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Jimmy

Hasbro Article

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WOW! I can''t believe I just read that article! Problems with the article anyone? Let me just start this off on the right foot. #1. "I''m based in the UK and am currently paid to write for a living." That''s nice I''m glad to see that your based in the UK, but quite frankly Hasbro isn''t based in the UK and international intellectual property law is quite diffrent from that which is in the united states. Which is where all the companies involved in this lawsuit are located. #2. In the united states you have a few ways to protect your intellectual property. TradeMark - this protects your games name from being used in another product example I can''t use QUAKE 3 Arena as my games new name if it''s trademarked. Copyright - A copyright protects all the assets of the company such as code, graphics, music, etc. Patent - This protects the specific process of a products making. Now unlike most forgin countries in the united states when a person sells their product they actualy sell ALL rights to that product. Now if you notice above no where in those defenitions of Intellectual Property Protection laws does it say "IDEA PROTECTION". You can''t protect the idea of a tooth pick, you can''t protect the idea of a toilet, you can''t protect the idea a CD Case. You can how ever patent the process and copyright all the artwork, this provides some limit of protection but the idea is up for grabs. #3. Most of the games involved in this lawsuit quite frankly are better than anything hasbro has redistributed. Which is the most likely reason for them to piss and moan. #4. " ...VERY familiar! This sounds *exactly* like Asteroids so far... " "...Oooh! "Asteroids" with some extras thrown in. But still, clearly and recognisably "Asteroids" Umm excuse me? Better graphics, better AI, diffrent code, diffrent artwork, and a diffrent name, it is CLEARLY NOT ASTEROIDS anymore than a volvo is a volkswagon. They both have 4 wheels and travel at high speeds but they have diffrent engines, diffrent design, and diffrent seats yet they achieve the same goal which is travel. #5. In conclusion, I think you should stick to your area of expertise which is obviously not US INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW. This case will be settled in court and unless there is some ignorant judge Hasbro will loose the lawsuit. If not expect a monopoly case to be brought up against Hasbro. Which in effect is doing the same as microsoft, crushing the little developer before they can create something that will compete with their product.

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Some valid points.

Clearly I made a mistake in hooking the article on the Hasbro case. I really wanted to get away from the "Big Evil Businessman vs. Little Innocent Businessman" thing, and it looks like I failed. Bugger.

The thrust of that article is simply this:

In the movie industry, a flick whose premise is "It''s Movie X, but with better special effects" is either a remake or a sequel. Either way, they need permission from the makers of ''Movie X''. It''s a derivation from the original.

Yet in the games industry, we''re quite willing to accept this process as being the equivalent of creating an entirely new work of art.

Yet there is no way on this planet you will ever be able to convince me that the game "3D Astro Blaster" (which isn''t even 3D) is anything more than "Asteroids with better special effects." The fundamental gameplay mechanics are the same.

To make matters worse, most of the games in question _explicitly_ admit that they are remakes in their own sales blurb. Yet none of these publishers have ever bothered to get permission to sell them to the public. I know it''s not illegal to _create_ them. It''s the selling that sticks in my craw.

You could argue that movies are linear and non-interactive, but what about amusement parks? When was the last time you saw a rollercoaster advertised like this:

"The All New ''Warlock'' ride! It''s exactly like Alton Towers'' ''Nemesis'' ride, with a more modern train, and a better paint job, bringing it smack dab into the 21st century!"

If a game is basically ''X'' with just ''Y and Z'' added to the core gameplay, then you''re making money NOT just from the ''Y'' and the ''Z'', but ALSO because of the original gameplay of ''X''. And you did NOT design that game.

"But it''s just an idea!"

Bullshit. Games aren''t just ideas written in C or Z80 assembly language. Ideas stay in your head. Artists _create_ art, they don''t expect it to just magic itself out of thin air. That''s why what they make is called art*WORK*.

Sure, those early games were simple enough that you didn''t need 1000+ pages of documentation and 9 months of intensive gameplay balancing. But even the likes of Defender and Asteroids were playtested, tweaked, adjusted and balanced to perfection. And _THAT_ is as much an art as anything else. It''s that work -- that GAMEPLAY -- that is being stolen in these counterfeit games. Not merely some woolly "idea".

As games get more and more complex, the interactions between their mechanics and the player get equally complicated. That''s why it is so much harder to find a game with that magic ''spark'' of playability than in the past.

The work comes in the execution of the idea, not in having the idea itself. Today''s genres are far more complicated than those of the 1970s and ''80s. A few minor changes here and there and you have an entirely new -- and *unique* -- *gameplay mechanic* for an RTS game, for instance.

This process was more obvious in the past. Merely allowing the ''Space Invaders'' a bit more individuality made Galaxians an obvious next step. Add movement to the background and you have the scrolling shooter variants. It''s no big step to then add an interactive landscape to increase the challenge...

But each one of these steps spawned *hundreds* of variations on the theme. The Sinclair ZX Spectrum ("Times 2000" in the US) averaged over 3000 titles _per year_; the C64 peaked even higher.

But only a very, very tiny proportion of those games was successful enough to leave a lasting impression. So, no, it''s clearly not just a matter of ''ideas''. It''s the execution. And that means you HAVE to give the original designer(s) credit where it''s due for working out how to get that core gameplay _right_.

The reason so many small developers jump onto the ''retro'' bandwagon is because it''s so much easier to make a game where the core gameplay has already been worked out for you by someone else. If they were to make that extra effort to create an _original_ take on the concept, they might have realised that getting the gameplay itself just right is by far the hardest part of the game development process.

My comments about "3D Astro Blaster" were 100% valid: it is NOT selling entirely on its own merits; it is deliberately derived from Asteroids. And that is where the laws come in.

My point isn''t about copyright. It''s about grey areas like the fine line between rip-off and homage. It''s subjective as hell; you can guess where I draw the line. But my view exists because I''m biased.

I''m asking you: where do YOU draw that line?



--
Sean Timarco Baggaley

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Sorry but i disagree. Nobody is saying that games like debris are not ''like'' asteroids. Thats not a bad thing per se, i LIKE asteroids as a game, and if someone has a new interesting variation on it, then I want the option to play it.
Debris is much more different from Asteroids than Unreal Tournament is from Quake III. Change the weapons slightly and Id be hard pressed to know if I was playing Quake III or UT, they are THAT similar, yet i dont see the makers of UT havign to go to court or get ids permissio for their game.
Face facts, this is a big company throwing its lawyers around because its own coders dont have the same creativity that people at MVP software do. Its also very sad.

http://www.positech.co.uk

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This Article sucks as much as the whole Hasbro thing!?! Personally so far I haven't released my opinion about Hasbro, well now it's the time, I haven't even opened hasbrosuit ribbon topic or whatever. What author and Hasbro are basically saying is that AMD is not allowed to make processors, because Intel became popular by doing it before AMD. This also means that development of Linux should be held, because it looks like Windows OR General motors should stop building sport cars, because Ferrari did them first.


I disagree almost 100% with Diana's article. We should have been scared if Hasbro lost, not if they won. If Hasbro lost, then it would have meant the death of copyright laws and intellectual property rights as we know them.

What does he mean exactly??? Death of copyright laws? Does this mean that if Sony brings up the first DVD which contains music they will have the rest of the business. I mean noone else is not allowed to make DVDs?

This Hasbro thing means that we won't have many games at future, because everything looks like PacMan, Doom, SimCity, Dune, Ultima I, X-Com? Think about it? 90% of released ideas are seen before. SO only ID is allowed to develop FPS, the only sims are made by Maxis, Westwood has the rest of RTSs and Microprose is able to make UFO clones if they doesn't "rent" rights for it.

In authors opinion who made the first detective novel is the only author of detective novels or the one who wrote the first fantasy book is the one and only fantasy book author.

This thing is killing the competition, nothing else. We can't develop asterids style games, we can't develop FPSs, we can't make real time strategies.

This is not a culmination, this is what it means!

I would like to see author in real world and have little debate, it's easy to write crap online when you don't have to see others and listen their opinions.

Time comes, time goes and I only am.

Edited by - Arch@on on 5/5/00 8:46:41 AM

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I just read the article, and as one of the defendants who has inside knowledge of the case, I simply shook my head in disbelief at the almost complete ignorance of the facts and US copyright law displayed by this writer. Over the years I have written more than 50 papers and articles, from academic papers published in refereed journals such as The Journal of the History of Ideas to opinion pieces on the computer industry published in now-defunct computer magazines to games complete with code listings in BASIC published in Sanyo-specific and Radio Shack-specific rags back in the early days. I have also been an editor. So I know a little about the responsibilities of ethical journalism.

(1) Most journalists attempt to talk to at least some of the principals involved in a situation before they write a story so they can ascertain the facts. Did this guy talk to even one person involved in the lawsuit? Did he talk to Jerry Klein, president of Egames? Egames is a publicly-traded company and their phone number is readily available. Jerry is happy to talk to anyone about this case. This writer certainly didn't talk to me.

(2) This writer asserted that Hasbro has won the case. This is laughably absurd and shows not even the slightest familiarity with the current state of the case. The facts are that two of the defendants (GT and Varcon) settled, but the others are fighting, and the lawsuit is ongoing. No one has won; no one has lost. Also, to characterize a settlement as a "win" is preposterous. GT settled because one of their divisions, MacSoft, got a contract to do quite a bit of work for Hasbro, and GT didn't want to jeopardize that. Hardly a "win" for Hasbro -- GT is very happy with the arrangement, they don't mind pulling some old under-performing games from the shelves, and I can assure you that they are very happy with the settlement terms, since it was less than a slap on the wrist and actually to their benefit.

(3) This is not about "plagiarism". It is obvious that the writer never played 3D Astro Blaster, or if he did, played it very little. The game is quite a bit different from Asteroids. In fact, we intentionally made the game very different from Asteroids. We did not set out to remake Asteroids. It is less like Asteroids than Duke Nukem is like Doom or Unreal Tournament is like Quake III. It is less like Asteroids than Warcraft is like Command and Conquer, or Transportation Tycoon is like Railroad Tycoon.

(4) The marketing blurbs by the publisher are just that, marketing blurbs. To use those to compare the games is silly and naive. Furthermore, product comparisons are legal in the US, even products with similarities. Generic aspirin-makers compare their products to Bayer(r) all the time, because the products are identical. This principle is fully established both in common law and precedent.

(5) The writer shows shocking unfamiliarity with US copyright laws. In the US, ideas are NOT copyrightable, and neither is gameplay. Whether you like it or not, that is the law. So shooting rocks in space is not copyrightable; moving ships around a screen is not copyrightable. The law distinguishes between ideas, which are not copyrightable, and unique expression, which is. One can argue that 3D Astro Blaster infringes the unique expression of Asteroids, but simply to assume it, as this article does, is the height of irresponsible writing. To write on this topic and not even understand the distinction US law makes between ideas and expression shows an incredible disdain for your reader's time.

(6) There are a number of issues involved in the Atari/Hasbro copyrights that this writer ignores completely, apparently out of utter ignorance of the law and the facts of this case. These include: To what extent, if any, does the fact that Atari has failed to enforce their copyrights over a 20 year period legally invalidate them? and To what extent is the Asteroids copyright legally invalid or fatally weak by what is known as the "merger doctrine" (the merger of ideas and expression)? and To what extent is the Asteroids copyright invalid or fatally weak by the existence of similar pre-existing works?

One would hope that someone who thinks he has enough to say to impose on a reader's time would at least know something about the law, would take time to investigate the facts, and would not make unwarranted conclusions based on no evidence whatsoever. I guess sometimes that is simply too much to ask.

What is becoming more widely known is the extent to which marketing considerations are involved in this case. I predict that before this case is resolved, anyone who wants to follow it will be made aware of additional facts that indicate that this case is all about shelf space, competition, and marketing, rather than protecting IP rights.

IP rights are important and should be protected. True plagiarism is abhorrent. But intellectual property rights should never be used as a ruse to intimidate competitors or undermine the marketplace. Or dupe naive writers who don't do their homework.

Edited by - mvpsoft on 5/5/00 10:47:18 AM

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I thank USA only by one thing, this case, ideas are not copyrightable, thank god!

Time comes, time goes and I only am.

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One of the points why people were PO''d at Hasbro in the first place was that they bought the rights to the games - apparently just to try cash in on the ''re-make'' craze. When the author of the recent article writes the "blah blah" sounds like Asteroids! section, it seems that any game containing a spaceship and some rocks is a rip-off, and is not allowed.
So it could follow that any game with a build menu down the side and several different units is just Command & Conquer, or going back further, Dune 2. or that something like any game with a 3D viewpoint, different levels, some polygonal baddies and kick-ass guns is a Quake rip-off (okay actually most are).
But the point I''m trying to make is that there will always (until someone comes up with a REALLY original idea) be similarities between games - okay not to the extent previously mentioned or in the case of some of the clones. But most people I know like to write remakes of these ''oldies'' when they are starting out, to get experiance.

End rambling, whether you disagree or agree is your own choice, but I''m speaking my mind here, something I don''t do very often. Comments & criticisems are welcome, just don''t offend me with them.


-Mezz

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Guest Anonymous Poster
The fact that the author bases an article about an American copyright case on his own opinion that gameplay and ideas should be copyrightable makes it rather irrelevant to the gamedev.net community. It''s like someone writing a physics paper on things that could happen if the earth was flat.

The sad thing is that the author does not mention the facts that do apply to the trial in the US but tries to deceive the reader into believing that gameplay and ideas are copyrightable in the US (similar to trying to make you think that the earth is actually flat). Oh well, maybe the author wrote the article so he could get a job working for a tabloid magazine or something...

Henry

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I just have to say that is one of the most ignorant articles I''ve seen on this topic so far. Baggaley is an idiot. Under his views, every driving game owes "Pole Position" a cut. And don''t say that''s different because driving is something we all do, because if so, then how can you differ the likeness of that and Debris with Asteroids. Some people say that it''s the "Game Play" that makes it infringe, well the "Game Play" is the fucking same in every driving game, and every two man fighting game. How stupid. What? There aren''t asteroids in space? There aren''t any space ships? And last time I checked if you break a rock with something it breaks into smaller pieces, call me crazy...Baggaley, if your going to write an article claiming that your showing all sides of the situation then it must be done in an unbiased manner, obviously you''re an idiot, and are just spewing shit from your mouth. So why don''t you take that article and shove it up your ass!




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I don''t agree with that last poster''s ending statements, but I do agree that the article is very poorly written in a very biased manner, and that Baggaley has a lot to learn.

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