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Humble Indie Bundle dev suffers "illegal" game cloning

Cloner claims he can sell cheaper copy of Lugaru due to source code release

Wolfire Games, organiser of the recent $1 million-earning Humble Indie Bundle and developer of indie action game Lugaru, has fallen prey to "illegal" game cloning.

Wolfire alleges that a group of developers including Alex Matlin and Michael Latour, in the guise of 'iCoder' was guilty of " simply downloading the app and resubmitting it to the same distribution channel at a lower price."

Wolfire's Lugaru HD sells on the Mac App Store for $10, and iCoder's 'Lugaru' for $0.99.

Matlin has claimed to Kotaku that "we have every legal right to market and sell the software" as "the license we were granted allows for non-exclusive redistribution of the source code or the compiled product, modified or unmodified, for a fee or free of charge."

This relates to Wolfire's release of Lugaru source code as part of the Humble Indie Bundle, but the studio in its license "made it very clear that the authors retained all rights to the assets, characters, and everything else aside from the code itself.

"It's as legal for them to sell Lugaru as it would be for them to sell Quake 3, Marathon, Aquaria, or Arx Fatalis. That is to say, it is completely illegal."

Apple has thus far declined to respond to Wolfire's request that the cloned game be pulled, with first contact having been made "a few days ago."

The iPhone firm's reaction to cloning and copyright infringement has been varied in the past. It initially complied with Tim Langdell's take-down orders on any games using the word 'edge' but did not intervene following news that League of Epic Heroes borrowed very heavily from Desktop Dungeons, and took some time to respond to the release of a direct copy (even retaining the name) of The Blocks Cometh.

Observed Wolfire," this incident may make developers much less likely to release the source code to their games. Even if Apple takes the counterfeit game down tomorrow, that is theoretically a week of sales down the drain."

Even beyond Apple, while copyright and trademarks are subject to strict laws, simple plagiarism and the theft of ideas remains very much a grey area.

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Alec Meer

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A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.

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