Author Sues Ubisoft Over AssCreed’s Animus Nonsense

By John Walker on April 18th, 2012 at 6:30 pm.

In stark contrast to Mr Beiswenger, the man in this image has a paddle.

Okay, easy question. What’s the worst thing about the Assassin’s Creed series? Correct! Of course, as everyone knows, it’s the ridiculous sci-fi nonsense that constantly interrupts the good fun time you’re having leaping about in historytimes. It’s dumb, it’s a shame it was ever a part of the games, and now someone is suing Ubisoft because he says it’s his idea… waitwhat.

In a move that seems a bit like someone suing Stephen Spielberg because he thought of having aliens arrive at the end of Indiana Jones, author John Beiswenger is taking Ubisoft to the litigation lands because he says the “Animus” concept is his idea, which he wrote in his book, mine mine, hands off, MISS! MISS! THEY’RE COPYING ME!

As if the core concept itself weren’t so damned silly you’d surely be more likely to sue someone for suggestion it were your idea, Beiswenger says that using someone’s DNA or something to access the memories of their ancestors first appeared in his book Link, and now he’d like all the money please. Oh, and he’d like to stop Assassin’s Creed III from being released. Because, er, it might just be that the author thinks the ideas are going to come true.

Wait, someone already had the idea for an American Civil War that happened in the past!

In the plaintiff’s court documents (PDF), he not only lists the release of the various AssCreed games, but also all their official guide books, Encyclopaedia, comic books, and trailers, before launching into proof that he’s the only person who’s allowed to think of reliving people’s memories. Oh, and his book has references to assassins too! Four are listed, and they are weeeaaak. Here’s one from page 290:

“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.”

And so it goes on, attempting to create a case that there are overwhelming similarities beyond the Animus silliness by plucking out of context references to religion in the games and saying, “There are references to religion in the book!” Er, yes. He even cites the use of a battle between good and evil as another match between the two. He’s got you there, Ubisoft! Oh, and Assassin’s Creed games use the word “link” sometimes. No, seriously, he cites that.

And how much does he want? $90,000 for three infringements on his copyrights, or if it’s ruled that the infringement was wilful, $450,000. Oh, sorry, I forgot to say. That’s for Assassin’s Creed I.

For AssCreed II he wants $180,000, or $900,000 for wilful copying, and the same again for Brotherhood, and yet again for Revelations. He requests a total of $180k/000k for the three Official Guides, another $60k/$300k for the Encyclopaedia, and $120,000/$600,000 for the comics. For the PlayStation Home trailer it’s a bargain at $30k/$150k, and the same again for the Revelations 420 trailer.

So it’s just the $1,050,000 for unwilling infringement, or a tidy $5,250,000 if they did it on purpose. And he’d like to ensure that Assassin’s Creed III doesn’t come out, nor any books, videos or other works related to it. And here, incredibly, he’s adding Gametrailers to the defendant list.

Here’s a thought for Mr Beiswenger. Um, how do you think stories work, exactly? Do you really think Tolkien should have sued every writer to include an orc in their fantasy? Or perhaps the ancient Nords should have sued Tolkien? In fact, Beiswenger’s book appears to contain elements based on time travel, so I’ll be getting in touch with Samuel Madden, and he’ll see you in ghost court, mister. It’ll be interesting to see how Ubisoft responds, whether they’ll just chuck him a few bucks out of court to make him go away, or take this one to task.

Oh, and other idea-havers had better beware, because the author also has his fingers in other pies. So if you’re thinking of inventing a device that psychically predicts respiratory problems, or planning a city to protect Christians from the evil seculars, an, er, internet alarm clock, or my favourite, a “Contagion Monitor“, then you could be in for some trouble.

To finish, I’ll offer a couple of paragraphs from the book that are cited in the court documents.

“Then … Jesus … turned to me … and said, ‘If you do not believe in me, then believe on the evidence of the miracles.’” Charash broke down and began to sob. Anna said to him “Jesus was looking at your ancestor, Matthias. Not at you.” “Oh, no,” he responded. “I could see in His eyes He was aware that I too was watching Him through the eyes of my ancestor. He was speaking to me!”

and,

“Allen picked up an assembly from the small table behind the revised dentist chair now used during the Link experiments. The video monitor was now on gimbals, hanging from the ceiling so that it could be comfortably positioned in front of the test subject and yet viewed easily by those monitoring the test.”

Cheers, Kotaku.

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187 Comments »

  1. Maxmoaz says:

    He should be sued for annoying the hell out of hundreds of people with his stupidity.

    • circadianwolf says:

      This is a genuine possibility, actually (or at least Ubisoft can sue for wasting their time and money on court filings).

      • MCM says:

        Comments on lawsuit-related stories should be closed because of stupid comments like yours.

      • Premium User Badge

        maninahat says:

        On top of that, there are the legal fees to his attorney he’ll have to pay if/when he loses.

    • Metonymy says:

      80% of starcraft 2 and the dawn of war games are based on design documents that I wrote and publicly posted about a decade ago.

      -I can’t prove it
      -I wasn’t doing it for money
      -Other people could have thought of the same things (though it is unlikely in this case, given the precise alignment of ideas)
      -I’m not that proud of those games, to be honest

      And oh yeah, a substantial portion of post-release WoW is my work. I’m very sorry about Arena, they completely misunderstood me.

      Greed is a prison.

      • NicoTn says:

        No! those were my ideas, you stole em from my book, the bible.

        • enobayram says:

          Gimme some money too! If i concentrate hard enough, I can have first thought about some stuff too!

      • Premium User Badge

        frymaster says:

        to be fair, starcraft 2′s design is based off starcraft (over a decade old), and Dawn of War off 40k, which is 25 years old

        • Premium User Badge

          maninahat says:

          Which in turn has been “inspired” by countless sci-fi and fantasy works.

    • FRIENDLYUNIT says:

      No, no, he should be lauded for entertaining us with his stupidity!

      • ioqwyw says:

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  2. Aemony says:

    Ridiculous, I wouldn’t be suprised if he uses the Assassin’s Creed franchise merely to promote his own products.

  3. reggiep says:

    If the courts rule in this guy’s favor, the Pagans are going to sue the shit out of Christianity for stealing all of their holidays.

    • ShEsHy says:

      I’d pay to see that.

    • Blackcompany says:

      As a mature individual who believes in a person’s right to worship as they please, I shouldn’t laugh at this sort of comment.

      But I did.

      Extensively and for a goodly time.

      so thanks for that.

      • Premium User Badge

        Aninhumer says:

        No one’s saying Christians aren’t allowed to celebrate Pagan festivals and call them something else.

        • Docslapper says:

          *cough* Easter *cough*

          sometimes they don’t even bother renaming them…

          • outoffeelinsobad says:

            Don’t forget the days of the week. Christians decided to keep names of Norse and Roman gods as their days.

          • Zeewolf says:

            Of course they did, anything else would anger Thor and even the christians know better than that.

          • asclark says:

            Well of course your point only works in Germanic languages – Latin Europe, as well as Greece, use variants of pascha, which comes straight from the Hebrew for Passover.

            I accept that yes, the Germanic names are based on previous pagan festivals but your insinuation that said festivals were the originals behind Easter is an ungrounded meme.

          • aepervius says:

            @asclark I am not sure for the other country but for France pâques might come from passover, but the day of the week are still pagan : Lundi (moon-day) mardi (Mars-day) Mercredi (Mercures-day) Jeudi (Jovies-day) Vendredi (Venus-day) Samedi (Saturne Day) the only one coming from christian religion is Dimanche (Dies Domini).

    • Premium User Badge

      lurkalisk says:

      I think that might just be worth this guy’s victory here.

  4. wodin says:

    ??????????????????????????????????

  5. Syra says:

    So what he’s saying is, he had all the *stupid* ideas first?

    He must be so proud.

    • Maldomel says:

      Well someone had to invent them in the first place. At least Ubisoft can say it was not them.

  6. Cinnamon says:

    The “genetic memory” thing was in Dune. I’d be a little surprised if the concept was invented by Frank Herbert but that’s where I heard it. Don’t know about the AssCreed stuff and even less about this “personality” and his books.

    • Grimsterise says:

      Exactly what I though when I read this, Frank Herbert did all that in Dune. When was Beiswenger’s novel published? Because if it was after 1965; Poo to him with knobs on.

    • Ulundill says:

      I’m happy someone else realized this too. I’m sure he’s not the first to think about genetic memories but he’s definitely the most prominent author to do so. Like how Tolkien didn’t invent elves and magic rings he sure is responsible for everyone using them to hell and back. I find it funny that a sci fi author could claim he invented this idea, clearly he never read Dune, which is embarrassing for him. How can you write sci fi without having read the highest selling sci fi series ever made?

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      It’s been around in various forms. Herbert, Wolfe, etc. This book was published: 2003.

      Good luck!

    • Bhazor says:

      He isn’t taking credit for genetic memories. He is saying that AC’s story about a research institute that discovers a machine that can read genetic memories and comes under attack from a terrorist group to protect a patients genetic memories is quite similar to his story about a research institute that discovers a machine that can read genetic memories and comes under attack from a terrorist group to protect a patients genetic memory.

      It’s the difference between Crichton suing because a book features dinosaurs and suing because a book features dinosaurs being brought to life to populate a safari park which then goes a bit Pete Tong.

      • NicoTn says:

        They did not recently discover the animus, they already had it for some time.

      • Skabooga says:

        In this case of Beiswenger vs Ubisoft, to continue your analogy using Jurassic Park, it would be as if both works featured “the use of remnant DNA to reconstruct dinosaurs”. Beiswenger is claiming no similarities to plot or characters, just the technology and themes featured. It is an incredibly weak case, although that judgement is from a layman’s viewpoint, but reading the first 11 pages of the court document it seems glaringly ridiculous such a case was even considered.

        Also, it’s good to see I was beaten to the “Frank Herbert was all over genetic memories” punch, several times over.

      • shaydeeadi says:

        Stop being reasonable!

    • thealienamongus says:

      genetic memory was a big thing in psychology in the 19th century

      • f1x says:

        Indeed the theories of collective memory/subconscious (damn, how is that word written in english?) from C. G. Jung

  7. Phantoon says:

    Honestly, I’m so sick of Ubisoft that I think he should win.

    But courts don’t run on spite.

    • Duffin says:

      I think that would be an interesting legal evolution.

    • Blackcompany says:

      So Ubi should hope the judge didn’t buy Anno 2070. On PC.

    • PopeJamal says:

      I agree. Screw Ubisoft and the bow-legged horse they forced me to ride in on!

  8. JFS says:

    Dunno, seems legit to me :P

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      Yes, this seems to be a very odd stance JW is taking.
      If as he claims, it can be proven that Ubisoft/whoever stole the storyline, then they absolutely should pay. I don’t see anything wrong with that. (Particularly with all the blame Ubisoft put out about their products being stolen).

      Whether people consider the storyline “rubbish” or not is somewhat irrelevant.

      Do you really think Tolkien should have sued every writer to include an orc in their fantasy?

      Not personally, but that is exactly what would happen if he had written the books in the last decade. You think JK Rowling wouldn’t freak out if people started referring to Dementors in their fiction?

      • Premium User Badge

        FriendlyFire says:

        No, just… No. You can’t “own” ideas. They’re IDEAS! You can claim copyright infringement for copying entire swathes of a story, but not for taking ideas. It’s already absurd enough that you can patent genes and software (which are respectively nature’s creation and maths, both of which have no right being owned by anybody), but if we start patenting ideas the whole fucking world’s gonna grind down to a halt.

        Plus, if I were Rowling and saw dementors in another book, I’d be flattered. That your fiction can have such a dramatic influence on others isn’t necessarily being ripped off, quite the contrary even!

        “Imitation is the sincerest of flattery.” -Charles Caleb Colton

        • Hyetal says:

          Nope. No, no, just… ugh.

          You’re being way too rational.

          Stop it.

        • Premium User Badge

          phuzz says:

          “Good Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal”
          Picasso/Banksy

        • Premium User Badge

          phuzz says:

          “The bad artists imitate, the great artists steal”
          Picasso//////Banksy

        • Ninja Foodstuff says:

          Why do you think most hollywood producers refuse to read unsolicited scripts? Because they are worried that they will risk getting sued. Case in point: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/sylvester-stallone-sued-expendables-screenplay-253302

          I am not saying I agree with this practice, only that it is a reality.

          • Runs With Foxes says:

            I am not saying I agree with this practice

            Glad you said that, because it sounded like you were defending the insane copyright laws we have now.

            Something being a reality doesn’t mean we should accept it.

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          c-Row says:

          For the record, Stephen King makes references to J. K. Rowling’s works in some of his books. No dementors, but still…

  9. ResonanceCascade says:

    Ah, the old Harlan Ellison approach.

    • Savagetech says:

      As litigious as Harlan Ellison is, at least some people have read or heard of his stories; when he sued people there was a somewhat realistic chance that someone had actually “stolen” from him (as much as ideas can be “stolen”). Conversely, I’d liken your chances of meeting a John Beiswenger fan in real life to those of winning the lottery. The chances of the court discovering that said fan was a Ubisoft employee involved in the AssCreed story are about the odds of being struck by lightning a hundred times during your life, roughly (1/10,000)^100.

      Even Ellison wouldn’t pursue a lawsuit on such shaky grounds as this. Last time he sued was over the movie “In Time” which had a similar concept to his story “Repent Harlequin . . . .” After seeing the entire film he dropped the suit because the works were different enough that their basic similarities weren’t an issue. Beiswenger seems like he’d try to sue the pants off of anyone whose stories can be superficially related to his.

  10. Maldomel says:

    Couldn’t he invent DRM instead of the Animus?

  11. Oddballs says:

    Here’s hoping UBI just says ‘Fuck it – it was the shittiest part of our games anyway. Have your damn Animoose’

    … I can dream.

  12. unangbangkay says:

    Why all the hate for the sci-fi stuff? AssCreed is hardly the first property to explore the genetic memory concept (Dune, anyone?), and while the conspiracy theory/ancestor race stuff is definitely hokey (isn’t all conspiracy theory stuff), the animus is a cool way to connect everything in some kind of meta-layer that eventually leads to Ubi explaining how all this will work in Desmond’s near-future setting.

    That is to say, Assassin’s Creed [whatever number they get to resolve the big story in] will probably play either like Hitman or Deus Ex, but with cooler hoodies.

    • Froh says:

      Indeed I kinda like the sci fi stuff. I just don’t lack Desmond, that’s all. And maybe the “ASSASSIN’S ARE ALL GOOD AND TEMPLARS ARE BAD GUYS WHO RAPES CHILDRENS AND KILLS WIFES” that we can find after the first episode. (yeah that’s strange, the first episode was great for the story part, and poor for the gameplay, the followers were poors on the story part and great on the gameplay)

      • Premium User Badge

        FriendlyFire says:

        Yes, I find it very sad that the first game’s ambiguity wasn’t preserved. I really liked how the characters you had to assassinate would talk to you when you kill them, often revealing motives other than “HURR TEMPLAR EVIL DURR”. It made you stop and think: Am I doing the right thing?

        • NicoTn says:

          Not really, i never got that feeling, because the game already has said those are bad people, so they die.

      • Premium User Badge

        jezcentral says:

        Alien 3 was also about genetic memory (the aliens had it, which was why the Ripley hybrid could remember stuff).

        Hmmm, sci-fi and genetic memory do not seem to go together very successfully. (I haven’t read Dune).

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          I think you mean Alien: Resurrection. I won’t blame you for forgetting that stupid baldhead prison movie with a dog-thing, though. I wish I could forget it.

    • Fincher says:

      I liked the game more when it was about an assassin in a historical setting. Loved the first gameplay demo for AC, but once I finally got around to playing the game the “sci-fi” bits were… jarring. I didn’t give a toss about it and they seriously disrupted the pace of the game.

    • Premium User Badge

      lasikbear says:

      I don’t mind the sci-fi stuff as much as having to experience it by dealing with the most awful aggravating characters while doing so. Computer girl and vest (I think he had a vest) guy are so painfully grating to listen to and the other ones are just boring.

    • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

      Yeah, again, it’s just another game journalist using lame hyperbole as though it were gospel truth and expecting all readers to agree. I’m getting tired of this kind of thing.

    • Bhazor says:

      Agreed, I like the Animus it’s the ridiculous Templar vs Assasins thing that annoys me.

    • wicko says:

      I also enjoyed the Sci-fi part about it, and the arguments against it seem mostly to be because people want to stay in that time period.. and that’s pretty much it. Pretty lame imo. I think they’ve been spending too much time in Italy.. would have been better off with a new time period each game then do a bunch of yearly expansions.

      • somini says:

        This.
        They can take that great DirectX10 engine from AC1 from us,
        but they will never take,
        OUR SCI-FI STUFF!

    • thealienamongus says:

      I enjoy the arc story my sister however seems to have a problem with the scifi aspects invading her historical fiction but I don’t have that problem at all (She doesn’t like scifi much). I’m not as hevily invested in Desmond as much as the others in fact I hate him in the 1st game but by the end of ACII he grew on me.

    • Kleppy says:

      I liked it too… it wasn’t integral to my enjoyment of the series, but I thought it added some pretty neat flavor instead of just hopping from game to game without any overarching story.

      The Desmond bits in Revelations can go fuck themselves though.

    • wererogue says:

      This. Also, it’s a bit frustrating to go straight to “everybody knows”, since we’ve had this exact conversation in the comments before.

      Curse your cheerful, frivolous hyperbole, John!

      [spoilers] Besides, everybody knows that the worst bit is Desmond himself. A mouldy sponge has more personality. Except that the actual worst bit is the entire end of ACII – the mess at the masquerade, the free-for-all in the alley, “everyone’s an assassin”, the leap-of-faith party, the two pope-fights and, of course, the credits in which we learn that an assassin’s greatest weakness is a monologue and a running engine. Basically everything except the talking through time bit.

  13. Brun says:

    I’m no fan of Ubisoft but I’m getting sick and tired of seeing individuals and/or corporations using litigation to attempt to make money off successful products they bitterly wish they invented.

    • Novack says:

      Actually, this looks good.

      Remembering that Ubisoft supported SOPA, just feels nice to see their doors knocked by the same daemons they are cheering.

      I do not expect nor wish this guy win, I just enjoy to see the promoters of todays mess, realize the absurd points where they helped to carry copyright rules.

      That, if their capacity to relate actions with reactions is still alive -at least a bit- on their creepy heads.

  14. President Weasel says:

    You appear to be deeply confused, Mr John Walker. I clearly remember the plot of the last Indiana Jones film, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, and while it featured a magically long-lived Crusader knight (played in my memory by John Gielgud, but I may have made that up), there were quite definitely no aliens.
    There were also no aliens in either of the other two Indiana Jones movies that were ever made; perhaps you have imagined a fourth film in the series due to a fever, or perhaps it was a dream brought on by some overly rich food.

    • jon_hill987 says:

      This happens a lot, people are always imagining films, for example the other day someone told me, in all seriousness, that there were, not one, but two, sequels to “The Matrix”.

      • westyfield says:

        Some mad fellow was telling me that the popular cosmological theory of the ‘big bang’ has been made into a television series. Fair enough, I said, it’s good to educate the young ‘uns. But then they explained it, and it turned out they were imagining a world where an American version of The IT Crowd existed. Preposterous!

        • Kaira- says:

          Someone told me that there exists more than two Alien-movies. Preposterous, I say.

          • Unaco says:

            I thought I’d imagined the Star Wars prequels… But I have the scars to prove they’re real.

      • Tuco says:

        This happens in games, too. There are people calling Human Revolution “DeusEX 3″ as if a Deus Ex 2 ever existed.

    • PodX140 says:

      Hear hear!

    • Blackcompany says:

      I think perhaps some folks played Fallout: New Vegas. Something about the desert, and a skeleton in a refrigerator. That, and the round brimmed hats. Combine it with late night snacks and treasure hunting with a loaded gun, its a sure fire recipe for strange dreams about Indiana Jones movies which neither existed nor featured Shia Lebouf in any way shape or form.

    • Caleb367 says:

      I once had a nightmare about two non-animated Transformers movies. It was… horrible.

      • thegooseking says:

        Two non-animated Transformers movies sounds good, compared to the gibbering loons insisting that there are three.

    • BarneyL says:

      You’ve forgotten the Fourth Indiana Jones film.
      You know: Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis – which they based entirely on the LucasArts adventure game.

      • smegjacob says:

        You do remember that the entire backstory of Atlantis was about aliens?

        The comics version of Fate of the Atlantis even shown the aliens. They looked goofy as hell.

  15. Post-Internet Syndrome says:

    Genetic memory is like totally mainstream, been done all over the place. I think Stargate did it among others. This guy is a bit Edgy don’t you think?

    • CorruptBadger says:

      a bit edgy, I see what you did there you overly clever man, I bow my hat slowly and appluad you.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        I think you’ll find I own the copyright on hindsight, you’d do best to pay up now

        • El_Spartin says:

          Ah, but I own the copyrights to most sentences beginning with “I think” (not including the ancient “I think, therefore I am” of course), and as such you’d best send those funds to me.

      • Dozer says:

        GLaDOS, as the sole surviving director and trustee of Aperture Science, has the patent and copyright on slow clapping, which also includes slow applause and doing anything slowly while also applauding.

  16. Joseph says:

    Conspiracy theories are cooler than history, nerds.

  17. Premium User Badge

    The Sombrero Kid says:

    He can’t have royalties because the idea almost certainly made the game worse and COST Ubisoft money and he can’t have damages because no one went – “I’m not going to read that book cause I’ve already played assassins creed”, they just said “I’m not going to read that book, it looks shit”, he can have some cheap publicity for his terrible book though.

    • Bork Titflopsen says:

      Yes, because taking a huge, multinational corporation to court over something so trivial is just a small price for justice right?

      Good thing he’s sure to win this case otherwise he might’ve lost a lot more money… Oh, right.

  18. Premium User Badge

    daphne says:

    Someone clearly didn’t read Dune.

  19. eveningstar2 says:

    Sure.

    So the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender should sue Jim Butcher over Codex Alera. If he were still alive, Roger Zelazny should sue Neil Gaiman over American Gods ripping off Lord of Light. Dan Simmons should sue Bioware for Mass Effect ripping off Hyperion.

    This whole thing is silly.

    Also, you guys should give the Animus a chance. Yes, it’s flawed. Yes, it’s a clunky MacGuffin that toys with powers that suggest deus ex machina. Yes, it’s a plot device liberally revised and appended in order to suit the narrative needs of whatever AC iteration we’re watching, playing or reading. But still:

    It’s a good faith effort on Ubi’s part to help, like unangbangkay above me just said, bridge game events with user experience, and tie together two elements of a game that are otherwise considered disparate. A lot of games don’t bother going through the trouble to figure out ways to explain in-game elements like UI, levels, hit points, and so on.

    Is it perfect? Far from it. But it *is* experimentation. And it’s good to experiment. Especially if that experiment yields flawed results. :)

    (Although, unrelated, I think the Prince of Persia: Sands of Time method was one of the neatest ways to “narrate” metagame stuff like player death and loading saves.)

    • Maldomel says:

      I think people are more against the whole “cut” it makes in the action. Like, you are running around, stabbing people, and then you go to a place where you can’t do nothing cool.

      At least that is what I remember from the first game, and I’ve seen many people complaining about these parts.

    • Premium User Badge

      James G says:

      If Simmons was in line to sue Bioware, then I hope he’s prepared to wait behind Reynolds. At one point I wondered if they were going to rip him off wholesale and have the Crucible take the part of Haldora.

    • President Weasel says:

      Surely Douglas Adams’s estate should sue Gaiman for American Gods due to its similarity to Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul; Zelazny’s estate could then sue Adams’s.

      • eveningstar2 says:

        It would be like Fugue Combat in Zelazny’s Creatures of Light and Darkness, where each author travels back in time a short distance in order to sieze the initiative pre-emptively sue the other, leading to an infinite tessellation of litigation.

  20. CorruptBadger says:

    This is the stupid arguement of “loosely related” ideas being seen by one idiot as the same and that idiot proceeding to claim infringement of some copyright or something. The guy uses jesus in his book, by that logic he’s stealing idea’s from the bible and the roman catholic or evangelic church could sue him for a ton.

    Stupid people are stupid.

  21. TsunamiWombat says:

    SOUNDS LEGIT

    Oh man, seriously lol

  22. PearlChoco says:

    I hope the judge rules Ubisoft should release updated versions of all AC games, with the Animus crap removed from them.

  23. westyfield says:

    Oi, Walker, I want a word. I’ll have you know I came up with the idea of a website dedicated to PC game news way before RPS even existed. Now I’m back, and I want what’s mine!

    I’ll see you in court, buddy!

  24. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    I like the science magic of it all. Unlike this guy, they don’t pretend it’s founded on any kind of real research.

  25. Althilor says:

    For all the hate he gets…if he wins the biggest sum, with 5 million he’ll be too rich to care.

  26. Kadayi says:

    Lay off the coffee.

  27. Lobotomist says:

    This is going very far.

    I had anger attack when i figured out that reason for Witcher books not being (more) translated to english is that Michael Moorckok , author of Elric of Melinbone (yes that epic pulp fantasy hero) is suing Witcher writer, because apparently Geralt is so similar to Elric !!! ( Both are albinos and both are called white wolf)

    I posted on Moorckok forum. Asking if Agatha Cristie family should sue every detective story writter in existance (etc) , only to be promptly removed from his forums without any answer.

    Copyright laws are really getting out of hand

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      jrodman says:

      Well, it can be muddy. If you’re clearly using a character of another author in a way that the audience would interperet as the character of another author, you get into appropriation territory. If it’s just archetypes though, feck off.

      The lines can be a bit tricky to draw though, so sometimes we get these stupid lawsuits to define the boundary.

    • HothMonster says:

      That is why I can’t read those other books?! Well that and my inability to read in any other language.

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      Malibu Stacey says:

      Huh? Isn’t The Witcher based on an Eastern European story/fable/myth of “The Fisher King” or something like that?

  28. HardcoreGamer12 says:

    EVEN IF THIS WAS TRUE(and i’m not saying it is), HE CAN GO F**K HIMSELF(WTF?halting the release of Assassin’s Creed III??) WE WANT TO PLAY ASSASSIN’S CREED 3!!!

    KILL THE TEMPLAR!! HE IS A TEMPLAR THAT WANTS TO STOP THE GAME FROM RELEASING SO WE DON’T OWN THEIR ASSES!!

    ITS A CONSPIRACY!!

    lol but seriously wtf?

  29. nootron says:

    The Animus is like those Fred Savage scenes in The Princess Bride.

    • President Weasel says:

      But without the counterbalance of the always-good-value Peter Falk.
      The whole “as you wish” payoff at the end from Columbo paid for the Fred Savage scenes, in my opinion. (Your opinion may vary).

  30. kevmscotland says:

    Isnt genetic memory something thats considered to actually exist in the animal kingdom.
    Like when baby water turtles hatch on the beach and just know they have to make it to the sea.

    maybe not the right example, but I cant think of anything specifically at the moment.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      Instinct could be considered more like a mutation that drives the brain towards behaving a certain way, with most instincts being positive (since negative ones would impede the species’ ability to propagate).

      Being compelled by genes to go towards the sea isn’t the same as having a memory of the sea which makes it preferable. Presumably sea turtles that didn’t have that gene would’ve been eaten out of the gene pool long ago.

    • Soon says:

      I think I recall something about rodents possessing a similar quality, where they’re offspring could solve the mazes faster, but that may have been dismissed. (Lamarckian Evolution, apparently).

      • Drinking with Skeletons says:

        Intriguingly, flatworms may possess the ability to learn things by eating other flatworms which know that information.

        Not the same as transmitting memories to offspring, but it raises some questions about memory.

        • Skabooga says:

          Heh, I think there is a Theodore Sturgeon short story featuring an alien species which passes on knowledge by eating their elders.

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            PeopleLikeFrank says:

            It features in Peter Watts’ “Blindsight”, too! Good stuff.

        • thegooseking says:

          That was believed for a time (long enough for Larry Niven to base several novels on the idea), but has since been dismissed.

  31. Baresark says:

    When push comes to shove, he may have the right to it since he was published first and all. But that will come to the courts to decide whether it’s an actual infringement or not. He puts all those instances in there as points of concession. That is how negotiating works (does no one read Kahneman?).

    In all honesty, he is probably looking for an out of court settlement that is nowhere near his asking price. Once again, when you negotiate, you intentionally aim high knowing the other person is going to work you down. You see, you make your concessions look painful, and in return they must concede equally painful points.

    Just a big fat waste of a legal system.

    • Baresark says:

      In all honestly, the part of me that loves PC gaming first and foremost would love to see Ubisoft lose this… all of it. But the rational part of me says, “tis a game!”.

    • iucounu says:

      No, he really doesn’t have a case, because there’s no copyright in ideas. You only get copyright over unique expressions of ideas. It basically protects your choice of words.

      There’s some protection for characters, but really only to the extent that the characters you came up with were really detailed in the way you described them, and the plagiarist or infringer copy-pasted. It has to be egregious and obvious.

      You can’t copyright the concept of genetic memory. You can copyright a particular way of describing it.

      Dan Brown won a huge case for exactly this kind of stuff – using the idea that Jesus had a child etc etc in The Da Vinci Code, which may have been inspired by a book called Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. The court sided with him. And there’s a persistent litigant against JK Rowling who is the Tim Langdell of publishing, whom I can’t wait to see get a Langdell-style smackdown.

      This is never going anywhere and I would recommend to Ubisoft that they don’t settle, even if it costs them more than the cost of settling. This sort of vexatious crankery shouldn’t get rewarded.

      EDIT: A good sense of the kind of thing that’s perfectly fine can be obtained here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14Mfmn7vN4g

  32. Drake Sigar says:

    Morbo says DNA doesn’t work that way!

  33. Premium User Badge

    Llewyn says:

    Aside from anything else, this guy’s lawyers must have seen him coming a mile off. Copyright does not protect ideas, only the execution of them.

  34. Jimbo says:

    At the very start of Assassin’s Creed 1 they compare it to how birds instinctively know where to fly, so basically that guy stole it off birds (and birds are gonna be SO pissed when they find out).

    • Brun says:

      Hasn’t it since been determined that many birds navigate primarily through magnetoception (sensitivity to magnetic fields) and living (not genetic) memory?

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        jrodman says:

        I haven’t played assassin’s creed 1 2 3 but in some sense birds do know how to fly due to “genetic memory”, as long as you’re willing to stretch the phrase to incorporate factual matters. Ie, their ability to navgiate via this sense is not considered to be a wholly learned ability but to depend largely on instinct.

      • HothMonster says:

        “many birds” so even if you are right there are still many other birds

  35. Ultra-Humanite says:

    Glad to see I wasn’t the only one who thought it was ludicrous that someone actually wants ownership of this idea.

  36. Tei says:

    The probability of two authors to have the same idea is very very high. A good example is how in matematic different people invented the same damn thing at the same time… Newton and Leibniz independently invented calculus. This probably happends more often that we think. Its another reason why Intelectual Property is a retarded idea and the people that want it to be forced on everyone are sick bastards.

  37. Stormtamer says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen, i have come across a counter lawsuit to Mr Beiswenger, for claims of his copying of an idea for his own proft, by the one and only Kevin Sorbo!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Andromeda_episodes

    Season 1 Episode 18 of the TV Show ‘Andromeda’ titled “The Devil Take the Hindmost” features a planet with inhabitents that ‘possess a perfect genetic memory’

    This episode first aired on April 16th 2001, while Mr Beiswenger’s book was released in January 2003.

    I ask that the fine folks of Rock Paper Shotgun get in touch with Ubisoft to add a great piece of evidence for the trial!

  38. Bhazor says:

    Really don’t understand the tone of this article. Sure its money grabbing but the whole dismissive tone and making him out to be a petty insignificant child with “which he wrote in his book, mine mine, hands off, MISS! MISS! THEY’RE COPYING ME!” seems more than a little bitchy. If there really are striking similarities and it can be shown that the designers were aware of it then yeah he has every right to demand a cut.

    It just seems thi- oh wait, it’s a John Walker article. Never mind

    • Urthman says:

      Even if Ubisoft purposely swiped ideas from the guy’s book, as long as they didn’t use any trademarked names or copy any of his prose word-for-word, the guy has no legal case.

      Copyrights: Protect actual sequences of words or notes or images.
      Trademarks: Protect proper nouns and images that uniquely identify a product or company.
      Patents: Protect ideas that are used to make stuff.

      None of those are applicable to this case.

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        jrodman says:

        Well, it’s note *quite* so literal as that. You can infringe copyright with mild modifications to word sequences and the like.. but still I think you meant this as a guideline and it’s clear and accurate as far as that goes.

        Although patents are not intended to protect ideas, but actual mechanisms. That is, you cannot patent the idea of a mousetrap, but you can patent a specific kind of mousetrap that you invented. Modern patents have obviously stretched this quite a bit.. but it’s good to know what things are supposed to be, as well as how they’re misused.

  39. TheIronSky says:

    I wonder how this God-fearing, bible-readin’, conspiracy-concocting author came across the story of AssCreed in the first place…

  40. Urthman says:

    Maybe Ubisoft could just agree to take all references to the Animus out of AssCreed 3 and release patches that removes it from all the previous games?

    Win/Win/Win!

  41. deadly.by.design says:

    It’s honestly why I couldn’t get into the first game. (or any following)

  42. FecesOfDeath says:

    Where is this suit being filed: USA, Canada, or France? Why did it take nearly five years for the guy to want to sue? Why didn’t he file suit after the first AC? There are precedents in which judges threw away such cases because the plaintiffs waited too long to file suit.

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      jrodman says:

      The ‘waited too long’ is a very strong factor in trademarks. If a trademark isn’t relatively uniquely identifying a product, then it’s not a trademark. Even in copyright disputes it can be a factor, with matters of good faith and such, but much less of one.

      In this case, it’s quite unclear on what grounds a suit is based. An intersting sci fi idea isn’t singular enough to get any real copyright protection, and it’s certainly not a trademark, patent, or trade secret. So unless the “suitor” can show that they used extensive aspects of his implementation of the idea, he’s got basically nothing.

  43. Geen says:

    *facepalm*
    Faith in humanity: -32%
    Goddamn humans, being idiots.

  44. Geen says:

    Wait, half of this guy’s patents are on CLEANING SHIT. And alarm clocks and stuff. WTF?

  45. Optimaximal says:

    Steven… STEVEN Spielberg!

  46. zeekthegeek says:

    Man I hope Ubisoft runs this thing into the ground. Full legal team laying the smack down. If they can find away to turn this around into being his fault all the better, I do not abide by these copyright abusing shitlords.

  47. pilouuuu says:

    And tomorrow he’ll sue Bioware because he’ll say he invented endings and red, green and blue.

  48. marcusfell says:

    Waiting for the fifth game in the series was probobly not the best idea.

  49. Roshin says:

    “Beiswenger says that using someone’s DNA or something to access the memories of their ancestors first appeared in his book…”

    Seriously, Ken Russell was exploring similar ideas in his film “Altered States” from 1980. William Hurt remembered so much old stuff, he even turned into a caveman in that one.

  50. frightlever says:

    I do wonder if some lawyer didn’t dig this up and persuaded him he had little to lose, and a lot to gain, by agreeing to go along.

    Proving the connection between whoever was responsible for the AssCreed storyline and the novels will be difficult… particularly if enough of the design concept work is still available to show the evolution of the idea at Ubisoft.

    It’s entirely possible the author genuinely feels like his work has been ripped off. Authors tend to be nuts at the best of times.