Starcraft Developers Must Construct Additional Lawsuits

StarCraft isn't a game in South Korea, it's a national pastime. When gamers aren't playing it, they can watch tournaments on TV. But its creator, Blizzard Entertainment, is unhappy. And it has every right to be.

Blizzard's Paul Sams appeared at a press conference in Seoul late last week and blasted cable channels MBC Game and OnGameNet for televising tournaments without the company's permission, reports the Korea Times.

"It's unfortunate that the e-sports industry in Korea is lagging behind other industries in recognition of intellectual property (IP) rights and the basic principles related to them," said Sams. "Korea is the only region in the world where we have had to resort to litigation to protect our IP rights." Blizzard is considering launching a lawsuit against the Korea e-Sports Players Association (KeSPA).

Blizzard allowed MBC Game and OnGameNet to show KeSPA tournaments until August - yet, the broadcasters continued to run StarCraft tournaments. Meanwhile, the game company signed an exclusive deal with Gretech-GomTV to show StarCraft tournaments.

The argument that broadcasters are making is that games used in professional tournaments are public domain and it would be akin to Adidas billing to have its balls used in games.

Sams was quick to reject that claim, noting, "Classifying StarCraft and other e-sports as part of the public domain deprives developers such as Blizzard of their IP rights. There will be no incentive to do what Blizzard had done to balance the games for competition, which is a more difficult task than creating a normal game."

StarCraft isn't like Adidas footballs, and that analogy would better be suited to peripheral makers. StarCraft is Blizzard's show - even little thing in that game was created by someone at Blizzard. E-sports are a different beast that sports.

Blizzard vows to take MBC to court [Korea Times][Pic]


Comments

    Blizzard are wrong here.

    People aren't playing their game, which is what their product is, through the television. They are watching someone ELSE play the game through the television.

    As long as all participating individuals have bought their own prospective copies of the game then there is really no infringement.

    Blizzard intentionally did not include LAN play in SC2 to force play through battle net, which is an excellent way to enforce copy protection but makes competition play extremely prohibitive, at a professional level having to play with any latency is unacceptable, and it has already caused problems in competitive play.

    The SC scene in other countries is extremely underdeveloped when compared to what Korea has built for itself from the ground up, despite the requests LAN play was intentionally excluded from the game and now they are trying to charge for the televising of games in competitions that Blizzard in no way support, or assist.

    IP laws are a joke, I'm all for preventing copyright infringements, and theft of IP but this is neither. The ONLY reason SC I was successful was due to it's competitive play, the ONLY reason SCII has succeeded at all is off the back of it's predecessor, it was launched with no LAN no Chat function on battle net and now they want to try and restrict the televising of competitions. They have progressively made mistake after mistake in regards to the multiplayer side of their game, a game which survives BECAUSE of multiplayer.

    This is just salt in the wounds.

    "Classifying StarCraft and other e-sports..."

    If Starcraft is viewed by it's creators as an e-sport then why is there no LAN play out of the box?

    "deprives developers such as Blizzard of their IP rights"

    You're rights are not deprived no one is claiming your property as theirs, quite the contrary, the game is constantly referred to as what it is, Starcraft, by Blizzard. When balancing is mentions, Blizzard is referenced. No one is selling your product as their own.

    "There will be no incentive to do what Blizzard had done to balance the games for competition"

    The incentive is to make sure your game is worth buying, and that future purchases aren't decided on a history of poor, or completely lacking balance.

    "the game company signed an exclusive deal with Gretech-GomTV to show StarCraft tournaments"

    Which can be watched for free, without advertisements, completely legally.

    "StarCraft isn’t like Adidas footballs, and that analogy would better be suited to peripheral makers."

    People watch the PLAYERS PLAY the game. We marvel in their skill, their decision making, and their consistency under pressure over a period of time. We don't go 'oer Blizzard made that marine model so pretty' or 'wow that's an amazing plot twist in the single player campaign'.

    This is not to mention the personalities of the players, they are famous in their country and have legions of fans.

    "the e-sports industry in Korea is lagging behind other industries in recognition of intellectual property (IP) rights"

    Inorite? The difference is the e-sport's in Korea is successful.

    "StarCraft is Blizzard’s show"

    Video Game, not show. There is a difference. Blizzard sold their product to an individual and made money. Now people are watching OTHER people USE that product and Blizzard are all up in arms.

      To the best of my knowledge, Starcraft 2 released as a 'tournament' edition to tournament organisers, which included LAN support.

      And Blizzard have every right to be annoyed. Another company is making money from Blizzard's IP without express consent.

        Where is the direct link between Blizzards IP and generated revnue?

        The revenue is derived from the cable subscribers who pay to watch their idols compete.

        If it were a different game there would be no drama, and the system would be, IS, the same. Though I may have to retract a few statements I've made after doing some reading up on the EULA.

        You don't own your copy of SCII. When you purchase the game all you have paid for is access to the 'service'.

        The 'service' being playing the game at all. Single player or multi player. You don't own those cd's / dvd's the manual the box, even the software itself.

        Quite a horrifying read actually.

        Good thing these EULA's are available prior to making your purchase so you know quite clearly what it is you're purchasing...

          Just because I see several holes in your arguement.

          "Blizzard are wrong here."
          I don't think it's up to you to determine whether Blizzard is right or wrong here.

          "People aren’t playing their game, which is what their product is, through the television. They are watching someone ELSE play the game through the television."
          Fact is - Blizzard has entered into a contract with GOMtv to give them broadcasting rights for tournaments such as the GSL. Blizzard actually approached KesPA (IIRC) for them to apply for the rights to broadcast tournaments as is their right. KesPA refused to and as such - all players who arecontracted under KesPA are restricted from playing SC2 - so to say; KesPA did a boycott of most of the pro-gamers from SC1 which is why it wasn't received as well as it should've been.

          "Blizzard intentionally did not include LAN play in SC2 to force play through battle net, which is an excellent way to enforce copy protection but makes competition play extremely prohibitive, at a professional level having to play with any latency is unacceptable, and it has already caused problems in competitive play."
          I agree, this is a problem and wonder why Blizzard did this. But - for 1 as previously mentioned - there is a lan version available that is for tournaments supported by Blizzard. Other tournaments that I have seen and participated in have run off the internet and there havent' been any issues (Such as HDH invitationals, King of the Hill Beta, etc). So I don't see your arguement there. But I agree that it is mainly for copy-protection purposes.

          If you have latency problems - perhaps it's your internet connection. That split millisecond doesn't matter up into the top pro-gamers in Korea - and they have Lan support from Blizzard.

          "The SC scene in other countries is extremely underdeveloped"
          LOL. Seriously? SC scene is NOT under-developed in other countries. If anything, it is currently Booming at the moment. Please don't make false comments like that. There are many international pro-gamers that don't live in korea - Albeit their prize pool is not as big as Koreas - but that's because of the different cultures. E-sports is generally small in the rest of the world.

          "IP laws are a joke, I’m all for preventing copyright infringements, and theft of IP but this is neither. The ONLY reason SC I was successful was due to it’s competitive play, the ONLY reason SCII has succeeded at all is off the back of it’s predecessor,"
          IP laws aren't jokes. How would you like it, if you created a show that yo uwanted to be displayed on Channel 10 (for eg) but Channel 7 wwho didn't have the rights started showing it as well? Same deal here with Blizzard.

          "it was launched with no LAN no Chat function on battle net and now they want to try and restrict the televising of competitions. They have progressively made mistake after mistake in regards to the multiplayer side of their game, a game which survives BECAUSE of multiplayer."
          Again - Do your research before saying things. There is a tournament lan. And there is a Chat function. Look up the latest update for the next patch (with a public release). There are chat channels as they existed in SC1. I'm unsure if they work in the same manner - but it's a work in progress.

          “Classifying StarCraft and other e-sports…”

          If Starcraft is viewed by it’s creators as an e-sport then why is there no LAN play out of the box? <--- You said it yourself - copyright protections. There may be other reasons, and i'm sure Blizzard said it somewhere why there isn't LAN out of the box; but who cares? For the casual gamer - online connectivity is sufficient enough. As an e-sport - they have tournament editions of SC2.

          "You’re rights are not deprived no one is claiming your property as theirs, quite the contrary, the game is constantly referred to as what it is, Starcraft, by Blizzard. When balancing is mentions, Blizzard is referenced. No one is selling your product as their own."
          Blizzard has rights that determines who actually broadcasts tournaments. I agree - it may be a cash-cow business model. But that is their right for their product.

          "Which can be watched for free, without advertisements, completely legally."
          For standard quality and the like. For high quality and better servers - you have to pay which is what most people do for the finals of big competitions such as GSL. If you've ever tried watching it on GOMtv- GSL SQ stream is so laggy it's not funny.

          "People watch the PLAYERS PLAY the game. We marvel in their skill, their decision making, and their consistency under pressure over a period of time. We don’t go ‘oer Blizzard made that marine model so pretty’ or ‘wow that’s an amazing plot twist in the single player campaign’."

          Mute point. As I said before - Blizzard is suing KesPA because they didn't apply for the RIGHT to broadcast the tournaments. Blizzard said themselves - they would be more than happy to let KesPA broadcast the tournament if they actually applied for the rights to do so.

          "Video Game, not show. There is a difference. Blizzard sold their product to an individual and made money. Now people are watching OTHER people USE that product and Blizzard are all up in arms."
          Actually - it's quite the same concept. Video game is their product; Just like Scott pilgrim movie is a product of Universal Studios - and you aren't legally allowed to show the movie in public without their expressed permission - ie; the dvd's you buy state that it is for private use only. Same concept with Blizzard.

          Don't talk about somethign you don't quite know much about. Go onto the Teamliquid.net forums and see the thread there. It has an indepth discussion about it.

          Additionally;

          "Where is the direct link between Blizzards IP and generated revnue?"
          I'm unsure of the contract between GOMtv and Blizzard, however I do believe that GOMtv pays a fee to Blizzard for the casting rights to the tournaments. IE - there would be a commission paid to Blizzard whenever someone signs up that requires payment to watch the GSL.

          "The revenue is derived from the cable subscribers who pay to watch their idols compete."
          Look above

          "If it were a different game there would be no drama, and the system would be, IS, the same. "
          The fact is - this is SC2. Not another game. Another game would not have such publicity and support from a pro-gaming community.

          "You don’t own your copy of SCII. When you purchase the game all you have paid for is access to the ‘service’."
          - That is standard with all games. You purchase the right to play / use the game/software. You do not purchase the game.

    Blizzard should really tread lightly here, only the Koreans really like Star Craft, piss them off and eventually Star Craft will die out like every other game.

    One of the things I don't understand is why Blizzard waited this long to start complaining and money-grubbing.

    The original SC came out in what, 1998? and from what I gather the tournaments have been going on for about 7-9 years... thats a big gap. Surely if their IP rights were that important from the get-go they would have done something sooner rather than (and these are just my personal opinions) brush it off as something inferior... until they realise just how big the original got, just how much the public was eating it up and just how much more money they could have been making if they had been the ones to think of this to begin with.

    I think it was a mistake on Blizzards part not to include LAN in the original edition of SC2. And I know The Cracks mentioned 'Starcraft 2 released as a ‘tournament’ edition to tournament organisers, which included LAN support' but what about the general public, fans or aspiring future participants, who want to get together and have a LAN party and test there skills or something? I don't really consider Battle.net or things such as Xbox Live as a substitute, probably because I have never really had the luxury of having a decent internet connection/quota.

    As an end note I think Blizzard should be stoked with the long life Starcraft has had (well to me a game still being possibly the favourite game of a whole country after what, 12years? is pretty impressive). They should also be happy with how many people have purchased their game/s, and will most likely continue to, because of the interest these tournaments have generated. And isn't this all thanks to the original organisers, broadcasters etc who came up with the idea?

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