The war continues for the Star Control franchise. Last week, we reported that the Star Control creators, Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford, took legal action against developer Stardock for their video game, Star Control Origins. Utilizing the power of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Reiche and Ford made a copyright claim which eventually made its way to digital retailer powerhouses Steam and GOG. As a result, the game was promptly removed from their stores. The CEO of Stardock, Brad Wardell, responded to these allegations, and demanded a legitimate response for the DMCA removal of their game.
It seems that Reiche and Ford were listening, as the former has written out a very long and detailed blog post as to why they have made the DMCA claim. Stardock purchased the Star Control rights back in 2013 during a bankruptcy auction sale from Atari. According to Reiche and Ford, what Stardock actually purchased at that auction was “the registration to trademark Star Control” as well as “the copyrights to the original parts to Star Control 3.” What this means is that Stardock would be allowed to use the Star Control name, but they wouldn’t be allowed to use content based on the original Star Control or Star Control 2: The Ur-Quan Masters.
Reiche goes on to argue that the similarities between Star Control: Origins and Star Control 2, the latter of which they claim the rights to, warranted the DMCA claim. Reiche even has a compare and contrast table that shows in great detail how the space travel is exactly like Star Control 2 and 3. Reiche finishes the post by stating:
It’s clear to us that Stardock chose to make Origins substantially similar to SC2 instead of using the original material they purchased in SC3. We don’t claim to have a copyright on all interstellar travel, but we do have a copyright on the specific way we expressed interstellar travel in Star Control II. We see many such examples in Star Control: Origins where its expression is substantially similar to and/or derivative of our copyright-protected work, without our permission.
Not one to be outdone, Stardock’s Brad Wardell took to Twitter to vent his frustrations. In addition, Wardell even produced his own version of the table that Reiche and Ford were using, arguing against their claims.
Now anyone who has played a video game in the last decade, can you imagine if DOS game developers stepped up and started issuing DMCAs on this. Think of all your favorite modern games. How many of them have things like…say the color red. Radar, top down view, exploration.
— Brad Wardell (@draginol) January 3, 2019
Wardell stated in last week’s post that because the game was removed from stores, the company would need to start laying off some of their staff due to having no more income. It’s obvious that this won’t be resolved anytime soon, as this will more than likely continue to drag on throughout the year, possibly into next year. Unfortunately this potentially means that Stardock will begin letting some of their staff go, and in this situation, no one wins. We’ll be keeping our eye’s out for the next development on the battle for Star Control, but hopefully it gets better from here on out.