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White Wolf Sues Sony 130

etherlad writes "White Wolf, makers of pen-and-paper RPGs such as Vampire: The Masquerade and Werewolf: The Apocalypse, and author Nancy A. Collins, are suing Sony Pictures, Screen Gems and Lakeshore Entertainment for copyright infringement in the upcoming Underworld movie, which they claim not only is blatantly the World of Darkness with the serial numbers (partially) filed off, but that the movie is obviously ripped off Nancy Collins' novel Love of Monsters, also set in the World of Darkness. There's a PDF of the legal brief floating around, and to me (IANAL) it really looks like WW has a case."
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White Wolf Sues Sony

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  • by ( 687626 ) * on Monday September 08, 2003 @07:34AM (#6898434)
    I hope that WW wins this case, as it is not the first time that a large company [] has ripped someone off.

    What's ironic to me is that Sony, like Disney, really wants to prevent works from entering the public domain and will vigorously defend their copyrights but seem to have no problem with stealing copyright material or using material in the public domain. It is just sad.
    • Lion King is the worst example I can think of for this kind of action. The story has some of the most universal themes ever put to paper. Add an african "skin" and you've got a story that could be told in any culture and any aesthetic known. Let's also mention the simple fact that Disney's version of this same archtypal story is the superior in everyway. Kimba is drek, bad animation, crap story telling, horrid characterization and dribbling dialog. Disney made a cinematic classic in every way the finest ani
      • No, I'd say that Lion King is the best example of this kind of action. Facts:

        TV Guide stated that Disney was remaking Kimba The White Lion.

        Matthew Broderick stated that he understood he was being hired as a voice actor for a remake of Kimba The White Lion.

        In early production stages, Simba was white.

        Right Stuf International was prepared to release Kimba to home video in 1993, but this was delayed by litigation. (Since this release was based on their purchase of the home video rights from Mushi Production
        • The points you make are less than compelling. They're also tired and STILL unproven after all this time. It is arguable that it's "better" than Miyazaki's films (though you expose yourself for being a drooling fanboy), but it is FAR more universal than his work. The fact that I've even heard of Miyazaki and can identify that there are many literary and visual cultural tropes in his films which would be obscure to most of the world's movie goers, should show I have anything BUT a limited world view (you insi
          • The points you make are less than compelling.

            Sure, given your limited world view. You should have just stopped right there. Everything after was rendered null and void. :) THANK YOU FOR PLAYING THOUGH! I'm not the one in denial here.
            • What's this "limited world view" you keep blithering about. I find your points uncompelling, therefore I have a limited world view? What kind of preschool logic is that? You're just being pissy because I don't have YOUR worldview. That's a rather shallow worldview you have there. Then you do the school yard equivalent of sticking-your-finger-in-your-ears, and refuse to respond to the rest of my post. Real grown up. You rediculous little person.
              • Ok, so you addressed ONE of my points. and casually ignored the rest. Just dismissed them as not fitting into your version of reality. Then you did something I didn't do. You misquoted me. I never said that Lion King was a bad film. In fact I said it was a great film. I also said that HALF of miyusaki's films were better. Not all of them. That in itself is a hell of a complement. You seem to be punishing me for looking at all the available facts regarding Disney ripping off someone elses work and coming to
      • Kimba is drek, bad animation, crap story telling, horrid characterization and dribbling dialog.

        You're going to pay for that, son.
    • that White Wolf has to stand on it the World of Darkness itself. Unless Underworld actually says that phrase, WW doesn't have a case. Everything else can be found in other cultures and books where THEY took it from.
  • Welcome ! (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I, for one, welcome our new blanched lupine overlords.
  • by Gryftir ( 161058 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @07:47AM (#6898482) Homepage
    My friends and I are part of a LARP in Santa Cruz, (here if you are interested. []) We were discussing the similarities, and this came up.

    Interestingly, White Wolf is destroying [] the World of Darkness as part of a final wrap up of the meta plot.

    You notice they aren't trying to stop the movie's release with an injunction, they just want a cut of the profits.
    • by Richard ( 5962 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @09:36AM (#6899138)
      You notice they aren't trying to stop the movie's release with an injunction, they just want a cut of the profits.


      126. White Wolf is therefore entitled to:
      (a) A preliminary and permanent injunction preventing the distribution, marketing, release, sale, and rental of Underworld and Underworld: Bloodlines.

      And then they repeat that claim, oh, 20 more times at least.

      • And then they repeat that claim, oh, 20 more times at least.

        When reading any lawsuit, you will find the asking of judgment recited multiple times. It is required to show you have faith in your case and what you expect out of it.

        Especially when saying the claims are for multiple things, even if they fall under the same basic category.


    • by thinlineofsanity ( 705239 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @10:15AM (#6899468)
      They may be 'destroying' the WoD, but it helps if you read the press release [].

      For those wondering, here's the relevant snippet:

      • May 2004

        Vampire: The Eternal Struggle -- Gehenna (ISBN 1-58846-626-4) -- a new booster set for Vampire: The Eternal Struggle featuring cards based on the Time of Judgment.

        An all-new World of Darkness launches in August of 2004.

      In short, it's just a big event leading up to a re-invention of WoD.

    • Up in the Stockton chronicle [], we're planning on going as a group to see the movie. I've been saying we should go IC to discuss if it's a breach of the first. Looks like the technocracy (Sony) won out over the Ventrue control of Hollywood.

      My SO and I have been referring to it as "UnderWorld of Darkness" ever since the first trailer came out. That said, for those who love the black, white and blood, gothic, PVC and leather style of the Crow and the Matrix, it looks good.

      Evan, a.k.a. The Rev. Jerry 'Br []

  • blah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by truffle ( 37924 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @07:55AM (#6898509) Homepage
    I'm really not impressed with this lawsuit. White wolf has built their products on the mythos and stories that came before them. Anyone who's played Vampire and read Anne Rice will see striking similarities there.

    I'm glad Dugeons and Dragons didn't sue Lord of the Rings when that movie came out. Oh wait, sorry, Dungeons and Dragons is a huge rip off of Lord of the Rings. My mistake.

    To wax geek for a moment, this seems kind of like the movie equivalent of a one-click-shopping lawsuit.

    Anyway, my overall prediction is no money will be paid out, White Wolf is just doing this for publicity. Whatever. Glad I stopped playing their games.

    This is the second time White Wolf has pissed me off, the first time being their desertion of Ars Magica [] after stealing part of its mythos and inserting it in their World of Darkness games.
    • Re:blah (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Ceyan ( 668082 )
      If you consider D&D to be a huge ripoff of LOTR, then you have to consider LOTR a huge rip-off of folklore. Or consider that ever robot novel is a ripoff of Asimov's work.
    • Actually, there was a big stir about either the Tolken estate or the LotR movie people suing Iron Crown out of existence. I heard the employees bought back rights to the Rolemaster standard system and started/restarted the company.

      Anyone have details?
    • Re:blah (Score:5, Informative)

      by theghost ( 156240 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:11PM (#6901166)
      Preface: WW = White Wolf, WoD = World of Darkness

      Wow. Sounds like you have more than a few grudges against WW and you're allowing them to cloud your judgement on this issue.

      I'll address them in no particular order:

      WW didn't "steal" the mythos of Ars Magica. They had permission to adapt it into a modern game set in the WoD. Ars Magica, while it may have been great for many reasons was never a popular, money-making game. That's why it was abandoned by WW. To their credit, they did allow others to continue supporting it even though it could be considered a competitor to their Mage line. That alone should clue you in to their assessment of its economic viability.

      Tolkien was an early contributor to the fantasy genre, but he was not the first, nor (imo) even the best. D&D readily acknowledges its inspirations. This includes Tolkien and a great many other fantasy authors. D&D has been smacked down by the Tolkien estate on at least one occasion where they got a little too close to the source material, just like WW is doing to Sony.

      Anne Rice could very likely have won a similar lawsuit against WW when Vampire came out. She didn't try and so WW now has legitimate claim to their stuff and is entitled to defend it. They have not been frivolously attacking other vampire/werewolf movies. This one is special.

      Read the similarities that are listed. They are numerous and not common to vampire/werewolf mythology. There is significant confusion among consumers. Almost everyone i know who is familiar with the WoD, hears about this movie and thinks it's either produced or endorsed by WW.

      I thin there are generally too many lawsuits of this kind (one-click, Fair and Balanced, etc.) but that does not mean that all of them are frivolous. This one seems to have some merit.

      I'm not sure about the outcome of this either. Let's think of this in extreme situations.

      Scenario 1: WW wins and gains all rights to the movie + damages. Probable outcome: they release the film with some changes to make it more WoD compliant. They try to make nice with the actors and get them onboard for promotion, etc. and now have the start of a WoD movie franchise. If the movie does well then they try to make more movies, possibly sequels or just other WoD stories. Chances are good that they'll make a deal with some established company to do this, with the best bet being Sony itself.

      Scenario 2: WW loses, the movie goes ahead as planned. The only press they get is negative, plus they probably have to pay court costs and maybe countersuit damages. They even risk losing the rights to their own trademarked properties. Ouch.

      The middle ground involves WW settling for a share of the profits and/or a mandatory ad for the Vampire/Werewolf games at the beginning of the film. If the movie does well then chances are good that Sony & WW will be teaming up for more WoD-themed projects.

      IMO WW has more to gain than to lose here and they have a better than 50-50 shot of winning. Most likely result: settlement.
      • > Read the similarities that are listed. They are numerous and
        > not common to vampire/werewolf mythology.

        It's irrelevent whether they're "common" to vampire/werewolf mythology or not; all that matters is whether they've been done before and thus can be considered prior art. They have. Vampires vs. werewolves has literally been done dozens of times before, dating back as far as I personally know to at least the horror/sci-fi comics of the 1950s. There have been comics, stories, and even episodes of
        • See, here's the mistake you're making - you're applying patent standards to a copyright case. (Our inclusion of the one-click shopping references was only to point out a general trend, not to draw a parrallel.)

          In copyright, it doesn't matter that the general ideas have been around for a long time, it's the specific way they are used. The way that WW depicts Vampires and Werewolves is unique to them - it's not cut whole from public domain mythology.

          They are not saying that noone else can make Vampire vs.
          • I read the lawsuit and some of their ideas of similarity are similar throughout all vampire and werewolf mythos.

            For example:

            WW Werewolfs get hurt by silver, Underworlds werewolves get hurt by silver. (Common werewolf mythos, not unique to WoD AT ALL)

            WW Vampires have strength of 10 men, Underworlds vampires have strength of 10 men. (Common Vampire mythos, Vampires are stronger than us - well DUH!, again not unique to WoD AT ALL)

            and etc, etc. These types of comparisons go on and on which made t
            • You're right. Some of their similarities are common, but lots of the specific ones that are or are not common to the mythology are mirrored by WW and Underworld.

              To respond directly to your examples:

              1) Shows where both the games and the film conform to standard mythology in the same way, just like some of the other points show how they diverge from standard mythology in the same ways.
              Remember: it doesn't have to be unique to the WoD for them to claim it's copied - it's the combination that matters. Lots
    • Interestingly I beleive TSR actually had used the term Hobbits in D&D at one point and when approached by Tolkiens reps, they backed down and removed the content.
    • Re:blah (Score:2, Interesting)

      You're kidding, right?

      The only 'striking similarities' between an Anne Rice novel and the World of Darkness/Vampire worlds are the fact that they have, er, vampires in them.

      The idea of 'werewolves vs. vampires', and the concept of a vampire society that has a clear social order and houses/clans/whatnot is to be found nowhere in the homoerotic misunderstood-poetry-writing-loner vampires of Anne Rice's novels. Hell, the Dark Island where all the vampires end up agreeing to come to meet and remain in touc

      • ...there appears to be a war going on under the unseeing eyes of mortal men. That is pure white wolf, and not something that I think many other Vampire-based games/books have addressed.

        Pretty sure the Ghostbuster cartoon covered that storyline quite some time ago. :P
  • by pocopoco ( 624442 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @07:56AM (#6898511)
    Well WW says they have many unique points of similarity, but I find it hard to believe. Movies have so much less depth than books (and rpg systems and their backgrounds/settings/scenarios, etc). This movie claims to be vampire/werewolf/etc + Romeo & Juliet both of which are free game and open to anyone by now. How much more can there be to this movie that's outside those concepts? So another book combined the two at some later date, that doesn't mean a movie can't do the same using the same public domain stuff.
    • I was under the impression that Werewolves (or at least, a couple of important werewolf 'facts') are much more recent than vampires or Shakespeare - Curt Siodmak, who wrote the novel and then the screenplay of the 1941 film "The Wolf Man", invented the connection between werewolves and the moon, and their achilles heel of silver bullets. This would probably make for significant parts of werewolf anything being the property of Universal Studios, if anyone. (Werewolf legends date back hundreds of years, but t
    • To anyone familiar w/ WW vampires/werewolves can see immense simulates between the them. Just to point out, I am also familiar w/ other/older vampire myths, and I would point out that WW didn't start a suit when dracula 2000 was released
  • From the WW press release:
    "The volume of confusion in our marketplace is amazing," observes Tinney, "our fans think they're going to be seeing our film. Of course, if the movie gets released, in a way they will be."

    When I first heard about the plot of the film, my first thought was that it was based on the White Wolf world, after all there was that short lived adaptation of VTM, maybe they decided to try the movies instead. I was a bit disappointed when I found out it was a 'clone'.

    • What exactly are the similarities? When I saw trailers for the movie, it looked like a tech-noir incarnation of a The Real Ghostbusters episode with an obligitory romantic subplot.
      • What exactly are the similarities?

        Vampires Vs Werewolves is probably the biggest. I have no idea if anyone thought of that idea before White Wolf did, at least I had never come across it before I started playing the White Wolf games (many years ago), therefore I've always associated the idea with White Wolf. Personally, I always thought the Vampires Vs Werewolves concept to be a bit lame so maybe nobody thought of it before (or thought of it and quickly dismissed it ;-)

        As for the other 59 points of simi
      • What exactly are the similarities?

        The biggest would be the main character's resemblence to Lucitia, who is a trademarked character.

        It's kind of like making a Spider-Man like character, not calling him Spider-Man, but having so many simmilarities (especially physical) and claiming him as your own. Marvel would sue the pants off of you because your character could dilute the trademark of Spider-Man.

        I think that's what is really the big part of the case, not copyright infringment as much as trademark i

    • I think it's probably way generic (within the bounds of modern goth vampire tales). When I first heard about the plot of the film, I thought it sounded and awful lot like the Laurel K Hamilton Vampire novels that my wife reads.
      • Those books are pretty good timekillers.

        It's funny how the series started out as kind of a hardboiled detective novel (albeit with vampires and zombies) and by the last few books is basically just pr0n.

        • Having just finished the series, I actually lament the fact. I thought it was much more interesting as a detective story seeing how she balances dealing with the Monsters without being one. Instead it has slid into a rather derivitive work of let's see what erotic-goth we can introduce this time and how fast she can slide into bohemianism. Any detective 'plot' is mentioned in the first 30 pages and then forgotten about to the last 20...
          • I concur with your lamentation, but for a slightly different reason. I've read lots of books about vampires and werewolves, but scant few about necromancers. I was very interested in those parts of the story, from the first few books, and I'm sad to see that her innate talents seem to have been forgotten in the last few.
            • I've read lots of books about vampires and werewolves, but scant few about necromancers. I was very interested in those parts of the story, from the first few books, and I'm sad to see that her innate talents seem to have been forgotten in the last few.

              If you like to read about necromancy and can handle some rather graphic descriptions I'd recommend at least the first book in the Necroscope series by Brian Lumley. IIRC the second book went into necromancy a bit, as well, but it was in the form of a vampi
          • Yes yes, the stories were better at the beginning of the series.

            I think it's funny that the shift-to-pr0n happened because it indicates that that is what the market wants.

  • by Decaffeinated Jedi ( 648571 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:52AM (#6898820) Homepage Journal
    Today's Penny Arcade [] offers a great perspective on this story.
    • That's exactly what I would have posted had I woke up a few hours earlier. Fucking 3rd shift ruins everything, now I can't even be insightful or informative on /. anymore..
    • Actually - after reading the point by point of the argument, I think PA has taken a pretty shallow, albeit kinda funny, look at this. Some of the comparisons are quite silly, some are just a bit too similar. When you combine it all, there's a case to be made.

      Claiming Romeo & Juliet for any story about tragic lovers as "source material" is kinda like saying any action flick uses Rambo as "source material". The reason why R&J stands as a bedrock of "star crossed love" is because it's pretty simple
  • I hope White Wolf takes a bite out of Sony for this one. When I saw the trailer a few weeks back I knew it stank of Eau de Ripoff [].

    Would it really have cost Sony that much to flip White Wolf a few bucks for licensing before making Underworld? Think of the PS2 spinoffs... ahh well, I guess it's war from here on in. Sony gets to play the Vampires.
  • I have to admit, from the first time I saw the commercial, I thought this was a movie with WhiteWolf's hand in it. I had no clue until now that this was a "clone" and they actually had nothing to do with it... So sad. So sad.
    • Re: Oh... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by slaker ( 53818 )
      I got this promotional newspaper for "Underworld" when I went to see League of Extraordinary Gentlemen that basically had a lot of backstory in it. Reading it, and being somewhat familiar with White Wolf games, I thought it was based on their product, too. "Oh, they're making up for that awful TV show."

      If I and the parent poster can make that mistake, White Wolf's suit probably does have some merit.

      OTOH, perhaps the best WW can do is use their current position to cross-promote their games, rather than tie
      • If I and the parent poster can make that mistake, White Wolf's suit probably does have some merit.

        My brother showed me the trailer on his PC a few months ago, and I thought the female was basically a rip off of Lucita. And the whole setting screamed WoD as well.

        I actually forgot to ask about what White Wolf thought of the movie when I was partying with them last week at Dragon*con. Oh well, now I know.

        Although I think some of the complaint is a bit much (I wouldn't go so far as to claim copyright i

    • Eh, I always figured it to be a cheap rip-off of Blade, only with a female lead who happens to be a full-blooded vamp who wants to kill off all demons. The TV trailers don't mention werewolves at all.

      It wasn't until I saw the theatrical trailer that werewolves entered the picture. Then it became nothing more than a horror version of Romeo and Juliet.
  • The brief (Score:5, Informative)

    by etherlad ( 410990 ) <> on Monday September 08, 2003 @11:15AM (#6899974) Homepage
    Here's the PDF []. I urge people to read it befor emaking snap judgments. WW doesn't claim they invented vampires, for example.

    As it was explained to me by someone who knows, it's not the individual similarities, it's the total. If there are 10 similarities, it doesn't matter that 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9 can all be found elsewhere, it's the fact that they're all found together which contributes (in this case) to the unique product identity which is the World of Darkness. So vampires have super-strength in both the WoD and Underworld: who cares? What matters is that, in addition to all the other similarites, makes it much much more likely that Underworld is ripping off WW. And if they don't mention everything in the brief, they pretty much can't even talk about it later.

    So White Wolf is suing because there are a total of 61 points they've identified. That's a lot, no matter how you look at it.

    For the hell of it, here they are:

    1. In the World of Darkness, vampires have the ability to disappear from view. In

    Underworld, vampires repeatedly vanish from view.

    2. In the World of Darkness, some vampires are capable of amazing speed. In Underworld, some vampires move with amazing speed.

    3. In the World of Darkness, vampires "have the strength of ten men." In Underworld, vampries "have the strength of ten men."

    4. In the World of Darkness, vampires are divided by age distinctions, and older vampires are more powerful and able to rule over younger vampires. In Underworld, vampires are divided by age distinctions, and older vampires are more powerful and are able to rule over younger vampires.

    5. In the World of Darkness, the more ancient and powerful vampires are referred to as Elders. In Underworld, the more ancient and powerful vampires are referred to as Elders.

    6. In the World of Darkness, vampires, especially Elders, are able to go into a state where they do not rise as normal, but stay alive i nan extended sleep or hibernation. In Underworld, The Elders are in a hibernation state where they do not rise as normal, but stay alive in an extended sleep.

    7. In the World of Darkness, vampires in extended sleep lose blood and become more withered and mummified, and return to normal as they feed. In Underworld, Victor (a vampire Elder) awakens from an extended sleep appearing withered and mummified, and returns to normal the more he feeds on blood.

    8. In the World of Darkness, a vampire in hibernation remains that way until a vampire provides them with blood. In Underworld, Selene (the main character) rouses Viktor from hibernation using her own blood, just as another Elder (Amelia) was supposed to do.

    9. In the World of Darkness, even when in hibernation or when recently roused, elder vampires command a great deal of power and control. In Underworld, Victor, the Elder vampire, "radiates absolute power and control" even when recently roused.

    10. In the World of Darkness, vampires are described as "alien." In Underworld, vampires are described as "alien."

    11. In the World of Darkness, some vampire groups ("Sabbat") refer to themselves as Covens, and divide into Old World and New World Covens. In Underworld, the vampries divide into Old World and New World Covens.

    12. In the World of Darkness, many North African or Middle Eastern vampires belong to a clan of assassins and warriors (called "Assamites"). In the Underworld movie trailer, Kahn, the leader of the Death Dealers, a group of assassins and warriors, appears to be of Northern African or Middle Eastern descent.

    13. In the World of Darkness, vampires sometimes call each other "Vee," short for vampire. In Underworld, there is a vampire character named Vee.

    14. In the World of Darkness, vampires are organized into Bloodlines. In Underw

    • Re:The brief (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I was going to seperate those into stupid and good arguments, but after doing all that work, and because it was so long, I'm not gonna post it.

      Instead, I'll just say that starting from around 38 on, the similartiies are very convincing that this was ripped off.

      But they did include a lot of crap early on which wasn't very convincing at all. But when you look at the convincing stuff at the end, the stuff at the beginning only adds to it. It looks like they have a very strong case.

      And I really wanted to r
      • Re:The brief (Score:2, Informative)

        I would say that #35 was the first one that really caught me off guard.

        Still, it also reminded me that I have to go back and re-read my Necroscope books, because I don't remember if Lumley's vampires/werewolves cast reflections or not (and if they didn't, whether it was a physical property or simply something they manifested in the minds of humans).

        Oh well, just a good reason to get off my ass and find the last couple of books I don't have in the series and read the one or two I haven't read yet that are
      • Yeah not really. The Real Ghostbusters episode "No One Comes To Lupusville []" will answer many of those "points". (need real player) Seems like White Wolf's stuff is just as derivative as anything that comes out of hollywood.
    • "18. In the World of Darkness, the history of the vampires is written in an ancient text. In Underworld, the history of the vampires is written in ancient texts."

      "30. In the World of Darkness, the vampires created Silver Nitrate bullets specifically for fighting werewolves. In Underworld, the vampires created Silver Nitrate bullets specifically for fighting werewolves

      31. In the World of Darkness, the background setting is very dark, described as gothic/punk. In Underworld, the background setting is very d
      • Wesley Snipes, please come to the White courtesy phone. White Wolf want a can of Whoop-ass, face first.

        Just call in Marvel Comics, which is where Blade came from in the first place.
      • The first time I saw Blade, I thought the same thing, but there are important differences.

        The first, of course, is Blade being a rather interesting take-off of a dhampir.

        The Houses of Blade aren't anything like the Clans of V:tM, which are closer to 'species of vampires' than anything else.

        Blade uses silver and magnesium, which aren't more or less deadly than anything else sharp, or fire.

        The vampires in Blade don't seem all that concerned with hiding themselves from mortal eyes.

    • I'd be interested in seeing the same point-by-point comparison made between World of Darkness and the Anne Rice novels. I'd bet American money the list would be just about as long, if not longer. (Minus the werewolves, of course.) I can see several direct parallels just glancing at the list.

      But White Wolf has conveniently forgotten their own role as rip-off artists. They've become so delusional they think they cut the entire vampire mythos from whole cloth. I never had much respect for White Wolf in the fi
    • you only found this stuff in the World of Darkness. However, that is not the case. All of this stuff can be found in other works of fiction as well as in ancient myths and legends. Not to mention what was stolen from other folks who did piece work for them.

      None of the points mentioned here are original to WoD and can be found else where. The only that that White Wolf has done is gathered all of them in one place. For example; ancient vampires being mummified as they waken and recovering from drinking blood
      • If this actually goes to court, it'll get thrown out. What White Wolf wanted from this was publicity, and it's comparatively cheap to throw this together and ride the coattails of Sony's PR machine. Most likely it'll be settled in a bit for an undisclosed amount (read: pittance).
      • None of the points mentioned here are original to WoD and can be found else where. The only that that White Wolf has done is gathered all of them in one place.

        Not to sound pithy, but did you even read my post?

        That is exactly the point. It doesn't matter if every single element can be found elsewhere. Having all of them together makes the World of Darkness what it is. It's okay to make a vampire movie. It's okay to make a werewolf movie.

        What WW is illustrating is that there are too many similarities
        • I did read all of your post. My point is that just because they have used myths and legends in their work, does not make it theirs. What they have that is their original work (which is not all the much really) is what they can protect and keep people from using. They don't have the right to put a lock on "intellectual property" that they have copied from other sources.
          • It seems to me that the case for directly riping off of the book, Love of Monsters, is stronger than the more general accusation of ripping of their "world". Reading the points towards the end, it becomes pretty apparent that they practically copied the storyline from the book. Not that it's an exceptionally inventive storyline or anything, but somebody else did it first.

            • Except that there was nothing in Love of Monsters that as original. I kept feeling like I was rereading the same material from other sources. The only thing that is different is that Sony managed to make a movie first and make it visual to the audience first. That gives them all kinds of merchandizing tie-ins that White Wolf wants. That is something that White Wolf has tried to get financing for, for the longest time without success because of the failed TV show (gratis, it failed because of the death of th
              • Doesn't really matter how original the book was, if the movie directly rips it off as badly as WW is claiming, then it's infringement. The last 20 or so points they list are pretty strong. If you know of any other vampire vs. werewolf source material that hasn't been mentioned, then that might be helpful too.

        • WW is suing for copyright infringement. You cannot copyright storylines. You cannot copyright concepts or single words such as abomination. The combination of a bunch of similarities is not copyright infringement.

          Copyright infringement is word-for-word copying of exact text or note-for-note copying of music, etc.

          Copying a bunch of ideas is not copyright infringement.

          It may be disappointing that Sony chose to so closely mirror WoD, but I don't think any case for copyright infringement can be made unles
          • Copyright infringement is word-for-word copying of exact text or note-for-note copying of music, etc.

            Not so. While the reverse is true, copyright also covers (amongst other things) the production of derivative works. The question of "what's derivative?" is perfectly valid, and any valid defense of Underworld hinges on the argument that it isn't a derivation of the World of Darkness property. Either crucial elements of Underworld were developed in ignorance of the White Wolf World of Darkness (ideally,

            • Not so. While the reverse is true, copyright also covers (amongst other things) the production of derivative works.

              True, I went a bit far there. Direct copying is not the only form of copyright infringement.

              As you suggest, the question of "what's derivative" is valid. However, if this case sets the precedent that you can't take a story concept, change the names, change the dialogue, change the imagery, etc., then I think we are going to see a hell of a lot of new copyright infringement cases.

              The fallo
      • That would all make sense if you only found this stuff in the World of Darkness. However, that is not the case. All of this stuff can be found in other works of fiction as well as in ancient myths and legends. Not to mention what was stolen from other folks who did piece work for them.

        If it was only the earlier points, I might grant you that. However when you get down to the later points where they're ripping off pretty much the entire story from the novel it's a lot harder to make that case.

        If Sony h

        • White Wolf swallowed a lot of material in creating the World of Darkness. You literally can't use any vampire or shapeshifter legend from any culture because they have included it as a clan or a tribe. And they basically swallowed the whole world as well. You can't use a locality that is real, without that treading on an area that WW has also used. You could create a fictional area though. But what if you want to use real localities? Like Underground Seattle, for example?
          • You're not paying atention to the overall argument. If Sony made a movie about vampires that fit one of the clans in V:tM, White Wolf would have a hard time with the lawsuit, because as you say, most of the clans align with one of the historicaly portrayed kinds of vampire. Sony would just say there were basing it off of the earlier legends, and even if they had done all their research in White Wolf books White Wolf would have an almost impossibly hard time proving it.

            However when Sony has a setting that

      • That would make sense if.... you only found these notes in *this* piece of music.

        However, seeing as all these notes are used in other pieces of music they have no case.

        It's not just the constituent parts that matter in a copyright case but how they are put together. In the case of Underworld it is a clear and direct rip-off of World of Darkness - it is literally only the names that have changed.

        WoD is itself clearly distinct from other interpretations of the vampire myth when taken *as a whole*. Blade is
        • Musical notes are a system where by music is created. Everybody uses them to create source material. If they just threw them together, they would create garbage. Since White Wolf and Sony both drew from the same source material and neither changed it much, it makes sense that the result they created was exactly similar.

          If I had stated that they both used English, so their results were the same, then your music analogy would hold water. I am saying they both used Rock & Roll (a style of music) and Stin
    • 3. In the World of Darkness, vampires "have the strength of ten men." In Underworld, vampries "have the strength of ten men."

      In my world they have the strength of ten go-rillas!

      Seriously, though, how, exactly, is this not stolen directly from Anne Rice?
    • IMHO, most of these claims are BS. I have never even heard of World of Darkness or White Wolf, yet I have heard of most of these (34 of the 44 WoD claims to be specific). They are fairly common parts of the Vampyre/Lycanthrope mythos. And what about claim 36? How is the omission of any claims about/use of wood is the same as it not having an affect?

      What are they smoking?

      Where can I get some?
    • A lot of these supposed "similarities" are very misleading. For example, what are they saying the "Death Dealers" are like, the Black Hand or the Assamites? Those are completely different in the World of Darkness, so an organization that can be compared to both is probably not much like either. Is the "New World Coven" the Sabbat or the Camarilla? It's compared to both. Again, not a very convincing argument.

      Look at these 2:
      27. In the World of Darkness, certain vampires are able to get pregnant. In Un
    • Love of Monsters, by Nancy A. Collins, 1994.
      NOT mentioned on amazon [] or in white wolf's own catalog [].
      it did exist, as you can find it on google [].

      perhaps the book was completely inaccessible
      and the only thing ripped off was World of Darkness?
  • Anecdotally speaking (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jahf ( 21968 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @11:46AM (#6900301) Journal
    I didn't know a thing about the lawsuit, who made the movie, or anything else about it when I saw the trailer.

    Both times I saw the trailer this weekend I thought to myself "interesting, maybe someone finally made a Storyteller movie".

    It most definitely has a strong resemblance in the trailer. Enough that WW fans will immediately associate the two. If the trailer is an accurate portrayal of the movie, then I can see a lawsuit having teeth.

    While the Storyteller stuff is "just" an interpretation of myths and legends that have been around for centuries (or more), it is a very specific interpretation of them.
  • New Line point out that they own the rights to Blade, and White Wolf ought to get to the back of the damn queue.
  • Unfortunately, last time I saw the trailer, the movie looked horrible. In fact, I can remember telling my friend that "this looks like a bad ripoff of the WoD, its too bad Whitewolf never got off their ass and made a proper WoD movie." So Whitewolf, how bout you get the money from this, and then make your own movie which you own the rights to. Personally, I think it could be a lot cooler than just vampire vs werewolf. Fans of the WoD will recall that there are many denizens there, including mages, chang
  • If I still had access to my friend's White Wolf books, I would be able to confirm this, but I SWEAR TO GOD that one of the Vampire books had a quotation that read "Creativity is not acknowledging your sources."
  • when describing the movie to my friends, and it's been described the same way by my coworkers. "Have you seen the new Underworld trailer? It's like a White Wolf movie!" The fact that it is so much like the White Wolf universe has gotten a lot of people (including me) excited about it. I want to go see it because of the similarities. I hadn't stoped to think about the legal repurcusions until now.

    I have no idea if it was intentional or not, but Sony is clearly benefiting from the similarities between the M

    • That's kinda the point. Sony is allegedly profiting from White Wolf's design. Also, WW almost has to sue them if they ever want to make a movie on their own, or face getting sued by Sony over the same thing. Isn't copyright fun?
  • I remember seeing some trailers for the movie, and thinking, "oh cool, they're making a Hunter: The Gathering movie. This should be fun."

    I haven't seen the movie, but I think that Sony screwed up with this one.

    • Actually, it's Hunter: the Reckoning and Magic: the Gathering. One's a WW game about Hunters in the World of Darkness, the other's a card game/money hole ;)
      • I'm sure it was intentional..gamers are actually WORSE that /. for game brand particulars!

        Actually, a Magic:TG movie would do really well after LOTR. They completed the Urza storyline a year-or-so ago, and it would be really cool to see on the big screen...but it would have to be done right.

  • ... they didn't even include a "***SPOILERS!***" tag in the legal briefing. Now I know what happens in the movie. Thanks WW!
  • What are they suing for?

    Is it copyright infringement? No, because there is no copyright in conceptual material like "vampires can disappear".

    Is it "passing off"? No, because there is no claim that this is the same material.

    Is it trademark infraction? No, because no trademarks are being misused.

    What law exactly are Sony breaking?

    • My bad, they do claim copyright infringment.

      They don't stand a chance of winning, because no copyright has been broken. They are not copying the text of the books. This lawsuit is frivolous.

      • Let's try this from the top. Let's say you write a story about vampires. Can Anne Rice sue you? No. Nobody owns a copyright on vampires, or the sun, etc. Now let's say you write a story where vampires have long bloodlines and family fueds, etc. Can Anne sue you now? Probably not - because you haven't done anything specific that's unique in her books.

        If you start writing about an interviewer talking to a vampire of a long family ... now you might start having problems.

        JK Rowlings had a similar lawsu

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents