The gaming industry received an enormous shock this week, in that the upcoming title Assassin's Creed 3 may be prevented from release by an injunction and pending lawsuit. On April 16th, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania received a Complaint for Copyright Infringement from Plaintiff John L. Beiswenger. A jury trail has been demanded by the Plaintiff, as well as a request for injunctive relief that would stop the Defendants Ubisoft and Gametrailers from further infringement, and prevent them from releasing "the Assassin's Creed III video games and related books, videos, clips, or other works based on Assassin's Creed III".
This comes as quite a late blow, as the original release of the Assassin's Creed video game series dates back to 2007, and was released on PS3, Windows PC, and XBOX 360 platforms. The copyrighted book that this lawsuit is based around was published a decade ago. Now, in what is actually the fifth software release of this highly successful series, and almost exactly 6 months before it's slated to launch, the end is truly grim for what was to be the final chapter of the saga of the Assassins.
After reading the 42 page complaint myself, http://www.bannerwitcoff.com/_docs/Ubisoft_Complaint.pdf , I can only just keep from cringing as I think of each of the jury members also going over these lines from the book, "Link", and these supposed vast parallels in the story of Assassin's Creed over the last 4 years. According to the complaint, the book's plot includes the "conception and creation of a device and process whereby ancestral memories can be accessed, recalled, relived, and re-experienced by the user".
The facts as stated detail not only each software release in the series as infringing, but also each "Complete Official Guide", the collectors edition encyclopedias, the comic book series, and even the game trailers produced and released by Gametrailers on national TV.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, we will now recess and play some video games
Moreover, there is a decent bit of focus on the possibility that the Defendants knew about said copyright, and willfully infringed upon it. The sum of $1.05 million dollars is being sought, and in the case that willful infringement is determined, $5.25 million. It is very understandable to conclude such similarities, given some of the excerpts presented from the book.
For example, this is from page 309 of "Link": "I have given much thought to this. I know the very stability of our government is at stake. We must find who was behind the mass assassination, but if the Search International process is in our hands, in the hands of any government, it will lead to great evils,"
And another from page 290 of "Link": "If John Wilkes Booth fathered a child after he assassinated Lincoln, and we found a descendant alive today, we could place Booth at the scene and perhaps smell the gunpowder." "Ancestral memories?" "As far back as you want,"
Clearly, there is much substance to this lawsuit, and only time will tell the outcome. A trial by jury can be a long process, and I can only imagine how this will effect the current development process. The requested injunctive relief says "release" not develop, begging one to ask if Ubisoft will hope for the best and continue to spend money on the final stages of development. Perhaps, if the lawsuit is lost, Ubisoft will make some kind of deal that will allow this final game of the series to be released so long as the Plaintiff is properly compensated. If the Plaintiff knew about this copyright infringement himself back 2007, he certainly picked the perfect time to play ball, as this is one hot title now, and could have been one of the best selling games of 2012's 4th Quarter.
by Aaron Semler, Senior Editor VETERANS-GAMING