Open Source Carmageddon Creator Gets C&D

TechDirt points us towards a New Zealand man that was issued a cease-and-desist letter from Square Enix for his work on an open source version of the old game Carmageddon.

1am Studios Jeff posted about the c&d order on his blog, stating that Square Enix claimed to hold the copyright to his project’s “underlying code, text, audio and visual aspects of the game [Carmageddon]…”

Jeff wrote, "Obviously this is all a bit silly given we’re talking about a game thats 13 years old and you can’t buy anymore, but still, its a cease-and-desist letter."

In response, the developer said that he would be renaming the project to “OpenC1,” and would redistribute the game without any copyrighted material. He stated:

The computer code for OpenC1 is MY intellectual property.  There is no part of my code which Square Enix has any control or copyright over.  I absolutely assert my right to work on it and distribute it as I see fit.

Interestingly, TechDirt, via the Carmageddon Wiki page, noted that:

… the original creators of the game based it on a movie, which they tried to license, but when that failed, they went ahead and created it anyway. So now they don’t want anyone else to do the same thing?

Image from 1am studios

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  1. 0
    hellfire7885 says:

    That Chrono Trigger project comes to mind.


    I don’t see the sense in it if they no longer plan to use the IP, and I’ve seen no evidcence that they plan to.

  2. 0
    FlakAttack says:

    It is 2010. There is a vast array of games that should already be public domain right now, but they’re not. Under the original law, it would be everything from before 1996, as I understand it… That would be incredible!

  3. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Damn right, there is no expiration in copy right anymore not with 200ish near infinite quassi expiration dates. Copy right has been raped and warped to suit corporate interests and not the interests of the public and copy right creator. Copy right needs to change and ensure that if its non for profit(meaning ad rev from pages that share files or links to files and free to all project sites that take donations)  is protected from over zealous and witless copy right owners.

    In this modern ear you can distribute without profiting unlike 100 years ago and copy right has to reflect that if not its nothing more than a set of scoff laws only lawyers can decipher….

    I would even go so far to say that we do not need copy right unless you are a small business or a independent creator(defined in numbers of employees temp or other wise and project and salary budgets) as big business has to much power and money to waste on inane things.

    But at the end of the day we need copy right we just need a set of near absolute simple rules that ensure the public and its ability to share(information,education,inspiration) and create/ re create via in-profitable schemes is protected if its not we are headed for a very bleak,dark and litigious world…


    I have a dream, break the chains of copy right oppression!

  4. 0
    greevar says:

    Actually, when a copyright expires, it supposed to fall to the public domain where there are no restrictions on use of works. They exist specifically for the benefit of anyone who wishes to use them. This was the point of copyright in the first place: To give authors incentive to create things that would eventually add to the wealth of the public domain. Now it’s just a protectionist peice of legislation that does nothing but censor creativity and gives the corporations a bludgeon to beat down competition.


  5. 0
    nightwng2000 says:
  6. 0
    Parallax Abstraction says:

    Interplay originally published Carmageddon but the IP was owned by Sales Curve Interactive. They later became SCi Group and were the last owners of Eidos. Square Enix bought SCI Group and Eidos and got all their IP in the process so they’re now the owners of Carmageddon.

    I agree sending a C&D to an open source project that’s no threat to your IP or profits is ridiculous. It is their IP and they’re perfectly within their rights to do it (and they should be) but I think it’s a dumb thing for them to do as this project could re-invigorate interest in the brand and eventually make them more money. Square Enix is known for doing stuff like this though.

    Parallax Abstraction
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

  7. 0
    madman says:

    I think the key thing to getting any Open Source reimplementation done right will ultimatley be demand.

    More demand = More programmers = More progress. That was the key to the success of Linux. It came out when people wanted a free unix-like operating system that could be compatable with GNU. These days its the most popular operating system for servers, thanks to the ongoing effort from its community to keep it secure.

    The main concern I have for Open Source reimplementations of old games, is that many old games just arent popular enough for development to be sustained and more importantly be playable with the new code. Of course there have some successes like SCUMMVM, however that was just a rewrite of the SCUMM interpreter and not the SCUMM engine itself.

    I believe that if any game outside the adventure genre is to survive without a source code release, it will need to distributed on platforms like Steam with a GNU licensed emulator like DOSBOX. That way they can release an old game and make it easy to run on other OS’s such as Linux or OSX.




  8. 0
    edmoss87 says:

    The "this game is 13-years-old and can’t be bought anymore" argument is invalid. Regardless of how old or well-preserved a game is, it is still the property of its respective owner. It’s a bit like asking someone for the spare money in their bank account. True, they aren’t doing anything with it, and it could be used to help others, but it still belongs to them.

    In an ideal world, we would have an iTunes-like service where you can pay to download a ROM or ISO of any old game, which can then be played using an emulator (which are available for all sorts of OS’s and devices). However, I have a feeling this will never happen, because;

    A. If someone buys a ROM which doesn’t work on their chosen emulator, they might hold the publisher (who have no control over 3rd-party emulation software) responsible. Developing their own emulator would be costly, they would to see a return on their investment.

    B. It is so easy to obtain a ROM or image illegally, which means that the publisher is less likely to see a return on the investment mentioned in point A.

    That said, I have to say that the effort to keep some games alive has been excellent (case in point: Monkey Island 2 Special Edition), but ultimately there will be a wealth of games ignored. Open Source re-implementations are an excellent idea if done correctly, anyone hear of a few little-known projects to re-implement Unix?

  9. 0
    Thad says:

    "Under the original copyright law, this game would be entering the public domain in a year anyway."

    Wha?  How "original" are we talking, here?

    Pre-1978 copyrights lasted 56 years.  I don’t know of any video games that fall outside that range.

  10. 0
    greevar says:

    Under the original copyright law, this game would be entering the public domain in a year anyway. No thanks to greedy publishers, that won’t happen. The fact of the matter is, the game had its run, made its money, and now should belong to the public domain for anyone to make derivative works from if that is their wish. Square Enix is being petty.


  11. 0
    Rodrigo Ybáñez García says:

    Not claiming that the VC system is perfect or gets all old games back out to people, only that it provides a concrete example of games decades old becoming available again, thus simply because something is old it is not automaticly no longer of value to the IP holder.

    Yes, but I can´t see how making a modified game based on the Carmaggedon program is gonna to stop the earnings of a 10 years old game which very few people really cares.

    I agree that the VC systems aren´t perfect, but instead of protecting their IPs, they damage them by not allowing the costumer to access to them. Like you said, it´s mainly voodoo. Way to much.

    ———————————————————— My DeviantArt Page (aka DeviantCensorship):

  12. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Not claiming that the VC system is perfect or gets all old games back out to people, only that it provides a concrete example of games decades old becoming available again, thus simply because something is old it is not automaticly no longer of value to the IP holder.

    I would not quite say that they do not know what they are doing.  Quite a few factors go into figuring out which games to release.. some of it is voodoo, but other elements are not.. for instance, some games port almost completely unchanged while others require non-trivial work due to something ‘clever’ the developers did that the emulation does not handle quite right.  There are also, often, complex webs of ownership and contracts that where never intended for this type of re-release and thus need to be re-written.. which includes finding part owners and potentially negotating new terms with them.  That alone can be a serious headache and stop a project since the costs can get rather high.

    I would wager the first few runs of VC games pretty much came down to ‘ok, which ones do we have 100% of the rights to?  Ok, which ones sold well the first time?  Great! Plug each one into the VC and see if it works.. if the sales were really good allocate some time to making it work, otherwise set asside any games that do not work immediatly.’.

  13. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Eh, IP is often bundled up in packages to sell off to other companies, which buy it specificly under the idea that they might want to produce a game based off some sleeper hit or re-release for other platforms.  So S/E probably paid a moderate fee for a package of games from another company that had dirrect ownership.. or potentially just purchaced the re-release rights and the original IP owner still has the general copyright.

    This stuff can quickly cause headaches when you try to trace it…..

  14. 0
    MechaTama31 says:

    "… the original creators of the game based it on a movie, which they tried to license, but when that failed, they went ahead and created it anyway. So now they don’t want anyone else to do the same thing?"

    This might be a good point, if the original creators of Carmageddon now worked in Square-Enix’s legal department.

  15. 0
    Rodrigo Ybáñez García says:

    Well, some of my favorite games for the NES are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 and 3 and Batman, and until today, none of them can be found on any service like the one you mention.

    I got those games (used, by the way, and for what I understand, they want to ban the sale of used games, too), but I can´t play with them because my NES died some years ago. 

    The problem with the VC scheme is that they don´t release many games maybe you still want to play. In the case of TMNT, Konami just released the first game for NES, but it´s not the same. Where they get the idea we wanted to play that game exactly?

    Copyright holders as usually don´t have idea of what are they doing.

    ———————————————————— My DeviantArt Page (aka DeviantCensorship):

  16. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Given the rising popularity of the Wii VC and other services, the ‘it is no longer published’ argument is becoming less effective.   We now have multiple examples of companies bringing old titles back to market if they think there is enough demand… so I can see copyright holders being sensitive to projects that potentially would decrease the pent up demand and thus decrease the chances of them publishing the game via one of these (or future) services.

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