Despite Threat Of $50,000 Fine, Montreal Designer Plans To Release More 'Real World' Counter-Strike Maps

from the if-at-first-you-don't-get-sued,-try,-try-again dept

Recently, we covered the story of a Canadian Counter-strike enthusiast who created a map based on a Montreal metro station. It was greeted with a thorough lack of enthusiasm by Montreal's transport authority (STM), which claimed the map might "create panic among the city's public transport users," before deciding to head off the whole situation using good, old-fashioned, pre-murder-simulator copyright. Diego Liatis, the creator of the map, was threatened with a $50,000 fine by STM, which has done little to deter his efforts.

Ars Technica has a followup story, detailing Liatis' refusal to back down.

Diego Liatis, a Montreal gamer and entrepreneur, told Ars that he still plans on releasing a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive map of Berri-UQAM, the city’s most well-known metro station. He's moving forward—the map is due sometime in March 2013—even if it means a drawn-out lawsuit brought by the local transit authority.

“If you ask me to change the name of the station—forget about it,” Diego Liatis told Ars, starting the sentence in French and switching to English for emphasis. “I understand [copyright law]. But there are limits, such as the name of the station.”
Liatis still believes he has the right to reproduce a real world location and is currently in negotiations (a polite word meaning "lawyers conversing") with the STM to determine what can be left in and what needs to be removed to satisfy the transport authority.
Liatis said he planned on meeting in person with STM representatives later this week. While he is willing to alter the STM logo and a well-known piece of art that hangs above a track, he’s not willing to compromise on the name of the station or its layout.

“Either [the STM] opposes me and we’ll meet in court,” Liatis added. “Or [the agency] will be OK with it.”

The February 11 cease-and-desist letter reminds Liatis that the STM “had warned you that it did not authorize you to use its image nor reproduction of the station in question for this project,” adding that use of its name, acronyms, graphic symbols, and seal are “prohibited by law unless permission is granted by the STM.”
Liatis may be logically "correct" but there's not much logic contained in IP laws. He may be determined to stick it to l'homme, but even members of the LAN ETS community are backing away from Liatis, most likely in hopes of a continued, lawsuit-free existence.
Simon Marin, a LAN ETS spokesperson, told Ars in an e-mail that the university, and by extension its LAN party event (LAN ETS), is "disassociating itself" from Liatis and his map. Marin did not provide any further explanation.
Despite the legal issues and disconnection from LAN ETS, Liatis plans to release the map in the near future. His pushback against government overreach and copyright-as-deterrent is admirable, but some aspects of this story are beginning to paint him as a possibly unreliable narrator.

As quoted in our original piece, and repeated in the update from Ars Technica, Liatis again states that the STM's representative had concerns about the map's usefulness to potential terrorists.
Liatis added that STM's media representative, Amélie Régis, expressed concern to him that releasing the map would allow it to be used by actual terrorists training for an actual attack. Régis also said it would be "insulting" to Montreal's Arab community.
The representative from STM, however, claims she never spoke to Liatis.
UPDATE Tuesday 5:42pm CT: Régis finally wrote back to Ars, saying that she had never spoken to Liatis, and was "really surprised to read the opposite." Ars has contacted Liatis again to clarify who exactly he spoke with at the STM.
Many governments have operated on faith-based paranoia since the 9/11 attacks, which makes it easy to believe Liatis' account of the events. Whatever concerns the STM might have had about "panics" or "terrorists," it may have kept them to itself. Nearly a week on from this interview, Ars is still waiting for Liatis to back up this claim. The STM may be using copyright to block a map it feels could potentially have this effect on would-be terrorists and/or the public, but so far, it hasn't officially stated anything to that effect.

Despite the lack of official statement, it still looks as if the STM simply wants to shut down something that represents its station but adds guns to the mix. Government entities are quick to shy away from anything controversial in the War on Terrorism age, and the STM seems to be no exception. There's a point to Liatis' efforts, but it's likely to be buried under a hefty fine and accompanying lawsuit as he shows no signs of backing down. It's a costly game of chicken and the end result may be nothing more than another footnote in case law reasserting the "right" of public entities to claim copyright protection on publicly accessible areas in order to prevent "misuse" by ordinary citizens.



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