Bethesda vs Notch: Copyright battle

Mojang announced Scrolls, its upcoming title

Even though I have very limited experience in copyright law and its many intricate annoyances, I never quite understood how over the top it has become. When I first heard about this story, I actually didn’t believe it. It’s quite absurd. And I shall try to guide you through it the best I can.

Bethesda Softworks are suing Notch of Mojang Studios over the copyright of the word “scrolls”. The word “scrolls”. This just sounds, and is, completely ridiculous. It is only a word after all, but it is, or was, going to be the name of Notch’s new, upcoming title. When Notch tried to trademark the name, Bethesda ended up suing him over it. In case you haven’t heard of these two companies, I will fill you in:

Bethesda Softworks

Well Bethesda Softworks is a big development and publishing studio responsible for a wide range of games such as Fallout 3, or more importantly, the Elder Scrolls series. The Elder Scrolls is a series of fantasy role playing games dating back to the dark ages of gaming, around 1994, and have gathered popularity ever since day one. With the fifth true instalment on the way, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the series has jumped back up into the ever glaring view of the general public. Now let me make this clear: Bethesda is a massive company. Massive. Their offices span from America to Asia, and they aren’t the small loveable company they used to be. But that doesn’t mean they should be any less reasonable. “The Elder Scrolls” obviously contains the word “Scrolls”, and apparently that’s enough to sue Notch for a big hefty pile of cash.

Notch – Mojang Studios

Notch made Minecraft. If you haven’t heard of that game you probably don’t use the internet much. Or don’t speak to many people.  You may think that’s a harsh assumption, but Minecraft has become one of the biggest games of our current generation. Originally created by one man – Markus Persson, or Notch – it has recently hit 3,000,000 sales and has pushed Notch and his newly founded studio, Mojang, into the spotlight. This is why Bethesda are kicking up such a fuss; Notch isn’t your ordinary developer. But that doesn’t mean that the case against him is in anyway justified.

However, I love Bethesda. I would say they were one of my favourite game developers. But I still find this completely unacceptable. This farce is barely a case, more of a big corporate company throwing its weight around. “Scrolls” isn’t exactly the most frequently used of words, but it turns up in hundreds of games, films, books and TV shows, so this just seems a pointless waste of time. Notch even stated that “We suggested a compromise”, but this was met by a extensive letter from a Swedish lawyer firm. It demanded Notch to drop the name, and that he would have to face the consequences. The lawyer firm had already paid the Swedish courts in preparation and demanded a large amount of money before the legal process could even begin.

It does appear that when certain companies climb so far up the corporate ladder, they seem to become somewhat unconnected to the rest of humanity. Unfair law suits, obscure marketing ploys and other seemingly shameful acts only occur for companies of a certain size. And yes Apple, I’m looking at you. Are we slowly falling away into world of endless court cases, law suits, and money that disappears from your pocket and into those of lawyers? Maybe yes, maybe no, but from where I’m standing, it isn’t looking too good. Not good at all.

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