Rhode Island Duo Blame Call of Duty for Threats to Local High School

March 7, 2012 -

Common sense dictates that you can't scream "fire!" in a crowded movie theater and that doing so isn't considered protected speech. In the wake of the recent Ohio school shootings, making public jokes about shooting up your local high school also falls under the purview of widely held common sense doctrine.

6 comments | Read more

Zynga Wins, Loses in Latest Round of SocialApps Lawsuit

February 17, 2012 -

The Federal District Court in Oakland, California has denied a motion to dismiss a suit against Zynga brought by game developer SocialApps LLC. The developer accused Zynga of copying its Facebook game, myFarm. SocialApps claimed that Zynga had shown interest in buying the rights and code for myFarm and began the process sharing due diligence material. The companies entered into a letter agreement in May 2009 and SocialApps began sharing information and source code.

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Netflix Settles Video Privacy Protection Act Violations

February 13, 2012 -

Netflix announced that it will settle a lawsuit that claimed that it illegally retained customers’ rental histories, an act that ran afoul of Video Privacy Protection Act and California consumer laws. The settlement, which was disclosed in a Netflix securities filing with the SEC, puts to bed a 2011 lawsuit that accused the company of VPAA and California consumer law violations. The VPPA restricts video rental companies from disclosing customer information and requires them to destroy rental history data within one year.

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California Agrees to Pay ESA $950k for Brown v. EMA Court Costs

January 26, 2012 -

The state of California has agreed to pay the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) $950,000 in legal fees related to arguing Brown v. EMA before the U.S. Supreme Court. When combined with reimbursements for the 2008 case (which the state already paid), the grand total that California paid the ESA comes to $1,327,000.

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Game Developer Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Bank, Mail, and Wire Fraud

January 10, 2012 -

On Monday federal prosecutors announced that a Los Gatos, California game developer pled guilty to several charges including conspiracy to commit mail fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Speaking to the San Jose Mercury News, the former owner of UltraCade Technologies said that some of what the government announced on Monday was "inaccurate."

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2009 Final Fantasy XI Lawsuit Dismissed

December 27, 2011 -

Square Enix announced on Friday that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California has dismissed with prejudice a class action lawsuit involving its MMORPG Final Fantasy XI. The ruling came on December 20. The lawsuit was filed by San Francisco's Esther Leong in 2009 on behalf of a class (Final Fantasy XI subscribers), that accused the publisher of "deceptive advertising, unfair business practices, and fraudulent concealment with respect to the online games at the point of purchase." The game was released in North America in 2003.

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California Court: Activision Case Against EA-West-Zampella Goes Forward

December 22, 2011 -

A California Superior Court judge has told EA that it must defend itself in the $400 million contract-interference suit brought by Activision over Infinity Ward founders Jason West and Vince Zampella.

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Sony Faces Class Action for PSN Terms of Service Changes

December 20, 2011 -

In September Sony updated the PlayStation Network's terms of service to include a new clause removing the ability for customers (who were more than likely upset over the major security breach that happened earlier in the year) to file future class action lawsuits. Users who accepted the new TOS had to agree to individual arbitration instead of a lawsuit if they had a grievance against Sony. Since users had to agree to the new TOS in order to sign in to PSN, many simply agreed and moved on.

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California Announces eCrime Law Enforcement Unit

December 16, 2011 -

California has launched a new eCrime unit to combat various online crimes. The new law enforcement unit created by California Attorney General Kamala Harris and announced Tuesday, aims take on various "cyber crimes" such as email scams, online fraud, piracy, child pornography, and real-world theft of computer gear by organized crime.

"Today's criminals increasingly use the Internet, smartphones, and other digital devices to victimize people online and offline," Harris said while unveiling the unit in the Silicon Valley city of San Jose.

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Marketing Firm Gets Fined for Homefront GDC Balloon Stunt

December 14, 2011 -

It might have seemed cute when marketing company TrashTalkFCM pitched the idea of releasing thousands of balloons into the San Francisco sky to promote Homefront during the Game Developers Conference earlier this year. But THQ realized as the balloons flew upwards and then inevitably fell down into the San Francisco Bay that maybe it wasn't such a great idea after all. The bad local and national publicity wasn't worth it.

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GameStop Sued by Former Employee over Uncompensated Time Due to Security Checks

November 23, 2011 -

Video games retailer GameStop faces a lawsuit filed by a former employee who claims that employees who endured constant security checks during breaks and meals were not properly compensated for the time it took. GameStop has a policy of conducting mandatory security checks on employees when they take breaks or finish a shift. The lawsuit filed in California isn't about privacy or employee dignity, but about the amount of uncompensated time it takes.

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Zynga Employee Accused of $100,000 Stealing Spree

November 17, 2011 -

A temporary Zynga employee was arrested this week for allegedly stealing $100,000 in merchandise. 21-year-old Keith Brown of San Ramon, California was arrested on Tuesday, according to District Attorney’s Office spokesman Omid Talai. He stands accused of stealing laptop and desktop computers and software valued at approximately $100,000 between Oct. 31 and the date of his arrest. Zynga security took him into custody and brought him to police, Talai said.

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Good Samaritan Killed Trying to Thwart Robbery

November 1, 2011 -

TV Station KTLA reports on a tragedy that resulted from one man trying to stop a theft. Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies have arrested four teenagers as a result. The boys were arrested after a fight over a DS ended in a shooting that wounded one teen and killed an unnamed 29-year-old male. The shooting occurred just after 3:00 p.m. Monday at a shopping center where a teen met with four other teen boys to sell a Nintendo DS game system.

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Brown v. EMA Expenses Kicked to Ninth Circuit

October 3, 2011 -

It looks like the State of California and the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) have not quite completed their courtroom business together, but the rest of their battle will take place in a lower court.

The Supreme Court of the United States chose not to make a ruling on the EMA’s request that the court award it $1.4 million in attorney’s fees and expenses related to Brown v. EMA (08-1448). Instead, the court sent it back to the Ninth Circuit Court for adjudication.

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A Mother's 'Long-Overdue Reaction' to Brown v. EMA

September 15, 2011 -

I'm all for letters to the editor, but one written by one Tina L. Bechtel, is particularly over the top and needs to be read to be believed. The Marysville, California mother of at least one son (at least the one she mentions in her letter) delivers what she calls her "long-overdue reaction to the 'supreme sellout' of our children," referring to the Supreme Court's decision earlier this year in the Brown v. EMA case.

West and Zampella v. Activision Gets Trial Date

September 12, 2011 -

Infinity Ward founders Jason West and Vincent Zampella finally have a trial date in their long-running lawsuit with Activision. Their court battle with Activision over royalties allegedly owed from the Call of Duty series is set to go before a judge in Los Angeles on May 7, 2012.

"I’m really looking forward to having our day in Court," said Zampella in conversation with Forbes.

Zampella and West founded a new studio, Respawn Entertainment, in 2010, signed a deal with EA, and have hired over 60 employees.

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Amazon v. California, Round II

September 6, 2011 -

While Amazon might be on the precipice of usurping legislation passed earlier this year by the state of California with a voter referendum this November, lawmakers are on the attack. The New York Times chronicles the fight going on in California in this article, which is interesting because it pits traditional retail in the state against online retailers.

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Wargaming.net Opens San Francisco Office

August 3, 2011 -

Wargaming.net, makers of World of Tanks, announced this morning that it plans to expand into North America by opening an office in San Francisco, California. This new office will be headed up by seasoned industry veteran Jeremy Monroe, who will serve as General Manager. Monroe will expand Wargaming.net's North America presence as well as build and oversee customer service, marketing, public relations and community management, according to Wargaming.net.

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ESA Seeks Legal Fees for Brown v. EMA from California

July 25, 2011 -

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is seeking $1.1 million in legal fees from California for its work related to Brown v. EMA. The move is not an unfamiliar one for the trade group, who has successfully sued and won fees in the lower courts in states throughout the country (notably Louisiana, Michigan, and Illinois), but this is a first at the highest level of the U.S. court system.

"It's unfortunate that some officials continue to believe that unconstitutional laws are the answer, when time and time again courts have thrown out these bills and proven them to be a waste of taxpayers' dollars," the ESA said in a statement... four years ago. Hopefully California's government will listen after this expensive lesson in constitutional law.

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Call of Duty XP Tickets on Sale

July 22, 2011 -

Tickets are on sale for Activision's first annual event dedicated to Call of Duty, Call of Duty XP, at www.callofduty.com/xp. The event will take place September 2 - 3 in Los Angeles. Call of Duty XP tickets are now on sale. Tickets are $150 and are valid for both days of the event. In addition, buying a ticket gives you admission to all events and activities with the exception of food and drink. Naturally you'll have to pay for your own travel to and from the event. You can buy up to two tickets, the proceeds of which will go to the Call of Duty Endowment, a non-profit organization that helps returning veterans find employment, establish careers and transition back to civilian life. You must be 18 years old or older to attend.

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Webzen Sues FireFall Developer

July 14, 2011 -

Korean MMO publisher Webzen has filed a lawsuit against Red 5 Studios claiming that the developer breached a contract for the online shooter FireFall. Last month the developer filed for arbitration in a California court claiming that Webzen's new management failed to properly market the game - a provision in the original contract.

"We do not feel the new management of Webzen has honored their obligations towards Firefall, particularly in Asia," wrote CEO Mark Kern in an open letter published on the game's official forum. "The current management of Webzen is a stark contrast to the original CEO and executives who were once so excited to work with us on the game."

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Atari Sues Tommo Over Flashback Knock-Offs

July 7, 2011 -

Atari Interactive has filed a $30 million lawsuit in a California district court against Tommo Inc., alleging that the toy distributor knowingly sold knockoffs of its Flashback 2 console. According to the complaint filed by Atari and acquired by Gamasutra, Tommo sold "wholesale quantities of unauthorized and pirated copies of Atari software and Atari Flashback 2 consoles."

The Flashback 2 was released in 2005 as a plug-and-play direct-to-TV console shaped like a 2600 console. The Flashback came packed with forty games. In 2006 Atari discontinued the system after selling over 860,000 units.

Knock-offs sold by various companies are usually identical to the original Flashback units, offering the same style of packaging, design and packed-in games.

According to Flashback creator Legacy Engineering, "illegal manufacturers" were probably able to obtain the original's source files and plastic molds for the Flashback.

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Common Sense Media: SCOTUS Decision Disappointing for 'All Who Care About Kids'

June 27, 2011 -

As you can probably guess even before you read the official statement from Common Sense Media, they are not pleased with the Supreme Court's ruling on Brown v. EMA today. The children’s advocacy group said in its reaction statement to the decision that they were disappointed and felt that parents had been let down by the court.

But the Supreme Court isn't congress or the president of the United States; in other words they should really only concern themselves with their area expertise - the law as it relates to our constitution. Nevertheless the group that is squarely against the videogame industry voiced its strong opinion that the court erred in its decision. Below is the full statement from Common Sense Media CEO James Steyer:

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Sony Faces Possible Class Action Lawsuit over PSN Security Breach

June 24, 2011 -

A new lawsuit filed in federal court in San Diego on Monday (Cotorreal et al v. Sony Corporation Inc.) alleges that Sony's security breach of Sony Online Entertainment and PlayStation Network were the direct result of layoffs earlier in the month of April. In late April the company laid off around 205 employees from its MMO company SOE, closing down offices in Denver, Seattle and Tucson. These layoffs also affected the company's Network Operations Centre. The complaint alleges that Sony did not mention that any of these employees were part of "network operations" at the time of the layoffs.

The complaint also alleges that Sony rushed to protect data when it first learned of the security breach - but it wasn't user data they were concerned about. The company paid millions to secure sensitive corporate secrets, not offering the same level of action for customer data, the complaint contends.

8 comments | Read more

AT&T iPad Hacker Pleads Guilty to Two Felony Charges

June 24, 2011 -

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that iPad hacker Daniel Spliter has pled guilty to two felony charges - identity theft and conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to computers. The charges stem from a June 2010 security breach of AT&T's servers that ultimately led to the theft and public disclosure of 120,000 AT&T customers’ email addresses on Gawker.com.

As part of his plea deal Spliter admitted to writing code that allowed him to breach AT&T Inc.’s servers and steal user data related to the iPad. The hack was facilitated by a security hole in AT&T's website. By using an exploit related to a SIM card identifier called an ICC-ID, Spliter was able to steal over a hundred thousand emails. At the time of the hack, the 26-year-old San Francisco native said that he was doing this to bring the matter to AT&T's attention. Instead he got the attention of the FBI.

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Register of Copyrights: Illegal Streaming Should be a Felony

June 3, 2011 -

The new head of the U.S. Copyright Office says that illegal video streaming should be a felony. The new Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante spent her first day testifying at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, giving her approval to the IP Enforcement Czar’s recommendation that the government should stop treating illegal streaming offenses as "unauthorized performances" and start classifying it as a serious crime, or "unauthorized reproductions and distributions." The White House backs the IP Czar's recommendations. This would turn illegal streaming into a felony - up from a less serious misdemeanor charge.

Pallante said the following before the House Judiciary Committee hearing:

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EA Asks Court to Dismiss Madden Coder Case

June 2, 2011 -

Electronic Arts has asked a California court to dismiss a lawsuit brought forward by former Madden NFL developer Robin Antonick. Antonick, a programmer who helped create the original John Madden Football while working as a contractor 20 years ago, sued EA earlier this year claiming that he is owed twenty years worth of royalties.

On Tuesday, EA asked the Californian Federal Court to dismiss Antonick's claims because they are invalid. EA disputes the claim of "code legacy," because the game was built from the ground up when the second game was made and provided Antonick with the source code of that game as proof. Antonick's claims describe the four key areas of the code as "methods, processes and algorithms," but these concepts, EA argues, are not covered by US copyright law.

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California's Amazon Tax Bill Passes State Assembly

June 1, 2011 -

A bill passed by the California State Assembly on Monday aims to help California collect more than $1 billion in taxes from online retailers such as Amazon.com.

Assemblyman Charles Calderon, a Whittier Democrat, claims that the new legislation doesn't impose a new sales tax, but extends one that California should already have been enforcing. The bill, AB155, passed by a vote of 47-16, with the support of one GOP lawmaker. Now it has to pass in the Senate to become law in the state. The question for Californians that work for retailers like Amazon.com is how this might affect their future. If the tax burden is too much, maybe Amazon will simply go to another state where the tax situation is more tenable.

Most Republican lawmakers rejected the bill because they said it would drive businesses out of California, get the state entangled in Internet regulation, and force the state to defend the law in the courts.

9 comments | Read more

E3's Financial Impact on Los Angeles

May 24, 2011 -

In case you didn't know or need a reminder, the ESA issued a press release today pointing out that the Electronic Entertainment Expo returns to Los Angeles in early June. The annual event dedicated to the interactive entertainment industry takes place June 7 - 9 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The press release was more about the impact the event has on Los Angeles than the industry.

The event expects to draw "tens of thousands" of attendees which will result "in millions of dollars for Los Angeles." According to the ESA, 28,000 hotel room nights have been booked to date and an estimated $25.1 million in revenue will be generated. Because of the sheer volume of attendees, many major Downtown Hotels as well as properties in the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood will also generate revenue from the show.

Naturally, city officials are delighted with E3's affect on local businesses:

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Psychiatrist Examines Studies Supporting CA's Violent Video Game Law

May 21, 2011 -

We’re all on pins and needles waiting for the Supreme Court to finally release its decision on Brown v. EMA, so why not relieve some tension listening to an academic offer his less-than-impressed analysis of the evidence supporting the violent video game law authored by California State Senator Leland Yee.

Dr. Paul Ballas is a Philadelphia psychiatrist who deals with examining psychiatric illnesses in children and one of dozens who signed an amicus brief in support of the EMA.  At the recent Games Beyond Entertainment conference in Boston, Ballas examined whether Yee's evidence supported his argument that playing violent video games is a harmful thing for the kiddies to do.

Believing that any law based on research-backed harm has the responsibility to prove that it will actually alleviate said harm, Ballas looked at three studies Yee used to support his law.

7 comments | Read more

 
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NeenekoAh, that old straw man. That is one of the ironies about the discussion, the whole point is showing how good people can still have problems with sexism and not realize it.09/17/2014 - 9:11pm
Andrew EisenYes, there have been a handful of op-eds suggesting that the term “gamer” has become tainted (two that I know of) but that’s the opinion of only a few. I've seen an equal number from those who disagree.09/17/2014 - 8:55pm
Andrew EisenExcept, you haven't provided a single example of a site that’s actually calling gamers a "collective of Sexist White Bigoted Basement Dwelling Manchildren."09/17/2014 - 8:55pm
TechnogeekIf you want to make the stereotype of gamers less painful, try calling people out when they do bad shit rather than handwave it away as "not all gamers". Even if it is a few bad apples, that'll still more than enough to spoil the barrel.09/17/2014 - 8:53pm
quiknkoldI'm not going to Sell Gamergate anymore. It can sell itself. But I will sell the integrity of the Gamer. That we are still good people, who create and donate to charitys, Who engage with those around us and just want to have a good time.09/17/2014 - 7:35pm
quiknkoldpeople should not be harrassed and punished for the actions of a few. I've always welcomed and accepted everybody who wanted to join in. Who wanted to make them, or play them. I love good strong female protagonists, and want more.09/17/2014 - 7:35pm
quiknkoldOne of the tennants of Gamergate is to stand up against Harrassment. That Gamers arent like those assholes. We can argue for days if the Sexism or Antifeminism or corruption is there or not, But the one thing I believe in and wear on my sleave is that09/17/2014 - 7:35pm
quiknkoldBut there were these websites, attacking me and people like me, for the actions of a few. and then others joined in on Twitter and other places. there was a hashtag that said "explain in 4 words a gamer" and it made me sick.09/17/2014 - 7:35pm
quiknkoldManchildren who are awful people and that the Identity of the Gamer should die. This hurt me personally. I've always identified as a Gamer. Even in my childhood years, I was a Gamer. All my friends are Gamers. Its one of the core parts of my identity.09/17/2014 - 7:34pm
quiknkoldUltimately, With the whole Gamergate thing, I jumped on it due to the harassment. A small number of assholes harrass Anita and Zoe, and then all the publications lumped together Gamers as this collective of Sexist White Bigoted Basement Dwelling09/17/2014 - 7:34pm
quiknkoldEZacharyKnight : Lemme ask you a question. We have people who cling to walls, people who fire lasers from their eyes, people who can shapeshift....and yet fabric needs to be upheld to RL physics?09/17/2014 - 6:54pm
james_fudgebody paint?09/17/2014 - 5:33pm
E. Zachary Knightquiknkold, I stand corrected on the buttcrack thing. Still, I know of no fabric that actually does that.09/17/2014 - 5:05pm
Andrew EisenSo... it's unethical to discuss the ethics surrounding public interest vs. personal privacy?09/17/2014 - 4:45pm
prh99The source for the game was just released not long ago, it's at https://github.com/keendreams/keen09/17/2014 - 4:43pm
prh99An Indiegogo champagin bought the rights to the early 90's game Keen Dreams to make it open source and release it on GOG etc. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/let-s-get-keen-dreams-re-released-legally09/17/2014 - 4:42pm
james_fudgeAlso http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-London/2014/09/17/Exposed-the-secret-mailing-list-of-the-gaming-journalism-elite09/17/2014 - 4:29pm
Andrew EisenI read the Kotaku story. Nowhere does it say anything close to "Gamers are white bigoted sexist losers." It's commenting specifically on the crap being slung at people discussing gender issues in games. So, what's the problem?09/17/2014 - 4:06pm
Andrew EisenYeah, I can imagine Spiderwoman posed like in your second link.09/17/2014 - 4:00pm
Andrew EisenThat's not the same pose. Spiderman (who is wearing an actual outfit rather than body paint) is crouched low to the ground. Kinda like a spider! Spiderwoman has her butt up in the air like she's waiting to be mounted.09/17/2014 - 3:59pm
 

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