Two designers of the 1990 MS-DOS game Star Control, Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III, have issued DMCA takedown notices against the company Stardock. This has resulted in spiritual successor/reboot Star Control: Origins being pulled from Steam and GOG.
Who controls Star Control?
This bit of news is the latest in a legal battle over the copyrights and trademarks of the Star Control series of sci-fi games. The two games were made in 1990 and 1992, but the series has been dormant since then. Stardock, who released Star Control: Origins on September 2018, claim to have acquired the rights from Atari in 2013. Meanwhile, Ford and Reiche claim to still own the copyright. They announced their own Star Control sequel, Ghosts of the Precursors, in 2017, just before the Star Control: Origins beta released. Stardock filed a trademark infringement complaint, and Ford and Reiche filed one back. It’s a messy legal issue, and you can read up on what lead up to this in this Kotaku article.
Before officially releasing Star Control: Origins, Stardock tried to get a preliminary art injunction from the U.S. District Court of Northern California. This was to prevent Ford and Reiche from filing “false DMCA takedown notices”. However, this was denied.
Stardock posted a lengthy post on the Steam forums to explain their side of the situation. They criticize Ford and Reiche for trying to bypass the legal system, mentioning that they’ve even changed some things in hopes of satisfying Ford and Reiche. The post ends with a bit of bad news and some hope:
Unfortunately, without the income from Star Control: Origins, Stardock will have to lay off some of the men and women who are assigned to the game.
We will do our very best to continue to support the game and hopefully Star Control: Origins will return as soon as possible.
Ford and Reiche have yet to release a statement. The game is still playable on Steam and GOG if you own it. You can read the full DMCA takedown notice here.