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