Thursday, December 15, 2005

City of Heroes Litigation Settled

I just saw this little gem today, posted on by one of our wonderful editors, Atari.

Marvel Entertainment, NCsoft Corporation, NC Interactive and Cryptic Studios announced that they have amicably settled all claims brought by Marvel and all claims brought by NCsoft, NC Interactive, Inc. and Cryptic Studios, Inc. The parties' settlement allows them all to continue to develop and sell products, but does not reduce the players' ability to express their creativity in making and playing original and exciting characters. Therefore, no changes to City of Heroes or City of Villains' character creation engine are part of the settlement. The parties have agreed that protecting intellectual property rights is critically important and each will continue aggressively to protect such rights in accordance with all applicable laws. While the terms of the settlement were not disclosed, all parties agree that this case was never about monetary issues and that the fans of their respective products and characters are the winners in this settlement.

WomenGamers.Com :: View topic - City of Heroes Litigation Update

Thank goodness, I was about to forcefully boycott everything Marvel, after writing them an open letter on the subject.

Aside from the reality that Intellectual Property does not exist except in name and the uses of the City of Heroes costume and character engine extend above and well beyond any possible infringing uses—Marvel had chosen to engage in bully tactics to beat up on NCSoft.

As copyright holders, Marvel is granted certain protections, but in a sort-of-way the near-effect creation of a costume in City of Heroes seems to me a lot like making a costume and wearing it out for Halloween, or in the back yard. Comic books are so ubiquitous and costume types so varied that it is difficult not to come close to one that is copyrighted—but when a creation is made in this manner, one that isn't designed to become the actual copyrighted item, the expression of the design must always trump the copyright holder.

I would like to think that people who produce comics aren't becoming megalithic evil entertainment monopolies like Disney. Comic books and superheroes are a powerful American icon, they are becoming part of the mythology and the heritage, and the sort of behavior of lashing out at someone like NCSoft because they're getting close is the worst bad-neighbor behavior of capitalism.

My feelings on the bad state of copyright and its wicked progeny aside, I am pleased and proud of Marvel for choosing to take a more lenient route, settling in a way that permits the fans to be fans and not be punished by their bully-stupidity.

However, I cannot but feel a little cheated; because the culture that creates this sort of behavior has just been thrown another bone.

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