EA Sues Zynga for Copying The Sims Social

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EA Sues Zynga for Copying The Sims Social

EA says its lawsuit over Zynga's The Ville is a "case of principle."

Zynga has been no stranger to accusations of copyright infringement - its games often bear a striking resemblance to games by smaller studios, with titles like Dream Heights earning angry letters from the studios that felt ripped off. Most aggrieved studios are too small to afford the expense of litigation, which has thus far kept the company safe from lawsuits. But what happens when Zynga makes a game like The Ville that resembles The Sims Social, made by EA? Well, as it turns out, EA has answered that question definitively, by filing a lawsuit against Zynga for copyright infringement.

Make no mistake - this is not EA threatening to sue Zynga, or simply claiming that Zynga ripped off its game. EA has, according to Maxis Label General Manager Lucy Bradshaw, officially filed a lawsuit against Zynga today. Bradshaw summed up the legal argument of the suit by stating, "in legal terms, our claim is that Zynga copied the original and distinctive expressive elements of The Sims Social in a clear violation of the U.S. copyright laws." The complaint specifically points out that the similarities between Zynga's and EA's games were noticed immediately upon The Ville's release.

But, according to Bradshaw, it goes beyond superficial similarities. "Zynga's design choices, animations, visual arrangements and character motions and actions have been directly lifted from The Sims Social," she stated. "The copying was so comprehensive that the two games are, to an uninitiated observer, largely indistinguishable."

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This isn't just an effort to protect EA's profits, though - Bradshaw said that this "is a case of principle." Bradshaw pointed out that, while EA isn't the first to accuse Zynga of copyright infringement, it is "the studio that has the financial and corporate resources to stand up and do something about it." She condemned copyright infringement as both unacceptable and illegal, and wrote that, by suing Zynga, EA hopes to "have a secondary effect of protecting the rights of other creative studios who don't have the resources to protect themselves." Bradshaw ended her statement by saying that "today, we hope to be taking a stand that helps the industry protect the value of original creative works and those that work tirelessly to create them."

Zynga fired back in short order, releasing a brief statement about the upcoming lawsuit. After taking a couple sentences to plug Zynga's own games, including The Ville, YoVille, and CastleVille, General Counsel Reggie Davis flatly stated, "it's unfortunate that EA thought that this was an appropriate response to [The Ville], and clearly demonstrates a lack of understanding of basic copyright principles." Davis also made sure to mention the resemblance between Zynga's long-running CityVille and EA's recently-released SimCity Social, which went so far as to not-so-subtly mock CityVille in a trailer for the game.

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Although accusations of copyright infringement are as common as cheap copycat games, particularly in the mobile and social spaces, this is the first time a company with the legal and financial weight of EA is officially suing a studio on copyright-infringement grounds. Other high-profile lawsuits, while often related to copyright infringement, have legally been based on patent infringements, name trademarks, and even NDA violations instead. This has partly been due to the difficulty of proving copyright infringement over design alone - a game can use one mechanic that's similar to another game without a problem, but the line between "inspired by" and "clone of" gets hard to define as the design similarities increase.

Thus, the common counter-argument is that the game accused of infringement merely iterates on its predecessor - a claim Bradshaw recognized when she wrote that "some will say The Ville simply iterates [on The Sims Social]." But if EA sticks to its principles and refuses a settlement, then successfully proves that ripping off design alone can constitute copyright infringement, that could make a lot of developers think twice about how much "inspiration" they take from successful games.

Source & Image: Inside Social Games

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Yes.
+1 to EA.

By the time this is all said and done EA will be getting the few remaining nickles out of whatever couches Zynga has left in their office. Way to kick them while they are bleeding from the eye sockets guys.

silly silly people thinking they could get away with stealling a game from EA. this could be the final nail in the coffin for those thieves

Odd, I find myself rooting for EA. Also; Zynga, eat my dingwad (yes, dingwad).

Its no secret that i dislike EA, but i have a burning hatred for Zynga. The kind that wants me to toss thier bosses into the maggot pit and keep them in until the flies start... flying.

So, im rooting for EA on this one.

While EA has been a terrible influence in the industry over-all, I have to side with them here.

Gods! But, that feels icky.

A matter of principle...?

*Snerk*

We'll wait for the train to leave the station before addressing that one, EA.

nikki191:
silly silly people thinking they could get away with stealling a game from EA. this could be the final nail in the coffin for those thieves

Agreed. Putting yourself within lawsuit range of EA is always a bad idea.

Fappy:
By the time this is all said and done EA will be getting the few remaining nickles out of whatever couches Zynga has left in their office. Way to kick them while they are bleeding from the eye sockets guys.

So you're cool with someone blatantly stealing a game's look and feel if they're poor? Way to support the law breaker mate.

EA suing someone and I actually support it?

I'll have to start watching out for the pig crap falling from the sky and bring a coat to Hell.

Hey it's like Alien Vs. Predator! I get the feeling EA only did this since Zynga no longer has the ability to really fight them and they may as well get all the money they can before it's all gone.

They couldn't have picked a better time... If EA's right on this one, it'll be over for Zynga... Another nail on the coffin..

Somethingfake:

Fappy:
By the time this is all said and done EA will be getting the few remaining nickles out of whatever couches Zynga has left in their office. Way to kick them while they are bleeding from the eye sockets guys.

So you're cool with someone blatantly stealing a game's look and feel if they're poor? Way to support the law breaker mate.

Never tried to defend Zynga. They are getting what they deserve. I was just commenting that this is a waste of time for EA's legal department. I suppose they could be just trying to repair their imagine after this disasterious year. Standing up for something when it won't actually benefit you all that much always earns brownie points.

Wait, did Zynga think they could counter by saying SimCity social is a rip off of CityVille?
SimCity Social is a part of the SimCity series, which all look like this, and which existed LONG before CityVille. If anything, CityVille is a rip off of the SimCity series in general...

I am usually the first to attack EA, but my hate for Zynga is even more serious than my hate for EA, so I need to side with EA now. I have a hard time believing they are sueing Zynga specifically to stick up for all the studios who have been destroyed by Zynga, but even if that is not their primary goal, those studios deserve to see Zynga crash and burn as a neat little bonus.

I'm sorry Zynga, but you are going down now. I am glad to see these thieves suffering. Even with all the money they made, they haven't been able to buy any original creative talent. This is what happens when you stop stealing kindergarten children's lunch money and start stealing money from the teachers...

EA are, well EA but I hope they win this case. Zyngas business practices have bordered on criminal in the past, the way they rip off small 3 man indie studios and then use their greater resources for marketing sucks big time too.

I'm...rooting for EA?

image

Seriously, this seems like an "end world" scenario.

Saviordd1:
I'm...rooting for EA?

Seriously, this seems like an "end world" scenario.

Remember that we are in 2012, after all. =p

Saviordd1:
I'm...rooting for EA?

image

Seriously, this seems like an "end world" scenario.

Think of it this way: We aren't bandwagoning behind EA so-much as siding with the lesser of two evils. I mean, at least with EA we can point to SOME good things they've done in the past. Zynga's been nothing but shit from start to (hopefully soon-to-be) finish.

As for the lawsuit, hard to say how much ground they'll really have. In order to prove that its copyright infringement, don't they basically have to show that The Ville uses the exact same code as The Sims Social? Or maybe they just have to show enough ripped-off code? What exactly does EA have to prove in order to have a case here? Because there's a fine-line between just ripping-off a game idea and actually infringing on copyrights, otherwise Darksiders would have been a lawsuit waiting to happen with how many games it ripped-off. ;P

I mean, granted that Zynga doesn't really have the money to fight, so maybe they don't have to prove anything, but let's say it does go to court.

YES YES YES. As much as I hate EA, I hate Zynga 40 times that amount. All of EA's faults are shitty business practices which treat consumer poorly, and they do me no damage cause I don't buy their games, plus the people who do buy EA games don't seem to mind. But Zynga actively hurts developers I support even though I don't buy their games.

So +1 for EA indeed. This brings their running total to -1546.

Zynga copying someones game? Stop the fucking presses.

Hoo boy this is like watching two bullies thug on each other and leaving the nerds alone.

/popcorn

Fappy:
By the time this is all said and done EA will be getting the few remaining nickles out of whatever couches Zynga has left in their office. Way to kick them while they are bleeding from the eye sockets guys.

Yeah probably not a coincidence seems to me. Even if they can't prove the case they can drag it out to further damage Zynga's finances. If Zynga goes under EA has a better chance of getting some of their market since their games do actually look and function alike. Sneaky but no illegal or even evil I suppose.

Look at it this way. If Zynga dies then maybe the social gaming market will dry up with it, and maybe by extension Facebook will suffer a large hit. Isn't that a good thing?

I'm gonna go with Jim on this one. This is two evil corporations having at it, and while this will assuredly kill Zynga if it goes through and succeeds, that still won't make me like EA. I mean, if Hitler killed Stalin, fantastic, Stalin is dead, but Hitler is still Hitler, so there's no reason I should forgive him for what they did.

Either way, we win, I suppose.

Calumon: ...This is a boring way of evil people fighting. Too much words! >.<

For once, EA aren't the most Villeified corporation in their own news article.

OH ya! totaly called it!

FogHornG36:
uhh... Ea has made a lot of bad choices in their past, and i think tempting them to sue you is not a good idea zynga...

Saviordd1:
I'm...rooting for EA?

image

Seriously, this seems like an "end world" scenario.

I too feel this way. EA could lead the charge in making developers for casual games actually create something a little unique.

That being said, I swear it wasn't too long ago Gamesworkshop were complaining about EA using the designs of thr vehicles in that browser based game?

I looked at The Ville video on youtube the other day and even the music was basically lifted and slightly changed from The Sims 3.

Well I suppose the law of averages states that even a criminally corrupt company such as EA has to eventually be the victim in something eventually. This sadly is that time. Even such my loathing of EA makes me want the court to throw this out and make EA pay Zynga something. To bad that won't happen.

If we take one further step back, Cityville is ripping off Simcity...original, so, yeah.

Reminds me very much of Alien vs Predator-

'Whoever wins, we lose'

Normally I wouldn't praise EA (even if they saved my gradmother from bears), but yeah go EA! Destory a studio who deserves it for once!

YES! zynga(not even worth the capital letter) are a bunch of bullies,they steal from smaller companies who can't fend from themselves and now they are gonna get shut off becuase of it.

Karma is a bitch.

Lesser of two evils. Nuff said

>_<

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