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Tetris Clones Pulled From Android Market 396

Posted by Soulskill
from the bad-news-bears dept.
sbrubblesman writes "The Tetris Company, LLC has notified Google to remove all Tetris clones from Android Market. I am one of the developers of FallingBlocks, a game with the same gameplay concepts as Tetris. I have received an email warning that my game was suspended from Android Market due to a violation of the Developer Content Policy. When I received the email, I already imagined that it had something to do with it being a Tetris clone, but besides having the same gameplay as Tetris, which I believe cannot be copyrighted, the game uses its own name, graphics and sounds. There's no reference to 'Tetris' in our game. I have emailed Google asking what is the reason for the application removal. Google promptly answered that The Tetris Company, LLC notified them under the DMCA (PDF) to remove various Tetris clones from Android Market. My app was removed together with 35 other Tetris clones. I checked online at various sources, and all of them say that there's no copyright on gameplay. There could be some sort of patent. But even if they had one, it would last 20 years, so it would have been over in 2005. It's a shame that The Tetris Company, LLC uses its power to stop developers from creating good and free games for Android users. Without resources for a legal fight, our application and many others will cease to exist, even knowing that they are legit. Users will be forced to buy the paid, official version, which is worse than many of the ones available for free on the market. Users from other countries, such as Brazil in my case, won't even be able to play the official Tetris, since Google Checkout doesn't exist in Brazil; you can't buy paid applications from Android Market in these countries."
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Tetris Clones Pulled From Android Market

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  • shame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jDeepbeep (913892) on Friday May 28, 2010 @06:52AM (#32373706)
    Falling Blocks is a nice little game. It's on my phone right now, so here's hoping that Google won't 'pull an Amazon' and vanish it off the device.
  • by Issarlk (1429361) on Friday May 28, 2010 @06:59AM (#32373738)
    Doen't the DMCA allow you to just send a "No I don't infringue on the copyright" back to Google and have your app not taken down?
  • EFF, get together (Score:4, Insightful)

    by markus_baertschi (259069) <markusNO@SPAMmarkus.org> on Friday May 28, 2010 @07:05AM (#32373790)

    This might be a case where the EFF might be interested to help.

    Also, banding all together, you are 35 people strong, considerably lowering expenses.

    Markus

  • Could be worse.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by draxil (198788) on Friday May 28, 2010 @07:08AM (#32373810) Homepage

    Of course with Android you always have the option of getting software from sources other than the main sanctioned market. Unlike a certain other smartphone OS I could mention.

  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Friday May 28, 2010 @07:19AM (#32373898)

    I'm always amused by how the same geek crowd that will rip a film-maker or author to shreds over re-hashing some common plot device will support to the death a software developer demonstrating the same lack of unoriginality.

    "Falling Blocks!" The guy made a Tetris clone and called it "Falling Blocks!"

    Where's the pride?

  • by databyss (586137) on Friday May 28, 2010 @07:29AM (#32373976) Homepage Journal

    Fully agreed.

    Although the key to visibility is still in the main market.

  • by Rockoon (1252108) on Friday May 28, 2010 @07:38AM (#32374048)
    The DMCA does...

    ..however, the DMCA does not FORCE them to put it back up when you file a counter. They can choose not to put it back up, and since there is so little to gain by putting it back up.. no attorney would ever recommend that they do so.
  • by SharpFang (651121) on Friday May 28, 2010 @07:39AM (#32374064) Homepage Journal

    Do you find joy in driving a new shiny Ferrari?
    Do you find joy in driving a new shiny Ferrari bought with money from sales of a game that uses the same ancient concept reused thousands times any less?

  • by loshwomp (468955) on Friday May 28, 2010 @07:40AM (#32374076)

    I'm always amused by how the same geek crowd that will rip a film-maker or author to shreds over re-hashing some common plot device will support to the death a software developer demonstrating the same lack of unoriginality.

    Citation, please. I've seen nothing to indicate that this is the same geek.

    And anyway, no one shuts down the big movie company when they make a re-hash movie.

  • By the same argument, developers ought to be ashamed for writing a Chess game (or crafting a real one, for that matter -- it's been done before, man!). Tetris is a staple game, it's a shame that the name is trademarked, and it's downright preposterous to send out notices to take down the clones which don't infringe on the trademark.

    The comparison the books and movies is flawed: I don't watch the same movie two evenings in a row, and I might now want to watch two extremely similar movies in terms of characters and plot on two evenings in a row. Playing a game of skill such as Tetris five times in a row isn't such a problem though. The two are at opposite ends of the interactivity scale, with plot-heavy games in the middle.

  • Re:All in all.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by c-reus (852386) on Friday May 28, 2010 @07:44AM (#32374122) Homepage

    For me this seems fairly similar to claiming that Doom, Quake and a number of other FPS games should not exist because they're clones of Wolf3D.

  • by Em Emalb (452530) <(ememalb) (at) (gmail.com)> on Friday May 28, 2010 @07:45AM (#32374134) Homepage Journal

    The Tetris Company, LLC has notified Google to remove all Tetris clones from Android Market. I am one of the developers of FallingBlocks, a game with the same gameplay concepts as Tetris.

    So, if I understand this right, you've made a Tetris clone. (Unless "the same gameplay concepts" means something other than blocks fall towards the bottom of the screen, you can move them around and the goal is to get full lines across the entire line)

    The company that owns Tetris basically said "We own the trademark and have a patent on the game play, they can't make their own version of it and sell it for profit".

    Is that correct?

    Because if that is the story, then I don't really see how this is a big deal at all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 28, 2010 @07:56AM (#32374246)

    Thank your deity that Google doesn't have the same draconian control over their store as Apple. Thanks for peace and love. Wait...you mean they pull items from their store? You mean they let manufacturers control how Android is implemented (including locking HW down)? Say it isn't so. Fortunately, they don't have ads...wait they just bought admob.

    I'll stick with Apple (I know the hate out there). At least they are focussed on hardware and not capturing my entire existence in a database someplace.

  • Money talks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by houbou (1097327) on Friday May 28, 2010 @07:56AM (#32374248) Journal
    The old arcade games are getting a new lease on life with these mobile devices. So that's why they are doing this, it's simple economics. I mean whoever wrote Pacman, etc.. never thought they would be able eventually to play it on a phone. This is a new revenue stream and they want in on it. In a way, they wrote the original code, they had the inspiration to do it. So, they do deserve some credits in some form. When someone decides to write a "clone" version of a game.. Maybe he's improving it, or not, it doesn't matter. This person isn't being 'original'. This person took someone else work and recreated it. Bottom line, I would say, if someone goes out of their way to recreate someone else's effort for money, don't be surprised if the creators get a hissy fit about it :)
  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Friday May 28, 2010 @08:12AM (#32374394) Homepage Journal
    As soon as I read this story, I did a Google search for Falling Blocks for Android, went to his web site, and downloaded the game to my G1. That's the beauty of a phone OS that allows you to choose whether you want to be able to install out-of-market apps. My "trendy" iPhone-using friends wouldn't have had that option -- if Apple says you can't have it, you can't have it.
  • Re:Foreign markets (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CowboyBob500 (580695) on Friday May 28, 2010 @08:18AM (#32374440) Homepage
    FFS, not this bullshit again. Yes the EPO will grant patents on anything if you're stupid enough to pay. They are NOT legally enforceable though. Read the section entitled "Enforceability before national courts" from your own link.
  • by delinear (991444) on Friday May 28, 2010 @08:20AM (#32374470)
    Complaining about someone's lack of originality while supporting their right to be unoriginal aren't mutually exclusive.
  • by ICLKennyG (899257) on Friday May 28, 2010 @08:31AM (#32374568)
    This is one of the biggest problem with the DMCA. You have given all the power to the big conglomerates without making them risk anything in return. They just indiscriminately fire C&D letters like shotgun blasts and use them to anti-competitive effect. The only thing Tetris has is their trademark claim and a prevention on decompiling/copying their code or graphics in an exact manner. Feist [wikipedia.org] We need a broader application of Assessment Technologies [wikia.com].

    I'd be less critical of the DMCA if they had a penalty, $10,000 plus costs, for reckless or malicious take-down notices. You wouldn't get companies sending 25,000+ a day for 2 seconds of their content used in a fair use manner. This is what scares me so much about the MPEG 7 [slashdot.org].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 28, 2010 @08:33AM (#32374588)

    It's not about the bully, dumbass. It's about the asshole who's paying the bully $1 a time for every kid punched.

  • by Interoperable (1651953) on Friday May 28, 2010 @08:42AM (#32374654)

    I think that Google might well restore the app if a counter-claim was filed. They work hard to avoid being painted as a big evil corporation and in this case, there's no risk to them if the counter-claim is filed, in fact, there's less risk. All the risk would be assumed by the developer of Falling Blocks, who would have to hope that the EFF would supply lawyers in the event of a law suit.

  • by Svartalf (2997) on Friday May 28, 2010 @08:44AM (#32374688) Homepage

    DMCA isn't about Patents- it's about Copyrights and as such, you can't Copyright the gameplay concepts. More to the point, even if this WERE about Patents, any relevant Patents would be over 20 years old. YOU do the math there. At most, you're talking Trademark- which can't be enforced with a DMCA takedown (Law doesn't cover, the ISP doing it can get sued for breach of contract/agreement...the Trademark holder has to be suing and file for an Injunction at that point that gets granted...) and is only an issue if you use the name "Tetris" within your own.

    This is about misusing the DMCA to "protect" a game that literally CAN'T be protected under law at this point except for Trademark protection.

  • by Reverend528 (585549) * on Friday May 28, 2010 @09:07AM (#32374936) Homepage

    it should drive up the cost of using the attorneys so high as to make it not profitable to use bogus dmca notices.

    A better way to make bogus dmca notices unprofitable is to sue them for damages. The EFF has had some success going after known dmca abusers.

  • Re:Old news? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheCRAIGGERS (909877) on Friday May 28, 2010 @09:23AM (#32375118)

    Do you work for The Tetris Company?

    This is horrible advice and underlines everything (ok, maybe not everything) that is wrong with the DMCA. The company is being an unlawful bully and bowing to their pressure is not going to help anything.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 28, 2010 @10:30AM (#32375988)

    I might not agree with your unoriginal comment, good sir, but I would fight to the death to defend your right to make it.

  • And? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by N0Man74 (1620447) on Friday May 28, 2010 @01:57PM (#32378682)

    If they didn't comply with the formal communication that states that the work is not infringing, then you could criticize Google for "policing the internet", but there is no evidence that there was a formal document refuting infringement.

    Google was acting in compliance with a dumb law, so criticize the law, the lawmakers, and the copyright holders, but there is no reason here to criticize those forced to follow it.

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