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24 June 2009, 17:27

Atari settle over ScummVM based Wii game GPL violations

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The ScummVM developers have agreed a settlement with Atari over GPL violations in three Nintendo Wii games developed by an Atari subcontractor. An official press release from the ScummVM developers "cyx" and "fingolfin" stated that a case over three games, "Freddie Fish: The Case of the Missing Kelp Seeds", "Pajama Sam: No Need to Hide When It's Dark Outside" and "Spy Fox: Dry Cereal" which used the ScummVM engine to run classic point and click adventure games, had been settled in May, with Misitic Software paying all legal fees and making a donation to the Free Software Foundation.

According to a post from "Sev", another ScummVM developer, both Fingolfin and Cyx are prohibited from talking about the settlement. Sev, on the other hand, is not, and says that the developers are not happy about the outcome. According to Sev, the ScummVM 0.9.0 engine was used by the named games, as revealed by characteristic errors in the graphics rendering.

The ScummVM developers contacted and sent a letter to Atari. The Atari lawyers responded, first denying the problem, then, after discovering that the Nintendo Wii SDK explicitly prohibits the use of open source software, threatening to take action against the ScummVM developers for the reverse engineered Humongous Games code they said appeared in one of ScummVM's game engines. This says Sev "turned into a completely different, much more complicated case" with the options being go to court or arrange a settlement.

The arranged settlement, apart from restraining two of the developers from discussing the issue, involves the games being allowed to be sold for a period of time, with no reprinting and after that time, the remaining stock being destroyed. Although unhappy at the settlement, the developers considered it better than spending months in court, and, as Sev says summing up "when you hear about ScummVM, remember, it is commercial grade software which even Atari is not ashamed to put their label on".


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