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Lawsuit Roundup: Apple Sued Over Child Microtransactions, Ubi Defends Animus Copyright Claim

Jonathan Lester
apple, Bethesda, Fallout, lawsuit, Ubisoft, Zenimax

Lawsuit Roundup: Apple Sued Over Child Microtransactions, Ubi Defends Animus Copyright Claim

Fallout 3 Fan Art Site Hit With Cease & Desist

Today brings us news of two new lawsuits levied against major companies. Apple has been sued for making it too easy for children to rack up enormous bills on the App Store, while Ubisoft has been accused of stealing the idea for the Animus device from author John Beiswenger.

And, depressingly, a Fallout fan site has been threatened with legal action for hosting high-resolution original artwork. We've got all the details below.

First off, the BBC reports that Apple are under fire from a group of parents who claim that the company is unfairly profiting from in-app purchases within games designed for children. According to the brief, it's too easy for kids to rack up enormous bills "without authorisation of their parents," despite Apple recently implementing an update that turn block microtransactions on a particular device. The group cited several examples of games that encourage youngsters to purchase add-ons and items, including Smurf's Village, which includes transactions worth up to £69.99. A judge has refused Apple's demands to dismiss the case, and they'll have their day in court.

Ubisoft has also been targeted by author John Beiswenger, whose 2003 book Link features a device that can access ancestral memories. Beiswenger alleges that Assassin's Creed's Animus device has infringed upon his copyright, and that Ubisoft has "directly copied, and directly and contributorily infringed" on his work. You can read the full brief here, via Kotaku.

And finally, fan art site fallout-posters.com has been hit with a cease and desist by law firm DLA Piper, who acts on behalf of Bethesda and Zenimax. They've demanded that the site be turned over to Bethesda, and while creator Erling Løken Andersen has agreed to remove his pictures, he hasn't yet shut down the website. We don't yet know whether Bethesda specifically asked DLA Piper to or whether they're acting autonomously, but this seems somewhat draconian to us. After all, this is basically free advertising - and a fan showing his clear and obvious love for a franchise that he's invested in.

Add a comment4 comments
Late  Apr. 18, 2012 at 12:09

I'm shocked at the fan art website being told to shut down. The guy's not charging for anything, so as you say, he's effectively just providing free advertising for the company he's alleged to have infringed.

The other two seem fair enough.
There do appear to be a lot of similarities between the Link device and the Animus, from a cursory look, so good luck to him.
And I'm all for making it harder for kids to rack up massive bills for their parents due to the ridiculous micro-transactions on apps (whether ios, android, or any other platform). Nobody in their right mind would let their child make a £70 in-game purchase on a Smurfs game.

Quietus  Apr. 18, 2012 at 12:48

This phone charge thing has been floating for ages. If they wanted to stop it, they would. All they'd have to do is set up a password system on the phones. Maybe your gmail details on the Android side, and your iTunes details for the iPhones. It can't be that hard to do.

DivideByZero  Apr. 18, 2012 at 12:50

Yep, same as Late.

Fan art = free advertising and fan service... taking that away is a massive slap in the face.

I personally enjoy the Apple case, but the same could easily be said of Playstation where you can buy stupid things, avatars and stuff, so not even games and it all mounts up. But at the end of the day, why give your kids your credit cards. That is just asking for trouble!

JonLester  Apr. 18, 2012 at 12:59

I don't think that the Apple suit will go very far, being as they recently added a feature to iOS that lets parents disable in-app purchases. However, hopefully the publicity will help show some parents that they need to keep a closer eye on what their kids download.

As far as the fan site is concerned, it's still unclear whether DLA Piper were actually directly asked to take action or are acting to secure Zenimax interests under a broad brief. Either way, as you've said, it's ultimately self-defeating and seriously weak publicity for a publisher who prides itself on fan feedback.

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