The open sourced flight simulation game FlightGear has been around on the most popular PC operating systems since 1997. It is frequently updated too, with new aircraft added once in awhile. But one aircraft won't be in the game any longer, thanks to Honda. Honda decided to send a takedown request last week to the makers of the game related to the inclusion of one of its jets. The company told the makers of the game that including it was an infringement of its trademarks.
Speaking with TorrentFreak, FlightGear project manager Curtis Olson said that he was surprised by the request because in the game's long history they have never received a similar request from any other company or entity.
"As far as I can recall, this is the first request of this type that FlightGear has had to address," Olson says.
FlightGear's makers have always been extremely cautious when it comes to licensing terms of source code and data. Until the letter came in, the team believed that the Honda Jet model could be used without problems.
"I am not a lawyer and not an expert in trademark law. FlightGear is simply trying to create an accurate simulation of the real world. If something exists in the real world, it seems fair game to create a simple representation of it in our simulator," Olson says.
"FlightGear puts quite a bit of effort into always trying to do the right thing, so this situation did catch us off guard," he added.
Seeing no other option, the game's developers decided that it was easier to comply with Honda's request than to spend thousands of dollars fighting them in court over fair use.
"I personally don’t have sufficient time, lawyers, experience and intelligence to battle something like this, and although it makes me sad, an all out legal battle probably is not in anyone’s interest even if we thought we had some sort of legal argument to make," Olson concluded.
It makes no sense why Honda would do this, as it has no games in the works, nor is it working with a partner to create a game that uses the Honda Jet. Ultimately Honda flexed its muscle and won without a fight, but they also made it so that a free game played by millions won't have access to their design going forward.
Everybody — including Honda — loses.