We're always discussing all sorts of intellectual property issues around here -- and one of the key problems comes down to the fundamental problem of trying to somehow shackle "ideas" down -- as if that were possible. Not only do ideas spread and change and grow -- but it's quite likely that multiple people have the same ideas at the same time. Giving the "rights" to any one person is problematic. For a perfect example, look at a new lawsuit that's coming to light today. A video game developer is suing gaming giant Electronic Arts, claiming they stole his idea and put it into their popular Madden football video gaming series. He says he presented the idea to EA in late 2003, and now it's shown up in the latest version -- therefore, they must have "stolen" it from him. Of course, the easy response is that the big "idea" wasn't even that original. It was that, within the game, players could manage a specific athlete, handling all sorts of activities like sports practice, family life and doing home work. Of course, at the same time he was showing of "his" idea to EA, I was actually playing a game that let you do just that -- just in baseball, not football. The creator of a (very cool, and extremely addictive) popular baseball simulation game, Out of the Park Baseball, created a sort of "companion" game in 2003 called Inside the Park Baseball, where the idea was that you took on the role of a player, and managed just that player through his career, including things like working out, going out to the bars, family life, etc. That game never really caught on, but does that mean anyone "owns" that idea and can sue over it?
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