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September 9, 2003

Hey! You Put Your Garou in My Ventru!

Posted by Mike on September 9, 2003 2:51 AM
"You could say he was a brave man. Hell... you could say he was a bicycle. See? You could say just about anything you want!" -- "Doon" (more or less)

My least favorite part of the copyright class I recently took was playing the whole "does it infringe or not?" game, and here's an item that seems to fill the bill for everything I hated about that game, namely that faced with a competent/hungry/pissed off attorney, people can say just about anything they want. (Certainty! I crave certainty! Not "well, it might stick.")

The upcoming movie "Underworld" looks sort of interesting: It's a kind of Matrixey-Bladey sort of thing capitalizing on the universal appeal of emotionally distant hotties in vinyl pants. "Underworld" centers around the forbidden love between a vampire and a werewolf... a refiguring of "Romeo and Juliet." WhiteWolf, creator of a line of role-playing products involving werewolves and vampires, is suing "Underworld's" studio for copyright infringement.

Some of the complaint seems, well, infringey, some of it is sort of stupid, like:

56. In the World of Darkness, some vampires are capable of amazing
speed. In "Underworld," some vampires move with amazing speed.

90. In the World of Darkness, wood does not kill vampires. In
"Underworld," the werewolves do not use wood to kill vampires,
nor mention it as an option.

Regarding point 90, I wonder if "Free Willy" is infringing on "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" because it doesn't have a character named Captain Bly who wants to kill Willy, who is not named "Moby," and neither did "The Incredible Mr. Limpet," but both have whales. If this sort of thing is held up to be infringement, WhiteWolf will essentially get away with saying "If it wasn't in 'Dracula,' but it's about vampires, it's infringing our copyright."

Anyhow, all the links you need are pretty much found on the metafilter thread about the story. I'm only linking to it to have an excuse to try out my "Incredible Mr. Limpet" analogy.


Read the story The love of mosters and then you will get the point junior. and purhaps read the statements?

Posted by: Death at September 10, 2003 6:51 PM

I've read the story.

I've also got the Underworld novelization.

I'm also a White Wolf gamer.

And trust me, there's little to no true lawsuit-worthy similarities in the two.

Posted by: Misty at September 13, 2003 8:20 PM

Perhaps next we will see that Anne Rice is suing white wolf AND underworld for infringement since Lestat moves with astounding speed. Or would it be white wolf suing her?

Posted by: Gabby at September 14, 2003 10:51 PM

I'm really surprised at the negativity surrounding this law suit. While some points such as 56 and 90 are weak others, like 65 and 79 for instance are fairly strong. There are several others that seem very close as well and the plot I feel is just as close as other movies which gave credit to their sources. While it's not a carbon copy it's closer then I'd like a movie to come to any of my work. Oh, by the way, i've read Love of monsters and played WW games, and while i've only seen trailers, reivews and plot outlines of the movie, it screams ww to me.

Posted by: Anonymous at September 19, 2003 5:02 AM

Hell I thought WW made it and now it saddens me to hear of this lawsuit. I was hoping they would come out with another. I was glued to the screen, excited to finally watch a movie that came so close in accuracy with both genres and their world of conflict and history.

Posted by: Infinity at January 14, 2004 6:47 PM

Cripes, people. They're both just Romeo and Juliet with Vampires and Werewolves. Vampires, Werewolves, and the aforementioned Romeo and Juliet Plotline are basically public domain material. Sure, there were similarities. What do you expect? You take Vampires, Werewolves, and a modern setting, and give them the same god damn story you didn't even write (go Shakespeare), and you're going to end up with the same thing altogether. White Wolf had some very valid points. In the sense that both they and the producers of Underworld used Public Domain material in a modern setting. Some of you may think I'm anti-White Wolf, with me saying all of this, but I'm actually an avid Vampire and Werewolf player, and I absolutely hated the movie Underworld. But first and foremost, I'm a writer (albeit, not a published one). I can understand the feeling when someone else uses an idea you thought you had created. And it's not a feeling of outrage, it's a feeling of hopeless inadequacy as you realize anyone can write the story you just wrote, because there's nothing original inside of it. Nancy A. Collins just needs to come off her high horse, and realize that her book was absolute tripe.

Posted by: Max at June 12, 2004 9:29 PM