Fan-made Star Wars game Galaxy in Turmoil could face legal issues

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notstarwars

Yesterday we told you that the Star Wars Battlefront 3 spiritual successor, Galaxy in Turmoil was set for release on Steam at some point in a galaxy far, far away. There have been questions about the legalities of it. Disney owns the Star Wars Licence, and developer Frontwire hasn’t got permission to use the ships, characters and locations you’ll find in their game.

According to Frontwire, they’re be okay though, because the game is free and falls under Fair Use.

“Our counsel has advised us that we currently fall into three of the four major defenses for Fair Use claims,” Frontwire president Tony Romanelli told GameInformer. “Due to the nature of the campaign we are developing, we can be classed as a parody. We’re re-imagining a lot of what Star Wars is as well by creating everything from the ground up. This includes models, textures, sounds, etc.”

If you’re not taking the piss, it doesn’t sounds like parody to me. Somebody who actually works with fair use in media, Morrison / Lee co-founder and of the Fair Use Protection Account Ryan Morrison says that the game is in no way fair use, and should expect to be slapped by Disney attorneys soon.

“You would be hard pressed to find a stronger advocate for fair use on the internet than myself, but this game is in no way fair use,” Morrison says. “It actually infuriates me to see people spreading such terrible misinformation throughout various websites, especially journalists, because it encourages other developers to do the same. It quite literally ruins lives. It doesn’t take more than a five second Google search to see this game has nothing to do with parody law. And if you further examine fair use, you will see it is a defense, not a right.

Not charging for your product is a factor in fair use, but not the end all be all. You can’t just remake a game start to finish, utilizing every asset of the original, and pretend it’s okay because it’s free. After so many games have been taken down over similar [circumstances], and after so many developers’ lives have been ruined from this, it’s just the definition of insanity at this point.“

“I love fair use, and I love free speech,” Morrison says. “This game is neither. Some free advice for the developer, take this game down yesterday.”

While the game doesn’t use the word Star Wars anywhere, or use any of the series’ music, the ships, characters and locations are all very much copyrighted material – and I don’t think that the game being free changes that.

Last Updated: June 7, 2016

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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