news\ Apr 20, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Science fiction author sues Ubisoft for copyright infringement


Author John L. Beiswenger has sued Ubisoft over the Assassin's Creed series, arguing that the company owes their success to his 2003 science fiction book Link. He has listed a number of alleged transgressions in a court filing.

Beiswenger is requesting $540,000 in damages, legal expenses, an injunction to prevent Ubisoft from committing further infringement on copyright. The author claims that his book features a device that functions similarly to the Animus. Both allow users to revisit ancestral moments in a historically accurate timeline, with the narratives touching upon "spiritual and biblical tones" and "the battle between good and evil."

The lawsuit also names Gametrailers for premiering two videos for the game series, an act that Greg Boyd of the New York-based law firm Davis & Gilbert calls "odd" and "a stretch."

"Ideas are not copyrightable, but the fixed expression of an idea in a medium is," Boyd explained, adding that Beiswenger probably wouldn't win the suit.

According to Boyd, similarities between Beiswenger's fictional invention and the Animus do exist, but they are not directly related. "There is no concrete proof that the game designers had access to the novel," he said. "A great fact in many winning cases is that the author of the original work discussed, or pitched, the work to the infringing company, or the original work was a best-selling novel so access to it was easy."

Ubisoft is currently preparing Assassin's Creed III for release on October 30.

Follow @wita on Twitter for tales of superheroes, plumbers in overalls, and literary adventures.


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Stephanie Carmichael Twitter: @wita
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