Limbo of the Copyright and Adventures in Fair Use

Slashdots coverage of the Limbo of the Lost controversy has yielded some really interesting linkfodder. Steve Bovis is apparently a real world class idiot and has taken up the banner in his own name. His lawyer (solicitor) has advised him to keep quiet but it’s pretty obvious he’s proud of his own invention and thinks videogames are big money. He also claims he was developing the game (Limbo of the Lost) for two other consoles before they were “killed off”. Nevermind the fact that a development license on a console is exactly that – you need to actually buy a license to develop and you need to buy the hardware to develop on which is big money to discourage us non-big-game-company folk to not buy a console which doesn’t check the copyprotection on discs.

Apparently Steve also has had his account suspended on Wintermute, which tells us a lot about how he intended the game to look. Wintermute is a free-to-all engine which retains copyright control over it’s code. This means the engine itself is suspect in terms of fair use, let alone all the produced artistic materials. So far no-one on their forums has weighed in on the topic aside of banning his account outright.

But it gets better – with Wintermute being used with questionable legality and redistribution rights, Steve decides to go over to Games Radar and talk a pile of trash. His arguments are fairly braindead and illustrate why I don’t believe that physical property law is any type of analogy to intellectual property law. It’s clear that Steve and company ripped off these games wholesale and violated the intellectual property law protecting them, but his views everything in terms of property law. His examples include the ideas that screenshots are not derived works and they are the same as photographs. He also says that copying Big Ben wholesale would be clear infringement but a photograph of Big Ben is not. (The actual legal status of both examples is that this is OK for educational or personal use but commercial resale is strictly prohibited). While I hate EULAs attached to software, this is clearly why they come in handy.

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5 thoughts on “Limbo of the Copyright and Adventures in Fair Use

  1. The steve bovis in the game radar thread is actually a “steve bovis”. What’s more amusing is a certain member sucking up to him the entire time then states that he knew it all along in an awkward message posted after the imposter admitted he wasn’t steve bovis. Good times.

  2. The developer of Wintermute does not release the software’s source code, a standard practice followed by many software developers. But it is simply libellous to therefore suggest that all games produced with the Wintermute devkit and engine therefore have “questionable legality and redistribution rights” and that “the engine itself is suspect”.

  3. Martin, there’s nothing defamatory about it – troll or no troll taking an engine which has no source license and claiming it as your own work (as was everything else bundled in the “game”) is prima facie piracy.

  4. As I understand it even copying a photograph of Big Ben is against the law, be it the physical goods or the IP law. A photograph of say Big Ben clearly belongs to the artist that has taken it, not a person that hasn’t taken a picture of Big Ben. You may copy your own photograph of Big Ben, but certainly not other people’s photographs of Big Ben.

    Nor may you copy in detail level designs from any games in any genres.

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