CBS Issues Cease and Desist Letter to Stage 9

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#1 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1405 posts) -

Stage 9, the incredibly detailed fan recreation of the Enterprise-D, has been shut down by CBS.

https://mobile.twitter.com/Stage9TNG/status/1044654777425154048

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#2 Posted by Relkin (1214 posts) -

That's too bad. There was still work to be done; rooms to add, O'Brien's face to fix...

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#3 Posted by FarleysLundgren (210 posts) -

That sucks but not at all surprising. There was a Spyro fan game that got a cease and desist recently too. I get wanting to protect your property or brand or whatever but if the game is not being sold and it’s not being promoted as an official thing it just looks kinda shitty to try and shut it down.

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#4 Posted by Efesell (4568 posts) -

Brand protections an all or nothing sort of affair unless you are ready to just abandon it so I get it but it still never really looks good.

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#5 Posted by development (3180 posts) -

Pretty bad timing ahead of Picard

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#6 Posted by burncoat (559 posts) -

After seeing it on UPF, a CBS property, I really didn't expect anything else to happen.

I don't know why people announce these fan projects as if somehow this is going to be different and the owners won't go after you. Companies okaying a fan project is the exception. Almost every time a fan project goes public, it gets reported on and then C&Ds get issued. I understand wanting to get donations and assistance, but you're almost always going to court being shut down. Just make it in your spare time, release it when it's finished.

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#7 Edited by fisk0 (6954 posts) -

@burncoat said:

After seeing it on UPF, a CBS property, I really didn't expect anything else to happen.

I don't know why people announce these fan projects as if somehow this is going to be different and the owners won't go after you. Companies okaying a fan project is the exception. Almost every time a fan project goes public, it gets reported on and then C&Ds get issued. I understand wanting to get donations and assistance, but you're almost always going to court being shut down. Just make it in your spare time, release it when it's finished.

Yeah, there also was a lot of more infringing stuff in the game that didn't appear in the UPF segments either, there's a "secret" way to get the viewscreen to play TNG related video clips (like the Picard song), and there were voice lines from the show in there too. Not saying that was pushed CBS to act, but I doubt it helped.

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#8 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1405 posts) -

@fisk0: It's disappointing they couldn't find a middle ground of removing that stuff (and, say, the likenesses of real people) while allowing the project to continue.

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#9 Edited by Gundato (333 posts) -

@burncoat: The "release it when it is done" is, if anything, worse as it suggests a willful intent to flout copyright law/"law" (I forget if it counts as a "law"). A C&D is the nice way to say "Hey, could you not?" and is friendly compared to a lot of other options.

Also, the goal for any of these projects is exposure and to build a portfolio. Getting shut down gets you exposure and demonstrates what you need for your portfolio without becoming a full time job.

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#10 Posted by ghost_cat (2303 posts) -

Aww, I was hoping for a second visit in some form on Giant Bomb.

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#11 Edited by InternetDotCom (4025 posts) -

This is the nature of these things. You should finish it first, release it, get the C&D, and "take it down" even though it is already every where

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#12 Posted by burncoat (559 posts) -

@gundato: If "release when it's done" is a willful intent to infringe on copyright, then companies should be going after artist alleys at conventions that sell quality made fanart pieces, but they don't. Rigorous defending of their copyright is important, courts take notice of when companies lack to protect their IP in certain areas. I would argue making a free game/interactive product is akin to making fanart. You don't see Nintendo trying to shut down the Bowsette craze or sending C&Ds to the originator of the meme. Lawyers aren't entering MAGfest and Otacon artist alleys in droves to stop unauthorized profiting of fanart of their IPs.

I also really argue against that these projects are just to build portfolios. People work on these because they enjoy them and want others to enjoy them as well. People put in extensive work into mods and conversion packs for games not for portfolio work, but for the love of the game. It feels very reductive to suggest work is only being done on these things because people want to further their career instead of being creative and enhancing something they love. Not to say it's not possible for these developers to use their shut down work as proof of ability, but as a sole motivation? I don't think that's accurate. "I'm going to work on this side project for years at a time and then suddenly make it public when it's only 30% done to further my career!" sounds ridiculous.

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#13 Posted by Gundato (333 posts) -

@burncoat: And I've seen a few artist alleys get raided at larger conventions. But generally the amount of money (and exposure) changing hands is so small that nobody cares. Think of it as going after a person who downloads a game versus the sites that host the torrents.

Same with Bowsette. Right now, folk generally can figure out where the meme originated, but it isn't tied to that person. If someone's entire schtick became advertising and using their OC for everything (and it caught on outside of tumblr), we would potentially see something different.

And the star trek thing reeked of portfolio building. It shows basic skill in using whatever engine it was (I would guess Unreal), understanding of scale, and meticulous attention to detail. All of that combine is a perfect "level designer" portfolio piece as it shows that they can build a level and do initial skeleton work themselves. And the extra game logic basically ensured that a bunch of outlets (including one owned by CBS...) would showcase it and get them exposure.

It obviously isn't a sole motivation, but any smart person (or true scotsman) is going to go in understanding that they are not going to finish it. But you still need to work on something you like.

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#14 Posted by jamesyfx (155 posts) -

I'm just glad I managed to keep a copy before it disappeared, as it was an... intriguing/fascinating/engaging thing.

...

Online
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#15 Posted by LikeaSsur (1611 posts) -

@farleyslundgren: Try creating something and then watching as everyone blatantly uses it for their own fun & profit. Copyright laws suck, but they exist for a good reason.

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#16 Edited by Rigas (848 posts) -

When you make a fan anything with someone else's IP, do not release it into the wild until it's complete. A2MR wouldn't exist if they put out a demo level.

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#17 Posted by lokihellfire2008 (160 posts) -

@jamesyfx: You should turn it into a VR Roleplaying chatroom thing. That'd be hilarious.

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#18 Posted by Toug (654 posts) -

Do we need to address the possibility that someone at GB is a narc? Cuz we might have a narc you guys.

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#19 Posted by lokihellfire2008 (160 posts) -

@toug: probably that Dr. Tracksuit guy. Sold them out for cocaine

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#20 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1405 posts) -

@likeassur: We pay Giant Bomb to watch them talk about and play video games that were created by other people.

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#21 Posted by LikeaSsur (1611 posts) -

@bladeofcreation: Oh dear. I've never seen such a strawman comment. It's so flimsy, too.

Assuming you are serious, yes, Giant Bomb is based around talking about/playing video games made by others. However, if you've listened to/watched pretty much any Bombcast and/or Quick Look in the history of the website, you would know that they don't claim any kind of ownership over those games, nor are they making anything based off of those IPs. Their discussion over and about games falls pretty squarely in the "critique" umbrella of transformative work that the fair use allows.

What Stage 9 did was not at all fair use. They weren't critiquing, nor making a parody, and they definitely weren't trying to educate people either. No, they said "here's a thing we made" despite not being allowed to use that IP to make anything. That's the key difference here: Giant Bomb has never said "look at this game we made" or "Check out this mod/video/piece of content that's ours" when it obviously wasn't. So please don't use Giant Bomb's membership program as a grass shield level of defense against me. It's ridiculous.

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#22 Posted by Evilsbane (5618 posts) -

Finish your projects before you release them. Never understood how so many people don't get this. If you just do the thing you want and release it there is nothing they can do. There is zero reason to advertise your project unless you are taking money for it and then you deserve to get shut down.

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#23 Posted by Rejizzle (1136 posts) -

Brad's a cop confirmed.

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#24 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1405 posts) -

@likeassur: Stage 9 never "claimed ownership" of Star Trek. You make it sound like they tried to trick people into thinking they owned Star Trek. They never did that. And you actually can make an argument that the work was somewhat transformative, because it included sections of the ship that had never been represented on a screen before.

You make it sound like fair use is some 100% settled, easily understood aspect of law. It isn't. This very website has talked about fair use as it relates to YouTube-style Let's Play--the same type of content that they often produce--videos before. That's kind of the issue here: how far something can go before it isn't fair use is not unquestionably established, and the creator generally has the final say in what's infringing or not, which is not how most other types of law work.

Does this statement sound like people claiming ownership of an IP that isn't theirs? https://stage-9.co.uk

If it sounds like that to you, we have a fundamental disagreement here about the nature of this sort of thing.

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#25 Posted by tds418 (510 posts) -

@efesell said:

Brand protections an all or nothing sort of affair unless you are ready to just abandon it

This is true, unfortunately. If companies don't actively police their intellectual property, it becomes harder to enforce IP protections against potentially more blatant offenders down the line (who can just claim, "well you allowed this before, so why not now?"). So they're incentivized to shut down even relatively benign stuff like this.

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#26 Edited by curiosus (171 posts) -

@tds418 said:

@efesell said:

Brand protections an all or nothing sort of affair unless you are ready to just abandon it

This is true, unfortunately. If companies don't actively police their intellectual property, it becomes harder to enforce IP protections against potentially more blatant offenders down the line (who can just claim, "well you allowed this before, so why not now?"). So they're incentivized to shut down even relatively benign stuff like this.

That is not true at all. Its depressing that everytime this discussion happens people conflate trademarks with copyright. Trademarks require active enforcement and prior unaddressed infringement weakens them. Copyrights are not weakened in the slightest by prior infringements and enforcement is entirely discretionary.

CBS already has rules for allowing fan films, they are kindof ridiculous and given the ongoing upset they are causing the fanbase I expect they will in time become more flexible. They were also only created with films in mind, and are especially ridiculous for games. http://www.startrek.com/fan-films. Stage 9 likely fell afoul of rule 3.

Long term these companies ought to just be establishing oversight and profit sharing for stuff like this, having lawyers send out C&D is a waste of time and money. Have the lawyers do something useful like drawing up a contract to profit from stuff like this.

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#27 Posted by OurSin_360 (6201 posts) -

You'd think corporations would learn by now to capitalize on these fan tributes instead of going to legal defense, there was so much opportunity to promote and gain fan support from this.