The ongoing legal drama over Star Control has hit another development. The 2018 prequel Star Control: Origins, from developers Stardock Entertainment, is no longer available on Steam or GOG after the original creators of Star Control were issued a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown.
Star Control's original creators Fred Ford and Paul Reiche are currently engaged in a battle over the rights to Star Control with Stardock. The company purchased the rights to Star Control in a bankruptcy auction for Atari back in 2013, and Stardock CEO Brad Wardell announced the development of Star Control: Origins three years later in 2016.
However, Ford and Reiche's court documents reportedly assert that Stardock merely purchased the registration to the "Star Control" trademark and original parts of Star Control 3. Ford and Reiche retain the rights to Star Control 1 and Star Control 2, which is why the two issued a DMCA takedown of Origins which they say infringes on their own copyrights.
In a blog post published today on Ford and Reiche's personal blog, the two explained why they were pursuing DMCA action against Stardock and produced a chart explaining the similarities they see in Stardock's Origins with their own Star Control 2.
Wardell has taken issue with the chart Ford and Reiche published and has been disparaging it on social media. "Next time someone accuses me of posting something I shouldn't because I'm mad I can just point them to this hastily constructed table," Wardell wrote today on Twitter. "I can't imagine any lawyer reviewed it. But you tell me, should our game of 5 years have been DMCA'd because it shares these ideas?" Others, like video game lawyer Richard Hoeg, have also weighed in on the chart saying, "the entire industry should be petrified that the following was the basis for a DMCA takedown of a live game."
I don't care if you think @stardock or CEO Brad Wardell (@draginol) is the devil, the entire industry should be *petrified* that the following was the basis for a DMCA takedown of a live game.(The filers @Dogar_And_Kazon claim rights in SC2 that were "infringed" by Origins.) pic.twitter.com/RaptHmGTOH— Richard Hoeg (@HoegLaw) January 3, 2019
The legal tussle has been going on for some time. Wardell requested an injunction against further DMCA takedown filings from Ford and Reiche back in December, but a judge denied the request. This leaves Stardock in the position it is in now, facing mounting DMCA notices that have taken Star Control: Origins off of certain digital retailers.
The judge who denied the injunction request also had some choice words for Wardell, saying his claims as the creator of Star Control are "frivolous" and that Wardell "was aware of Defendants' [in this case Ford and Reiche] claim to Star Control 1 and 2 since the development of Origins commenced, however, and was aware of the contours of the present copyright dispute since at least December 2017."
The judge remarked that, from the court's perspective, Wardell was reasonably aware of the copyright risks if he pursued development of Star Control: Origins. As a result the judge said the court would not intervene in the DMCA fight over the Star Control franchise.
Ford and Reiche are currently heading up Toys for Bob, a subsidiary of Activision that recently developed the Spyro Reignited Trilogy. Toys for Bob is also working on a direct sequel to Star Control 2 called Ghosts of the Precursors, ensuring that the fight over the future of Star Control will continue. Meanwhile, Stardock announced layoffs as a result of the DMCA takedowns to cut costs.