White Wolf sues Sony over the movie "Underworld"

Black Omega

First Post
jdavis said:
And for those who actually care about Hulk Hogan here is a link to his early history: http://www.cooldudesandhotbabes.com/hoganbio.html
He started using the name Hulk Hogan in 1980 (although he had used the term hulk before), he didn't use Hollywood Hogan till the mid 90's and that had to do with the NWO wrestling gimmick.

Yep, after his heel turn in 1996 he started using the Hollywood Hogan name, to play up his movie 'career', and in the hope he could quit paying Marvel for the Hulk name. It didn't work out for him, though.
 

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Mark Chance

Boingy! Boingy!
buzzard said:
Yeah I think Iremember them using silver nitrate as a poison in Blade. I may be wrong though.

Therein lies part of the problem: Who can remember?

Suppose I decide to write a vampire movie. I pull out, let's say, a half dozen other works as references:

1. Stoker's Dracula, the book, not the awful Winona Ryder movie.
2. Hambly's Those Who Hunt the Night.
3. Near Dark, that wonderful film with Lance Henriksen as the father of a family of vampire drifters.
4 and 5. King's Salem's Lot, both the book and the TV movie.
6. Rice's Interview with a Vampire, even though I loathe the book.

I carefully review each book for ideas about how to portray vampires. To avoid charges of plagiarism, I tweak this, fiddle with that, liberally apply synonyms, et cetera. Once I'm done, I've completed a screenplay that, while hardly original in all of its parts, does reflect an honest effort not to plagiarize.

Now, the burning question: How many points of similiarity can WW still manage to claim even when not a single source is WW?
 
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Villano

First Post
buzzard said:
Superman adds heat and x-ray vision, but if I made each up using a point buy game system, the two would look damned similar. Spiderman is not even remotely similar. Sure we have super speed and strength, but that's it. He does the web thing both swinging and shooting. He climbs walls and has a
'spider sense'.All of which are quite different. Captain Marvel has a majority subset of Supes powers, and nothing else.
Much of what you list as commonality between Supes and Spiderman are core to the genre (secret identities, costumes).


That was my whole point. When DC argued things like having a cape, superstrength, and flying, they were covering things that described virtually all superheroes. What I was saying was that if you lay out your similarities to a jury that has never read a comic, you could make a case that Spider-Man is a rip-off of Superman.

Most of us laugh off WW's points about vampires being fast and strong and werewolves being hurt by silver, but to someone that's never been to a horror movie, that may seem like "evidence" to them.

It'd be like WotC suing another RPG company because their games have dungeons and dragons and magic. Everyone here would laugh at that, but what does the 65 yr old woman sitting on the jury know?

BTW, I'm not saying that WW's case is baseless since I haven't seen the movie or read the book. I'm just making a point about frivilous lawsuits in general. After all, Spike Lee got money out of Spike TV even though his real name isn't even Spike. I wonder if he sued the video game company called Spike, too.


Now of course the origins, dispositions, and motivations are all quite different. I guess it just depends on what is the more important stuff. The court decided that there was too much in common. Tough luck for Fawcett.


I'm not sure of the exact final outcome of the case, but I don't believe the court ruled for DC. IIRC, Fawcett eventually settled with DC and ceased Capt. Marvel publications. I don't recall the reasons. I assume the legal bills piled up and/or Capt. Marvel sales went down to the point that keeping the battle up wasn't worth it.
 

jdavis

First Post
Mark Chance said:
Therein lies part of the problem: Who can remember?

Suppose I decide to write a vampire movie. I pull out, let's say, a half dozen other works as references:

1. Stoker's Dracula, the book, not the awful Winona Ryder movie.
2. Hambly's Those Who Hunt the Night.
3. Near Dark, that wonderful film with Lance Henriksen as the father of a family of vampire drifters.
4 and 5. King's Salem's Lot, both the book and the TV movie.
6. Rice's Interview with a Vampire, even though I loathe the book.

I carefully review each book for ideas about how to portray vampires. To avoid charges of plagiarism, I tweak this, fiddle with that, liberally apply synonyms, et cetera. Once I'm done, I've completed a screenplay that, while hardly original in all of its parts, does reflect an honest effort not to plagiarize.

Now, the burning question: How many points of similiarity can WW still manage to claim even when not a single source is WW?
I don't think they would have any chance at a lawsuit here except for the book, and that gives them a pretty good chance. The plot of the book being so similar to the plot of the movie is the case, the other stuff is just to provide a weight of similarities (60 bad points are still 60 points and the large amount carries a lot of weight even if many of the points are goofy). This is a civil case not a criminal one, they don't have to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt. OJ won his criminal trial but still lost the civil case. They have enough evidence to have a good shot at convincing an average jury. Heck they got 10 times the case Spike Lee had.

A question on Sony. Did they produce this movie or are they just distributing it? That makes a big diffference in how much they should of known (sombody dropped the ball somewhere or this would of never come up).
 

Klaatu B. Nikto

First Post
I decided to do some 'research' and rewatch the first Blade movie. :D

They changed Blade's origin from the comic some but not noticeably AFAIK. In the comic, Deacon Frost was an old man for example.

A member of 'vampire board of directors' refers to the vampire nation. Since each board member's appearance has little in common with each other, the vampire nation may be divided into vampire 'tribes' or clans. Also at the end, during the La Magra ceremony, each of the born vamps stands under a glyph, arguably representing each 'clan'.

The serum that Blade used to keep his vampire side in check probably had garlic since that sent vamps into anaphylactic shock. The vampire mace Whistler gave the doc was silver nitrate and essence of garlic, possibly the poison someone spoke of earlier.

Before the doc and Blade crash the Japanese nightclub, he gives her a pistol loaded with 'silver hollowpoints filled with garlic' which is backed up when he's prepping for his assault on Frost. The stakes are probably similar design. It wouldn't be surprising if the shotgun had garlic or a silver compound mixed in with the shot.

There's also the manuscript Frost was deciphering that had vampire history. Quite similar to the Book of Nod from Vampire: the Masquerade.

Considering the movie came out in '98 and V:tM came out earlier, chances are the game had some influence. But I'm just muddying the water. :p
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Here's a point to consider...

In the computer industry, "look and feel" is occasionally viewed as a valid basis for suit. Even if you cannot prove the code is stolen, having something look and feel enough like another product is occasionally seen as actionable.

The complaint's laundry list of items might be in part intended to establish "look and feel" for White Wolf. The whole is more than the sum of it's parts, so to speak.
 

Klaatu B. Nikto

First Post
I can't believe I didn't think of this before.

Evercrack, er, Everquest is a product of Sony Online Entertainment while the Everquest RPG is produced by Sword & Sorcery Studios. Admittedly EQ RPG isn't near the cashcow that the WoD is but doesn't that seem kinda strange?
 
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jdavis

First Post
Umbran said:
Here's a point to consider...

In the computer industry, "look and feel" is occasionally viewed as a valid basis for suit. Even if you cannot prove the code is stolen, having something look and feel enough like another product is occasionally seen as actionable.

The complaint's laundry list of items might be in part intended to establish "look and feel" for White Wolf. The whole is more than the sum of it's parts, so to speak.
Makes sense. Sounds like they could be trying to focus on the big picture instead of all the little points. That's still a hard one to prove in court (hard to put a exact value on how similar is too similar). Of course the book similarities would also add to that (and the book is probably their best evidence) as the book is set in the World of Darkness.
 

DMScott

First Post
Mark Chance said:
Now, the burning question: How many points of similiarity can WW still manage to claim even when not a single source is WW?

You can get even closer to this case: create a story that includes vampires, werewolves, and star-crossed lovers from feuding factions set in urban club culture ('cause if it's cool enough for the Matrix, it's cool enough for this). Now imagine how many "points of similarity" from the suit WW filed would still apply.

That in a nutshell is why I consider this a frivolous lawsuit - it'd be pretty much impossible to use the given plot elements without inviting a White Wolf lawsuit. It would be like the Tolkien estate claiming ownership of any medieval fantasy work that includes Elves, Dwarves, and a great enemy.
 

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