Friday, November 16, 2007

Jack Thompson Suing and parent ECA

Jack Thompson, real name Jack Chumpson, has decided to sue Gamepolitics, a great site dedicated to the intersection of politics and video games. He claims that the site is industry apologist and part of a much larger conspiracy to have him disbarred. Perhaps Thompson should understand that it is his irrational use of legal systems to further his agenda that is putting him under review by the Florida bar.

Thompson suing GP!

Thompson is basing some his allegations on comments posted to GP, which Dennis McCauley, the owner did not post, which threatened Thompson with death (?). McCauley removed as soon as he saw it. Is he serious? Thompson's kids must be so embarrassed their father is so zealous and out of touch.

Monday, November 5, 2007

ESRB Upholds Manhunt 2 Rating Despite Dubious Mods; Target Still Won't Sell in Stores

The ESRB, showing a good amount of common sense, ruled that its M rating for Manhunt 2 will stand, even though some modded Playstation Portables are capable of accessing certain content deemed Adult-Only. Patricia Vance delineated this ruling from the ESRB's opinion of the Hot Coffee mod from GTA: San Andreas, pointing to the increased inaccessibility from needing a modded PSP versus PC software and the fact that the content was disclosed to the ESRB when the M rating was given.

ESRB Allows Manhunt 2 Rating to Stand

I think the ESRB is doing the right thing here. It takes a lot of effort to unlock this content, and if Take Two was upfront about it being there, no point in punishing them with further delays and increased headache.

Despite this "endorsement" (?), Target has still decided not to sell the game on its shelves, though they will sell it online.

M for Missing Target

Second Second Life Lawsuit Over Erotic Goods

A group of six players of Second Life have banded together and named Thomas Simon, aka Rase Kenzo, defendant in suit alleging virtual item theft and reproduction. Kevin Alderman, notorized for his Eros sex bed lawsuit, is one of the plaintiffs in this case as well.

Sex Toys Aren't All Fun and Games

After hearing Alderman speak at the Virtual Worlds Conference, I understand why he takes this so importantly; for him, it is his livelihood. I just wonder if his actions are not akin to those of the music industry when they try to deal with digital piracy by suing individual infringers? Probably not, since the deterrent factor will be strengthened by the small number of infringers.

BioWare/Pandemic Acquisition Ok'ed

Antitrust Regulators have allowed EA's $775 million dollar purchase of BioWare's and Pandemic's parent VG Holding Group from Elevation Partners, notorious for having Bono as one of its investors. Elevation Partner's founder, John Riccitiello, is currently the CEO and formerly the president of EA, so naturally that raised some flags initially. However, FTC clearance was given for EA to continue amassing juggernautness.

BioWare and Pandemic are almost EA's!

Damn. It sure looks like Riccitiello is making money every which way on this deal.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

ESA Joins MPA for Anti-Piracy Fight in Malaysia

The Entertainment Software Association and the Motion Picture Association have teamed up to fight piracy in Malaysia. The enforcement initiative, called Operation Games Attack, is targeting the illegal production and distribution of games. The announcement was big enough to attract the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs of Malaysia. The program will provide anti-piracy training in addition to increased resources for enforcement of international IP rights.

ESA + MPA = SAME Plan of Attack

Friday, October 19, 2007

E for All 2007 Day One

Reporting semi-live from the E for All, this game expo is amazing. Having never been to one before, I am getting a bit of the "kid in the candy store" feeling. There were a couple of games I was looking for and a couple of things I discovered. Rock Band is the gem of the show. I played Epic by Faith No More and Dani California by Red Hot Chili Peppers on the guitar with my brother backing me up on vocals. It was HOT! That game is the best. Guitar Hero III was cool, but nothing too different than what I have come to expect. Super Mario Galaxy and Super Smash Bros. Brawl looked predictably sweet. I did find Piano Wizard, a piano game/trainer. It had multiple stages of play, and by the end, if you played it enough, you would learn to read music, which is pretty cool. I had great fun the first day, and I'm headed back there again right now.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fox Calls in a Hit on Hitman

Twitch, a movie news site, has reported that Fox has hired a "consultant" to assist in the final edit of the Hitman movie, slated to be released in November. Apparently, the first cut was extremely violent with head shots and other sequences of gore. Fox brought in Nicholas De Toth, the mastermind behind the PG-13 version of Live Free or Die Hard, to sanitize the movie, but claims that the released version will still be rated R.

Hitman Gets Hit

While this story is not directly related to video game law, it seems strange to me that other media outlets are effectively trying to censor the game's IP. How can you have a movie called Hitman, about a guy named Agent 47 who kills people, but have it sanitized. It seems to me that the gamers that loved the game would love to see Hitman in action, not Hitman where we hear the gun shots and it fades to black. Since Hitman is a video game movie, perhaps Fox thinks they can appeal to wider demographic, but this seems like selling cigarettes to kids --> would we want the kids to see a sanitized playboy movie, only to have them discover that when they opened the magazine they saw much more than they should?

MMOs - Vehicles for Money Laundering

According to this article from M-Net, Symantec, an internet security company, has begun targeting MMOs, such as Second Life and WoW, as potential outlets for criminals to launder money. Essentially, the article claims, that given the large amounts of basically unregulated transactions that occur in these worlds, it would be easy for dummy accounts to be created, for criminals to put money into these accounts, transfer the money in game, and then cash out in a different currency, all without being tracked. In addition, Symantec believes that much of software released to alter the interface of MMOs is laced with malicious programs designed to mine data and track keystrokes.

World of Washcash

It will be interesting to see if these fears are founded. If they are, who is going to stop it: the developers? the government? the players? It would be a jurisdictional nightmare if criminals in Russia laundered money through Second Life and cashed out in Hungary. Perhaps we should look into a VICJ - a Virtual International Court of Justice.

Virtual Worlds Day Two

Sorry for the delay folks, I know that many of you couldn't wait to get highlights from the second day, so here they are:

Keynote Address from Christian Renaud, Chief Architect of Networked Virtual Environments for Cisco: Urged the attendees to move to open standards with the purpose of propelling virtual worlds into the mainstream. He thinks that to be able to do this, the industry must allow common identities (meaning avatars that can transcend worlds to some degree), common metrics (meaning that the worlds are measured on a common scale so that consumers can differentiate between them in a useful way), common platforms (meaning namely interoperability), and common understanding (alluding to focused vision of where virtual worlds are headed). As Gary McGinty, CEO of Big Bad Wolf, said to me afterward about Renaud's speech, "The quote of the conference was, 'Do you want all of Betamaxx, or a piece of VHS?'"

Visionary Panel - Where the Platforms are Going Next - The panel consisted of Christopher Klaus (CEO, Kaneva), Michael Wilson (CEO, Makena), Raph Koster (CEO, Areae), Corey Bridges (Co-founder of Multiverse), Stephen Lawler (General Manager of Virtual Earth), Hui Xu (Founder and CEO, HiPiHi), and was moderated by Mark Wallace, blogger and co-author of Only A Game with Peter Ludlow, an excellent read: For those unacquainted with this panel, it is populated by some of the most influential people in the virtual worlds industry. The panel believes that there is great opportunity for virtual worlds growth in the areas of web integration (meaning connecting worlds to streaming media and other forms of content already available on the web) and connecting virtual worlds to social networks already in existence, such as Facebook or MySpace. The panel also concluded though that growth is not unilateral anymore and that there is potential to grow in many directions. One such area is in business models. Other possibilities for innovation included easier usability for denizens and capability for users to connect to virtual worlds online. Koster, perhaps the panel's most colorful character, was adamant that 3D was not the answer to everything online. He believes that user interface should be determined by the task at hand, and that there are some tasks on the internet that are just easier in 2D (like reading a newspaper article). He made excellent point that media outlets accrete, they do not replace (TV didn't replace radio, they both exist). Along those lines, virtual worlds are not here to replace old forms of entertainment, but can provide a new vehicle for media delivery. He also made a good point about the lack of difference between games and serious games, stating that we are all in the bookstore business, not the non-fiction aisle business.

Virtual Worlds and the Music Industry - The panel had representatives from Virtual MTV, Zwinky, and Doppelganger, the company behind V-Side: I found this to be one of the most interesting sessions at the the whole show. These three projects all work on delivering music to listeners in new and more interactive ways. Virtual worlds provide a fantastic opportunity for artists to connect with fans on a more personal level without all of the attendant risks of making public appearances. Matt Bostwick, the SVP of franchise development for MTV Music Group, previewed VLES - Virtual Lower East Side - with a machinama music video. The CEO of Doppelganger, Tim Stevens, believes that music delivery is fundamentally changing in that content must be delivered to the consumer now, not like before when listeners had to dial in, tune in, etc..

The conference had a series of lectures, but also an expo hall. In the expo hall I met David Colleen, head of Planet 9 Studios. Planet 9 is doing some interesting work creating 3D models of many of the major cities in the world. They had one particularly cool demonstration of their Virtual Earth (TM) in a GPS navigation so that the map was not a flat, nondescript 2D image, but a full 3D view of the city - very cool. Right after I finished speaking with him, I went to listen to the visionary panel, where one of the speakers was head of Microsoft's Virtual Earth (TM), Microsoft's version of Planet 9's product. Both have the same trademark on essentially the same product. I may be fresh out of school, but...

All-in-all, I would say that the conference was a success, not only for myself, but for the entire industry. They know they are on the cusp of being mainstream - give it ten years.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Virtual Worlds Day One

So day one is finished: it was not exactly as I expected. There was little representation from game worlds; most of the attendees were involved in social networking sites, content creation, and other virtual environment-type pursuits. Here are some highlights:

Keynote Speaker Anthony Zuiker, creator of CSI: Gave an entertaining speech laying down the most recent approach to marketing CSI by connecting TV, online, mobile, and gaming platforms to give a total media package. Build the content and they will come.

Edward Castronova's Perfidious Economy: The speech was meant to get the attendees thinking about policy issues in virtual worlds. He played an old economics game with three volunteers (me being one of them) involving the pooling of common resources to illustrate that whether dictatorship or democracy rules, often, the result of external organization is more resources for all. He argues that the fun of MMOs comes from this sharing of common resources. I thought his argument that placing an external structure on a virtual economy could increase resources (here being not only wealth, but also fun) was an interesting contrast to the usual murmuring complaints of those that think that the players should be able to do whatever they want.

Sean Kane's IP Wealth and Pitfalls of Synthetic Worlds: It was essentially a refresher from my copyright course, covering the many layers of copyrightability within virtual worlds with two big take-aways: 1. Copyrights are cheap at $45, so just get one; and 2. Copyright vigilance is a lot cheaper than litigation - so hire a lawyer!

Blake Lewin's Announcement of a Partnership between Turner Networks and Kaneva: Lewin described Turner's business model as aggregating content to suit a particular niche audience, and then using this audience to sell advertising for other products that niche may enjoy. Turner has used Kaneva to create a virtual environment for propagating Turner's licensed content. Inside this virtual world, there were screens everywhere constantly showing Turner content. These environments range from a hypothetical TBS building (very funny), to a TNT land (knows drama), to a recreation of the Family Guy house for watching Family Guy with friends. It will be interesting to see if people will sign in to watch TV with friends --> will the experience be the same as actually watching it with friends?

Overall, the day was a success and I am looking forward to tomorrow.

I'm Back - Virtual Worlds 2007

Hi everybody - it's Doctor Nick. Just Kidding: I am back blogging, coming live from Virtual Worlds 2007 at the San Jose Convention Center. Stay tuned for more posting.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


Just wanted to let all of my faithful readers out there know that I will be gone for a little while enjoying my post bar vacation. I assure you that I will be back in full force soon.


Friday, July 20, 2007

"Spastic" Too Offensive for UK Players

Following the recall of Mind Quiz for use of the word "spastic," Nintendo has likewise pulled the newest installment of its Mario Party franchise. Cleverly titled Mario Party 8, some discs contained a manufacturing defect by using the word spastic. Hoping to avoid too much hoopla, they plan on relaunching the game immediately.


Being educated from Berkeley, I am PC almost to a fault. But I just wonder how anybody could really be offended by Mario Party? Mind Quiz maybe since it is trying to rate intelligence, but frankly, every time I have ever played Mario Party my frenetic button mashing during mini-games is completely mindless. I feel like even if the parent is offended, the kid playing doesn't care.

Summertime, and the Litigation is Easy...

To all my faithful readers out there, I apologize for slacking on my blogging duties. I have been preparing for the CA bar, and it has left me little motivation to do anything else. Luckily, there has been a recent spat of video game litigation to draw me back in. Here are four updates on widely publicized suits.

Microsoft sued in two states for the scratching of game discs:

1. Florida

2. California, too

Sony settles on the overtime lawsuit with its employees:

$8.5 million paid out

Midway hit with a class action suit involving misrepresentations of and failure to disclose that it was "grossly underperforming because it was experiencing operational difficulties."

67% Decline in Stock Value, No Basis for Financial Statements, He's Heating Up...Insider Trading! He's on Fire!

Lets not forget all of the litigation that Microsoft is trying to avoid by extending the warranties of all Xbox 360's three years to handle the dreaded red rings of death malfunction:

Microsoft's $1 billion Reddening Ring

Looks like I'm taking the bar a bit too late to get in all of the fun.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Woman WoW Player Arrested for Child Abduction

When I read the headline, "WoW Player Arrested for Child Abduction," I thought the worst. But, as it turns out, a 31 year-old Australian woman had formed a relationship with a 17 year-old North Carolina boy, and was arrested after coming over to this country to pick the boy up and take him back to Australia. She claimed that the boy's family paid for her to visit, but the parents are denying that allegation.

Woman Arrested for Trying to Take Underage WoW Friend Back to Australia with her

While I certainly would never condone illegal behavior, that boy is probably stoked that he landed that older broad, but not that he did so through WoW.

Friday, June 29, 2007

ESA Stoked About Pirate's Arrest

The ESA, with its keen interest in stopping piracy, has begun highlighting specific instances of law enforcement stopping malicious pirates. Hailing from my hometown of San Diego, CA, Frederick Brown is facing 10 felony-level counts including, "grand theft, computer crime, and trafficking counterfeit marks." Upon raiding his house, the law found over a thousand counterfeit discs and mod chips to boot.

One Less Pirate in San Diego

Imagine going to jail for a really long time over mod chips and video games...I hope he made a lot of money for a lawyer before he got busted; apparently he made enough to post $100,000 bail.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

South Korea Begins Taxing Virtual Money Transactions

Coming to me via Law of the Game (shout out to a new VG law blogger), South Korea has begun imposing a Value-Added tax to all virtual goods sold in real world transactions. I could try and explain, but Mark Methenitis does a great job, so check it:

VAT implemented: WoW

A report on how the US will approach this issue is due in about a month.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Video Game Addiction is not a Legit Disease...Yet

The American Medical Association concluded at their most recent conference that video game addiction is not a disease on par with alcoholism or other addiction-based afflictions. While not directly relevant to the law yet, one can only imagine the plaintiff's lawyer when suing a video game company because Timmy went ballistic, citing the fact that poor Timmy is a victim of his disease, this addiction that is video games.

Video Games, like Pot, is not Addicting...but combine the two...

If VG addiction is placed on a list of diseases, I'm going to scream. It seems like anybody with a passion could be classified as having a disease associated with the passion. Do you play the piano all of the time? Musicianship, yeah my brother has that and all of that music he makes is ruining his life. My buddy likes to draw a bit too much? Artistry, its a real plague on society. Oh, and my friend who is obsessed with basketball? Athleticism. When he isn't playing, he is watching or reading about it. Don't make is a serious disease.

Seriously though, I guess video games do occupy a strange niche in that some people literally play them all day. If you play so many games that you cannot handle your daily biz, you've got a addiction even.

Lone Star, Patent Troll, Stalks Nintendo

Claiming that the Wii utilizes their patent on small capacitors in a semi-conducting circuit, Lone Star, a company based out of an Austin, Texas law firm, is suing Nintendo in the hallowed Federal Eastern District of Texas courts. Known for its ultra-plaintiff friendly patent decisions, the Eastern District has seen many patent infringement cases, including the American Video Graphics lawsuit covered in my first blog entry (second for those who are counting). Nintendo was, of course, unaware of any such infringement. Lone Star has been successful against other industry big wigs like Texas Instrument and Broadcom, but it is unclear how successful they will be here. Looks like another, "this patent is too complicated, and I (Nintendo) would have to give up too many secrets...I'll just settle." --> Trollery at its finest.

Nintendo's Getting Trolled

Immersion Sued By Microsoft for Breach of Contract

Reaching into its limitless coffers, Microsoft has instituted legal action against Immersion for breach of contract regarding their settlement of a suit from 2002. Apparently, Immersion has not been paying for certain IP and Licensing arrangements provided for in the settlement in which Immersion received $26 million.

Immersion in hot water again

How come the only thing I ever hear about Immersion is that they are in some lawsuit? Nevertheless, they have no fear taking on the big guys...

Manhunt 2 Release Suspended

Following an unprecedented amount of resistance from ratings boards across the globe, Take-Two has decided to suspend the release of its Manhunt 2, mostly because it could not release it on any of the platforms it was programmed for. Developed for the Wii and PS3, the game received an Adults Only rating in the US. Sony and Nintendo will not authorize the sale of AO games for their PS3 and Wii consoles respectively. M2 was also condemned by the UK ratings board, stating, "Manhunt 2 is distinguishable from recent high-end video games by its unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone in an overall game context which constantly encourages visceral killing with exceptionally little alleviation or distancing." The AO rating also means that most commercial supplier will not carry the game, including Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Gamestop.

Manhunt 2 gets Axed

These developments do not shock me. This game really seemed to push the limits of what might be acceptable in a video game violence-wise. We all love the interactivity of the Wiimote, but if you saw your kid playing this game it would actually be more disturbing than watching him blow up the National Guard with a Rocket launcher in GTA III. You simulate murdering people with all sorts of instruments with a simple flick of the wrist. It almost seems like it would be weird to invite someone over to show them your new game that kicks ass, only to have them watch you saw some dude's head off. I'm 25 and would be a bit repulsed by the game (though I have to say that I can imagine at least one of my friends getting really into this game). Then I imagine coming home to see my ten year old brother playing, and I think enough is enough. The rating is warranted, but frankly I wouldn't be surprised if the rating would ultimately appeal to some players: after all, Rockstar and Take-Two say that they are catering to the older crowd. Are they actually, or are they just cigarette companies in disguise?

NY Legislators Carry Video Game Bill Past Round 1

New York, in a continuing effort to succeed where so many other states have failed, has successfully passed a piece of video game legislation through its Senate and Assembly. The bill would make selling mature games to minors a felony and force consoles to have parental control measures (which all next-gen systems already have). I have reported on this bill earlier, and it, like its predecessors, seems to be making good progress...until some activist judge comes along and declares it unconstitutional.

Prediction: NY VG Legislation violates 1st Amendment...just a prediction

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Second Life Campaign Headquarters May Violate Japanese Election Law

While the latest political election rage has been to set up a virtual headquarters in a virtual world, usually Second Life, one Japanese politico-to-be may have overstepped his bounds. It is illegal for Japanese political candidated to set-up or update any website regarding their campaign during their campaign. Right now, the Japanese authorities are looking into Kan Suzuki's actions in establishing a SL presence to see if it violates election law.


As of now, there is no official word about whether a violation has occurred.

Manchester Cathedral Not Too Happy about Being a Level in Resistance: Fall of Man

The Church of England has threatened to sue Sony, the makers of Resistance: Fall of Man, over their use of the interior of Manchester Cathedral as a game level (apparently, the outside has been blown to bits). Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Resistance is a first-person shooter with tons of guns and video game violence that moral, upstanding folks usually object to. Church of England claims this is a violation of their copyrights (in the building, though these must have expired by is pretty old) and trademarks (would any one really believe that the Church endorsed this game?), but seems to be mostly based on an equity argument (this is just morally wrong...give us an injunction). The Very Reverend Rogers Govender claimed that the game was undermining the work of the church by promoting violence and using holy places as battlegrounds.

I killed 14 of my friends in Manchester Cathedral online; it was my best game ever!

Normally the whining of the older generation about violent video games doesn't phase me much, but this particular instance does seem a bit different. Is nothing sacred any more? Once again, I suppose that is for the courts to decide. Although I do agree with Aleks Krotoski: if the church wins, do video games always have to get permission from building owners to use their buildings in games? How close the building have to actually be? What if Dan Brown had to get the permission of the church to set a Da Vinci Code scene at the Vatican - after all, he was sending a message that undermined the church.

Fall of Man, Fall of Man...clearly sinful

Sony Plans to Aggressively Pursue PS3 Hackers - Is This News?

Sony, a paragon on unpredictability, vowed to pursue all hackers of its Playstation 3 console. Apparently, hackers have already figured out a way to crack PS3's firmware 1.10 and 1.11, which will allow a hacker to boot up a game but not necessarily play it. Similar to Microsoft's vow to not allow hacked systems to play on its XBoxLive service, Sony likewise could not allow any hacked PS3s to connect. In addition, hacking your PS3 violates the warranty.

Hackers Beware...Sony is After You Again

No warranty huh...the first iteration of any new console is almost always total crap, so maybe I should wait for the next model of PS3 before I hack to boot up a game; screw playing it.

Player Driven MMO Currency Exchange Opens

Sparter, an online marketplace provider, has launched a new player driven currency exchange that will allow players to not only swap currencies from one game to another, but also track all of the latest trends in the currency, and make informed decisions about whether they are getting a good deal or not. In addition, all of the IP rights of the game developers will be respected. Measures are in place to ensure a safe and reliable trading environment such as Escrow accounts and participant ratings.

Virtual Currency Exchange Opens!

Now I can stop studying for the bar and become a full-time virtual currency trader!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Patent Hints at Future PSP, Possibly with Phone Capabilities

Often filed patents never turn into anything, but hopefully, that will not be the case for a new patent filed by Sony that appears to disclose a redesign of the PSP. Given the recent partnering of Sony with British Telecom to provide for BT services to the PSP, this new patent application could show where Sony is headed. The patent features a sweet looking swivel screen, hinting at multiple modes of use, i.e., normal view for games, swivel for cellular phone capabilities. In addition, the the new PSP could also support TV and video modes streamed directly from the internet.

PSP Swivel

I was going to buy an iPhone, but...

Friday, June 1, 2007

Take-Two In the Legal Octagon

T2 is being sued by Zuffa, the company behind the Ultimate Fighting Championships, for allegedly violating their distribution agreement and cybersquatting at Zuffa claims Take-Two has "committed acts intended or designed to disrupt and interfere, and have actually interfered, with [Zuffa's] present and prospective economic advantage and opportunities." T2 had rights to distrubte UFC games until 2005, including a grace period of 180 days for final sale of remaining inventory. T2 did not comply, selling 26,000 more copies of UFC: Sudden Impact after the grace period ended. UFC distribution rights are now held by THQ.

Zuffa's Got Tank Abbott, Who Does T2 Have?

Canadian History Taught Through Civ III Mod

2K games has created a Civ III mod, HistoriCanada, designed to teach Canadian High School students about the history of Canada. Players can choose between 17 indigenous and European civilizations to learn, and if they like, reshape Canadian history. Although not strictly law-related, this is the first mod I have seen that actually has a purpose (except for Warcraft III's Defense of the Ancients, which is just badass). The educational benefits seems endless, but really, I just wish I could have played games in class...besides Drug Wars.

HistoriCanada: Great Idea, Terrible Name

They should make one for America too, but mod Warcraft to more accurately depict the course of history.

Bragg v. Linden update and IGE gets sued by Consumers

Nod to Greg Boyd for sending these articles:

Bragg v. Linden update - Looks like Bragg has scored some preliminary victories in his case against Second Life operators Linden Labs. Judge Eduardo Rubreno held that SL's arbitration clause in its Terms of Use was unconscionable, despite Linden's offer to move the arbitration to Bragg's native Philadelphia and pay the costs. Score one for the players: with this provision struck down, it is unclear how much more of the ToU will survive.


Hernandez v. IGE filed - Hernandez is a WoW player from Florida who has enlisted the help of a hot shot plaintiffs attorney in class action lawsuits involving consumer protections. Hernandez is alleging that IGE, as a link between a consortium of gold farmers and paying customers, is essentially interfering with his play. He pays good money to play the game, and companies like IGE “strip out scarce and limited virtual world resources,” making the game less fun to play. Agreed. They are trying to attach liability through consumer protection laws. They are also going after Paypal and other internet money transfer services that facilitate the trade in virtual goods. With Ebay's recent delisting of all virtual property, I wonder if Paypal and other will also drop their gold farming clients.

It will be interesting to see how this comes out. It is hard to quantify how much these farmers devalue the experience of players, especially since so many seem more than willing to purchase their wares. I can't wait to see the type of balancing test the court about judicial discretion: well, the sword is worth x to Hernandez who obtained it playing the game, but y to average Joe buyer...I can't say it enough...WoW!

The Biggest Week for MMO Players since Burning Crusade was released!

For an interesting interview with Hernandez's Lawyer see: The Interview

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

NY Bill Attempts to Make Felony of Selling Violent Video Games to Minors

Once again, a state government has tried to legislate on the sale of video games to minors, this time, its NY. They propose felony charges for anyone who sells a game to a minor featuring "depraved violence and indecent images." Depraved violence is further defined as, "rape, dismemberment, physical torture, mutilation or evisceration of a human being." I do not know what the deal is with these state governments, but apparently, they do not look at what other states have done. All previous attempts at legislation like this have been struck down in federal court as unconstitutional for violating the 1st amendment. See Illinois entry below: I wonder if this one will cost a million bucks too? Also, the bill mandates parental controls by 2009 on all consoles, but does not specify about hand-helds or PCs. However, this seems superfluous since all next-gen systems already have parental controls in place...hmm...I guess they do not look around

Will this one be upheld?

With all these attempts at regulation, I cannot tell if the governments are trying to scapegoat, or whether there are actually legitimate concerns about these issues in the population? It seems like political maneuvering to me, but with so many different states trying to accomplish the same unconstitutional objective, maybe there are more Jack Thompsons out there than previously thought.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Blizzard Sues Gold Farmers for Spamming

Blizzard instituted an action in Federal courts seeking at least injunctive relief from Peons4hire, a gold farming service notorious for spamming gamers in-world with advertisements for cheap gold. Player response has been overwhelmingly positive.

Peons4hire are about to become unemployed4hire

I doubt that this gold farming operation has the resources to challenge Blizzard, but it will be interesting to see how this case comes out from a virtual property perspective. Will Blizzard attack them for their violations of terms of service regarding the acquisition and sale of its virtual property? or only for spamming in game? If they do not go after the farming itself, will that imply that they condone it? Or, do they just know that as long as there is demand, there will always be farmers...

Ironically, right next to this story is an ad for WoW Cheap Gold...WoW!

Failed Illinois Legislation Costs Government $1 Million...Really?

Really, Governor Blagojevich, spending a million dollars between lawyers fees and awards for your failed video game legislation and its subsequent litigation, really? Talk about blowing it:

Stop Wasting Taxpayer Money Legislators!

Can't say I'm sorry he lost.

ESA Joins New Copyright Alliance

ESA has joined forces with other heavy-hitting copyright owners, including the MPAA, RIAA, Disney, Microsoft, Major League Baseball, and 23 others, to form an alliance to protect copyrights. While there mission is "promoting the value of copyright as an agent for creativity, jobs and growth,” my guess is that they will just lobby and enforce copyrights collectively.

So if they are the Alliance, are infringers the Copyright Horde?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

News Flash: Trademark Infringement Rampant in Second Life

While not big news to anybody who has set foot in the virtual realm, Virtually Blind reports on the large amount of trademark infringement taking place in Second Life each day. He calculates over $2,000,000 in transactions involving unauthorized trademark use each year, and obviously this number will continue to grow. There is a good amount of statistical information in the article as well as good reasons for companies to begin enforcing these rights.

Trademarks Shademarks

More than anything, the companies should move to protect their rights so that they do not implicitly give them up by not enforcing them. If infringement becomes common practice, it will be much harder to enforce these rights in the future. However, the dilutive effects (consumers being confused about the source of the produce) may not be severe until years from now. Will it be too late?

WeeWorld's Case Dropped Without Prejudice

As reported on earlier, WeeWorld had two pending cases: one in Europe and one in the US. They tried to drop the complaint in the US to focus on the European suit, but Nintendo would not let them drop the case "without prejudice," insisting that the complaint should be removed with no possibility of appeal. Apparently, Nintendo relented, and allowed WeeWorld to drop the case for now, but leave it open for appeal in the future.

Nintendo Bros WeeWorld

Friday, May 4, 2007

Texas High School Student Transferred for Creating CS Map of School

School board officials have decided to transfer a student in Sugar Land, Texas after it was discovered that he created a Counter-Strike map of his high school. After a search at his house turned up five (decorative?) swords, the school board labeled the situation a "level 3," which means the student "engage[d] in conduct relating to a false alarm or report (including a bomb threat) or a terroristic threat involving a public school."

Don't Make Counter-Strike Maps of your High School Fool!

I think this is an overreaction of the school board, but jeez, some kids are so clueless.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Microsoft's Patent Application for Portable Gaming System Hints at Zune Gaming

MIcrosoft, invader of all realms technological, just had a patent application, Number 20070087830 for a "multi-component gaming system" including "handheld devices and console devices," approved by the PTO. The patent appears to pertain to technology that would allow processes from one gaming console, i.e. the XBox 360, to be beamed to another portable device, i.e. the Zune, calling it "variable functionality and processing performance as determined by the number of components in the system. The processing capabilities and functionality of each gaming component in a combination are augmented by the processing capabilities and functionality of other gaming components in the combination. To take advantage of another gaming components processing capabilities and memory capacity, each gaming component is capable of utilizing another gaming component to process gaming applications."

Zune Gaming Soon

Of course, Microsoft had no comment. Sounds cool...but will it be?

Take-Two Finally Gets Thompson Off Back

Jack Thompson, the perennial thorn in the side of Take-Two, has settled his pending suit with the company agreeing to drop the current litigation, not to sue any more on any of the distribution of T2's games, not to contact Take-Two or any of its business partners with allegations of wrongdoing, and not to communicate with T2 through its lawyers. T2 agreed to drop its suit against Thompson.

Thompson Loses...err Settles

I cannot say I am sorry about this outcome: We all know how Thompson has acted, and when you act like he has, you get smacked like he has.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

China Moves on Social Fears About Youth Gaming, Limits Minor's Gameplay

China, the second greatest bastion of freedom and liberty on the planet, has decided to implement anti-addiction software in MMORPGs that will essentially limit the amount of time a minor may play a game each day. As of the now, China wants the software to allow usual "points" for the first three hours, half points for the next two, and after that the player will earn no points. After the five hours, players will receive the following message, ""You have entered unhealthy game time, please go offline immediately to rest. If you do not, your health will be damaged and your points will be cut to zero."

China Limits Minor's Playing Time

Many of the game developers in China say that the measure will not affect their business too much because most gamers in China are adults (about 10% minors). A minor will have to input their government ID number into the game so that it will know if he is a minor or not. If I were a kid, I would get around this so fast. Any kid addicted to an MMORPG is not going to let a little thing like getting an older person's ID number stop him. What are they going to arrest him? The real problem is that all online users will have to register with their real names. Wait, wait...China is not all about autonomy and privacy?

Sony Plays Down Virtual Reality Glove Patent

Keeping their ear to the streets, Unwired View has discovered that Sony has filed a patent for a virtual reality glove system that is meant to be compatible with some unspecified gaming console. The glove would allow the user to control cursors on the screen and having electronic means of applying pressure to the fingers to simulate touch. Sounds pretty badass to me.

Sony's VR Gloves

Of course, Sony had no real comment about the patent, merely reiterating the policy of protecting their IP to absolute fullest whether a product is manufactured or not. Below is a link to the application itself:

US Patent Application 0070075966: Hand-held Computer Interactive Device

Monday, April 16, 2007

US Army Sponsors Online Video Game Network

In an attempt to reach out to their bread-and-butter demographic, the 17-24 year-old male, the US army has begun sponsoring online game tournaments. The Army has partnered with the Global Gaming League, boasting about 9 million competitive gamers on its network, to create the National Gaming Arena which will host tournaments of Army-themed games. The Army will also give prizes to the winners such as a chance to train on a real military games software. The promotion is meant to increase awareness by telling the Army's story to the next generation of potential recruits.

Yeah, I know what is like to serve, I played the video game

I suppose it is the easiest way to select candidates for their war games departments. How about a nice game of chess?

Others are not so happy about the program: Leland Yee, a CA state senator, doesn't like the Army's attempt to lure young children.

Army ads as bad as Cigarette Ads?

Activision Sues Again!

Activision, bringers of many suits, has filed a copyright infringement action against an individual, Maryanne Leach, alleging violation of the distribution rights for Call of Duty: the Big Red One and Tony Hawk: American Wasteland. They seek injunctive relief, damages, and an order that Leach destroy all infringing material.

Activision Stays Litigation Happy

They must have some real go-getter lawyers.

Louisiana Orders Itself to Pay ESA $91,000 in Lawyers' Fees

A district judge in Louisiana ruled that the State must pay the ESA a total of $91,000 for the fees it incurred in getting HB 1381, an anti-video game piece of legislation drafted with the help of Jack Thompson, overturned as unconstitutional. The law mandated fines between $100 and $2,000 and prison sentences of up to one year for selling M or AO games to minors. The judge found the medical evidence of the "reason" supporting the legislation, that video games are promoters of violence, was tenuous and speculative. This is the latest example of video game legislation being ruled unconstitutional, with a similar case being decided in Michigan last December.

Louisiana Ordered to Pay Attorney's Fees to ESA

Personally, I think the judge got this right and shows that the system works...sometimes.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kentucky Library Begins Lending Video Games

Kentucky libraries have decided to begin video game collections available for borrowing. A spokesman said that the library will not carry any games with violence or harsh language. Where was this when I was a kid?

It is not all backwards in Kentucky!

I suppose the libraries have sovereign immunity and cannot be sued for copyright violation, but given that the educational value of most games is marginal at best, is there really a compelling argument for fair use? The effect on the market (harms video game sales), the nature of the work (the copyrighted game itself is being used not a derivative work), and the amount used (the whole game) all weigh in favor of the video game companies. I wonder if the non-financial use of the games is a strong enough reason to find fair use. Then again, I cannot really think of a reason that video games should be banned while books can be lent, since both are supposed to be protected under the same copyright statutes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

US hates on Chinese IP Enforcement, Nintendo Agrees

The US trade representative has filed for formal consultations with the Chinese government over there IP protection policies, or lack thereof. China is one of the worst offenders as far as respecting world IP rights, with little or no punishment for counterfeiters who largely escape punishment or even the closing down of their operations. Nintendo has identified China as the greatest exporter of infringed software and hardware, estimating losses to the industry of $762 million. China claims to be dismayed at this request for formal consultation, but I doubt anybody takes them seriously: they do practically nothing to stop piracy.

China...Piracy...No Way!

Nintendo points out that over 7.7 million infringing products have been seized from 300 factories over the past four years.

Ghost Rider Creator Sues T2, Marvel, Sony

Gary Friedrich, co-creator of Ghost Rider, is suing Take-Two, Marvel, Sony and a host of other for copyright infringement of his Ghost Rider character and his alter ego, Johnny Blaze. Friedrich claims that the copyrights in these characters reverted to him in the 2001, and that the named defendants undertook a long and extensive campaign, including movies, toys and video games that utilize his copyrights.

Ghost Free-Rider

With an estimated Box Office gross of $215 million, Mr. Friedrich stand to gain quite a bit.

Microsoft's 360 Ad Banned in the UK

Microsoft was forced to pull an ad from British TV after there were fears that the ad could encourage illegal street racing behavior. The ad featured two drivers weaving between traffic in pursuit of each other and culminates in one driver crashing. Despite the disclaimer at the bottom of the screen warning viewers not to try this at home and that the ad is a dramatisation, the UK Advertising Standards Agency banned the ad for glorifying street racing. Curiously, the ad is not for a specific game, but just for the Xbox 360.

MS's Street Racing Ad Banned

The ASA ruled that the advertisement breached health and safety and driving standards rules. So if a movie showed a car chase in its preview, would that be unacceptable? It is hard to see how an advertisement for a video game system could encourage driving violations - you'd think if a particular game encouraged this bad behavior then an advertisement could have the same effect, but that is not the case here. I wonder how important it was that the ad related to video games as opposed to some other area of entertainment. I doubt the ads for Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift got pulled.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Piano Hero Maker Sent Cease and Desist from Activision

Nicholas Piedgon, a programmer working for Halite studios, designed an open source software package called Piano Hero, a homage to guitar hero but free. Activision, being the super-cool dudes they are, immediately sent a cease and desist letter alleging trademark infringement and dilution. Mr. Piedgon complied with the letter immediately. The following link leads to the correspondence between the two parties.

Activision sues over Guitar Hero again

Is it just me, or does Activision occupy more than half of my blog entries? Talk about being concerned with the franchise IP. Still though, I want to play some piano hero. I bet it is more productive than guitar hero since it can actually teach useful music skills as opposed to GH's dumbed-down, albeit, more fun almost playing.

Friday, April 6, 2007

FBI to Investigate Second Life Gambling

Following the passage of a bill last year that prohibits online gambling, Linden Labs has invited the FBI into Second Life to figure out the propriety of virtual casinos that have popped up there. LL is unclear whether wagering in a virtual casino with virtual money, which can be converted to real money, is illegal under the new legislation.

FBI Investigates 2nd Life Casinos

I do not see why this would be any different than other online gambling. Usually the whole virtual currency things throws bureaucrats for a loop, but people gamble with virtual money all of the time: they're called chips.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

No Criminal Charges Filed in Hold Your Wee for a Wii Contest Holders

Sacramento County has decided not to sue the radio station that held a water drinking contest for the Nintendo system and resulted in a contestant's, Jennifer Strange, death. The county concluded that the employees actions did not reach a requisite height of criminality; however, the employees did get fired. The family's lawyer said he was still planning to sue for the wrongful death of Mrs. Strange.

No Criminal Charges in Radio Contest

See Hold Your Wee for a Wii for a link to the news story.

Activision settles with former Guitar Hero Producers

Activision has settled its litigation against three former Guitar Hero producers. The suit alleged a whole host of IP infringements by the producers, including copyright infringement, trademark infringement, misappropriating trade secrets, breach of contract, etc.. Activision and the defendants agreed to a temporary injunction effectively prohibiting the producers from working on any rhythm-based video games for the next year.

Guitar Hero Producers suit settles

Given that these producers have teamed up with The Ant Commandoes, also a defendant in litigation involving Guitar Hero, it would seem that while this injunction is helpful, it will not effectively stop the producers from using whatever proprietary knowledge that Activision claims was improperly gained. Perhaps there was no impropriety...

See Guitar Hero Defectors Sued for a recap of the litigation when instituted

Friday, March 30, 2007

Obama's Campaign Visits Second Life

Barack Obama, presidential hopeful, has decided to simulcast a real-life visit with an Iowa family in his HQ in Second Life. The simulcast will not be live video feed, but instead, will have a licensed avatar mimic his mannerisms over a stream of his audio. I do not claim to understand, I just report this stuff.

See Obama's Officially Licensed Avatar Run for President

There is also an Obama rally at SL's Capitol Hill this Saturday for any one who cannot get enough virtual campaigning.

Speaking of virtual politics, check this article about the French Presidential election heating up in SL. There appears to be virtual violence in the form of push guns and pig grenades...oh French people.

The French Fight...For Once

PS3s banned in UK Prisons

Citing fears of internet capability, UK Home Secretary John Reid banned all PS3s in prisons. The main concern in that the consoles can give and receive radio signals.

No PS3 in prison? I never would have...

Apparently the PS2 got banned after inmates used it to watch porn.

Spyro makers sued over Boy's epileptic seizure

A young boy suffered a seizure while playing Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly, a game mostly held to be crap in general. After not heeding the warning at the beginning of the game, the boy's mother is no suing Vivendi, Sony, Sierra, and the video store that rented the game. The woman claims the companies were, "negligent, careless, and reckless with regard to the design and manufacture," of the game; that is what the warning label is for lady.

Spyro Suit

Nintendo got sued a couple of years ago by angry parents whose child had died playing N64 in a similar epileptic incident. Nintendo won on summary judgment after the other side failed to respond. I bet the defendants in this case will have similar luck.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Games for Guns

In some unsafe neighborhoods of Mexico City, the Mexican government has created a program where its citizens can exchange firearms for computers (for big firearms) or an Xbox or cash (smaller firearms). Microsoft was kind enough to donate software for the computers exchanged. Guns that are handed over are destroyed by the Mexican Army.

Juegos Por Armas

How ironic would it be if the games that they are distributing actually induced the violence they are attempting to stop. I do not think that games cause violent behavior, but it does seem strange that the real-life danger is swapped for the less dangerous virtual violence. Of course, a few hundred miles north, GRAW2 is being seized by the same Mexican government.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Mexican Governor Orders Seizures of Clancy's Ghost Recon 2

Jose Reyes Baeza Terrazas, governor of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, has ordered all copies of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, a shooter based in Juarez, Mexico, to be seized. The game follows troops fighting against Mexican rebels in 2014 in Juarez and El Paso. The governor decried the game instilled poor values and inaccurately portrayed the people of his city as violent. The proper authorities are gathering information about where the game is sold and distributed so that can begin their campaign.

GRAW2 Seized!

What ever happened to: It is just a game?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Gears of War Movie Rights Secured

New Line, the makers of my favorite game-turned-movie Mortal Kombat, has secured the rights to make a Gears of War movie written by Stuart Beattie, the writer of Collateral. Although certainly not the first game to movie franchise IP, I cannot help but feel that more games will be made into movies.

Gears of War: The Movie

Most game movies either suck, do not stay true to the game, or both. The only two I can remember liking are Mortal Kombat (only the first one) and Doom (I'm not exactly sure why I liked this one, probably because the plot wasn't totally stock and still managed to fit the game). They fall victim to the exact same problem that famous movies-turned-games do: reliance on a name to make an otherwise crap product saleable. Lets see if GoW works out better than most.

Jack Thompson Countersues T2

Very predictably, Jack Thompson, the preacher of puff, has countersued Take-Two alleging violations of his freedom of speech and multiple violations under RICO (Racketeering legislation) for T2's campaign against him. Honestly, this guy bugs me so much that I cannot even cover this story any more, just read it if you care to hear what he has to say (I do not).

Thompson Arrogantly Defends Himself

While I believe that Thompson's exploits can be justified from a moral standpoint, how can the guy expect any one to respect him (independent of his right to say it) when he drops comments about Rockstar in a legal motion like: "What else would one expect of Scottish sociopaths sipping their single malt Glenlivet in between brainstorming software programming sessions?" He then brings up September 11 and, after claiming that T2's influence on pop culture breads extremism, he continues "What is America's rebuttal to the Islamic Fascist recruitment call? This counterclaim is the rebuttal, not just to these terrorists but to Take-Two." WTF?

WeeWorld Tries to Back Out of Suit with Nintendo, Nintendo says Naw

WeeWorld, publishers of software used to create animated avatars for AOL instant messenger, previously sued Nintendo claiming that the Wii's Mii system violated WeeWorld's trademarks. After realizing that now is not the best time to file suit due to financial concerns and uncertainty about how a similar dispute in the UK will play out, WeeWorld wants to dismiss the current action without prejudice so the matter can be litigated at a different date. Nintendo, confident in its position, wants the suit dismissed with prejudice. They feel their case is strong and they want the matter resolved.

WeeWorld Wants Waver

I have not yet seen a case where the instigator wants to drop the suit but the accused will not let him. Judging from Nintendo's evidence that WeeWorld didn't adopt its marks until after Wii's release in the US and its fair use defense for using homonyms, I can see why Nintendo wants this case to be settled or over. Looks like WeeWorld was a wee bit too hasty...

The Sims Art Show

EA has teamed up with some Art schools to offer an art competition where submissions must be related to EA's The Sims franchise. Sponsored by Ford, the competition will encompass mediums such as machinima, paintings, illustrations, sculptural work, fashion designs, cinematography, and interactive displays.

SimArt Competition

According to the rules: By entering this Contest, entrants agree (i) that Sponsor may post their entries on Sponsor’s and it agents’ respective websites, and has the right to use the entries, including, without limitation, by making them available for download on Sponsor’s website and in any and all media and in connection with this Contest, publicity and advertising for Electronic Arts Inc or other promotions by Sponsor without any further attribution, notification or compensation to entrants and, except if winner is a resident of TN or otherwise where prohibited by law, to use entrant’s first name, last name, school name, or user or screen name, and/or hometown therewith. Looks like the entrants will lose most of the sticks in the copyright bundle, but not all of them.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Video Game Decency Act of 2007

Fred Upton, a Republican senator, has reintroduced the Video Game Decency Act, a piece of legislation directed at game companies that lie to the ESRB to obtain a lower rating than they should. From Gamasutra, "According to the wording of the bill, any failing to disclose video game content 'with the intent of obtaining a less restrictive age-based content rating' will be treated as an 'unfair or deceptive act or practice affecting commerce' as judged by the Federal Trade Commission Act." Upton declared the point of the legislation is to, "restore parents’ trust in a system in which game makers had previously done an end-run around the process to deliver violent and pornographic material to our kids.”

Video Game Decency Act: Take Two

Lets see if this legislation expires, as its predecessor did...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Take-Two on the Offensive

Take-Two has filled a preemptive suit against Jack Thompson to stop him from trying to declare T2's upcoming releases, Grand Theft Auto 4 and Manhunt 2, public nuisances under Florida law. I guess T2 was sick of Thompson's sh*t. Thompson tried to expose T2's lack of morality by making reference to the reason stockholder coup. Ouch!

T2: the Offensive

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Virtual Tax Threats

In an article on CNNMoney, Grace Wong gives an update on the tax implications of virtual transactions. While it is settled that any exchange which results in profits for US dollars can be taxable, the whole area become murkier when the question of how to treat virtual exchanges that do not directly bring any US dollars to the table. Bartering is taxable in the real world --> should it be in virtual worlds?

Virtual Taxes: An Inevitability?

Edward Castronova sees this taxation as unavoidable within the next ten years, but probably not going to happen in the next three. It seems that there are so many problems with policing: I do not see how it can work unless something like SOE's Station Exchange in Everquest is implemented so that all transactions can be accounted for.

ABA Reviews Second Life

The American Bar Association's journal published an article this month about Second Life and the legal implications of virtual lawyers. It is an interesting review of some of the legal angles involved with these virtual worlds, but does not answer very many questions. If anything it reinforces the idea that so much is unsettled on the legal frontier of these games that regulation seems far away.

ABA guidelines for Virtual Lawyers...there are no guidelines

One interesting portion deal with client solicitation. The ABA currently prohibits direct solicitation of clients that do not have a prior close relationship with the lawyer. So what if an avatar appears at my law office in Second Life, I give advice, but in effect I am directly soliciting real-life business through the game? I suppose they could treat as if the avatar had walked into my office = no direct solicitation. Or they could treat it as "talk to me about this fantasy world...oh, by the way, I can help you with that problem in the real courts" = probably direct solicitation. Very fuzzy.

Australians Get Around Ban on Getting Up

Marc Ecko's Getting Up is a game set in a futuristic city in which the resident's freedom of speech is oppressed by the government. Similarly, Australia decided to ban the import and retail sale of the game. However, an Australian website,, owned by an American company, Mindscape, offers the game for download directly. Direct downloads occupy a legal gray area since it is not specifically mentioned in the legislation and the site from which the game is downloaded doesn't necessarily have to be an Australian site.

Getting Up Getting Downloaded

Apparently, the game has already been pulled from the Quicky site. Boo!

Midway sued for alleged stealing of Psi-Ops IP

A Hollywood screenwriter, William L. Crawford III, is suing Midway, claiming that they stole the idea for their Psi-Ops video game, registered with the copyright office in 2004, from a screenplay he registered in 1998. Crawford's film was never actually made, but he spent time and energy promoting it and is claiming that Midway caught wind of it through one of his efforts. Indeed, the similarities between the game and the script are compelling. Both feature government agents with paranormal powers fighting terrorists with paranormal powers, and even some of the characters, such as a foreign pyrotechnic with a troubled past and slender masculine build, are replicated.

Midway: Alleged Thief

One of the comments below the story on Gamespot raises a good point: why didn't Crawford sue right away? It is because he was waiting for Midway to put resources in to promoting the game and making it a viable franchise. Once it became a viable franchise, Midway would want to hold on to it, not shelve it. The short and skinny: this way, Crawford gets paid more...a lot more

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sony and Immersion Put Suit Behind Them, Form Agreement

Sony and Immersion have finally come to an agreement, putting their much publicized legal battle behind them. Sony was hit with $91,000,000 judgment in favor of Immersion, for their infringement on Immersion's Force Feedback patent involving rumble technology. According to GameDailyBiz, "In Immersion's form 8-K, the company revealed that Sony will pay quarterly installments of $1,875,000 (for a total of $22,500,000) beginning on March 31, 2007 and ending on December 31, 2009; Sony will also pay Immersion certain other fees and royalty amounts. In addition, Immersion has agreed not to sue Sony or enforce the original permanent injunction that was issued back in March 2005." Sony will also pay the $91 million.

Rumble Again Sony, The Suit Finally Settled

Not bad Immersion, not bad.

Students Encouraged to Play PSP in Class...Sweet

Sony has announced an initiative aimed at trying to put PSPs in the hand of even more youngsters by having them play in school. Richard Owen, a testing teacher, found the initial response positive; he said the students benefitted from being able to work at their own pace. They had the children play Buzz! - a quiz game designed for students of that age.

PSP making school actually cool

Wait. If I play PSP in school, I probably will not want to play PSP when I get home...or will I? Plus, who is buying all of these PSPs? The government? Some think Sony is using this to plug its products, but they could potentially make a boat load. It is only a matter of time before educational games become serious money makers.

Proposed Law Will Allow Confiscation of Unrated Games

A law proposed by NY State Republican Rep. Brian Kolb, contains not only the boilerplate no sale of violent games to minors, but an additional capability that the Courts would be able to confiscate unrated games or games without a label prominently displayed.

More doomed VG Regulation

I'm not sure this legislation will have any real impact, since there are not a large number of developers out there who do not already go through the ratings process, but it still seems like yet another measure that will make it very difficult for indie developers to distribute their product. Especially now that the Ratings process is going to become more comprehensive, will these costs be prohibitive?

"Video Games Made Me Do It" Defense Fails in Murder Trial

Patrick Morris, a 19-year-old, was convicted for killing a 15-year-old. His "video games made me do it" defense didn't seem to hold on given his past of emotional trouble and the fact that he had been eating mushrooms. As voiced in earlier entries, these video game violence arguments frustrate me. At least blame it on the mushrooms.

Morris convicted

John Edwards HQ Second Life

John Edwards suffered yet another setback to his presidential bid when 10 Zen Monkeys, a group of Second Life Griefers (people who harass virtual worlds for the fun of it), began spreading Marxist propaganda, pictures of John Edwards in blackface, and other obscene materials. Apparently, the vandals were Republicans sporting Bush '08 stickers. Newsflash griefers, Bush ain't running in '08 (I hope).

Edwards hit by Virtual Vandals

I do not think there should be the same consequences for these actions as there would be if a real campaign HQ were vandalized, but frankly, I cannot figure out why? Perhaps I am seeing these virtual worlds as being too real. Maybe there are no consequences, because virtual worlds are generally without consequence. If anything, the vandals have only increased awareness of Edwards and his campaign: no press is bad press.

Take-Two Takeover and Litigation Update

Take-Two finds itself in deep trouble again. This time shareholders are organizing their power to oust the CEO, Paul Eibeler, and review the CFO's employment status. This shake-up comes in the midst of backdating options scandals. Some believe that T2 may have used the 9/11 confusion to try and back date options, hoping they would not get caught. Seems real low to me.

Take-Two just cannot stay out the headlines

9/11 Twist on Options Scandal

In other Take-Two news, their litigation involving the "Hot Coffee" Mod has been stayed so that settlement talks may proceed.

Hot Coffee Mod made this game Hot, Hot, Hot

China Fears the Influence of Virtual Economies

Beijing has set up new restrictions on virtual currencies, trying to curb their exchange for hard items or legal tender. They have banned the trading of virtual currencies, such as the popular QQ coins, for "material products." China is afraid that these virtual economies could destabilize their own currency and markets. This is probably not too far off the mark: what is China to do when a worker can earn more money playing a video game than they can working in a factory?

Oh China...always trying to control the internet...tsk...tsk

As much as China would like to think they can stop this, I believe it is nearly impossible. As long as there are people earning wages in their country generating virtual wealth, it will have a known exchange rate. If there is an exchange rate, there will be exchange.

RollerCoaster Tycoon Lawsuit Headed to the House of Lords

Atari, creator of the popular RollerCoaster Tycoon franchise is being sued by former employee Chris Sawyer over the nonpayment of Royalties he claims amount to about $4.8 million. According to Lord Justice Chadwick, "This is one of those unusual cases in which a claim which the court considers has no real prospect of success (as the law stands) should, nevertheless, be permitted to go trial." Sorry Chris, looks like you lose. The Court wants to handle the issue of Atari's counterclaim which involves Sawyer breaching his contract by allowing Frontier, another developer, to create a demo for the franchise, inducing them to breach their contractual obligations to Atari.

See you in the House of Lords Buddy!

If the courts follow precedent, Atari will lose on its inducement counterclaim. The House of Lords is considering these inducement claim in two other pending cases; all will have to wait and see.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Simone's Account Hacked

Simone Stern, a prominent fashion designer denizen of Second Life, has had her account hacked and about $1500 dollars worth of Linden Bucks stolen. Stern's real-life counterpart asked LL to freeze her account, but they said that can take 5-7 days. The thief transferred the money between multiple avatars and eventually escaped.

Simone got the Shaft

Who is in charge of capturing this virtual theft? Should the cops step in? Should Linden Labs? It is hard to say who would have an easier time tracking the thief: the in-game gods or the po-po? Are there virtual arrests in Second Life? It seems like being punished for a crime in Second Life, would mean that your first life might be screwed...oh probably do not have a first life.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Call of Duty: Finest Hour's developer Spark born under a bad sign

When formed, Spark looked to become another shining star in the video game industry. With an All-Star team of talent from the top down, they appeared positioned to begin creating top shelf games immediately. However, the company's path has been anything but smooth. Bogged down by poor management and mounting lawsuits, the company seems practically fated for doom. Check this Gamasutra Article about the uneven life of the studio:

Spark's Controversy

From its lawsuits with EA, where a lot of its talent came from, to its lawsuit with Activision, their first employer, Spark has faced...adversity.

Here is a copy of the original contract between Spark and Activision - people are incredulous that the contract was released, but for an aspiring lawyer such as myself, it is really helpful to see a template.

Spark's contract with Activision

Take-Two begins Settlement Talks for Content Mislabel

Take-Two has agreed to begin settlement talks regarding the content mislabeling of sexually explicit scenes in its Grand Theft Auto games. The related litigation in Manhattan has been stayed.

Labeling Content: Take Two

Monday, March 5, 2007

Body Doubles in Second Life

A Second Life company ran by Persia Christensen now allows users to have famous celebs for avatars. Ever want to see Britney Spears engaged in some raw sexual act, but without K-Fed? Now you can actually be her and it is all available for the low low price of $13 dollars.

Talk About Stunt Doubles!

This mod of second life could present serious IP issues. Celebrities generally have protection over their likeness. With all of the increased attention that virtual worlds are receiving, I would not be surprised if a lawsuit is instituted quickly to protect these stars' right of publicity. Here is an analysis from Legally Blind:

Legally Blind's Take

The right of publicity is a state, common-law right. I guess it falls most near trademark law, though it seems to have aspects of copyright too - are bodies creations worthy of artistic protection? What if plastic surgery has significantly altered appearance? Does a boob job satisfy the required de minimis of creative expression? Anyway, I found the seminal case: Tiger Woods v. Jireh Publishing in my trademark book. See Legally Blind's Take for a link to the case.

Halted Indiana Bill Rehalted

Despite a recommendation by the Indiana's State Senate Committee to the Senate to approve a bill that would impose a $1000 dollar fine for selling M and AO games to minor, the bill has been halted again because of 1st amendment issues.

The life of an Indiana Bill: Halted and Rehalted

I'm not sure why states do not look to each other to see when types of legislation will not pass constitutional muster, but I assume that these advocates hope that if they push enough, their causes will no longer be seen as unconstitutional. Actually, I shouldn't assume anything, cause you know what they say about assumptions. But, for some reason, I don't feel like the ass here...

The Trouble with Patents

Here is a somewhat interesting article by David Sirlin, mostly venting his frustration about the inadequacies of the patent system with respect to electronics. He complains about how obvious many of the non-obvious inventions are, and other general hinderances to innovation in the electronics world such as companies defensive postures regarding their IP portfolios and the excessive term limits of patents. He also seems incredulous that patent would protect the idea not just the expression: FYI, the copyright in the program itself already protects the expression, the patent protects the idea.

Another Sound Off on the Patent System

While he addresses many of the shortcomings of the current system, he also overlooks a few, such as untrained/lazy/poor examiners. This guy really is just preaching to the choir. One sign of hope however, is that some of the lawyers in the video game world I have spoke with don't really see patents as an effective offensive tool. While the Sega case shows patents can be utilized as such, this case is more the exception than the rule.

Konami Slot Machines Pulled from Casinos

Konami, manufacturer of the slot machines Most Wanted, Sergeant Fritter, Billionaires, and Sticks and Stones, has had its machines pulled in Canada for flashing a winning jackpot across the screen for 1/5 of a second after each spin. Apparently, subliminal messages are a no-no, even though the machines are paying at a normal rate.

Konami Slots Pulled, but not how you think

Having watched people play slots for hours on end, the last thing they need are subliminal messages encouraging them to play even more.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Researchers find no link between violent games and violent behavior

While not strictly related to the law, I found it interesting that after conducting a study, researchers at Texas A+M have found no link between violent video games and violent behavior. There have been many lawsuits trying to pin violent behavior on the influence of video games, and well, I am tired of it. I have played video games my whole life, kicking the crap out of virtual competitors, human and computer alike, but I am one of the least violent people I know. I've never even been in a fight.

No link between violent behavior and violent games: eat your heart out Jack Thompson

Stalled Indiana VG Legislation moves to State Senate

After a recommendation from Indiana's Committee on Economic Development and Technology, the State Senate of Indiana will consider legislation aimed at restricting the sale of M (mature) and AO (adults only) rated games to minors. Apparently, committee members were shown an inflammatory video depicting characters being urinated on and then set ablaze and gunning people down in church.

Indiana's Senate recommends to itself to adopt new legislation

Now that the ESRB will have full-time game raters, the whole process is becoming more streamlined. I suppose the end result of ratings is regulation, and seeing as how I am no longer a minor, I do not think legislation like this is a bad thing. Have I turned to the dark side?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Blizzard Sues WoW Glider

Blizzard has initiated action action against MDY Industries, claiming its manufacture of the WoW Glider circumvents copyright protections, allows cheating, encourages copyright infringement, violates the EULA, and a host of other charges. For those unfamiliar, WoW Glider is a bot program - turn it on and your character will run around leveling up and gathering loot 24/7. Markee Dragon, a biggie in these worlds (featured in Play Money), makes some futile arguments as to why this is not breaking the law, blah, blah, blah, but I agree with the boys at Kotaku that not only does this violate the EULA, it is straight cheating. Then again, having been stuck killing 1,000 Waterfall Warbolgs, it is no mystery to me why a player wouldn't just pay $25 to have a computer do it for you. Strange that you would pay to have a computer play a game for you...very strange.

Blizzard sues WoW Glider maker

Here are the case's Answers and Counterclaims, along with some exhibits

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Play Money Review

I just spent this weekend reading Julian Dibbell's Play Money: Or, How I Quit My Job and Made Millions Trading Virtual Loot. Needless to say, I loved it. It tracks Julian's journey to make as much money trading virtual property online in one year as he did during his most financially successful year as a writer. After some preliminary interviews with big-time money makers in Ultima Online (talking 'bout six figures), Dibbell takes the plunge, deciding to dedicate himself full-time to playing UO. He hits some snags along the way and the learning curve for him is sharp, but before long, his feet are wet in the industry and he is making a name for himself among the hardcore vendors in UO. He starts out trying to sell miner's maps for a new virtual region that had recently opened, but realizes that he cannot make a living doing such nonsense, and eventually gets hired to run items for a more big time dealer. He steadily moves up the chain, encountering more of these vendors, whose activities and practices are at best unsavory and at worst straight cheating. He meets bot farmers: players who had written computer programs to play UO constantly, doing mindless tasks that generate huge amounts of virtual gold that can be sold for real money. At first, Dibbell rejects these "cheaters," wanting to make an honest living. These sentiments fade though as he realizes that he never really knows where all of the virtual loot he deals in comes from: some of it is from farmers, some of it from players who steal from other players, some of it from good old-fashioned gamers. After a failed venture with a Chinese Sweatshop (he paid a working wage of $1.50/hour, but now this is down to around $.25/hour), Dibbell cares not where he gets his goods and begins distributing the loot the farmers gather. In the end, his experiment comes down to generating $4,500 in a single month. See comments for Dibbell's final cash total.

I found the most interesting aspects of the book to be the nuts and bolts of how these virtual fencers actually operated and the social structures required to run what are essentially virtual rackets. One consortium of supporters in the book actually call themselves the UO Cartel. While their practices are not expressly illegal, monitors from the UO maker, called GMs, patrol the land deleting accounts of players that do not play by the rules (i.e. the farmers with automated programs). Game developers thus far have not condoned the practices of virtual fencers like Mr. Dibbell and they actively work to stop them (recently, Sony opened two servers of its MMORPG EverQuest II to a totally regulated market where customers can purchase any item they want in the game from Sony for real cash; Check it. Most the scams involves searching for quirks in the game that allow the purchase of one item for say 3 gold pieces, a totally midless task of converting the item from A to B, as in turning a chicken into a cooked chicken, and reselling the cooked chicken for 6 gold pieces. Repeat 30 times a minute, 24 hours a day, and before long, stashes of virtual loot. Bam.

Spliced between these gameplay experiences are some musings on the seeming indistinguishability of work from play in these games. I think the book illustrates that if you consume your life with any endeavor, even games, you will work to feel the accomplishment of expertise. In MMORPGs, people do different works for different expertise. Average players will spend hours working toward building their character, doing tasks in the hope of unlocking some virtual prestige, or opening up a previously inaccessible dungeon. Virtual vendors take it to a whole new level: they do not so much play as observe their markets, patiently waiting for good deals, and work the system when the right opportunity comes around. Dibbell was willing to dedicate himself, not only to vending virtual goods, but the larger academic project of rooting around in this largely unknown territory --> he put in the effort and was rewarded with expertise.

Overall, the book was an enjoyable read and I recommend it for anyone who has ever lived, even temporarily, in one of these worlds. My WoW character Nightstalker, a night elf hunter, had to be shelved after I hit level 40 precisely because playing felt much more like a grind than play (I was only halfway time-wise to the maximum level of 60); I still miss my pet cat, Peepers.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Video Games Standards Commission

In an article on Next Generation, Eric-Jon Rossel Waugh discusses the possibility of a single console in the future, ushered in to the market by cooperation among the forces that be. I found the article to be a whole lotta wishful thinking, especially when viewed from the business side of things. He envisions a landscape where all developers, big and small, give input into defining standards. He believes the biggest hurdle yet is that video games have yet to "come into their own." What does that mean? There is really only one way to watch TV or one way to watch a DVD and the different technologies employed utilize different delivery systems. But there are so many ways to play video games depending on the hardware, controllers, and console medium (through the Computer or TV). Personally, I think standardization almost sounds like a good idea, but in the end would lead to less innovation in the market.

I say negative on the Video Games Standards Commission: what do you think?

From what little I know about the IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, which handles standards in the electronics industry, their system functions well enough but leads to some thorny patent issues. Most specifically, whenever a standard is up for review, there are always competing members with competing patents who want their technology to become the standard. However part of the trade-off when a technology is selected for the standard, the patent holders must give up rights to sue for patent infringement. I wonder who this would be the biggest problem for? Sony, Microsoft, or perhaps a largest game patent owner, Nintendo?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Piracy? Blame Canada

The seven-member International Intellectual Property Association, whose members include the ESA, MPAA, and RIAA, have put Canada on a list of countries with the worst international copyright enforcement. Canada is a leading exporter of bootlegged films and mod chips. I guess the piracy has risen "to such an extent as to prejudicially affect the owner of the copyright." (See Japan Bans Export of Pirated material) So when is Canada going to start enforcing?

Blame Canada, Blame Canada, their beady little eyes have packed their heads so full of lies, Blame Canada

IIPA claims that software piracy had cost copyright holders $12.3 billion last year, while music piracy affected US companies to the tune of $2.4 billion. Ouch!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ubisoft plans to produce 3 new IPs every 3 years

Ubisoft's vice president of publishing, Jay Cohen, stated that his company sees the development of their business in IP. Correctly pointing out that licensed works can be revoked or ended with the developer being left with nothing, he believes that his company's control of their IP assets is essential.

IP is the horizon

This great news for an aspiring lawyer such as myself. But, I do think Mr. Cohen should check a few postings ago under the Games people buy. Some of the top 100 games of last year:

1. Madden
2. Cars
99. Ubisoft's Rayman

So yes, I think Ubisoft should definitely focus on the IP.

Brownback Reintroduces Truth in Video Game Rating Act

Presidential hopeful, Senator Sam Brownback (R - KS), reintroduced the Truth in Video Game Rating Act to the US Senate. The legislation seeks to strengthen the ESRB's power and accuracy. It requires games actually be played before rated, dispensing with the current system of ratings based on video recordings of gameplay and creates an offense for purposefully hiding content from the ESRB. It would also call on the FTC to "specifically define parameters for describing game content and what would count as a mischaracterization of a game’s content," in an attempt to provide more precise ratings.

Uncovering the Truth in Video Game Rating Act

It sounds like the ESRB doesn't function very well. Developers and publishers can easily hide content from these video demonstrations. I cannot believe nobody plays a game before it gets rated. My guess is that the game needs to be rated before it can be sold, so effectively, this legislation will force gamers to wait that much longer for each game. That much longer.

Microsoft Uncovered

You know how the first iteration of new consoles usually break quickly? BBC's Watchdog will run a story about how British Xbox360 owners have gotten screwed by faulty consoles. There were so many problems with the US version of the Xbox360 that MS evetually just opened its doors to any consumer to fix any console, warranty or no. Apparently, the British did not get the same royal treatment; they are expected to pay somewhere between 80 and 90 quid (roughly $175).

Never buy that first iteration...

I guess I shouldn't totally hate on Microsoft, the first versions of PS 1+2 were pretty crappy too. It is still lame that the Brits have to pay such a large amount to fix the damn things.

2/15/07: Micorsoft admits that there are "isolated reports" of faulty Xbox360s

Isolated Reports

Battle of the Bands to decide new Burnout music

Virgin, EA, and Epiphone are sponsoring a Battle of the Bands competition to find the music for the new Burnout game. On the site are a bunch of the entrants strutting their stuff. Most of the music is pretty hardcore, but some of the stuff that isn't trying to be Biohazard isn't bad. There are two winners, one American and one European. They each receive record contracts and the possibility that one of their songs could be in the new Burnout. Only the possibility? How noncommittal is that?

Battle of the Burnout Bands

Whisper of Death...damn.

I bet the winner of this contest will get one bum deal. No rights to nada.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Games People Buy

Here is some comprehensive research on the types of games people buy. Most significantly, sports and other licensed products were the best performers. There was a correlation between high game reviews and high sales rank, and the exceptions came from licensed games like, Cars (2nd in sales, with a 71% average review). In many ways, the IP carries the title: the game doesn't even have to be good.

The Games We Buy

Of particular note is that many of the games that received poor reviews, but achieved good sales are sequels or other spinoffs of popular game franchises. Video game IP bolster lame titles to huge sales.

Q & A with the head of Gamecock

Harry Miller, a founder and head of Gamecock, sat down with Gamespot and had a chat about how his publishing company is different from the big publishers. He emphasized the indie studios, stating that he will let the developers retain all of their IP instead of having to sign it over to them for an unfair price. Now, he is focused on releasing their line-up of five games. They hope the games will promise a return to good humor: especially with hilarious names like Jazz Jackrabbit

Gamecock's first crow

I bet this unfair publishing deal happened with the Guitar Hero franchise.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Japan bans export of pirated goods

While importation of private goods into Japan has been illegal for a while, today, the Diet passed legislation banning the export of pirated goods. I found it strange that the import would be banned while the export was allowed. According to the Davis Law blog, the practice is not uncommon among nations. Canada banned the importation but allows exportation if not "to such an extent as to prejudicially affect the owner of the copyright."

Japan government to ban export of pirated goods

Saturday, February 10, 2007

North Carolina follows Utah, seeks to classify games as restricted obscene material

North Carolina, another bastion of freedom and liberty, has proposed state legislation similar to Utah's recently defeated "Games as Porn" law. The new bill, SB87, adds violent games to an existing North Carolina statute which defines material harmful to minors. State Sen. Boseman’s legislation would restrict minors’ access to games which feature “the realistic visual depiction of serious injury to human beings, actual or virtual; appeal to a minor’s morbid interest in violence; are “patently offensive” to prevailing community standards; and lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.

Senator Boseman, Video Game Vixen, proposes new legislation

I wonder if it is necessary that in addition to being violent or offensive, the game must lack serious literary, artistic, scientific, or political value? Are there games that would not be obscene because the story is so engaging? How can a layperson understand/decide if a game appeals to a minor's violent nature? The wording seems awfully shoddy. Oh, I know why! The phrases are taken directly from first amendment cases.

Guitar Hero Defectors Sued

Activision, who I hope does not ruin their recently acquired Guitar Hero franchise, has filed suit against three former employees of Red Octane as well as The Ant Commandoes, who has already been sued once by Activision in a different Guitar Hero-related suit, and Guitar Hero PR firm, Reverb. The defectors and TAC together created a new company, Lodestone Entertainment or Hourglass Interactive. Activision is accusing the three workers of copyright infringement, trademark infringement, misappropriating trade secrets and confidential information, breach of contract, interference with contractual relations, and more. Basically, they are trying to stop these three workers from using any idea that even comes close to Guitar Hero in any subsequent games.

Activision puts franchise to good use suing people

I'm sorry Activision, but there is absolutely not one tiny shred of Metal in all this litigation. Activision is quickly becoming the Metallica of video games: stop wasting your time suing people and focus on the music.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Proposed legislation bans crossing the street while playing video games in NY

Well folks, I'm sorry to say that it is a dark, dark day in the world of gaming. Proposed legislation may ban the use of any portable electronic device while crossing the street. It is more directed at iPods and cellphones, but the implications for game players are severe. You'll have to pause to cross the street in New York and Buffalo.

Not a bad piece of legislation...

The offense would be comparable to jaywalking.

ESA outspends Movie Lobby

The Entertainment Software Association, the video gaming world's most prominent lobbying organization for EA, Activision, and others, spent $2 million in 2005, expecting $2.2 in 2006. The Movie Industry's most prominent lobby, the MPAA, spent only $1.6 million. The ESA was founded in 1994 to kombat offensive video games like Night Trap and Mortal Kombat. Their interests have diversified over the years to now include online gambling and AB1351, a bill that lets the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority issue notes in addition to bonds for purposes relating to its duties, and overtime laws.

The ESA is blowing up!

One particularly interesting portion of the article leads to another article which speaks of the "inevitable" fusion of video games and gambling.

Activision CEO Robert Kotick calls wagering in games the Holy Grail of the business

This is the first I have heard of this idea, though I can't believe I hadn't thought of it before. Some one will offer this service. If they used a player ranking system and only allowed large sums to be wagered after the player proves they win, it could be great not only to play and bet, but also to bet on high stakes games that good players play. If gambling revenues pay the company, they could give the games away. Will people play "free" games? Survives TM Dispute

The National Arbitration Forum just released its decision in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. World Readable c/o R.L. Cadenhead, the domain-name dispute in which the film studio tried to take Wargames.Com away from Rogers Cadenhead because it owns a trademark related to the 1983 film WarGames and the upcoming sequel WarGames 2: The Dead Code. After going through a lengthy dispute under the Uniform Domain-name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP...thought it seems like it should be at least the UDDRP), Cadenhead convinced the court that he was not using the trademark to profit off of the movie, but rather to sell video games. It helped that registration for the wargames mark came two years after Cadenhead had begun work on his site.

How about a nice game of chess?

The site itself seems bootleg and outdated. He hasn't begun selling any next generation war games yet. I guess those lawsuits can really tie your hands. Accordinging to Cadenhead, the UDRP grossly favors trademark holders, and as a result, usually the only winning move for a potential infringer is not to play. While my instincts tell me side with the little guy, it looks like Cadenhead has engaged in some unscrupulous domain name registering, such as and, though he claims that he had no intention of profiting off of these names and offered them to the Vatican and MGM respectively.

Here is the legal standard under the UDRP:

Paragraph 4(a) of the Policy requires that the Complainant must prove each of the following three elements to obtain an order that a domain name should be cancelled or transferred:

(1) the domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;
(2) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

MGM satisfied (1), had a prima facie case for proving (2), but when the burden shifted to Cadenhead to prove that he had a legitimate interest in the domain name, he carried his burden and won. After deciding (2), there was no need to settle (3).