Brandon J. Huffman Quoted on Game Cloning
The article from Variety details game cloning on mobile storefronts, particularly the latest game Donut County.
Game ideas or mechanics are not protectable under copyright law,” says Odin Law and Media founder Brandon Huffman. “Individual assets (like specific art, music, etc.) are. Most clone developers know this and so they avoid taking specific art or sound assets and try to build, from scratch, a similar game – albeit usually a crappier version.”
There are few things a developer can do to combat a clone, because of how Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown requests work. The app stores themselves can be prickly to work with. Bringing a rival developer to court over a clone isn’t an inexpensive process and, sometimes, it’s simply not feasible.
In order to recover for infringement from a clone developer, the original developer would have to show either actual copying or that the two games are so strikingly similar that one basically must be a clone of the other,” Huffman explains. “For example, individual features, like a HUD or a game mechanic, on its own, isn’t sufficient. But if there is a long list of similarities and very few differences, that might be enough to hold the cloner accountable. Taking action against the app stores is tough for three big reasons. First, the costs. Submitting a DMCA request is easy, but if the clone developer counter-notices, filing an infringement suit can be expensive. Second, the app marketplaces aren’t always cooperative. They sometimes don’t take things down or they restore apps without a proper counter-notification which requires consent to jurisdiction in US federal district court. Finally, often clone games are produced in foreign markets and cross-border enforcement is both logistically and financially more difficult.”
You can read the whole article here.