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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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @04:10AM (#32741576)

    You've got Sony all wrong here. If you visited the developer's Web site, Sony actually writes about how gratuitous, err, I mean gracious and lenient they are:

    Despite our knowledge that your infringement is knowing (hence your
    disclaimer) we will give you one opportunity to avoid having to pay
    substantial legal costs and damages (should we have to sue you).

    If you will remove all your ports of Lemmings from the sites where you have
    posted them or indeed now host them and undertake not to recreate or port
    any other SCEE published games then we will not sue you and seek damages
    for every copy of Lemmings that you have distributed.

    You may not be able to Trademark DNA, but Sony has a Trademark AND copyright on Lemmings (even though family friendly Disney [] has prior art []).

  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @04:20AM (#32741624) Homepage Journal

    And even if you strike down trademark on the common word "Lemmings" (very doable if expensive), there's still the matter of all the artwork he ripped straight from the original. It's definitely non-trivial, and the answer how he managed to port it all in such a short time is that he copied the artwork and levels verbatim, porting only game engine but retaining (pirating) original game data.

    One could say he could continue by releasing his ports stripped of all said data, but with some extraction tool, and allow people with legal PC copies of Lemmings to extract the game assets and use them with the engine. Like Doom for Amiga - you still had to purchase the PC original for the .WAD file - actual content of the game, while the (platform-specific) game engine was purely 3rd party without ID Software involvement or license.

  • by tessellated ( 265314 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @04:21AM (#32741632) Homepage

    Considering Sony's years old reputation of fuckin' its customers the only ceasing and desisting should be them.

  • Re:Hands Up (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @04:38AM (#32741730) Journal
    Such a think is actually legal in progressive countries like Scandinavian countries : reverse engineering and porting to an unsupported platform is legal and is an exception to several laws. Sony does not provide an alternative way of playing Lemmings for Palm, therefore, it can not claim that this represents a loss. If Sony were to make an official port, then yes, a cease and desist would be lawful.

    But yeah, we are all used of the balance of rights like they are in Corporate America so yes, we saw that coming.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @05:28AM (#32741942) Journal
    Yup, you could argue that. And if you distributed the port code and required people to extract the artwork from their own copy of Lemmings, you could probably get away with it. If, on the other hand, you distribute all of the original levels and sprites, then you shouldn't be surprised when the owner of the copyright on all of these things complains. Compare this game, for example, with Pingus []. In Pingus, the gameplay is similar, but the levels and other artwork are all original.
  • by snap2grid ( 630315 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @07:05AM (#32742380) Homepage
    As I posted yesterday, I was part of the team who created Lemmings in the first place. A minor member, to be sure, but I was there. What bothers me most about these efforts to convert games is not so much the use of the original graphics and certainly not the fact that it's been ported, but the respect that we don't seem to get. I didn't see any mention of credit for Mike Dailly, who invented the idea, or Russel Kaye who wrote the PC version from which you took the EGA graphics, or Dave Jones who coded the Amiga original, or Gary Timmons who animated the characters, or Scott Johnson who drew background graphics or... well you get the idea. Intellectual property be damned; did you get in touch with anyone to ask if they were cool with it? (I once had the experience of reading a rip of the Hired Guns manual which I wrote, with a huge list of credits to all the guy's cracker buddies, but not one mention of anyone who'd spent two years of their lives on the game itself.) The sad thing is, if you'd asked, I know they'd have been cool with it. (And if you had, then I apologise)
  • by bronney ( 638318 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @08:13AM (#32742712) Homepage

    For give me, I are Chiner.

  • by WWWWolf ( 2428 ) <> on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @08:19AM (#32742740) Homepage

    numerous ports to other systems, including most recently ports to the PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation 3

    Wow! And Microsoft is truly a master of portable software - after all, once you write the software, it runs on Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7! Maybe even on the server editions! No complaints there whatsoever!

    It's not a condition of copyright, patent or trademark law that you have to make your work available on all platforms past, present and future.

    No, but it's a crappy business move: On short term, it displeases the potential customers who'd like to buy the game on platforms they own, and on longer term, it annoys retrogamers and game culture researchers who not only have to find the game, but also get the platform to run it on. If the game would have a market, no matter how small, decades after the release, and you fail to provide it to the market, you're basically wasting the opportunity: from business standpoint, you're not making any money, and from altruistic standpoint, no one's having any fun.

    The intended purpose of patent and copyright systems is indeed to provide incentive to produce, and therefore advance the state of the art, or enrich culture. However, Lemmings on the Amiga did that. Job done.

    Then why the hell the researchers wet their pants when they find out that someone has discovered some ancient philosopher's or author's lost works? As in actual text of the writings, not just second-hand facts that the writings may or may not have existed at some point of time? By your logic, surely it would have been enough that we would have, at one point, known that the works did in fact exist for certain?

    My point is that if any product of the culture is just pushed out of the door and forgotten - "job done" - it's failing to work as part of our cultural output. One of the reasons copyrights expire is that it allows people to preserve the works and keep them alive. The only reason copyrights exist is that it encourages people to create the works and profit from them before everyone's entitled to make derivatives and preserve the work for posterity. The "preservation" is a natural state of people who don't create works themselves: Hoard copies of artwork, and enjoy them at their leisure.

    The fact that the current producers of the culture are actively campaigning for throw-away culture and works that can't be preserved is very harmful. People who keep the works available for future generations to enjoy are doing a service to everyone, whether the media producers approve of it or not.

  • by cowscows ( 103644 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @12:18PM (#32746194) Journal

    As a stockholder, you would have legal channels with which to pursue your complaints within Sony. But a company making business decisions that you disagree with does not give you permission to ignore their IP rights.

    It's already legal to create clones of games, irregardless of when it was released. There are lemmings clones available already for many platforms. You just can't use the title and artwork straight from the game that you're copying.

    In this particular case, you might say that it's obvious that Sony isn't interested in releasing lemmings for these other platforms, but that's a fairly subjective claim. Maybe they've had a couple of teams working on and off on an awesome new lemmings game for years, a la Duke Nukem Forever, yet mismanagement has caused it to continually fall through. I'll admit that that is a rather unlikely scenario for the Lemmings franchise, but it illustrates some of the problems with making assumptions about their intentions and then using those assumptions to justify overturning their IP rights.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.