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Author Topic: DMCA and C&D letters in the TI community: A look back  (Read 1481 times)

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Offline xlibman

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DMCA and C&D letters in the TI community: A look back
« on: August 14, 2016, 05:24:36 am »
Despite the recent DMCA takedown notices that Nintendo of America sent about Pokémon Uranium and Another Metroid 2 Project (AM2R), the TI calculator community has been rather lucky about fan games and demakes. However, did you know that in the past, calculator developers were also hit by cease and desist letters, e-mails or DMCA takedown notices by big game companies for copyright infrigments? This retrospective article will look back in time at some games that ended up on the wrong end of a C&D:

-Monopoly (Kirk Meyer's version) http://www.ticalc.org/archives/news/articles/0/2/2322.html
In 1998, Kirk Meyer, a notable calculator programmer of that era, was working on a TI-z80 ASM version of Monopoly. However, Parker Brothers did not like this and he was ordered to stop all development due to copyright infrigments. However, for some reasons he still managed to release an unfinished copy a while later. It's possible that he had an agreement with them later on or was allowed to publish what he had, but nonetheless, this marked one of the earliest instances of a calculator fan game being hit by a cease and desist letter. You can download the game at http://www.ticalc.org/archives/files/fileinfo/69/6993.html .

-Golden Sun: The Chosen One (Omnimaga) https://www.omnimaga.org/other-calc-related-projects-and-ideas/the-chosen-one/msg4890/#msg4890
Some older TI community members who were active on Omnimaga back in 2005 might remember this. Back in the days, Tenniskid493, decided to work on a Golden Sun clone for the TI-83 Plus. The game was to be called Golden Sun: The Chosen One and featured some of the nicest xLIB BASIC graphics at the time. However, Camelot did not like that and sent a cease and desist e-mail to TK493 telling him that if he released the game, he would be on the wrong end of a lawsuit. He had to change the name to The Chosen One and remove all Golden Sun content from the game. Like many calculator RPGs, this one was never finished nor released, but this incident was the same year as MaxCoderz' April Fools joke about Metroid getting a C&D (remember that, @tr1p1ea ? For other people, see below.) and it was enough to give the chills to authors of other calculator fan games originally released by other big companies.

-Space Station Pheta http://maxcoderz.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=24389#p24389
Threefingeredguy got lucky on that one, but it still gave all of us a good scare, plus it happened shortly before the Golden Sun incident and after April Fools 2005's MaxCoderz joke. The authors of the original Space Station Pheta discovered that 3fg was porting it to the TI-83 Plus and were happy that he loved the game enough to port it, but not the fact he didn't ask them first. They, however, were nice, and allowed him to continue on. But there was a catch: Development was restricted to the TI-83+/84+ per the original game maker's request. Unlike Golden Sun, this game came out and we were graced with a great calculator classic. Nonetheless, think twice before porting it to a color calculator!


Feel free to share more in the comments below this article if you remember similar fan game DMCA/C&D incidents in the TI community or if you saw any happen in the Casio or HP community. But before we stop writing, let's now look at other similar incidents that happened in the TI community, but instead of involving a calculator fan game and a big game company, involved the TI community vs Texas Instruments themselves:

-TI-News C&D from TI requesting site name change http://www.ticalc.org/archives/news/articles/4/40/40306.html
Although this also had something to do with a ROM sharing C&D, TI asked them to change their names too in the process. That part of the C&D was countered, though, so TI-News could keep their name. Can you imagine if TI started disallowing all sites to use TI in their names or domain name?

-TI-83+/84+ Private RSA key factoring
This is the most widely known episode of DMCA takedown notices in the TI community, as it made news on several sites outside the TI community. TI requested that people take down the private RSA keys from their website. With the help of the EFF, the initial DMCA takedown notices were countered, no reply was received then as a result people were able to host the keys again. However, over the years TI responded by locking their calculators even more against hacking (such as using 1024 and 2048 bits RSA keys instead of 512, which cannot be factored in a reasonable amount of time with today's technology)

-Ndless 1.1 and OS 1.1 hosting (this one is a bit of a grey area, but is included anyway due to the nature of it)
Hosting Nspire OS 1.7 and 2.0 without TI's permission? No problem. OS 1.1, on the other hand? Cease and desist letter! Back in 2010, TI-BANK hosted copies of all TI-Nspire OSes on their website for future posterity, as TI was taking down legacy files from their website one by one. Back then, Ndless 1.0 and 1.1 only ran on OS 1.1, so TI sent a lawyer letter to TI-BANK requesting the removal of the latter. It was seen as a direct attack towards Ndless rather than IP protection, because the C&D letter only targeted OS 1.1, despite all other OSes being very easy to find on TI-BANK.


The following were fake and pure satire, but still relevant to copyright issues:

-Playboy sues Ticalc.org for usage of the POTM acronym http://www.ticalc.org/archives/news/articles/1/14/14996.html
One of the first Ticalc.org fake news (red-border).

-DMCA takedown notice for using Keyfont in Omni logo https://www.omnimaga.org/news/ti-sends-dmca-takedown-notice-to-omnimaga-for-key-font-usage/
April Fools Day 2010. This one was a parody of the RSA key factoring incident, to make fun of TI actions against the TI community at the time.

-Metroid (MaxCoderz version) http://maxcoderz.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=507
April Fools Day 2005. Joe Pemberton receives a cease and desist letter from Nintendo forcing him to stop development of Metroid for the TI-83/83+ to avoid legal action being taken against him. Thankfully this was fake (although the game never came out anyway), but it scared us enough to make me consider renaming Zelda: Dark Link Quest to "The Dark Curse". This April Fools joke is still mentionned every few year on April 2nd in the TI community.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2016, 05:28:30 am by DJ Omnimaga »


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Offline gameblabla

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I knew the RSA and Ndless incident but not the other ones, thanks for sharing.

Not really a C&D letter but cncalc.org members tried to convince critor to remove PicoDrive from tiplanet due to a string. ("FREE TIBET")
Other than that, i don't think i ran into hot water with huge companies.
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Offline xlibman

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Oh right I forgot about the PicoDrive thing. I guess that doesn't really count, though, as it didn't involve a real cease and desist nor a big company, but still definitively related from a censorship standpoint.

In CodeWalrus case, if anyone ever asked me to remove a game for containing the word "f***" or "god", then I would immediately redirect them to Rule #1 of CodeWalrus. Granted, we do have content restrictions (or where and how certain content can be posted) as described in the other rules, but you get what I mean, right? On Omnimaga, we used a Christmas forum theme in 2006 and 2007 and a member asked me to remove it because he was atheist and was offended by it.

Of course we would comply about removing a file if it was a legit C&D for copyrights violations, though. I was lucky, by the way, because I once got copyright strikes on my Youtube account for my MCOG2:COA gameplay footage, because they contained references to the Mysterious Cities of Gold, but I never got asked to take down the game downloads themselves (yet).
« Last Edit: August 14, 2016, 06:52:13 am by DJ Omnimaga »
  • Calculators owned: TI-57, 73, TI-80 (broken), TI-81, TI-82, TI-83, TI-83+ (broken), TI-83+ (broken), TI-83+SE (broken), TI-84+, TI-84+CSE, TI-84+CE, TI-85, TI-86, TI-89T, TI-92, TI-Nspire, TI-Nspire CX (semi-broken), HP 39gII, HP Prime, Casio fx-7000G, fx-7400G+, fx-7700GE, fx-9750G+, fx-9750GII, fx-9860G, cfx-9850G, FX-1.0+, fx-CG10, fx-CP400
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Offline Hayleia

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I lol'd at the first one's thread. Everyone talking about Apple vs Windows and saying that no one made Doom on calculators. 1998 :P

Anyway, I had a good read. I only knew about the RSA incident (and I knew TI was against Ndless but I had never heard of that OS 1.1 C&D).
Weird to see that some games have problems and some others don't though.

Offline E37

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Dang... I had a good laugh. At the fake ones of course.
It is sad how companies send such letters for a b/w calculator port but (almost always) allow YouTube videos of their game. I'd say both help the game.  :-\
I could see the rage if the programmers were making money, but not for a free port.
I really need to look into playing some of the older games... I've never even heard of some of them...
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What's my calc's name? Convert $37 to decimal. Look up that element in the periodic table. Then take the abbreviation of that element and you have it!
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Offline xlibman

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Can you imagine if one day Nintendo decided to send a C&D to ticalc.org ordering them to remove all Zelda, Mario, Pokémon, harvest Moon, Animal Crossing and Warioware clones from their site? Granted, those don't get as many downloads anymore due to being for monochrome calcs, but it would still be a huge loss and backward step for the TI community. It would probably increase originality if ticalc.org and other sites had a big warning stating that clonees of copyrighted games are no longer allowed to use copyrighted names due to a cease and desist letter from Nintendo, but it would probably increase their workload due to people not reading it and it could probably deter some programmers from making games.

In the case of my two Zelda games, it wouldn't be too hard to modify them, though. For Dark Link Quest I just have to edit the cutscenes so that Link hair are dark, remove tri-force signs and replace some in-game names and change the title screen. For Sord of Atari, well, duh, it has nothing to do with Zelda so all that needs to be changed is the title screen. I would probably have to remove Super Mario Smash Dance, though, although I could always re-release it as Super :walrii: Smash Dance and replace power-ups.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2016, 04:10:33 pm by DJ Omnimaga »
  • Calculators owned: TI-57, 73, TI-80 (broken), TI-81, TI-82, TI-83, TI-83+ (broken), TI-83+ (broken), TI-83+SE (broken), TI-84+, TI-84+CSE, TI-84+CE, TI-85, TI-86, TI-89T, TI-92, TI-Nspire, TI-Nspire CX (semi-broken), HP 39gII, HP Prime, Casio fx-7000G, fx-7400G+, fx-7700GE, fx-9750G+, fx-9750GII, fx-9860G, cfx-9850G, FX-1.0+, fx-CG10, fx-CP400
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Offline calcplays

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Was there a copyright-related reason behind a title of the TI-89 game mostly known as Super Mario Quest? http://www.ticalc.org/archives/files/fileinfo/83/rev8362.html 
It is named "Space Monkey Quest" in the title screen and all the would-be coins are replaced by bananas. According to a review, Mario himself was also a monkey in an older version of the game.

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Also a few years ago TI, through TI-France, made TI-Emulation close, although that was basically unexpected, they were hosting and freely sharing all sorts of ready-to-use ROMs of many calcs.
It was done in a "friendly" manner, though, basically a few phone calls and emails, no legal/lawyer stuff involved.
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Strangely, Hayleia's very known SSBO didn't cause this kind of trouble, Nintendo France even tweeted/retweeted about that, as well as TI France :P
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Wow. Never knew the majority of these. I always assumed that being non-profit and having a game made for a platform the copyright holder doesn't develop for sufficiently qualified as fair use, but clearly not.

What if you've sent the copyright holders like 5 emails, documented those emails, and each time received no reply, then went ahead with the project?
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Offline xlibman

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I always had the feeling that Nintendo either saw calculators as either irrelevant or that the games on it were too low quality, graphics-wise, to hurt their sales. I think if an elaborate TI-84+CE Mario or Pokémon game was made, then they would probably be more inclined to take legal action, though. This is partly why if I make a Metroid clone for calcs that I will just use 8x8 tiles like in Minitroid for the PC.
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Offline gameblabla

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Re: DMCA and C&D letters in the TI community: A look back
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2016, 08:14:56 pm »
Nintendo will copyright everything in this galaxy, we all know that.
We won't be able to do anything other than killing people and rape babies because those things can not be copyrighted.
Nintendo is ganon in disguise, they even have a conference room named after him :


Also, slightly offtopic, but AM2R's authors unofficially posted an update to their game, despite Nintendo's C&D letter.
It seems that they really just react to the hype.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2016, 08:16:43 pm by gameblabla »
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Re: DMCA and C&D letters in the TI community: A look back
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2016, 10:04:36 pm »
Nintendo will copyright everything in this galaxy, we all know that.
We won't be able to do anything other than killing people and rape babies because those things can not be copyrighted.
Nintendo is ganon in disguise, they even have a conference room named after him :


Also, slightly offtopic, but AM2R's authors unofficially posted an update to their game, despite Nintendo's C&D letter.
It seems that they really just react to the hype.
The AM2R update was most likely provided as a patch. It's not a full game download I'm sure, or maybe they are abusing loopholes in the C&D letter and copyright laws that allows them to upload a different version of something that they got asked to take down?

IMHO, though, if one of my games had such hype then got hit by a C&D, I would just change the copyrighted sprites and music, as well as the game name (heck, why not call it AM2P rather than Another Metroid 2 Remake?), then I would re-release it on the same exact site and still get downloads.


Anyway I did not get a C&D for Walriichu and Kirbii, so our dear walruses are safe. :P
  • Calculators owned: TI-57, 73, TI-80 (broken), TI-81, TI-82, TI-83, TI-83+ (broken), TI-83+ (broken), TI-83+SE (broken), TI-84+, TI-84+CSE, TI-84+CE, TI-85, TI-86, TI-89T, TI-92, TI-Nspire, TI-Nspire CX (semi-broken), HP 39gII, HP Prime, Casio fx-7000G, fx-7400G+, fx-7700GE, fx-9750G+, fx-9750GII, fx-9860G, cfx-9850G, FX-1.0+, fx-CG10, fx-CP400
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