An Apology to Left Behind Games
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Nov 11, 2006 at 03:42:25 PM EST
We recently received a "legal notice" from Troy Lyndon, the president of Left Behind Games. This is the company that is releasing the video game Left Behind:  Eternal Forces this week.  He threatened legal action unless  Talk to Action remove the screenshots that writers here have used to illustrate their posts about the game, and apologize for violating their copyright  We agreed to do so, even though we feel that the uses of the screenshots are well within the legal doctrine of "fair use," and note that they are also being used to illustrate many other stories and reviews of the game.  

Lyndon was also upset that red coloring was added to some of the shots to indicate blood in the battle scenes depicted in the game. Lyndon correctly points out that the game itself studiously avoids blood and guts.  

I am a believer in copyright, even in an age of far greater flexibility with regard to copyright, especially since the advent of the blogosphere.  My own belief is that bloggers are sometimes  insufficiently respectful of the copyrights of others. But they are not the only ones.

I believe that even when the law is generous, that the principle of copyright is important, and that if an author, a copyright holder objects to a use, that holds great weight with me, and it is in that spirit that I am honored to apologize on behalf of Talk to Action, and to welcome Left Behind Games, a relatively new company, to the ranks of those with a keen sense of intellectual property in an age when corporations and others are quick to appropriate the work of others for uses of their own.

I understand why you felt you had to remove the screenshots of the game.  It's not nice to receive mail threatening lawsuits from anybody, and acceding to their demands was probably the easiest course of action to take to put the issue to bed.

However, if I may be allowed (as someone who is not connected in any way to the running of Talk2Action), I would like to point out how ridiculous Left Behind Games is being in their aggressive and uncalled for action.

I have been reading computer game reviews and articles, both positive and negative, ever since the Internet started carrying them, and never before have I seen a case where a games company threatened to sue simply because they didn't like what someone had written about their game.

If Electronic Arts or Blizzard Entertainment were to start threatening to sue anyone who used their screenshots in a negative review, they would rightly be called out and castigated for their behaviour.  And I have never heard of a games company requiring permission to publish screenshots of their games in related articles.

Of course, the irony is that they're far too late.  The screenshots in question were written weeks ago and had long since been relegated to the site archives.  So all they have done with their bullying is drag the whole affair back to the front page of the site and in a manner people will see not as a reasonable protection of their copyright but as an attempt to bully a small (but increasingly influential) web site into submission.

(Note: If you feel my comment in any way compromises your agreement with LBG, then please feel free to remove it.  And you should probably lock the thread as I doubt I will be the only one to post about this.)

by tacitus on Sun Nov 12, 2006 at 01:10:39 AM EST

Well done - I would be surprised if this weren't selectively targeted for places where the game might receive negative publicity, but still, your response is clear and principled.  

I think current events are likely overtaking this game anyway, and that it's likely to become a self-parody in short order.   As it should.

by montpellier on Mon Nov 13, 2006 at 11:52:32 AM EST

It was a very decent and principled response, even though you probably didn't have to take the images down.  it's good that you clarified, too.

Also, now we see that they pay attention.

So since they are here, and are paying attention, I ask this question as an "unsaved" (Pagan) New Yorker who nearly lost someone in 9/11:  Where is our apology?

by GreenEyed Lilo on Wed Nov 15, 2006 at 10:05:04 PM EST

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