Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Courts Games

Zynga Sues Brazilian Dev For Copying Its Games 115

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-show-those-jerks-who-copy-games dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In what can only be described as a case of the pot calling the kettle black, Zynga has launched and settled a lawsuit against Brazilian game developer Vostu after accusing Vostu of copying their games. The settlement resulted in the loss of jobs for many Vostu employees. How Zynga managed to carry out such actions while keeping a straight face after dealing with similar allegations remains to be seen."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Zynga Sues Brazilian Dev For Copying Its Games

Comments Filter:
  • oh the hypocrisy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sneakyimp (1161443) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @12:10AM (#39041257)

    *sigh*.

    • by Dyinobal (1427207) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @12:14AM (#39041273)
      He who has the lawyers wins.
      • Re:oh the hypocrisy (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jduhls (1666325) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @09:54AM (#39043687)
        I would just shorten it to "the lawyers win". Innovation, competition, and the fair market lose. It's a nuclear arms race to acquire lawyers. What is this bubble? An over-litigious-society bubble? I hope it pops soon, though by then all the lawyers will have weaved golden parachutes or gotten jobs as lobbyists and politicians, right?
        • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @12:04PM (#39045259) Journal
          Its actually quite simple, the west will become gridlocked, with nobody able to innovate anything the constant copyright and patent trolling shut everything down or drag it for a decade through the courts, while the east that have made it clear they won't be buying our products OR playing our reindeer games will become the new powerhouse while the west rots. We've seen this before, in the rise of the USA who ignored the old world's copyrights and patents and were therefor able to build upon the work done before and "stand on the shoulders of giants" as it were. Now our entire history is being locked behind paywalls, can't anything get done with an army of lawyers, all so the 1% at the top can try to keep their strangehold on the wealth. Sad really but all good things must end and the current reign of the USA as the big dog will end with massive unemployment, out of control debt, and the jobs all being sent to places where they can build without an army or lawyers on retainer.
        • by Idbar (1034346)
          You may have the answer in your post. Let's mix nuclear arms and IP lawyers... in a remote location.
      • by Chatsubo (807023)

        He who has the gold, makes the rules.

    • Sort of, I suppose (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @12:48AM (#39041429)

      A predator kills and eats its prey while simultaneously doing everything within its power to make its own predators fail to kill and eat it. This is not hypocrisy.

      If Zynga sees the illegality of its own practice of copying other people's games as a calculated risk of doing business, then suing others for doing to it exactly what it does to others is really no different than basic predator behavior (which is natural enough...humans are predators after all).

      If you misinterpret Zynga's allegations to be some sort of political or moral statement about what kinds of business models/actions are not appropriate, then yeah I guess they are being hypocritical. But since when do large wealthy corporations bother with principles?

      • Really, who cares in this case. This isn't Apple or Google, this is some crap Rollercoaster Tycoon-quality(in 2012!) games shop that got rich peddling its lousy wares off of Facebook's back. Zynga is a flea, and FB is the big dog - scratching Zynga off his balls with his muthafuckin' paws --

        -- Y'alls - you can expect this shop to go under when Facebook does, which hopefully will be not long from now.
      • by decora (1710862) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @02:14AM (#39041809) Journal

        and it smacks of a massively corrupt, medieval style social organization in which 'might makes right', and trial by combat was the norm. if we have 'trial by most lawyers', completely disregarding any principles of legal ethics or empiricism, we have not really advanced past the state described in the Viking Sagas of the 11th century .

        • by Renraku (518261) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @03:01AM (#39041983) Homepage

          The issue is that if you find a way to level the playing field, someone will learn to play the game better than everyone else and you're right back to where you started. Companies used to exploit workers because you had to work somewhere if you wanted to survive and there were few laws against it. They used to rule with iron fists, threatening to fire people at every turn, or straight up beating them or subjecting them to other inhumane treatment.

          Then the law stepped in with a new civilized way of handling matters. Now you have to take your disputes to court, they said, where a judge can enact justice! Here are new laws to go by. As a result, companies still exploit workers and rule with iron fists backed up by massive legal departments and boatloads of money instead of a few strong guys that don't care to beat the shit out of you.

          • by Ihmhi (1206036)

            Companies used to exploit workers because you had to work somewhere if you wanted to survive and there were few laws against it. They used to rule with iron fists, threatening to fire people at every turn, or straight up beating them or subjecting them to other inhumane treatment.

            Then the law stepped in with a new civilized way of handling matters.

            Used to?

            • Have you considered reading to the end of comments before posting?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by EdIII (1114411)

          You got a point. Why don't we just say fuck it to the massively corrupt system pretending to be just, and go straight to Thunder Dome .

          It would make you think twice about frivolous lawsuits.

          • by idontgno (624372)

            Nope. You'd sue as often as you'd likely sue now, because you'd have comparable resources in each case. In the current model, you'd have a bad-ass legal team. In the proposed model, you'd have a bad-ass combat champion.

            In both cases, it's a matter of "all the justice you can afford." And Zynga, well, it can afford a lot of justice.

            Broadening the scene a bit, this was one of the things that made me shake my head in amazement at SCO v. IBM. IBM is legendary at its ability to field whole armies of "legal champ

        • Bravo Zynga, bravo (Score:5, Interesting)

          by TiggertheMad (556308) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @03:04AM (#39041995) Homepage Journal
          The really ironic thing is, supposedly laws are to supposed to remove 'might makes right' from disputes in a civilized society, and move disagreements to a courtroom where they can be decided in a rational way without bloodshed. If we have gotten to a place as a society where having more money allows one to buy legal victories with more lawyers, then there really isn't any reason for the fiscal/legal 'little guys' to not just pull out a gun and kill someone they disagree. The whole non-violent method of solving disputes goes straight out the window.

          Interestingly enough, that is how radical and terrorist groups are created: the disenfranchisement of a group from society because it feels it has no voice. With no stakes in a society, there isn't any reason not to kill anyone who looks at you cross eyed.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by unity100 (970058)

            The really ironic thing is, supposedly laws are to supposed to remove 'might makes right' from disputes in a civilized society, and move disagreements to a courtroom where they can be decided in a rational way without bloodshed.

            you didnt 'come' to that point. you never left that point. the actual might which made the medieval ages, was never dropped - property ownership and wealth. only, the method changed. back then the wealthier used more goons to overwhelm the poorer, now they use lawyers. the 'might makes right' tribal justice was much more just than the actual 'might makes right' justice of feudal power. at least, you could somehow win against a single person with the tribal law. with medieval might makes right, there is alwa

            • One thing I never understand about "might makes right": it doesn't. You tell me that Earth is a star. I say it isn't. You kick my ass. Poof, the Earth magically turns into a star through the Power of Right. Wait, no it doesn't. So how did this become our way of deciding things in the first place?
              • by unity100 (970058)

                it has become so in early antiquity, and it has not change since. it just transformed and translated to other mediums. it was raw arm power first. then it became religious power. then it become aristocratic power. then it became wealth.

          • Your conclusion faulty, based on a faulty premise.

            The root problem is greed. The symptom is that money got involved with laws. He who can afford the most lawyers can win. Notice this is the SAME problem & symptom in Politics.

            The solution is to remove money from the equation:

            If one side wants to pay one lawyer more then half of it should be given to the other side. That is, pool the resources, so one side does not have a monetary advantage.

            OR,

            the better long term solution: Get rid of money. Now you're

            • by Dutch Gun (899105)

              What? No, money is a representation of life energy, not simple power. A person trades their time (life energy) for money. A person's wage or salary determines the exchange rate. That person can then trade that money for goods and services that other people have sacrificed their life energy to produce. I can have the equivalent of a nuclear power plant in my house. That's not going to put a single green bean on my plate, nor purchase a car to travel in.

              Anyhow, back on topic... the single slimiest produ

        • by muon-catalyzed (2483394) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @06:15AM (#39042587)
          Without this gem [forbes.com], the discussion is not really complete.


          “I don’t f***ing want innovation. “You’re not smarter than your competitor. Just copy what they do and do it until you get their numbers.”
          • And this letter ... http://i.imgur.com/ajaYt.jpg [imgur.com]

            In fact, "Corporation Inc.", Zynga's "Dream Heights" and your "Tiny Tower" are all quite similar to SimTower, which Corporation Inc. credits in their flash game. I don't own your game. So I don't know if you give credit to anyone for your "inspiration"

            Sincerely,
            drumcowski

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Corporations aren't individuals and doesn't work like a predator.
        Whatever Zynga does is becasue the people at the top wants it to do that way.
        Some large corporations actually bother with principles since the people behind the corporation isn't psychopaths, this is obviously not the case with Zynga.

      • Sure, but law and society are there exactly to avoid living in such the jungle where the predators win. Else I might as well go and shoot the CEO of Zinga. The "natural state" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_of_nature, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGyygiXMzRk [youtube.com]) is not were you want to live. The (extreme) irony here is Zynga using the exact tools (law) created to move from predator behavior to morals human rights to do the opposite.
      • If you misinterpret Zynga's allegations to be some sort of political or moral statement about what kinds of business models/actions are not appropriate, then yeah I guess they are being hypocritical. But since when do large wealthy corporations bother with principles?

        Just off the top of my head, if Nimblebit were to sue Zynga, they could point at Zynga v. Vostu as Zynga's agreement that this kind of case is valid.

        Why? Because legal systems take your past actions into account and corporations aren't exempt from that.

        • Of course, the lawsuits would probably take place in a different country, with a different legal system. Not all legal systems put precedent over law-as-written.
      • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @05:32AM (#39042459) Homepage

        If you see the justice system as little more than "survival of the fittest" then you would be right in your statement. But that's not how the justice system is supposed to work or to be used.

        The people behind Zynga are committing these acts wilfully and knowingly. There can be no hiding it nor denying it. They need to be sued out of existence and their lawyers disbarred.

      • by tgd (2822)

        A predator kills and eats its prey while simultaneously doing everything within its power to make its own predators fail to kill and eat it. This is not hypocrisy.

        If Zynga sees the illegality of its own practice of copying other people's games as a calculated risk of doing business, then suing others for doing to it exactly what it does to others is really no different than basic predator behavior (which is natural enough...humans are predators after all).

        If you misinterpret Zynga's allegations to be some sort of political or moral statement about what kinds of business models/actions are not appropriate, then yeah I guess they are being hypocritical. But since when do large wealthy corporations bother with principles?

        The real irony is not what Zynga is doing -- because they're *not* breaking the law, even if they're being unethical.

        The real hypocricy is the whining on Slashdot about it. If Zynga copies a two man developer, people get all up in arms about stealing their idea, or their IP. But when the word patent shows up in an article, or copyright on music or movies, people all of a sudden get up in arms.

        I suspect the common denominator is that people are hiding behind a veil of righteousness, but their motivations are

        • by Anonymous Coward

          No, your arguments are trying to focus on a narrow view, try looking at the big picture and open you eyes.

          Watch "Pump up the Volume"; then multiply it across many domains and perhaps you may get enlightened.

          Personally, I have no problem with Patents, Copyright, or Trademarks; in fact, I do believe (as do most everyone here that I have ever read about) that these are necessary and serve a VERY important function in society. What I disagree with is a double standard; where one group of people can dictate/for

          • by mattack2 (1165421)

            -- You buy a DVD for your kids, then make a backup of it so they can use that and if it gets broken you can copy your original again, -- why is this "almost" illegal?

            What prevents the original DVD and the copy from being used at the same time? Thus, an unauthorized copy was made.

            -- Posting a video that just happens to have the TV on in the background. TV is "BROADCASTED!" so is idiotic (but not if the whole TV is the video (but this should be left up to a Judge to decide and at the very least should not go

    • The Amish are still waiting for their class action status ruling against Zynga.

  • by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@ u b e r m00.net> on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @12:15AM (#39041277) Homepage Journal

    Zynga has more money and better lawyers.

  • Did I miss the announcement of a contest offering a prize for the company that can be the biggest douche-bag? I must have. Between these guys, Apple, Microsoft, and a handful of others, they must be having some fun at our expense.

    • Re:Contest (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @10:37AM (#39044161) Homepage

      Did I miss the announcement of a contest offering a prize for the company that can be the biggest douche-bag?

      No, it's simply called 'doing business'. The prize is money.

      Nothing has changed, companies have always acted like that if it gets them the most money. It's not like in the last few months we've changed the rules to favor those who act like greedy bastards -- that's always been how it's worked.

      And, sadly, Zynga is far from the first company to be involved in two separate lawsuits, and arguing totally opposite (and incompatible) things in each.

      Corporations and lawyers don't have cognitive dissonance by doing contradictory things.

  • Does that mean every developer that has inspired Zynga can sue them for copying their games?
    • Yes. Your point?

  • by steelfood (895457) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @12:23AM (#39041317)

    What a silly question. It's not about consistency, morality, or ethics. It's about what they can get away with, how far they can get away with it, and what happens if/when they get caught.

    Gotta get with the times. There's no such thing as corporate responsibility. How the money is made, where it comes from, and what the consequences of making it are, are all problems left for everyone else to deal with. There's only quarterly earnings, year over year growth, and valuation. Get in, make a boatload, and pray to your local diety you get out before the whole system comes crashing down on the heads of all the less fortunate ones who couldn't get out in time.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There ARE businesses that do not behave like this and they will get my money.
      I hate Zynga and their crap games anyway but this would just encourage me to avoid them.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There's no such thing as corporate responsibility.

      There is such a thing as corporate responsibility, Zynga just chooses to ignore it.

      There's a difference.

      You can choose to do business with companies that exhibit corporate responsibility and not do business with companies that don't.

    • by EnempE (709151)

      What a silly question. It's not about consistency, morality, or ethics. It's about what they can get away with, how far they can get away with it, and what happens if/when they get caught.

      For the sake of clarity morality and ethics are largely about the decisions of what one can get away with, how far one can get away with it and what happens if/when they get caught. Corporate Social Responsibility is about the effort to make moral and ethical decisions into economic decisions by placing a financial cost against the cost of immoral acts on the part of the company. Throwing ones hands in the air and running off is what makes the whole system come crashing down, communicating dissatisfaction

    • by unity100 (970058)

      Gotta get with the times. There's no such thing as corporate responsibility. How the money is made, where it comes from, and what the consequences of making it are, are all problems left for everyone else to deal with. There's only quarterly earnings, year over year growth, and valuation. Get in, make a boatload, and pray to your local diety you get out before the whole system comes crashing down on the heads of all the less fortunate ones who couldn't get out in time.

      congrats. you have grasped the precise essence of capitalism.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @12:24AM (#39041335)

    How could they possibly sue a brazilian devs? Surely that would be way too many for the court to handle at the same time.

  • by Zadaz (950521) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @12:45AM (#39041417)

    Why would they need to keep a straight face? They can afford better lawyers than anyone they're likely to sue or be sued by. The kind of business Zynga is involved in has nothing to do with ethics or image. If it was they'd have been out of business long ago.

  • Fingerprints (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @12:56AM (#39041463)

    Claim 71 is the most interesting.

    Zynga claims that Vostu replicated a "bug" that was in CityVille. This kind of claim has been successful in map making and directories to prove copying of works. I would suspect this is why Vostu settled.

    Looking at the claims it would be very interesting to know if any source was actually lifted from Zynga by Vostu. But from a layperson or judge looking at it the conclusion may be the same.

    Game rules are not subject to copyright, however the exact source code and images are. I can imagine a judge saying that this "bug/feature" while independently coded in a clean room - is the equivalent of a trap street on a map or fictitious entry in a directory.

    • Re:Fingerprints (Score:4, Interesting)

      by am 2k (217885) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @07:11AM (#39042795) Homepage

      Looking at the claims it would be very interesting to know if any source was actually lifted from Zynga by Vostu.

      It might be a case of cargo cult: Perhaps the programmers had the management-given task to replicate the game in every detail, noticed the bug and implemented it as well.

      I'm a freelance programmer, and I get a spec like "do it exactly like program X" very often (it's just limited to certain features in my case, not whole apps). Nowadays I refuse these tasks, since it's hard to replicate a feature in every detail without just copying the source, and it might even be something the client didn't want.

      • by ifrag (984323)

        Perhaps the programmers had the management-given task to replicate the game in every detail, noticed the bug and implemented it as well.

        and I get a spec like "do it exactly like program X" very often

        Reminds me of oddities related to Windows compatibility features. Sometimes what is required to make a program run "correctly" in newer versions of Windows is to replicate the previous broken API behavior because some program was designed around the way it previously "worked". Including buggy behavior can make sense in a certain context.

        Also seen in other ways, like how OpenGL now passes an incomplete list of extensions to Quake so it doesn't crash on startup.

      • by Daetrin (576516)
        It might even have been intentional, did they specify what the bug was? In an online game i play (which is _not_ one by Zynga btw) there is a slot-machine type game you can play once a day to get extra prizes. There was a "bug" that you could exit the game screen and reenter it and get a new selection of items. This didn't let you choose what you won, it just let you choose which prizes you had a chance of winning. And there were a _lot_ of complaints from the players when they finally got around to fixing
  • Sound Legal Move (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shihar (153932) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @01:54AM (#39041739)

    I don't see what the issue is here. Yes, Zynga copies other people's games. Yes, this company was just doing the same thing. What you people are all apparently are missing though is that Zynga is simply applying simple, well know, and accepted legal practice of "I have more lawyers so fuck you because I said so". I really don't see how you can argue with that.

    • by webheaded (997188)
      So what you're saying is that because something shitty is widespread, it must be okay now? Right. I'll keep that in mind.
  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @01:54AM (#39041743)

    But lots of other parts are copyrightable. Such as some of the graphics and sounds.

    The dream heights/tiny tower was an obvious copy of the gameplay. But the graphics were completely different. And you are alllowed to do that.

    These ones look much closer to copying of elements like art, which you aren't allowed to do.

    Of course once you introduce patents gameplay might end up protected - but I don't believe that's applicable in either of the cases.

  • by billybob_jcv (967047) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @02:42AM (#39041915)

    ...that don't have farmville, mafia wars or yoville accounts?
     

  • Just remember... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dadioflex (854298) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @03:21AM (#39042041)
    Google didn’t create the first search engine. Apple didn’t create the first mp3 player or tablet. And, Facebook didn’t create the first social network. But these companies have evolved products and categories in revolutionary ways. They are all internet treasures because they all have specific and broad missions to change the world.
    • They are all internet treasures because...

      For some meanings of the word 'treasure' you are undoubtedly correct. My cat, for instance, buries treasure in a little sandbox in the laundry room.

  • Seems legitimate. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kamapuaa (555446) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @04:49AM (#39042313) Homepage

    It's one thing to post a rip-off game or a general concept. But Vostu did exact replicas. As in, side-by-side pictures look basically identical, game bugs were replicated, artwork is nearly identical. I think there is a line and that Vostu crossed it.

    What are the comments here arguing? That exact copies of games should be allowed? That's obviously faulty. That no games with any similarity can come out? That doesn't seem right either. Obviously there has to be some compromise between these two extremes.

    Really a lot of the comments here boil down to "I hate Zynga games," or "I hate lawyers."

    • by misof (617420)
      What you may be missing is the fact that this is a case of a pot calling the kettle black -- Zynga is notorious for being the opposite party in such cases. If you re-read the discussion with this in mind, I guess you'll find that many of the posts actually say "I hate Zynga's business strategy".
      • that Vostu agreed that it produced games very similar to those produced by Zynga, but said that Zynga could not sue as it had unclean hands and had done exactly the same with reference to its own products.

    • by Terrasque (796014)

      I think there is a line and that Vostu crossed it.

      IMHO Zynga have already tiptoed over the line. Vostu just seems to have cheerily flown past it with a jet engine.

  • Silly Peons (Score:2, Troll)

    by PortHaven (242123)

    Don't you know the law is only for big fish. That's why the FDA goes around in sting operations against Amish farmers who might sell the occasional court of raw milk.

    But then turns a blind eye to Mosanto (no, no, no....don't let consumers decide. GMO warning labels might scare people. How about GMO Free, no, no, no...).

  • by goruka (1721094) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @10:51AM (#39044353)
    Vostu is a Brazilian company, but the main workforce is in Argentina. Zynga came to the country first by spreading rumours that they were going to acquire a company. Zynga was, then, in the typical process of expanding it's assets and workforce to raise the value of their IPO or whole company value (The same way Playdom did before being sold to Disney, for example).
    Vostu is very strong in South America, the strongest social game company here, so it was naturally the best target of aquisition by Zynga. However, Vostu execs asked for a much higher price than Zynga was willing to pay. In consequence, Zynga sued Vostu to attempt to drive their price down.
    But in the end, the lawsuit carried for too long, and Zynga decided to go public anyway. Having no more reason to acquire Vostu, the lawsuit was settle briefly before the IPO.

    So, not really pot calling the kettle black, just corporate bussiness as usual.
  • So, Mark Pincus said and I quote:

    Companies have to respect each other’s legal and IP ownership rights in the form of copyrights and trademarks. In the case of Vostu, you can see for yourself that Vostu crossed the line [youtube.com] and chose to use our copyrighted IP and artwork.

    I looked at the video he linked when he made this claim and I just don't see it. I see different drawn characters with similar aesthetic choices and different UI elements while still looking pretty much like the same game, exactly what Zynga does with every single one of their games.

    Zynga should not have won this.

  • Yes, I see the irony in this and thought the same thing upon reading the summary.

    However, we already know that game *elements* (e.g. rules) cannot be protected.

    Point 4 in the Summary of the Case says:
    Vostu has brazenly appropriated the copyright-protected aspects of Zyngaâ(TM)s games

    So, it's at least partially a copyright issue, not just a "copy the gameplay itself, which is legally protected but some people think is slimy" issue.

    (If you think copyrights themselves are bogus, then all bets are off.)

"Catch a wave and you're sitting on top of the world." - The Beach Boys

Working...