Star Control II Creators Defend Issuing a DMCA Notice for Star Control: Origins
Following their DMCA take down of Star Control: Origins from Steam and GOG, Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford defended their actions.
A few days ago, Star Control: Origins was brought back into the public purview when it was taken off both Steam and GOG due to a DMCA notice from Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford, the creators of Star Control II, after a lengthy legal quarrel between the two parties. Following Stardock’s official statement about the issue, Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford posted on their own website Dogar and Kazon to defend their actions.
Apparently, Stardock had previously filed an injunction with the court in order to prevent Paul and Fred from issuing a takedown notice like this, but the presiding judge denied their request on December 27, 2018. The judge also claimed that Stardock’s Star Control: Origins was vulnerable to a takedown like this because its release date was not announced when this lawsuit commenced in 2017 and the court can’t protect something that is “purportedly infringing material.”
Paul and Fred still stand by the fact that when Stardock purchased the rights to Star Origins from Atari in 2013 all they received were the rights to the Star Control trademark as well as the “copyright to the original parts of Star Control III.” As such, Paul and Fred are trying to claim ownership of the aspects of Star Control: Origins that heavily resemble Star Control II like interstellar travel.
Unfortunately for Stardock, there are quite a few similarities that may give Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford enough evidence to call Origins copyright infringing, though it remains to be seen if it is to be deemed so by a court of law. To try and prove their point, the pair released the following chart showing that Star Control: Origins has several gameplay elements that are much more similar to Star Control II, which Paul and Fred own aspects of, as opposed to Star Control III, the main game Stardock has the rights to.
Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford summed up their thoughts in a final statement where they claim that Stardock intentionally made several aspects, namely interstellar travel, of Star Control: Origins resemble Star Control II, which is why they are being so adamant in pursuing action against them:
“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.
No matter which side of the argument you side with, it is certainly an interesting case that may set a precedent when it comes to game copyrights. Games constantly take inspiration from one another and IPs change owners quite frequently, so a win from Paul and Fred here might have a notable impact on the industry. If you do want to support Stardock now that Star Control: Origins has been pulled from Steam and GOG, you can currently purchase the game for 50% off on their website.