Kickstarter For Hand-Drawn Video Game Manuals Shuts Down Due To IP Threat

from the book-burning dept

You may recall that about a year ago we discussed one man's attempt to digitize the game manuals for really old games. Notably, that project didn't appear to face any threats over copyright laws by the normal companies -- Nintendo, Konami, etc -- though that almost certainly was partially the result of the project not being a commercial endeavor, but a simple attempt at art preservation that would clearly be covered by fair use. But the overall point is that there is a thirst for this sort of thing, especially when you realize that some of these game manuals are endangered species, close to being lost for all eternity.

Well, apparently there is at least one company out there that is not so keen on letting something similar to that go forward if it means anyone is going to collect money over it. A Kickstarter for hand-drawn recreations of the sorts of video game guides that were popular decades ago, which far exceeded its initial goal, voluntarily shut itself down after facing unspecified legal threats.

Near the end of a staggeringly successful Kickstarter campaign, Hand-Drawn Game Guides was cancelled. Philip Summers, the individual behind this campaign, cancelled his Kickstarter due to legal pressure from unknown parties. In a statement released on Hand-Drawn Game Guides' Kickstarter, Summers says:

"Tonight I pulled the plug on the Hand-Drawn Game Guides Kickstarter. Yes, for exactly the reason you think it’s for. I had hoped that I could successfully navigate any legal trouble, but alas I wasn’t able to do so."

Summers made it clear elsewhere that none of this was unforeseen, nor is he particularly angry about it. The source of the legal threats was never specified, but it's clear that Summers is facing some kind of copyright or trademark threat by one of the gaming companies that owns the rights for the games he's creating new manuals/guides for. It could be one of many companies, of course, though it won't surprise regular readers here to learn that I very much suspect it's Nintendo. If it is, the company can certainly argue it has a valid copyright claim on these manuals, assuming it has the relevant IP rights for them. But, as is always the question, why does Nintendo or whichever company made these threats feel the need to go this route?

Summers started his campaign seeking $20k, but ended up amassing over $300k in pledges for the project, all for hand-drawn video game guides for very old games.

Summers' guides deal with IPs by Nintendo, including The Legend of Zelda and Metroid. Just recently, Nintendo issued a cease and desist for Metroid Prime 2D, a game starring Samus Aran and based on the Metroid series, and not long ago they hit The Legend of Zelda: The Missing Link a fan-game that bridged Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. Contra and Ninja Gaiden guides backers could have purchased, so legal pressure Konami, Koei Tecmo, or Nintendo is possible but not confirmed by any party. As we've seen previously, fan-made projects ending due to legal reasons is nothing new for the industry.

This campaign aimed to bring guides of retro video games to the masses, which were completely hand-drawn and went over the workings of each title. This included tips and tricks, maps of dungeons and other levels, and more.

If there is an actual threat in any of that to any of the named companies, I am failing to see it. Instead, I only see the desire for total control over intellectual property playing out in such a way so as to destroy an otherwise wildly successful Kickstarter by someone who is obviously a very big fan of retro video games and the guidebooks of the past. And if that doesn't sound like Nintendo, I don't know what does.

For now, Summers and his publisher are making it clear that the project isn't necessarily 100% dead, asking backers to stay tuned. But in the meantime, the funding for the Kickstarter has been canceled, all because someone had to kill the fun.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: crowdfunding, hand drawn video game manuals, manuals, video games
Companies: kickstarter

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. icon
    ECA (profile), 15 Sep 2021 @ 1:40pm

    Lets see some options

    There are/used to be, a site ofr older abandoned games that had pictures of the manuals. DMCA(nin)
    There used to be Allot of sites with old roms that you could use with emulators. DMCA(nin)

    Would it be interesting if you had original(org Made copies) of manuals for sale on a Few sites? selling them underground type? But who is making all these? the Org. maker?

    In the past,
    After a game was released, A book would come out with cheats, hacks, shortcuts and soforth. And they started in magazines, thent he corps got wind of this and MADE their own. GOOD MONEY.
    This is the Making of the razor and Blade idea. as SOME had more then 1 manual. Same book with 1-2 changes, as Some games had versions. Some games on 1 machine was abit different. So at $10 per book(when a paperback was <$2), it was worth it.

    Then comes the Big idea for copyright. The Art has CR, the Book has CR. The original manuals kinda sucked, became Simplistic. Those Cheat book were worth the money JUST TO PLAY THE GAME.
    What is the CR time on the manual?
    What is the CR for a Cheat Book?
    What is the CR for ART?
    Take your pick and the corp has it covered. And TONS of the Major corps did this. And as the smaller game companies got BOUGHT(atari, and others bought up those CR).

    How is this person going to combat any of that?

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord

Introducing the new Techdirt Insider Chat, now hosted on Discord. If you are an Insider with a membership that includes the chat feature and have not yet been invited to join us on Discord, please reach out here.

Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.