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36-Hour Lemmings Port Gets Sony Cease and Desist 268

Zerocool3001 writes "The recently featured 36-hour port of the original Palm version of Lemmings to the iPhone and Palm Pre has received a cease and desist letter from Sony. Only one day after submitting the app for approval on the two app stores, the developer has put up a post stating that he 'did this as a tribute to the game — we can only hope that Sony actually does a conversion for platforms like iPhone and Palm Pre in the near future.' The text of the cease and desist letter is available from the developer's website."
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36-Hour Lemmings Port Gets Sony Cease and Desist

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  • by tessellated ( 265314 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @03:39AM (#32741410) Homepage

    Fuck you Sony!

  • Hands Up (Score:5, Informative)

    by Triv ( 181010 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @03:52AM (#32741478) Journal

    Hands up if you saw this as happening the minute you read the original story a few days ago.

  • by Sowelu ( 713889 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @04:08AM (#32741560)
    Yeah...he kind of copied the trademark, and all the art wholesale. He walked right into this one, and the law is pretty squarely not on his side (which is exactly the way I feel it should be).
  • Eh, it is a PORT (Score:4, Informative)

    by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @04:21AM (#32741630) Journal

    Look at what he produced, it is a straight port of the game. Everything is the same.

    There is no WAY this would fly especially as the Lemmings games are still sold for various platforms commercially. SOME companies TOLERATE old material being used freely but that is only if they don't see any future potential in it.

    Lemmings still has potential.

    Now you could start a discussion about copyright reform and such, but for now, making a blatant PORT (this is far further then a copy of the idea, it is the same idea) is illegal.

    And Sony was nice enough about it, they have given him 48 hours to clean the stuff up and are not even pressuring him to destroy all the distrubuted copies. Basically they are saying, "Well we don't like it but if you don't do it anymore we won't hold you responsible for the damages caused so far".

    Frankly, if I were him I would thank Sony on his bare knees. For a stunt he should NEVER have distributed the ports and for a "software should be free" he should never have signed his name.

    You CAN make a Ufo: Enemy unknown game is you wished, you could even use enemies with the same capabilties (I doubt the makers would want a lawsuit over the *cough* Alien *cough* that impregnates your soldiers only for another *cough* Alien *cough* to burst out from them to go to court.) but a direct port? Nope.

    Nice project kid, great way to get your name out there. Now take the extremely nice offer of Sony to clean it all up.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @04:25AM (#32741654)

    Psygnosis is now Sony Studio Liverpool.

  • by Raumkraut ( 518382 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @04:54AM (#32741798)

    Microsoft use the "Windows" trademark for their operating system, and they claimed "Lindows" was similar enough to cause confusion in the market. I believe Microsoft were correct in this belief.
    Lindows, however, counter-claimed that; within the IT industry the term "window(s)" was a generic term, used well before and apart from Microsoft's usage of it as a product name. I believe also that Lindows were correct in this belief.

    The two sides were then looking at the trademark dispute being decided in court, where there was the very real possibility that Microsoft's "Windows" trademark would be found invalid. So Microsoft offered Lindows a big chunk of change if they changed their name and dropped the case.

  • by flimflammer ( 956759 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @04:55AM (#32741806)

    As much as I want to call Sony the villain here, they really aren't.

    The person who ported it took everything from the original game and released it on a newer platform. That is like someone taking Sonic the Hedgehog or Mario bros and porting it over with all the same graphics, sounds, and design.

    They're protecting their property from theft, here. Had he used his own art, sounds, etc, with the same gameplay then Sony wouldn't really have a leg to stand on, but he basically stole everything from the original and ported it over. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. He shouldn't have assumed that he could take the assets without asking.

  • Re:Hands Up (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sowelu ( 713889 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @05:16AM (#32741868)
    Legally allowing porting to an unsupported platform sounds kind of dangerous. Let's say company A releases a game on the XBox 360 three months before they release it on PC. During the intervening period, is it "unsupported" on the PC? Portal was not available on the Mac for a couple-three years, but as of a few weeks back, it is now. Was it "unsupported" in the meantime, and could people have legally cloned it, ripped off all the assets, and distributed it for free? I don't even think this is a slippery slope. It's something that directly follows.
  • by ardiri ( 245358 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @05:19AM (#32741882) Homepage

    nice to get slashdotted twice in a week - the website still seems to be up this time around.

    since i am on vacation (in egypt) for two weeks - i had to simply withdraw the submission and downloads from the application catalogs and own website, since sony gave a 48 hour window, i can deal with it in more detail when i am back from vacation. as for the intellectual property, no original code was uses (in fact, the palm os version was my own implementation) the only thing that is definitely "used" is the name (Lemmings) and the original EGA graphics from the game. even the levels are redesigned in the event that they are not workable with one player mode and the limitations of the palm os platform

    IANAL - but since no original files are used, in fact everything is re-created without reference to the original source code, the only infringing rights here are the use of the name "Lemmings". there have been a number of copyright cases dealing with the look and feel - so it can go either way, intellectual property rights come down to if a jury believes there is confusion between the original and the remake.

    i will try to open discussions with SCEE (Sony Entertainment) about getting an official license for the game, in fact, we were looking for the original license holders back in 2001 when we did the palm os versions - but it was in flux between Take Two Interactive, Sony and no-one knew their ass from a hole in the ground. the good news is now SCEE are claiming ownership, so we can now talk to them - and we have proof of concepts made, so if they play nice, this title will officially come to these platforms, if not - then you can start saying how evil they are.

    lets see how the discussions go!

  • by ardiri ( 245358 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @06:12AM (#32742144) Homepage

    every lemmings clone that has used the original files or name and left alone every clone that has not.

    we have NOT used the original files, in fact - if you read the blog, you will see how we actually generated the levels using bitmaps and text files for configuration, all built without the original lemmings DAT files (yes, you can use them - but we did not). right now, it comes down to the Lemmings trademark with video games and the look for feel issue.

  • by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @06:58AM (#32742346) Homepage

    * In using the game brand for their own title?
    * Using copyrighted graphics to make their game look the same?

    Basically this, if I'm not mistaken. Pretty sure Pingus [] is legal.

    If you saw the video, this guys used all the original graphics, and the trademarked name.

  • by datapharmer ( 1099455 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @07:52AM (#32742592) Homepage
    Did they actually copy sourcecode? If not then they didn't do anything wrong - gameplay is not protected under copyright law. IANAL.
  • by Lostlander ( 1219708 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @08:20AM (#32742742)
    When will you IP trolls learn that Copyright Infringement and Theft are not equal. Theft requires that you are depriving the first party of something by acquiring it in an unlawful manner. You see the first part can never be satisfied in regards to software and text (excluding physical media) as you do not remove their source when you make a copy. Unless of course you decide to hack their servers and delete all their copies when you make yours.

    You can't steal an idea just like you can't kill one it lives in the mind and it's value should be determined in the same way there can be a price for the impartment of an idea but there can't reasonably be a price for each use of that idea once it has been shared that would be like charging people for thinking. Unless of course you live in the U.S. and know how to play the copyright office.
  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gmail.BOHRcom minus physicist> on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @08:21AM (#32742746) Homepage Journal

    [Before Portal officially came to Mac OS X,] could people have legally cloned it, ripped off all the assets, and distributed it for free? I don't even think this is a slippery slope.

    The drop-off point is when someone copied the . Under U.S. law, a Portal clone using original assets would fall under the exclusion of game operation methods [] in 17 USC 102(b) [], as would Pingus, a Lemmings clone using original assets []. The Tetris Company appears not to understand this [].

  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @08:55AM (#32743024)

    They didn't mention that they understood he was not benefitting commercially.

    Completely irrelevant in the face of blatant rip-off of copyrighted works. I hate copyright law as much as the next slashdot reader, but this again is a good example of where copyright law is actually doing exactly what it was intended to do, protect the rights of the copyright owners. Lemmings is not a abandonware, lemmings is being currently sold on several platforms, no permission was sought to make a clone of the game, and all the original copyrighted artwork was copied.

    This is extremely nice of Sony. Remember this is Sony we are talking about. I'm frankly surprised they didn't just sue him straight up and then send one of their customer service representatives over to punch him in the face and kick his dog.

  • by MisterZimbu ( 302338 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @09:05AM (#32743136)

    They're still using the property. There have been recent releases of Lemmings for both the PSP and the PS3 in the past year or two.

  • by VGPowerlord ( 621254 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @09:40AM (#32743544)

    CAPTCHA: HOARDERS - hanging on to IP that wasn't even ours originally while we refuse to publish the titles

    There's are versions of Lemmings for the PSP and PS3 on the PSN app store right now.

    In other words, they do publish it, but only for their own consoles.

    New versions of Lemmings became a system exclusive title as soon as Sony bought Psygnosis.

  • by WNight ( 23683 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @10:55AM (#32744676) Homepage

    If he created a port, from scratch (including graphics) he would be able to distribute it - except for the name.

    All they control here is the name and the graphics he copied. And maps if those are included.

  • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @03:56AM (#32754030) Homepage

    Would you like to explain how "open sourcing the whole thing" would help the person who owned the trademark that you infringed, or the artwork that you ripped off, in any way? It's like me saying "Yeah, I copied the whole graphics from Red Alert, but hey... the company hasn't been selling it lately and I was going to give it (and other rights on it) away to thousands of people who haven't paid for Red Alert anyway." Despite what you might read on abandonware sites, this is still a blatant copyright violation. You have *no* right to the imagery (recreated or not, because you admitted yourself you based it off the EGA data files), the name or anything else, so "open-sourcing" it will actually make it MORE illegal (passing off as not only an "official" product, but also then further giving those rights to other people perpetually - you're heading into fraud and all sorts because open source licences tend to state that YOU hold the copyright, when you clearly *don't* to some quite vital pieces of the software, as it was distributed.

    You did something stupid, you don't understand copyright/trademark law (certainly not that in jurisdictions other than your own) and you got caught because you advertised it, shamelessly, on places like this. I don't think they'll bother to sue you, you're small-fry to them, but there's absolutely no reason why they couldn't win the case in just one speech.

Garbage In -- Gospel Out.