Ask Slashdot: Namco DMCA Takedown Edition

An interesting submission in Slashdot’s "Ask Slashdot" section solicits the help of commenters on a DMCA takedown notice for an Android game called "Super Pac."

The developer asks the community what he should do because Namco sent a DMCA takedown notice to him, which in turn got his Pac-Man-like Android title pulled from Google’s Android marketplace. Now he can’t sell his game and doesn’t know what to do. Here is the question:

First a description of the game from its offficial web site:

"Based on the classic arcade game Pac-Man, the aim is to eat all the pills in the maze, while avoiding the four ghosts. There are also power-pills available in each corner which temporarily turn the ghosts blue, and more importantly, edible! Bonuses are awarded for eating ghosts. Fruit bonuses also appear and can be eaten for additional points.

Once all the pills have been eaten the level is complete. Each level is progressively more difficult as the effectiveness of the power-pills gradually decreases. There are 6 levels to complete in total."

And now his query to the Slashdot community:

"I was just on the receiving end of DMCA takedown notice for my game in Android Market, ‘Super Pac.’ Namco Bandai have filed the notice with Google, claiming breach of copyright of their game ‘Pac-Man.’ Although my version is obviously inspired by the original arcade game, no original artwork or sound has been copied. The problem from my point of view is that the DMCA notice is not clear where or why the breach is alleged. My guess is that maybe the name is too similar, although I did a trademark search for ‘Super Pac’ before release and came up with nothing. Furthermore, Google have disabled my access to this app, presumably as required by the DMCA, so I am unable to even make whatever modifications would be required. As a part-time developer with limited means (i.e. can’t afford expensive lawyers), but willing to make best efforts to avoid legal issues, how does one negotiate what seems to be a difficult minefield of trademarks, copyrights and DMCA? Does anyone have tips in this area?"

The general consensus in the comments seems to be that no one can come to a general consensus about this game..

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  1. 0
    kagirinai says:

    I’m gonna have to agree. At the very least, take some time to come up with your own original theme for the game if you’re not creative enough to come up with your own mechanics. It seems pretty ‘common-sense’ to not simply reproduce someone else’s game that exactly.

  2. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Yeah.. I am not in favor of takedown notices… but regardless of if he created art from scratch, the game is still a blatent rip off and Namco seems within their rights to be annoyed.

  3. 0
    Scazza says:

    The worst part is the hundreds of these bs rip-off games on the Anrdoid Marketplace.  Not only that, but I’m going to assume a good portion of them are simply there to data-mine your info and pass it along to a third party.  People need to be careful and aware on the garbage the get on their phone.  "How can a free copy of Tetrus go wrong?" …  Very…

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