Monday, July 9, 2012

Super Sprint Copyright Woes

Before I get into the events of this weekend (NASCAR race, etc.), let's get this out of the way now.  Turns out that the Super Sprint 1.1 zip file was taken off SendSpace due to "copyright infringement."  Don't worry cause it's not THAT big of a deal.  I'll address what I know now.

For starters, I was NEVER notified by SendSpace at all that the file was taken down.  No e-mails, nothing.  Only due to curiosity did I log into my SendSpace account to see that the file had been taken down.  Had I never done this, I would've never known that the file didn't exist anymore.  What's up with this crap?  Sites like YouTube and SendSpace (both owned by Google) will send you e-mails for the most dumbass crap like "A user  subscribed to your channel" or "Here's the new file you uploaded" but they can't notify you when you break the rules?  Thanks, SendSpace, a little notification would've helped here.

But f*** that, what I really want to know is what the violation was all about.  If you click on the words "Violation of Terms" next to what was once my file, it takes you here to the copyright infringement section--I highly doubt it's anything besides copyright.  So...who instigated this?  SendSpace, Warner Bros. (the current Super Sprint IP owners), or somebody else altogether?  What I assume (and this is how YouTube works) is that some Warner Bros. folks were somehow notified of the existence of this game (either from their own Google searches or word of mouth from others) and decided to send a takedown letter to SendSpace.  Therefore SendSpace was obliged to take down the file on WB's behalf.

Strange because if a copyright takedown happened on YouTube, at least you were able to contest your video if you believe it wasn't copyright infringement (counter-notice).  But here on SendSpace--it's just gone.  No warnings, no feedback from the original copyright owners, no admonishment, nothing.  I don't know how much this instigator actually played my game--they could've just glazed their eyes at the title, saw the words "Super Sprint," and then instantly removed the thing although I believe it's Fair Use if you actually play the damn game and see what's in it for yourself.

In the meanwhile, Version 1.0 still remains on SendSpace so I see this as evidence that WB was led directly to the Version 1.1 link while completely missing the 1.0 link.  Ha, I'm going to get the 1.0 version deleted too but so what--it's super outdated as it is.

I'm looking through the Fair Use laws again for the millionth time and thinking about how they apply to my version of Super Sprint.  The main reason why I think someone would get anal over my game is because I use the same exact game title.  Okay, that must be changed and now is a great time to do so.  But the rest of the game?  I use a few edited graphics and a few concepts (i.e. get wrenches to upgrade, dodge the tornadoes, pick the track using the steering wheel, etc) but is that truly enough for copyright infringement?  That's like saying I infringed on Call of Duty & Battlefield because I made a game with soldiers shooting each other with guns.  Then again, with Sega and their vague patent on the green arrow from Crazy Taxi, I'm not surprised if anyone of Viacom's sinister nature would bully any poor fool who barely scratches the surface of one of their copyrights, no matter how irrelevant it is.  Does Warner Bros. (or anyone else) have secret patents related to Super Sprint that I just don't know about?

BTW, it just dawned on me that it's not 100% guaranteed that Warner Bros. was involved.  It could be anybody else that's only slightly relevant like MicroProse, Nintendo, or even Sega.  It's ridiculous and a little more information would most certainly help.  On top of notifying you on copyright notices (not via e-mail, mind you), YouTube also references the party that claims the copyright you used such as Viacom (they're responsible for whacking 99% of all suspended YouTube users).

Anyway, besides the title, some graphics, and a few pieces of music, the rest of Super Sprint is just trace elements of "abandonware" racing games and a bunch of idea I concocted on my own.  It's not for profit and is actually a vast expansion on the original Super Sprint game as I start to combine ideas from more games than just the 1986 arcade game.  Not to mention that the Super Sprint IP was seldom used in the last 10 years--oh hey, there's rushed ports for Gameboy Advance and Playstation Network.  Do you think for a second that my version of Super Sprint will put a dent in Warner Bros. profits?  Not to mention that my version of the game was only downloaded like--what--20 times in the last few months?

If there's any guide, it's that changing the main title should be enough.  Take a look at Victory Road--the fanmade game that emulates aspects of Daytona USA and Virtua Racing.  It still has the title but it uses music,  recreated tracks, and logos from the original Sega titles.  Problem is Fair Use is an incredibly hazy thing--Sega may be chill with Victory Road but Warner Bros. may be seething over the new Super Sprint game.

I guess part of the reason why is that my Super Sprint is debatably better than the original Super Sprint, therefore Warner Bros. can't have that.  Which also explains why the Streets of Rage remake was canned by Sega because it was superior to the original version while the Sonic CD remake was saved because it was on-par with the original copy of the game.  Newsflash to all game devs--if you don't want people recreating your games then make better versions for yourself!  Seriously, at times, these programming enthusiasts can do a better job than these million-dollar studios and it makes me sick to hear about these things.

All I would like is more information from somebody at Warner Bros. (or anyone with a legal background) to give a fair explanation on what's going on here.  Sure, there's things I could do with the Super Sprint game to deviate from the original copyright but c'mon man, this is a grad student's fan game that serves to praise the original Super Sprint as well as other ancient racing titles.  But regardless, I should address any copyright issues NOW because if I plan on working on this game for many months into the future, then it's best to be safe.

I also wonder if the Warner Bros. spy played my game and actually liked it.  Gimme some feedback on the game itself too, that would be helpful :)

Finally, if I so felt like it, I could change the filenames and reupload the game on SendSpace or any other file sharing website and possibly get away with it, but that's absurd and will probably get my SendSpace account permanently banned.  Until then, if you want Version 1.1, just send me an e-mail or leave a comment to this post and I'll get back to you on that.  Also, if you have any ideas for a new title and/or want to help design new logos/title screens, let me know about that too.  I gotta go to bed, back to school in the morning, boo........


  1. I hope this gets cleared up. Maybe this means that a new Super Sprint is in the works.

  2. It probably will once I change the name. They might've assumed it was a ROM or something and took it down without a second thought.