Star Control: Origins DMCA Takedown Defended by Series Creators

Star Control: Origins was pulled from Steam and GOG earlier this week. A DMCA claim was filed against the game during an ongoing copyright dispute between Stardock and Star Control creators Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III. The Star Control: Origins DMCA request comes after Stardock was denied an injunction to prevent that exact thing from happening.

Stardock CEO Brad Wardell published a statement on December 31 regarding the impending takedown of Star Control: Origins. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) claim is the latest in a long line of intellectual property and copyright disputes between Stardock and the original Star Control creators.

Stardock purchased the Star Control IP from Atari in 2013 during a bankruptcy auction, and revealed Origins in 2016. Ford and Reiche meanwhile believed they still controlled some part of the Star Control IP, and revealed Ghosts of the Precursors in late 2017 as a direct sequel to Star Control 2.

Stardock believed it had purchased the rights to the entire Star Control series, and filed suit against Ford and Reiche in February 2018. Court documents now suggest that Ford and Reiche might have conflicting rights to the IP, and the rights Stardock paid for in 2013 weren’t actually for Star Control and Star Control 2.

The lawsuit is currently ongoing in U.S. District Court, and is being presided over by judge Saundra Brown Armstrong. During the lawsuit, Stardock continued to promote Star Control: Origins and released the game in late 2018.

Armstrong denied Stardock an injunction that would have prevented Ford and Reiche from forcing Star Control: Origins from digital shelves. In the December 27 filing, Armstrong offered strong support for Ford and Reiche’s claim.

“Plaintiff [Stardock] had knowledge of Defendant’s [Ford and Reiche’s] copyright claims from the outset,” he said. “Despite that knowledge, it developed potentially infringing material without resolution of the IP ownership issues, and then publicized the release of that material during the pendency of this action. It now claims that its investment in Origins and reputation are on the line. Given that Plaintiff largely created the foregoing predicament, the Court is disinclined to extricate Plaintiff from a peril of its own making.”

Stardock’s Wardell has suggested the company will sell Star Control: Origins on its own website, regardless of warning otherwise. Wardell has also called the DMCA claim “harassment” and takes issue with Ford and Reiche’s inability to offer specific copyright infringing material in Origins.

Ford and Reiche founded Toys for Bob in 1989, and released the original two Star Control titles in 1990 and 1992, respectively. Ford is currently the lead programmer and chief technology officer at Toys for Bob. Reiche serves as CEO and creative director at the Activision owned studio. Toys for Bob recently released Spyro Reignited Trilogy for PS4 and Xbox One.