Author Discovers Assassin's Creed Uses Same Cliche'd SciFi Trope As His Book... Sues For Infringement

from the genetic-history?-really? dept

Ah, ownership society. We see this all the time with successful books, movies and TV shows -- where suddenly someone (generally a complete nobody) discovers that a popular media vehicle is based on a similar generic idea that they once wrote about too... and they insist that the successful work must be infringing. I guess we can add video games to that list as well. Ubisoft has apparently been sued by an author you've likely never heard of, John Beiswenger, who wrote some book whose premise has a vague similarity to the premise of Ubisoft's popular Assassin's Creed game. Both stories apparently involve genetic memory -- the idea that memories can be passed down from your ancestors.

But that seems to be about as far as the similarities go. One would have hoped that a lawyer would have explained to Beiswenger that copyright only covers specific expression, rather than generic idea, but apparently that didn't happen. Of course, as Julian Sanchez points out, the idea of "genetic memory" is such a common sci-fi trope that there's a whole page dedicated to listing out stories that use the concept -- many of which predate Beiswenger's book (and nearly all of which were significantly more successful). Don't expect this lawsuit to go very far.

Filed Under: assassin's creed, expression, john beiswenger, ownership society
Companies: ubisoft


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  1. icon
    PaulT (profile), 25 Apr 2012 @ 4:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    My take on it is that he's noticed a very superficial similarity in some basic themes (genetic memory, assassins and biblical references) and is trying to sue because *nobody* could possibly have come up with the same combination.

    It's a bit silly, especially when you take into account things that aren't mentioned in the lawsuits (for example, the Knights Templar are the main villains in AC, which explains both the presence of biblical references and an order of assassins).

    It's just the usual thing that happens with these lawsuits - somebody creates a successful product, someone less successful decides they want a piece and tries to claim their ideas were stolen. It happens with virtually every successful book and movie, this is only notable because it's a videogame for a change. This won't get anywhere.

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