An important court ruling has prompted a settlement in the Spry Fox vs LOLApps court case.
Spry Fox filed the lawsuit claiming that LOLApps had plagiarized their game Triple Town, an allegation LOLApps denied. Last week, a court threw out a motion by LOLApps to have the case dismissed. The court said:
A video game, much like a screenplay expressed in a film, also has elements of plot, theme, dialogue, mood, setting, pace and character. Spry Fox took the idea underlying Triple Town and expressed it with its own characters, its own setting, and more. These objective elements of expression are within the scope of Spry Fox’s copyright.
From this point it was clear that LOLApps no longer had a case, and it was announced today that the parties had settled out of court.
The ruling may be far more important than a single court case suggests, however. Until now, games have been treated as “ideas” – non-copyrightable, provided the code and graphics were different. Jack Schecter, a lawyer with Sunstein, Kann, Murphy & Timbers LLP, has an indepth look at why that’s important.
It’s clear that games need more backing behind their copyright, and hopefully this is a step in the right direction. But it would be a shame for the first developer of an idea to control it entirely, something we already saw when every variation of an Atari mechanic was forced off the App Store. Hopefully clearer laws will allow games to share mechanics while preventing all-out theft. The one to watch now is EA vs Zynga.