The Pinkertons are taking Take-Two to court over Red Dead Redemption 2

    
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Strange lawsuits aren’t exactly uncommon within the gaming industry, but this one might just be the weirdest so far — this year, at any rate: It turns out that Take-Two, publisher of Rockstar Games’s wild-west sandbox Red Dead Redemption 2, is being taken to court by none other than the Pinkertons. The so-called detective agency and private security firm — notorious for its less-than-savory activities in bounty hunting, strikebreaking, and union busting throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries — you may be surprised to discover, is still around, though it’s now owned by Swedish company Securitas AB, and it recently sent a cease-and-desist to Take-Two “asking for either a single payment or a royalty arrangement for Red Dead 2’s use of the term ‘Pinkerton’ throughout its story.”

The Pinkertons play a not-insignificant part in RDR2’s storyline, as — mild spoiler alert — the protagonist and his gang spend a significant portion of the narrative being pursued by the company’s agents. According to the modern-day Pinkertons, “the game’s use of the agency so prominently implies that it was created with the permission of the company.” Take-Two, however, begs to differ, arguing that “the use of the word is justified on the grounds of historical accuracy” because the game simply depicts the agency doing exactly what well-known and verified historical record says it did back in the days of the old west.

As such, the publisher has filed its own suit “seeking to have the game’s Pinkerton agents declared as fair use.” While we can’t say with 100% certainty how this legal battle will pan out, it seems there’s a fair chance that the Pinkertons will have as much success here as they did when they tried to sue alt-rock band Weezer for using the agency’s name as an album title — i.e., none whatsoever.

Source: Kotaku
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Nate Woodard

They’ll never get a dime.

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NeoWolf

I always find it odd that people STILL to this day think its just okay to use other folks stuff without asking… this is a basic no no we are all taught as children. Ask first it is the polite thing to do.

By not asking you get these cease and desists and other people suddenly wanting a share of the booty all of which could have been avoided with just a simple “May I..?” email beforehand..

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

I have a counter-argument.

It is not okay to use someone’s “stuff” without asking, but I take issue when the “stuff” is an idea rather than a physical resource. I do not believe we have any natural right to an idea, beyond our right to keep our thoughts to ourselves.

If you share an idea, it is no longer wholly your own. An idea is not a tangible, limited resource. There is no scarcity of ideas, and any idea you share is now subject to improvement by others who have ideas that improve upon yours.

IP rights are not natural rights. If I “steal” your idea and improve upon it, I am in no way violating any moral imperitive. The idea ceases to be wholly yours the moment you share it with others. We allow limited rights to IP in order to protect the market, but that isn’t a moral imperative and violating it is not theft. I have not stolen anything from you.

The current IP laws in the U.S. are not consistent with what other countries follow. China has been stealing IP for decades while Americans would be shut down for doing the same thing.

Ideas are not property. The rules protecting IP have no moral justification. If I can take your idea and make a better product out of it than you can, then somewhere the laws must take that into account, but in no case is it a moral failing to riff on someone else’s idea.

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silverlock

Are you kidding me? Do you know who these people where? They where organized thugs and the only reason they stayed on the right side of the law was because they worked for rich and powerful men, they made a living by bashing in the skulls of hard working people who only wanted to earn a fair wage.

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NeoWolf

“were” being the operative word. The Pinkertons are not run by the same people they historically were. Also have you any idea how many businesses, corporate leaders, politicians, political parties, governments, regimes, religions and organisations and on and on worldwide the description you gave applies to that are now “legitemate”?

Doesn’t really change the fact that using someones established and often legally registered identity without permission is illegal though and a polite little email can avoid that complication without all the grief and litigation and/or knee breaking lol.

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primal

its a game set in the wild west therefore only the historical accuracy of that time matters. just cus its owned by someone else now means nothing as nothing they do is relevant. its just pure and simple cash grabbing that will go absolutely no where and the pinkertons name is used in alot of wild west films and TV shows set around that time because they were the guys to solve stuff. Bet they havnt tried to russle up any money from them

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NeoWolf

Actually Historical accuracy has ZERO relevance here. They got hit with a cease and desist because they used an organisations registered business name without permission in the portrayal of that game, when the name and its reputation belong to someone else LEGALLY.

All of which could have been easily avoided with a polite simple “May I..” email beforehand during the games development.

It is no different than a writer plagerising someone else work. Just because you want to use something doesn’t mean you can..without permission. Especially when the person(s) using it without permission stand to gain financially…that simply isn’t how the law works im afraid.

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Mewmew

This is about historical accuracy though. Pinkertons are used in western movies and such all the time, being portrayed as they actually were. It’s like asking someone to pay the descendants of Lincoln to portray him. Fair use comes into play, and I’m sure that the judgment will come out declaring so in the end.

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Fenrir Wolf

I feel NeoWolf is in the right here. And this has absolutely nothing to do with wolf solidarity, either. How dare you! You probably think all wolves know one another. Anyway, the correctness has two, primary factors which are both worth considering.

1.) When dealing with a copyright, if someone were to copy that floppy, you’d need to defend your ownership lest you lose it. This is a depressing state of affairs, but such is how the rights to name/image ownership are. In other words, the Pinkertons had no recourse but to slap them soundly around the chops with a C&D. Whether the name belonged to despicable people in the rather distant past or not has no bearing on this legally bound action.

2.) Rockstar had any number of other options that they could’ve chosen. Using a soundalike name, tied to a flanderised perspective of the Pinkertons, which would be indisputably protected by parody law. It would’ve been an easy matter to reach out to the Pinkertons to ask permission, which most likely would’ve been granted as all publicity is good publicity and it would show them in a positive light as good sports.

I’d say it’s ineffable reasons that Take-Two/Rockstar chose this path, but that wouldn’t be true. Generous, yes. Hardly true. Disingenuous, even. The truth of the matter, then, is that they were arrogant. An attitude I’ve seen with one too many large publishers is the cynical belief that they’re ‘too big to fail.’ Which gives them the right to use copyrighted material, any copyrighted material.

As much as it pains me, and it does bloody pain me, I must side with the Pinkertons. As NeoWolf pointed out, it would’ve been a simple matter to acquire a license to the name to use in their game. They didn’t want to pay, naturally, so they went ahead and did it anyway.

Certainly, today it’s the Pinkertons, but who’ll be the victim of this arrogance tomorrow? The parties are irrelevant. The act is both illegal and unethical.

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Utakata

I am not so sure it’s strange, as it is more duplicitous than anything…as they are suing to sanitize their own history of themselves. /bleh

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silverlock

No the creepy part is I don’t think they are they just want to get paid. Their infamous rep is what makes them stand out and their websites Illuminati symbolism only tries to reinforce that image.

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Mr.McSleaz

The Pinkertons, One of America’s First Organized Crime Families.

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McGuffn

They’re used, by name, in westerns and other movies.

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Darthbawl

Oh boy, this sounds really juicy. I’m going to have an extra large bowl of popcorn ready for this one.

I hope Leonard French over on YouTube picks this up, would love to hear what he thinks about this.

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silverlock

Does prior art have any influence on this as many movies and books have Pinkerton agents in them.

Also check out their website creepy as hell.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

WWBASD

What would Butch and Sundance do?

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

Hear hear.

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Wilhelm Arcturus

The Pinkertons, sick of being cast by others as the bad guys in history and literature, change things up and cast themselves as the bad guys instead.

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Armsbend

I’ve been impressed with your turns of phrase lately.

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Wilhelm Arcturus

I’ve taken to deleting most of my comments here before I press the post button, which I think has led to a general improvement in quality. And I have a blog of my own if I want to bitch and run off at the mouth, so that can always absorb the excess.