Hasbro Forces Closure of MLP: Online

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Capitano Segnaposto:

Kavonde:
Hmm, which MLP MMO was this? The top-down one with the turn-based battles, or the 3D WoW-style one?

(Yes, there's more than one. This fandom's got more than its fair share of creative types.)

Either way, that's a real shame. Hopefully, no one forces Hasbro to look into Fighting is Magic or My Little Investigations.

Well, as long as they don't start making money off of it, I don't think those will be much of an issue. Just like all those Pony Flash Games.

Actually it still an issue. "Non-profit" is not excuse for copyright and trademark violation, only Fair-Use(Education, News, and Parody) are exempt. The reason for this is a company releases a pay for game, and some one releases a free copied version. Even though there is no money being made, it prevents the company from making money from customers who instead of paying for the version of the game, get the free version. However there is a fine line if and "only if" a company deems it see these free versions as advertising for the brand and lets them stand. However, this decision is up to the company and can have them removed if they fell so(unless of course it falls under the above mentioned Fair-Use)

I do not see why people hate on copyright laws. Think about this: without such great protection, the big game companies like EA, Blizzard Activision, Ubisoft would crush independents. They would make knock-off of almost everything making it harder to compete. There would be a lot less innovation and less creative games.

I love how the general consensus among us bronies is 'Well ok, it was probably going to happen anyways, let's see what else is going on'. No rage, no waterworks, some faith in humanity restored.

Well, my opinions are pretty close to what you'd expect.

In general I feel that the idea of the Internet and Internet freedom is specifically to say and do what you want. When you see projects like this backing down to companies, even those with legitimate copyright claims, it causes a little more of the freedom of The Internet to die along with it. I feared things like this were going to happen when companies started getting involved to a greater degree on the internet. To be honest as long as MLP Online wasn't stealing a product directly (ie copying/pirating someone else's work), or charging money, it shouldn't have been a big deal, this kind of project... even if not my cup of tea... is what makes the Internet what it's supposed to be. For those who have been around as long as I have, it should be easy to see why someone might expect to get away with this, to be honest company smackdowns of fan projects are fairly recent, and not consistantly attempted. An MMO is basically a MUD with graphics when you get down to it (for those familiar with a MUD), and people have been creating MUDs off of properties they liked for far longer than the world wide web most people are familiar with has existed.

To be honest the whole "the copyright must be defended" thing needs to be examined on it's own, but to be honest it seems to me that this is mostly an excuse used by companies when they decide to punkhammer someone and want to try and avoid upsetting the fans. The actual motivation in going after something like MLP Online is simply because companies don't want free competition with their own products if they decide to try and release in cyberspace. A free/fan funded production can oftentimes force a very high standard if your going to compete. Someone wanting to crap out a quick Free To Play (or more accuratly... microtransaction you to death) MMO based on something like MLP, which is probably on Hasbro's "to do" list would probably create something similar to what little we've seen of this game. If something on this level already exists, they have to aim higher... and that can be tricky when it comes down to free fan programmers operating out of love, against paid professionals where every hour spent making graphics and hammering code costs money. That said I feel that it's the fan creations that are supposed to force higher standards from the professionals, I think a lack of competition from fans in certain arenas has lead to the decreasing quality of online games.

I'll also say that I think people have gotten too stupid on the internet, a lot of these projects that get "raided" operated way too publically and made themselves too easy to find. It's almost like people thinking their facebook page is secure... If your going to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars and hours into a project like this, at least take the time to get server space outside of the country, set up alternative routing systems in case someone wants to try and block you, and ensure that it's as hard as possible to find out who the REAL people involved in the project are through electronic means. This latter one seems like common sense, I mean going back to the whole "Masters of Deception Vs. Legion Of Doom" fiasco from many years ago (there is a lot of information about this, and various takes on it) the guys involved were smart enough to hide their identities, while some people got outed, to this day nobody knows who Lex Luthor (leader of The Legion Of Doom) was in real life, and the bottom line is this entire thing required massive federal resources AND getting hackers to go after other hackers. With all of the borderline untracable sites out there people have set up over the years, you'd expect anyone putting in the time, effort, and resources to set up their own MMO that might get corperate attention, might consider you know... making themselves difficult to take down, and then just outlasting critics. It's one thing for Hasbro to send you a latter and threaten you with a Lawyer if they know who you are, it's quite another if they don't know who you are, your site keeps coming back every time they try and find a way to block it off, and groups like the FBI are liable to put "someone running an illicit My Little Pony Game" pretty low on their priority list especially given the amount of taxpayer money it's liable to take to deal with this, especially if the case has to go accross international boundaries.... sure none of what I'm saying is easy to set up, but we're already talking about people good enough to code their own MMO. If your not doing any real damage or actually making money, few people are going to bother to chase an annoying bug they just can't squash. After all even if you get caught in cases like this, what's going to happen, you get a couple years in prison, but Hasbro (or whomever) and the Feds will have spent millions taking action. Realizing this figures into the cost-benefit analysis of law enforcement more than you might think (IRL isn't anything like TV cop shows, DNA, computer modeling, blood splatter analysis, etc.. is all bloody expensive. A lot of cases go unsolved simply because they are deemed unworthy the resources from a limited budge... which also fuels complaints about 'poor people not getting justice' based on which cases get the most resources diverted to them).

At any rate, I'm rambling, the bottom line is that I think the case is stupid, unless MLP Online was in some way making money for it's creators, in which case it was justified. I think Hasbro is being stupid and greedy, and I think the guys who set this up had a comical lack of foresight and preparation, and also arguably gsve up far too easily.

Baldr:
I do not see why people hate on copyright laws. Think about this: without such great protection, the big game companies like EA, Blizzard Activision, Ubisoft would crush independents. They would make knock-off of almost everything making it harder to compete. There would be a lot less innovation and less creative games.

The issue stems from when companies like Hasbro are forced to send C&D letters in order to protect their trademarks when they may or may not want to because otherwise they completely lose the trademark.

That's right Hasbro, why make money with pretty much free advertisement and making it official with only work you don't even need to pay for, if you can just kill it? Killing is so much easier. And efficient.
Any longterm goal can be achieved by ignoring and killing the competition everything that isn't your own and remotely in your field of view.

From what I understand, it's not that they're required to defend a trademark simply when they know of a fan work. It's only in cases where the fan work is represented in a way that could confuse a customer into believing it's a work of the trademark holder. I think their biggest mistake was choosing the name "MLP Online". That sounds way too official, especially when an official online MLP game also exists... the title may have been the bulk of the reason behind getting it taken down. Fighting is Magic is something which is much more obviously a fan work by the title.

Other than this, Hasbro has been remarkably chill about fan works and free streaming of episodes online. Every once in a while they get some YouTube streams taken down (although I can always find one or two of each episode in a few seconds of searching). They also took down a website which had been offering full HD episode downloads a while ago (the big legal thing being that it was straight-up downloads and not streaming I guess). Then this MLP Online incident. And, well, that's about it. Hasbro is basically doing the absolute minimum amount of legal intervention they could possibly do.

Why don't they just buy the game (they being HASBRO) for $5....and then let them do whatever they want with it after that?

Sucks how American copyright works, they put couple years good work into that.
Still at least they bowed out with grace.

Skeleon:
They thought it was a troll...? Even while knowing that they used trademarked characters, settings etc. without permission...? How dumb are they?

There were cases of trolls under Hasbros name taking down content off YouTube.

Seriously, this one had to do something really wrong ... mostly the title. http://www.fillygamez.com/ had exactly same title planned as the Gameloft's game and got out of it mostly unharmed, certainly not closed. So either they didn't resist much on the closure or the name was a bit too much.

Is this the one that's kinda like Harvest Moon? Where you build your farm or something like that?

Becaus-- wait...

"It is our goal to have it completed by Bronycon 2013, though this may be ambitious."

"...completed by Bronycon 2013..."

"...Bronycon 2013..."

THAT EXISTS?!

Oh...god...just...I don't wanna judge so...I'm leaving.

Beautiful End:
Is this the one that's kinda like Harvest Moon? Where you build your farm or something like that?

Becaus-- wait...

"It is our goal to have it completed by Bronycon 2013, though this may be ambitious."

"...completed by Bronycon 2013..."

"...Bronycon 2013..."

THAT EXISTS?!

Oh...god...just...I don't wanna judge so...I'm leaving.

Uh, yeah. it's existed since summer 2011 and has grown bigger and bigger since then. There was a second around that time this year as well. Not including Bronycon there has been a slew of other conventions up and down America, some big and small like Everfree Northwest and Canterlot Gardens. There are a couple international cons too like BUCK in the UK and Galacon in Germany.

As for the actual thread topic, it's not too surprising that they got shut down with an official sounding name like that. Makes me wonder what'll happen to that 3D WoW-esque one, Legends of Equestria? (I think thats the one?) Hopefuly Fighting is Magic is in the clear. Mane6 been extremely open about development with that one. I think FiM's creators even said they're eager to see that one come to completion.

So does that mean Fighting Is Magic might go the same way? That'd be a shame it looks like a fun little fighting game. Nothing spectacular mind, but it does look fun.

-Dragmire-:
Man, I can't wait to be on that side of the fence, wait till a fan made project is done or almost done, see how it does and gauge audience reception, then shut it down.

I understand that these companies have to shut these projects down but it just seems like they always wait till it's finished or nearing completion when they send the C & D notices. These fandoms are not very shy about their creations, it shouldn't take this long to realize the group was productive enough to finish it.

To be fair, until the project is actually launched to the public, there isn't anything to send a C&D against. I could create a complete clone of a copyright-protected game like WoW for my own amusement, and I wouldn't be breaking any laws. The moment I make my WoW clone publicly available, Blizzard can decide to C&D me. The moment I try to make money off it, Blizzard have to kill it.

I guess they could try to be helpful by sending a "Just so you know..." letter earlier in the process, but they're not obligated to.

Dear god.. bronies are making games now?? Where does this madness end..

I couldn't give less of a shit in all honesty, Fighting is Magic still looks promising even though the source material is meh.

EDIT: I would not recommend looking at the facebook post The Escapist made about this, the comment section has gone to complete shit, I don't understand how a nice community like this one can have such dickheads posting on the Facebook links.

At first I was like "D: O NOES HABRSO Y U DO THIZ?!!?"

Then I was like "Meh, thinking on it now we were bound to end up overstepping our bounds eventually, a game clearly using their IP is probably too far."

Then I read this:

"Hasbro is not to be blamed here. As per U.S. Trademark law, as soon as an infringement comes to light, they are obligated to defend the trademark, or they will lose it," he continued. "They had no choice in the matter, regardless of what they thought of the project or how it benefited them."

And now I just feel sad. Sad with a small amount of hope that the project can be salvaged, if only because so much effort was put into it and a lot of people were looking forward to it.

Copyright law is so damn stupid in this country.

This has to be why the Mane6 devs are so cagey about releasing updates and builds for MLP:FiM. Hopefully the game gets completed and released before the C&D inevitably hits, because by that point it'll be on the web and unstoppable.

NearLifeExperience:
Dear god.. bronies are making games now?? Where does this madness end..

Bronies have been making games since like 2011 :P

Some of them have featured on The Escapist before, such as Fighting is Magic.

TopazFusion:
Doesn't surprise me. Hasbro are also pretty militant at taking down episodes uploaded to youtube (well, the newer episodes anyway).

I can easily Find Transfomers Prime episodes on youtube, i have never noticed anything been taken down by Hasbro, but then again they do let 3rd party company's make Transformer figures, with different names etc, so maybe they aren't as hard on Transformers as they are with MLP.

OT: Sucks to anyone who was playing MLP online but they had to of seen it coming...

Can anyone tell me if they were actually trying to sell this game?

Also does anyone know if it's illegal to make a non profit thing that is based off of someone else's franchise? (I'm not planning to by the way I am just intrigued)

ToastyJustice? Makes me think of the Tick! Spoony Justice!

Well, not shocking that something with a trademark that didn't get permission from said trade mark holders was shut down.

ohnoitsabear:
Actually, in this case, copyright law seems to have served its purpose, at least if the game was generating revenue (if it wasn't, then it's a whole lot more ambiguous and I really don't want to get into that discussion). Simply put, you shouldn't be able to profit off of someone else's intellectual property, especially if they're still using it.

Don't get me wrong, the current copyright laws can go burn in a fire, but I really have a hard time feeling sympathetic in this case.

Copyright Law has a purpose but it fails at that purpose. The claim that you shouldn't be able to "profit off of someone else's idea" is incoherent. There are no economical benefits and no moral justifications for such a claim, and it is in fact founded based on an erroneous belief: that "intellectual property" is the same as regular property. It is not.

Baldr:
I do not see why people hate on copyright laws. Think about this: without such great protection, the big game companies like EA, Blizzard Activision, Ubisoft would crush independents. They would make knock-off of almost everything making it harder to compete. There would be a lot less innovation and less creative games.

There are four problems with that:

1. Why would they do that? Most indie games are not particularly popular, or profitable. Even now, nothing stops them from publishing games very similar to FTL, Dwarf Fortress, Hotline Miami, McPixel, or Dear Esther. The thing is, that they don't want to. There is more money in CoD and ME and AssCreed.

2. Hating copyright law doesn't mean that we hate the very idea of copyright, just the copyright laws as they are written right now. Of course, creators need some form of protection from Ubisoft outright grabbing their game and selling it as their own. But just as this group made an MLP inspired but very original game, if EA wants to make an action RPG based on the FTL ip that is distinctly not FTL itself, or Ubisoft wants to make a 3D game with Dwarf Fortress-like mechanics, I wish they would, and I don't see how that would hurt creativity.

3. EA *could* make an incredibly unoririginal Minecraft-clone right now, as long as they are not copying any title or content from Minecraft. While at the same time, these guys are being shut down for making an in-depth, clever, and in many ways, original game with all their love, can be shut down as long as they are infringing on Hasbro's pony trademark. This kind of copyright isn't encouriging art, it's encouraging mediocre games that use enough legal skullduggery to be declared officially "original", while disccouraging honest fan art.

4. Most IP is owned by big publishers, epecially the most famous works are. Almost every bit of the past century's popuar culture is owned by a handful of giant corporations. Indies are expected to to be navigating in a world where they can't build from that existing culture, because it's taboo, because these corporations have a monopoly on it. And if they don't do thatthen they are called thieves, while the corporations are big enough to just EMPLOY artists to work for a salary, then fire them, and keep their art as their own, thus horading decades of content that they are now profiting from.

MetalMagpie:

-Dragmire-:
Man, I can't wait to be on that side of the fence, wait till a fan made project is done or almost done, see how it does and gauge audience reception, then shut it down.

I understand that these companies have to shut these projects down but it just seems like they always wait till it's finished or nearing completion when they send the C & D notices. These fandoms are not very shy about their creations, it shouldn't take this long to realize the group was productive enough to finish it.

To be fair, until the project is actually launched to the public, there isn't anything to send a C&D against. I could create a complete clone of a copyright-protected game like WoW for my own amusement, and I wouldn't be breaking any laws. The moment I make my WoW clone publicly available, Blizzard can decide to C&D me. The moment I try to make money off it, Blizzard have to kill it.

I guess they could try to be helpful by sending a "Just so you know..." letter earlier in the process, but they're not obligated to.

I was thinking that the C & D notices could go out when the people working on these projects have public sites clearly declaring the intention to complete the project as well as updating it with current progress. Projects like the this tend to be quite open with the community so it's pretty clear it's not for personal use. Come to think of it, do you think anyone would even remotely believe you if you said you were creating an MMO for personal use?

Often projects like this are funded by donations which I think skirts the law on making money on that property because it's optional. I very well could be wrong though.

Baldr:
I do not see why people hate on copyright laws. Think about this: without such great protection, the big game companies like EA, Blizzard Activision, Ubisoft would crush independents. They would make knock-off of almost everything making it harder to compete. There would be a lot less innovation and less creative games.

All new ideas are built on previous ones, it's how we move forward creatively. Copyright law, while it intends well, actively prevents ideas from entering the public domain which limits potential creativity.

Above all, It's kind of ridiculous for a copyright(a temporary monopoly on an idea so the creator can recoup R&D losses and fund future ideas) to last for 70+ years after the creator dies. That's really fucked up.

How could they be so idiotic? Did they really think Hasbro would just shrug and ignore them?

-Dragmire-:
I was thinking that the C & D notices could go out when the people working on these projects have public sites clearly declaring the intention to complete the project as well as updating it with current progress. Projects like the this tend to be quite open with the community so it's pretty clear it's not for personal use.

As you say, Hasbro could easily have spotted earlier that this was almost certainly going to be a problem, an pre-empted the launch with a letter saying "We'll send a C&D if you launch". But their lawyers would only have started prodding them to do something once it was live. If they don't generally care about fan-stuff, it's probable no one at Hasbro was paying any attention to the project before their lawyers started getting anxious!

-Dragmire-:
Often projects like this are funded by donations which I think skirts the law on making money on that property because it's optional. I very well could be wrong though.

If a copyright-infringing product is not making any money then it is more likely that it'll be permitted, but it doesn't automatically safeguard you. The number of people who view/use the product is often far more important than whether or not anyone pays for it.

For example, I could probably get away with printing five Spiderman T-shirts and selling them to my friends. But I probably couldn't get away with printing five thousand T-shirts and giving them out for free in Trafalgar Square.

Therumancer:
snip

Trademark must be defended, copyright is automatically applied to the creator.

Did half the people who are commenting here not read the article, or do they just not know the difference between copyright and trademark? Because this isn't about copyright, STOP BRINGING UP COPYRIGHT.

- Copyright is just about who has the right to copy an image, a piece of music, ext.
- Trademark is like Micky Mouse. You can't just put Micky Mouse in your game because Disney Owns him. Even if Disney likes what you're doing, they HAVE TO tell you to stop. If they don't, they loose their Trademark and now anyone can use Micky how ever they want. Warner Brothers could start making and releasing Micky Mouse Cartoons.

In short, Trademark law is a bitch. Hasbro really had no choice.

I'm wondering... why is it legally required to defend your trademark? Is there some critical thing about how trademarks work that would cause a disaster if a company didn't actively defend their trademarks, or only defended them when they wanted to?

FelixG:
They started on this without knowing that you couldnt make something based entirely on someone else's property?

Well thats...unique!

In their defense people were doing that for the majority of US history.

It's just that once they get big they start suing anyone else that tries.

Edit: Not because they want to anymore, they have to, before anyone stabs me for saying it.

Some faith in humanity has been restored!
Kill the pony project, and burn their efforts.

TopazFusion:
Doesn't surprise me. Hasbro are also pretty militant at taking down episodes uploaded to youtube (well, the newer episodes anyway).

Actually, that one is the trolls.
Hasbro likes people putting episodes up there for the advertizement, as they make their money off of the toys.

the Mayans was right, the end is coming. in the form of brony rage *dives under table and covers head with arms*

i hate to say this, but they were right to take it down. you can't earn a large profit on another company's interracial property without having them give you the permission first. but them again, this is hasbro. so my bet is that they'll hire them and make them make it. The system works.

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