Zynga and EA settle game copyright infringement lawsuit

Video Game LitigationEarly this week Zynga and EA decided to put their game-based copyright infringement lawsuit to bed.  I noted back in August how this type of lawsuit could set a dangerous precedent with regard to games and intellectual property law.

Some background:

EA sued Zynga back in August over Zynga’s new game “The Ville” which EA claimed to copy its Sims game “beyound superficial resemblance. Zynga’s design choices, animations, visual arrangements and character motions and actions have been directly lifted from The Sims Social. The copying was so comprehensive that the two games are, to an uninitiated observer, largely indistinguishable.” (This is from EA’s complaint.)


According to Gamasutra:

An official statement we received from Zynga after an inquiry simply reads that “EA and Zynga have resolved their respective claims and have reached a settlement of their litigation in the Northern District of California.” We understand that EA is issuing the same statement, but we have yet to hear back from the company after an inquiry this morning.

This is pretty good news. As good as it is to see detailed rulings from the Northern District of California on the idea/expression dichotomy with regard to video game copyrightability, there is always that threat that the judge would get it wrong and provide an overly strong protection for an idea-laden software. As I noted in my previous post, it is the nature of the game industry to build on what has come before, overly broad copyright protections for what should be unprotectable ideas would severely stifle innovation in that industry.

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