Attorney Representing Author Suing Ubisoft for Assassin's Creed Speaks Out

May 10, 2012 -

 A lawyer representing the novelist who filed a lawsuit against Ubisoft last month for allegedly infringing on his book "LINK" is defending her client publicly for the first time in this Eurogamer story. The author of the book, John Beiswenger, claims in his lawsuit that Ubisoft violated his copyright in the plot of Assassin's Creed.

Attorney Kelley Keller told Eurogamer that John Beiswenger is legally obliged to protect his copyright and the recent review bombing that occurred on amazon.com against his book will not deter her client.

"We understand that many gamers are upset about the litigation and potential for delay in the release of the next Assassin's Creed video game, and as a result of that anger have been posting negative comments on Amazon - and other forums - about our client and his novel Link," said Keller. "However, copyright laws exist to protect authors and creators from others who copy or create works that are, under the law, substantially similar; failure to enforce copyright laws renders them meaningless."

Keller added that negative reviews on his books and threats of varying degrees will have no bearing on the outcome of this case. When asked why Beiswenger was asking for so much money - $5.25 million in damages Keller said that copyright holders are entitled to statutory damages and that the law is clear on damage amounts. When asked why her client wants to stop AC3 from being released she said it was to stop further infringement of her client’s IP. She also said that she does not believe that the similarities between Link and AC are coincidences. Finally she told Eurogamer that her client was within the time frame to file a lawsuit; he waited five years to do so.

Beiswenger's attorney would not comment on how her client came across the similarities between his book and Ubisoft's game series, nor would she divulge what evidence they have to support the claims in court.

We will continue to follow this story as it develops.

Source: Eurogamer. Thanks to Andrew Eisen for the tip.


Comments

Re: Attorney Representing Author Suing Ubisoft for ...

The problem is, I think, the line has become blurred between 'copyright' and 'ideas that are similar'. It's a common event in Engineering that several people will come up with similar or even identical solutions to a problem despite not being in contact, because it is a viable and practical idea. This does not mean they are copying each other, and I think it's in situations like those that you have remember what the first four letters of copyright actually mean.

The problem is that the way it works at the moment, it's no longer become a question of entrepreneurs competing on a market, it's now a question of who gets the right documents signed first...

Re: Attorney Representing Author Suing Ubisoft for ...

How about she explain why he's suing gametrailers? It was that part of his lawsuit that convinced me was nothing but a greedy idiot, and until I get a good explanation for that, I will continue to doubt every thing that comes from him and his attorney.

Re: Attorney Representing Author Suing Ubisoft for ...

I would be interested in seeing how specific the supposed "ripoff" is. For example, are their TERMS used to describe the situation in Assassin's Creed or is this guy saying "I wrote a story where a guy lives through the memories of his ancestors! UBISOFT RIPPED ME OFF!" Because that is hardly an original story.

But the attorney makes a good point, copyright laws are laws you have to enforce or lose the copyright. If this guy didn't make a claim and later tried to sue someone else that later party could then bring up his failure to sue UbiSoft and if a court found he would have had a claim against UbiSoft they could rule he had abandoned his copyright.

You cannot "sit on your rights" and continue to enjoy the benefit of a copyright.

Re: Attorney Representing Author Suing Ubisoft for ...

But the attorney makes a good point, copyright laws are laws you have to enforce or lose the copyright.

No, that is incorrect. There is no "lose your copyright" clause anywhere. In trademark law, if you do not enforce your trademark, you risk losing it. Copyright is yours to keep forever (minus a day).

However, what the attorney actually said was that not enforcing the copyright would render the law pointless. Very different but still very wrong. Thousands of artists and creators don't enforce their copyrights everyday. They welcome the free distribution and use of their works because controlling those works are not important. That does not render copyright law pointless. 

Re: Attorney Representing Author Suing Ubisoft for ...

I would be curiuos to here the actual details of the case rather then the very limited summary that has been posted so far.

While we often talk about copyright in terms of big companies going after customers or trolls going after 'people who do actual work', it is important to remember that copyright law also exists to stop big popular companies from stealing stuff from smaller producers.

Is this the case here? Eh, unless he did a pitch and they turned him away (common in hollywood,.. no name writer pitches a script, studio says no, then pass the script over to an inside writer) it would be hard to prove someone in the studio read the book and ripped it off. 

However, it is important to keep cool and wait... otherwise we as gamers just send the message 'if you have a popular product, you can do no wrong and fans will harass anyone who might have claim against you', and that is NOT a good message.

Re: Attorney Representing Author Suing Ubisoft for ...

I found a PDF of what purports to be the actual complaint here.

The actual claims of "they stole my idea" largely appear to boil down to "ancestral memory is A Thing That Exists In My Setting", assassinations and religion used as plot devices, some weird anti-abortion tangent, the word "synchronization", the fact that the Link is apparently looks like a modified dentist's chair and blood pressure cuff or something, and a battle between the forces of good and evil.

I'm really not seeing how they seriously expect to win this. The stuff that actually overlaps is too generic, and they seem to be distorting how the Animus 2.0 actually works in-story.

Re: Attorney Representing Author Suing Ubisoft for ...

it is important to remember that copyright law also exists to stop big popular companies from stealing stuff from smaller producers.

No. That is just wrong. Copyright law is meant as an incentive for people to create in order to expand the public culture of the nation. The Constitutional clause granting the right to create copyright law states that it is for the purpose of promoting science and useful arts. 

Re: Attorney Representing Author Suing Ubisoft for ...

I fail to see how this makes me 'wrong'.  It fits in perfectly with what you just said.  I would call 'big player not being able to steal my work and produce it as their own' a pretty important part of incentivising people to create.

My point is that often copyright is portrayed as a tool of the powerful against the weak in our discussions here, and it is important to remember that it is also a tool of the weak so that the powerful don't take their work and sell it as their own.  Too many in the community have come to see copyright as the enemy, or at least the tool of bad players, since we only ever seem to focus on stories like that.

 
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