of taking the "parent" out of "parenting." Fair enough, your argument didn't explicitly target children itself (save for the McDonald's commentary).

The problem with shifting responsibility from individuals to the law is that it eliminates the freedom of choice. If someone wants to sit on their duff for hours on end, they are free to do so. While I am aware that the natural reply to such a notion is "It increases the costs of health care for all of us," I will remind you that health care in the US is already largely borked. Legislation against criminal activities is fine, but criminalizing legitimate activities that do not directly harm anyone, such as playing games or eating fattening food, is simply absurd. Suing, thus, accomplishes nothing than to appease those who, like yourself, clearly do not approve of free choice or the free market. I don't recall stories of Blizzard holding a gun to anyone's head, indicating that failure to play their game may result in unholy punishment (insert lame joke here, Anonymous Cowards).

Ultimately, the "health legislation" movement in this country is counter-productive. While stating children shouldn't be sitting in front of the television, game console, computer, or eating fast food, they simultaneously declare that traditional children's games are violent and dangerous. I'm sorry, little Johnny, I don't want you playing video games, but you can't go outside and play tag, either! I don't think tree-hugging burns a great deal of calories--certainly not as many as cutting one down with a hand saw. And could you imagine the sort of ruckus that would be generated by the bleeding hearts if we armed our children with hand saws? On the other hand, it might not be so bad; imagine telling an angry child armed with a hand saw who was responsible for taking away tag or dodgeball...

I apologize ahead of time for any angry children cutting down your front door, demanding to have their "fun" games back.

Re:just waiting for it.... (1)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17318706)

First off, as usual with the OMG THINK OF THE CHILREND campaigns, where the fuck are the parents? Do they just toss money at their kids and say do what you want? If so, it's noone's fault but the parents. You can't blame everyone under the sun for doing something legal simply because it adversely affects children who are not being properly parented.
Secondly, on the MMORPG addiction and a lawsuit needed to curb people in their addictions, NO. I'm a libertarian when it comes to these kinds of things. The state should NOT be there to hold a person's hand all throughout their life so they dont' make bad decisions such as getting addicted to things. It should be there to make sure the person's rights are not violated, but beyond that not much more. If a person decides to get addicted to X game, and ruins their entire life because of said game, that is not the game makers fault, only the person who got addicted.

Re:just waiting for it.... (3, Insightful)

DingerX (847589) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322688)

Here's another way to put the "Children and McDonalds" argument:

We both agree that a parent has absolute responsibility for child raising. I would go further and say that, in all matters except those effecting the physical, psychological and social well-being of the child (health, education), the parents have the right to parent their child without undue influence from undesirable influences, particularly those opposed to the physical, psychological and social well-being of the child. This is why there are ordnances against putting adult book stores, saloons and rehab clinics next door to grammar schools.
So what gives any company the right to interfere with my relationship with my child solely to make a buck? Free speech? That's for adults.

It's not the "Think of the Children" argument: A "Think of the Children" argument is a combination of an appeal to sentimentality with a slippery slope. "To protect our children against predators, pornographers and the bad kids at school, we need to spy on every citizen's internet use" -- here the fear and threat of crime or undesirable behavior on children is used to justify enacting a nanny state. A "Think of the Children" version of the McDonalds argument is: "McDonalds advertising targeting children interferes with the parent-child relationship in a deleterious manner. Therefore, we must ban all advertising."

Or a simpler way of putting it: if I walked up to a random kid on they way to school and told her to drink beer, most people would condemn that: "who the hell are you to tell my kid what to do?!" But we let companies get away with it? Whose liberties are you protecting? My liberty to undue influence from the government and corporations seeking to make a buck off me, or the liberty of these fictional entities to exploit my ass?

In any case, my argument wasn't that we ban McDonalds or even their advertisement, but rather that a lawsuit against a MMORPG would be even stronger than that against McDonalds. Let's take your quote:
he state should NOT be there to hold a person's hand all throughout their life so they dont' make bad decisions such as getting addicted to things. It should be there to make sure the person's rights are not violated, but beyond that not much more. If a person decides to get addicted to X game, and ruins their entire life because of said game, that is not the game makers fault, only the person who got addicted.
.

Alright, let expand the X a bit. How about drugs? I'm in favor of legalizing drugs, incidentally, just so you don't misunderstand my point:
A company develops a new drug, let's call it "Crystal Meth". The company knows, from clinical trials and the social history of similar drugs, that Crystal Meth is extremely addictive and will effectively ruin the lives of a sizable percentage of the people who use it. The company then markets Crystal Meth as an alternative to coffee and places it on the supermarket shelves next to coffee, with massive ad campaigns and promotions.

So, on your logic, 'if a person decides to get addicted to Crystal Meth, and ruins their entire life because of Crystal Meth, that is not the fault of the company that A) knew this would happen, B) did nothing to inform their consumers of the real health dangers their product posed and C) did everything to prevent their consumers from learning about those health dangers, but rather the person who decided to take Crystal Meth.'

There are laws against selling rat poison as kiddie candy: for a person to make a rational, informed decision, that person has to be both rational (hence not a child) and capable of informing himself on the product. Suppress either one of those, and you suppress the notion of liberty.

Re:just waiting for it.... (1)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17324248)

The logic on drugs IS the logic I have. I do not believe anyone or any entity has the right the tell me what I can and cannot do with my body where I am not infringing upon anyone else's rights or freedoms. If I want to get obliterated on coke, booze, pot and pills in my home or at a party, and so long as I don't hurt anyone, then I should damn well be allowed to do it.

Re:just waiting for it.... (1)

Koriani (869587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17325796)

You're missing something that the government *does* do: Regulate labeling.

A company develops a new drug, let's call it "Crystal Meth". The company knows, from clinical trials and the social history of similar drugs, that Crystal Meth is extremely addictive and will effectively ruin the lives of a sizable percentage of the people who use it. The company then markets Crystal Meth as an alternative to coffee and places it on the supermarket shelves next to coffee, with massive ad campaigns and promotions.

You're missing the part where the company gets tied up in federal criminal proceedings for not putting an effective label on the product for rational adults to read and learn from. It happens in all food, drink, and most substances that are legal.

Hell, even AIR FRESHENER labels say that if you inhale the concentrated vapor, its bad for your healt. Coffee has a label saying that its a stimulant. And surely you've seen the surgeon general's warning on alcohol and cigarettes......

The government should continue making sure that we, the people are informed about what's in these products - but that doesn't mean that they need to choose for us. Or our children - parents should parent. Thats what you sign up for when you have a child.

Re:just waiting for it.... (1)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | more than 7 years ago | (#17357658)

in all matters except those effecting the physical, psychological and social well-being of the child
 
That doesn't leave much out, though.

Re:just waiting for it.... (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 7 years ago | (#17325936)

Why would MMORPG designers want to encourage addiction? The person who plays the game 400 hours a month pays the same fee as the person who plays the game 20 hours a month but uses twenty times the resources. From an entirely pragmatic standpoint, a company designing a MMORPG would not want the addicts because the addicts require more servers.

Re:just waiting for it.... (1)

DingerX (847589) | more than 7 years ago | (#17329418)

server time and bandwidth are only part of the resources. The really expensive ones are customer service, QA, and tech support. A massive user of server time and bandwidth isn't massive in today's internet terms, and, used properly, actually reduces customer service, QA and tech support costs.

Re:just waiting for it.... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17318546)

Yes, those fat fucktards. Not only should they have lost the suit, but society should fucking refuse service to those fucktards. Don't let them buy clothes, food, anything. Then there would be a whole lot less fucktards in the gene pool.

GO AHEAD! FUCKING FLAME AWAY OR
WASTE YOUR GOD DAMNED MOD POINTS
FUCTARDED SHITDOT SHEEPLE!

Missing a lawsuit... (2, Interesting)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17317956)

How about game companies recalling a product if they need to release a patch on the same day of the release? That should take care of the "ship it and patch it" mentality.

Re:Missing a lawsuit... (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#17319158)

How about game companies recalling a product if they need to release a patch on the same day of the release?

How about we don't bump up the price of games to cover the expenses of a pointless recall? How about we don't piss off the retailer willing to stock games that aren't as profitable as Grand Theft Auto?

Re:Missing a lawsuit... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17319558)

I think you're missing the point. If the publisher put out a game that was ready to ship, the costs will be lower for everyone. Patching a game after it ships is more expensive to the publisher (but not as expensive as missing the ship date altogether). If the publisher knows there's a penalty for shipping an unfinished product, they may take more care on how they managed their projects (which is long overdue anyway). Besides, if prices are going up, it's just greed.

Re:Missing a lawsuit... (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 7 years ago | (#17324236)

How about game companies recalling a product if they need to release a patch on the same day of the release? That should take care of the "ship it and patch it" mentality.


Bugs can still find their way through rigerous testing. As an example, Chasm: The Rift immediatly crashes on startup - and this issue is 100% reproducable. The workaround is to run Windows 95, since it's memory protection system is more lax than standard Dos Protected mode drivers.

There's also cases where testing is either infeasible or impossible. Rise of the Triad implemented the Bonus Bonus, which is received by obtaining the requirements for all other bonuses (all of which are described in the help file.) The reward for obtaining this bonus is a program crash.

Like sharks to blood... (0)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#17317976)

These days there is alot of money in the gaming industry. Where there is money, there are lawyers. You know the rest.

Does not cover modding (4, Interesting)

Thansal (999464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17318106)

Is modding legal?


The article does not cover that question, the only thing related was the case of idiots that tried to gather up a bunch of user generated maps for Duke 3D and sell it as a product (with out permission from the mappers or from 3D realms).

Now the interestign one is if there ARE any precidents on modding being legal/illegal. Obviously games where they give you the tools then it is legal (most FPS games these days, Warcraft, etc etc). But what about games that don't give you the tools? (GTA? Hot coffee?) or where it is actively fought (later versions of GTA). Or hardware type mods?

Re:Does not cover modding (1)

CTD (615278) | more than 7 years ago | (#17319186)

The precedent on modding (through company tools or not) is that it's illegal when a person begins to profit from it. Prior to that, as a 'hobby' it's fine. Think about the people who design clothing, furniture, skins, etc for the Sims(2). They aren't breaking a law because they don't profit from it.

Which is why nobody can stop you from modding your PC game to put in stick figures instead of 3d avatars if you want (ok, my first thought was naked avatars, but that's dull eh?). It's only if you sell it that is illegal -- which was covered by the article. Modding? Fine. Selling Mods without a license? Bad.

Re:Does not cover modding (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17321740)

selling your OWN mods is legal, unless the creation of the mod requires content from a source with a license forbidding commercial use, for example textures and models from a game level and model editor. if you build all the content yourself you can do whatever the hell you want with it and nobody can stop you.

Re:Does not cover modding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17324818)

What if the very format of the mod (map, avatar, whatever) data is proprietary and patented? Then you cannot avoid being reliant on their stuff even if you do make everything yourself from ground up, unless there is an patent exemption on data formats. Even if there is, they still can make your life miserable by encryption (falls under DMCA) and digital signing, so that mods may be locked in on your machine, unless you get publisher's permission (i.e. your mod is whitelisted, or accepted for download section of publisher's web site after you legally give your artistic rights away).

Generally all that micromanagement of customers and tying their hands is complete BS. If I was a game publisher I would encourage creation of secondary economy (strictly for those who have registered their copy, of course). It would boost sales, not only for fun-seekers, but also for prospectors, or those who need to rationalize their absurd spending on games with some "hard" reason. Look at the early, painfully underperforming home computers: commercial success stories of underage amateur game developers made sales a landslide success.

Re:Does not cover modding (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17326804)

what games lock down mods with whitelisting and digital signing, i know console games tend not to be moddable but every PC game i have ever seen either encourages modding, or doesn't do anything deliberately obstructing mods.

What about Immersion v. Sony? (1, Informative)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 7 years ago | (#17318196)

Although the PS3 isn't selling that great, Sony removed rumble from the PS3 (although they cite some other reason) because they lost this case.

Conspicuously missing lawsuit... (3, Informative)

graphicsguy (710710) | more than 7 years ago | (#17318410)

Re:Conspicuously missing lawsuit... (1)

inotocracy (762166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17318508)

I wouldn't say this lawsuit changed the game industry; perhaps it improved the working environment and wallets of the employees at EA though.

Re:Conspicuously missing lawsuit... (1)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17318528)

From a gaming point of view, there's nothing special about that lawsuit. It's a bog-standard labor-relations lawsuit, and ones like it have been filed on a regular basis for at least half a century.

Notably missing... (3, Informative)

BluhDeBluh (805090) | more than 7 years ago | (#17319054)

There was the Nintendo vs. Galoob [wikipedia.org] (the Game Genie lawsuit), and the Sega vs. Accolade [digital-law-online.info] (meaning that, basically, other companies could make unofficial carts legally).

Re:Notably missing... (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#17319526)

Isn't Sega vs. Accolade just a grandchild of Atari's attempt to file a restraining order against Activision releasing games for the Atari 2600 back in 1982?

Can't find a good article on it...not that I'm looking *too* hard.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Activision [wikipedia.org] hints to it.

Re:Notably missing... (1)

antime (739998) | more than 7 years ago | (#17322864)

I believe the Atari vs. Activision lawsuit was regarding NDAs, while in the Sega vs. Accolade case Sega argued that getting games to run on the Megadrive was trademark infringement (I think you have to store the string "SEGA" at a specific memory location or something similar). The court's decision was that since this trademarked data was only in machine-readable form and essential to getting code running on the hardware it was OK to include it in the ROM of unlicensed cartridges.

Another consequence of this lawsuit was that Sega started researching protection systems based on the same idea of protected trademarks, but that would have the trademarked data in human-readable form. You can find several variations of the scheme in the USPTO database, including optically verifying the presence of the Sega logo on the label of a cartridge, or the label side of a CD. The method they ultimately settled for and used in the Saturn was to have a specific bit pattern form the Sega logo on the data surface of the CD, and using the laser pickup to verify its presence. The logo is also present between the two data areas on a Dreamcast GD-ROM, but I don't know if it's an effective part of the protection system there.

Re:Notably missing... (1)

antime (739998) | more than 7 years ago | (#17319658)

Sega vs. Accolade had another, much bigger impact which is why it would be my pick for the top spot. The company that benefited the most from the lawsuit was not Accolade, but Electronic Arts.

At the time EOA (as they were still known as) was looking to move away from home computers like the Amiga due to rampant piracy, but was also unwilling to pay the licensing fees and fighting over shelf space and cartridge allotments and all the other ways console developers were dicked around with. So to them the case verdict was the best thing that could have happened: they could develop and release all the games they wanted without paying Sega a cent, and they were already big enough that they could handle distribution etc. themselves. From Sega's perspecive however this was a disaster, and eager to get their piece of the action (and presumably to stop other developers from following EOA's example) negotiated a deal with Electronic Arts that was much more favourable than the one offered to normal developers. The details of the deal are to my knowledge not public, but the result speaks for itself: EOA started pumping out a huge number of games on the Megadrive that generally also sold well due to their overall high quality, and EA Games (as they rebranded themselves as) became the humongous industry giant it is today.

Of course, the deal Sega made later came back to bite them in the ass when EA refused to support the Dreamcast which according to some was the biggest reason it did so poorly in the US and Europe.

Foxed? (2, Informative)

unsigned integer (721338) | more than 7 years ago | (#17319726)

No reference to the first modder that I recall who ran afoul of Fox Studios intellectual property - the Alien TC mod for Doom.

http://doom.wikia.com/wiki/Aliens_TC [wikia.com]

And no mention of it here ... am I on crack? I could have sworn he was served with cease-and-desist letters to completely halt his mod given his usage of images/logos/intellectual property.

Oh, here's a reference. Yeah, it coined a phrase for that time period ... getting "Foxed".

http://www.unfetteredblather.com/nucleus/index.php ?itemid=76 [unfetteredblather.com]

Re:Foxed? (1)

kalayq (827594) | more than 7 years ago | (#17319900)

I have heard about a number of mods getting cease and desist letters, although they all wished to emulate a game/move/tv franchise of some kind. That isn't very uncommon. For example, just about every star wars mod I have seen has received a C&D.

Or Lawsuits That Cost The States (2, Insightful)

Bloodmoon1 (604793) | more than 7 years ago | (#17320732)

A variety of laws have been put forth by state legislature to act toward censoring game content or controlling the sale of games. ... The result is often a jumbo size bite taken out of artistic expression and individual liberty.

No, the result is often not a "jumbo size bite" taken out of anything artistic or liberty related. The result is often a "jumbo sized bite" taken out of:

1. The time of the legislative branches of the states that approve these bills. Thanks to various politically aspiring politicians that write up, debate, and vote on these bills that they know will get overturned but make them look like they give a shit about your children, state legislators, who often don't work very much anyway, waste time that could be spent on anything else, maybe even stuff that would be constitutional.

2. The time of both state and federal judiciaries. They have to take the time to issue injunctions against these laws and hear the cases that result in said laws being found unconstutional 100% of the time, further bogging down an already vastly overburdened court system.

3. The tax payer's ass. From this earlier story's [slashdot.org] linked to article [next-gen.biz] :

... some states are now having to foot the legal bills of the parties who took them to court in the first place. The ESA is trying to extract the $500,000 that Illinois still owes it and this past week Michigan got a bill from the ESA for $180,000 in legal fees.

And this story in particular:

To date, the ESA has fought and won nine out of nine cases on these issues, having the state laws declared unconstitutional. Furthermore, the ESA has sought and won more than $1.5 million dollars in attorneys fees.

And let's not forget it's not just the tax payers in the states in question that have to pay for fucktard legislation, though they do front the lion's share, everyone gets a little. When these cases come before Federal Courts on appeal, as is often the case, remember, someone pays the salaries of the Federal employees.

Not to mention the loss of all credibility a state suffers when it passes one of these bills, as it has been shown that these get shot down every time and do nothing but cost time and money that could be spent on anything else.

Score another point for dumbocracy and the retards that put these retards into power and keep them there.

Some other signficiant lawsuits (2, Informative)

jonwil (467024) | more than 7 years ago | (#17320958)

Nintendo vs Tengen over who owned the rights to produce Tetris on the NES. Without this lawsuit in favor of nintendo, would we have had Tetris for the Game Boy? (and would Nintendo have become king of the handheld market?)

Nintendo vs Bung over cart copying devices. I believe this was one of the first lawsuits filed under the newly implemented Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

There is another Nintendo lawsuit involving the copy protection for the Nintendo Gameboy. Basicly the gameboy will not boot a cart unless it has the Nintendo logo data in the right place on the cart. There was a lawsuit over this (I dont know the particulars or who the other party was) where Nintendo argued that copying the nintendo logo was a copyright violation. I believe the court ruled that (like in the Sega vs Accolade case) it was OK to use the copyrighted nintendo logo for the specific purpose of making gameboy carts.

I am surprised that Nintendo didnt use stronger protection on the Gameboy Advance (such as encrypting the cart data somehow and having decryption done on the fly by the GBA). It may not have stopped chinese pirates from decapping the GBA CPU or decryption ASIC and reading out the secret key. But it would have meant that anything to do with GBA en/decrption falls squarely under the DMCA.

1 out of 3 ain't bad. (1)

readin (838620) | more than 7 years ago | (#17321570)

Imagine store shelves and digital distribution filled with collections of user created content where the original publisher/developer has no creative control over the product or royalties on the sales.

Isn't that exactly the kind of innovation that patent law is supposed to encourage and protect? Why would I not want to go to the store and have lots of choices? Isn't this a bit like GM saying no one can sell me dice to hang from my rear-view mirror because it take "create control" of their product away from GM? Or like GM saying all the fuzzy dice sellers have to pay GM royalties?

And what's with the first amendment stuff? I've never understood how an amendment designed to protect words (speech and the press) somehow covers pornography, whether in games or not.

Re:1 out of 3 ain't bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17322524)

I've never understood how an amendment designed to protect words (speech and the press) somehow covers pornography, whether in games or not.

A person has the right to express themselves in a variety of ways. Some choose to express themselves sexually. They have the right to do that. People have a right to see that if they choose. What people do not have a right to, is an audience. The right to have someone see them or the right to have someone listen to them.

The thing is, pornography has an audience. A large audience. There are laws out there that restrict the type of pornography that people can view legally. Depending on where you are located in the world: bestiality, child-porn, watersports, scat, anal, oral, and others are illegal to view and therefore illegal to produce in those areas. However, a person's right to create porn or star in porn is their choice. When porn was challenged on a large scale, it was determined that it was art, as other filmed or photographed items were also art. Not all art is good art. Everyone has a different opinion of things, but taking away the rights of someone to express themselves in a manner that happens to be porn is protected under the First Amendment. This is due to how the First Amendment has been deciphered since it was first enacted.

Obviously by this post you can tell that IANAL. I am just someone viewing this from another point of view. My point of view is that if the expression of oneself in pornography is not protected by the First Amendment, then why is the expression of oneself by singing a song, or performing a play protected?

Re:1 out of 3 ain't bad. (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 7 years ago | (#17323190)

I love when people use the car analogy when pointing out the silliness that is IP law. It easily puts things into perspective. We allow technical companies to get away with things that would we would NEVER stand for in our cars.

Freedom of expression (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17324912)

It's covered under freedom of expression - which I believe is an extension of the first amendment.

u, s, and a? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17323936)

You dudes have lawsuits all over the place

Modding is gray area (1)

Tei (520358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17324882)

Not everything is black and white. Theres stuff that the IP owners will dislike. Stuff that some people will think is right, and others will think is wrong, and laws will say nothing or a unknowm thing.

To avoid gray areas Free Software work with greats effors, and avoid to "tain the kernel" and other ideas to work on white area. Modders cant avoid "tainting the kernel", because his work mean redistributing stuff that is already owned by somehome. Most modding is wellcome by the ip owner, so you can continue on the gray. But If the owner attack, you can be kicked...

Imho, Is nothing of the bussiness of the author of a game the mods. Mods is how the customer use the game, I think people souldt not stop people from having fun with mods, thats evil.
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