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Decision, EA: Judge Reverses Multimillion Dollar Award To Madden Dev 125

Posted by timothy
from the such-bizarre-reasoning dept.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that "A federal judge overturned a jury's multimillion-dollar damage award to the programmer of the original John Madden Football video game on Wednesday, saying there was no evidence that his work was copied for seven years, without credit, by the marketer of later versions of the hugely successful game. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of San Francisco spared Electronic Arts Inc. from nearly $4 million in damages, plus interest that could have exceeded $7 million. The jury verdict also could have led to larger damages against the company for later versions of the game, which reaped billions of dollars in revenues, if future juries found that those, too, had been lifted from the work of programmer Robin Antonick." Also at Kotaku.
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Decision, EA: Judge Reverses Multimillion Dollar Award To Madden Dev

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 26, 2014 @01:32AM (#46071007)

    Bribes are so easy nowadays.

  • by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @01:37AM (#46071031)
    Judges rule on matters of law, juries on facts of the case. If it's overturned by a judge, that means there was some legal problem with the first trial.
  • by mysidia (191772) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @01:47AM (#46071057)

    Judges rule on matters of law, juries on facts of the case. If it's overturned by a judge, that means there was some legal problem with the first trial.

    In this case, the jury made a finding, that the Judge ruled the jury could not reasonably have made.

    The Jury was claiming finding the later editions of the game to be nearly identical ------ without the jury having been presented for side-by-side comparison as evidence

  • by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Sunday January 26, 2014 @01:48AM (#46071059) Homepage

    here's a link to the decision.
    http://pdfserver.amlaw.com/ca/... [amlaw.com]

    The part relevant to the discussion here starts on PDF page 8, line 26.

    It appears that the developer's attorneys presented an expert witness who provided an opinion regarding the similarity of the games. However, they did not actually demonstrate the games to the jury, which would have allowed the jury to make a subjective determination for itself. The judge ruled that because the jury never actually saw the games, they did not have enough information to rule that the games were similar.

    Anyway, the attorneys better hope they win on appeal or figure out how to settle (perhaps for no fee) --- otherwise, the developer's next lawsuit is one for malpractice.

  • by mysidia (191772) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @01:57AM (#46071089)

    What a mess they are, and always will be.

    It seems to be more like a dispute between developer and employer.

    EA owned the rights to the game; they had signed with the programmer, an agreement for the developer to be compensated by royalties for the first edition.

    For the second/third/later years editions, they claimed to have paid a team of developers to rewrite the software from scratch, so they could get out of having to pay royalties for future versions.

    I'm sure from EA's point of view --- the millions of dollars in sales of later editions of the game were not attributable to the work of the programmer of the first edition or any individual software developer, but the valuable brand name they developed for their company and the product in partnership with Madden, and EA's fan base.

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Sunday January 26, 2014 @10:44AM (#46072585)

    On top of voluminous case the, the statute requires that the plaintiff show evidence that the copyrighted source code is the same. What is at issue is not the general concept of the game, but the source code.

    Plaintiff presented no evidence at all that the source was copied. Therefore as a matter of law, the defense prevails. It's upto a jury to determine if the evidence is "good enough" . Under the law, it's up to the judge to rule when no evidence eas presented, and that's what happened in this case.

    Plaintiff may or may not be right, but his attorneys presented no evidence that he was right - that his source code was copied.

Given its constituency, the only thing I expect to be "open" about [the Open Software Foundation] is its mouth. -- John Gilmore

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