Midway sued over Psi-Ops

Screenwriter accuses publisher of lifting 2004 action game's plot and characters from his 1998 screenplay.

Nearly three years ago, Midway released Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy, a third-person stealth-action game and--alongside The Suffering and Roadkill--one of a handful of then-recent original intellectual properties the company had brought to market. However, a Los Angeles County screenwriter is now claiming that the intellectual property wasn't all that original.

Last month, William L. Crawford III filed suit against Midway, alleging that the publisher swiped the plot and characters for its game from a 1998 screenplay he wrote, also called Psi-Ops.

"The premise for the Psi-Ops screenplay is government soldiers with paranormal abilities, or 'Psi-Agents,' that fight terrorists that also have paranormal abilities," according to the lawsuit. It mentions a number of characters, including a foreign-born pyrokinetic with a troubled past; a cool and menacing mind control specialist with a slender masculine build, black hair, trench coat, and sunglasses; and a rogue Psi-Agent who establishes his own underground terrorist organization using other Psi-Agents.

The suit goes on to describe Midway's game premise as American soldiers with paranormal abilities--also called Psi-Agents--fighting terrorists who also have paranormal abilities. It then describes the game's characters in the same terms as the screenplay, including a foreign-born pyrokinetic with a troubled past; a cool and menacing operative with the power of mind control, a slender, muscular build, black hair, and sunglasses; and a rogue Psi-Agent who established an underground terrorist organization using other Psi-Agents.

As for how Midway could have known about the screenplay, Crawford's suit says he had set up Web sites with concept art and had been shopping the project around between 2000 and 2003. Crawford also said he attended the 2001 Electronic Entertainment Expo to showcase the project. The suit also says the company Crawford set up to promote his screenplay, Mindshadow Entertainment, received coverage for the Psi-Ops project in publications, including Star Wars Insider, Indie Slate, and TV Zone.

The US Copyright Office's Web site lists "Psi-ops" as a copyrighted screenplay registered by Crawford on March 26, 1998. It also has a listing for "PSI-OPS : the mindgate conspiracy" registered by Midway on July 9, 2004.

Crawford is seeking an accounting of revenue Midway derived from Psi-Ops and a share of the money, which he estimates should be no less than $1.5 million. A Midway representative said the company does not comment on legal matters.

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Discussion

241 comments
fanirama
fanirama

there was more to this game than just the story. I mean the whole game was created to be fun and unique to interact with. Pay him for just his story piece and send him home. And then make Psi-Ops 2

desert_e_909
desert_e_909

when are we gonna see a sequel,the ending left me wanting to know more.

rpgpro
rpgpro

for those that say he is lying, check out his original script, which he has complete rights to by the way, and it's compared to the story found with the game psi-ops. http://www.mindshadowonline.com/press/PressRelease.pdf. the only thing that bothers me, is he has picture of 2001 e3 where he was presenting his idea to midway, then they not only steal his idea, but they don't change the story at all (same moves, names of moves, rankings of characters, ect), and complain when he sues.

recvx_freak
recvx_freak

its too late now, therefore its obvious that he's lying...

minion_2006
minion_2006

awesome game. so if they rippedthe screen play off this guy, does that measn he could tell us the ending of the whole story??? now i'd pay 1.5 million for that!

Protagon02
Protagon02

In todays media industry....you can't find anything truly original. Every nuance of any plot has been used at least twice. So yeah, this game may have similarities with the screenplay, but come on, the first name for the game: ESPIonage, sucks. Some of the people who I have let to play this game have said "What a jedi ripoff." Yes the guy took his time to file in the lawsuit, it's business savvy, midway couldn't find the 1998 screenplay, it was 6 YEARS AGO. You can't say Midway just ripped something off, you can't say the that guy is just a leech. Both have probably done some ripping and leeching, but that doesn't mean both a re completely right either.

BrassMonkey
BrassMonkey

I knew something was wrong! this game was too good, to be coming from Midway.

rpgpro
rpgpro

yea, it's all real, i know the guy, he was telling me about it, i didn't believe it, until another friend of mine just told me to look it up, thats insane. P.S, he is actually a great person, very nice, humble, and is never in things for the money, i personally hope he gets it, so he can get all his things together. And trust me, he deserves more than he is asking for

jakesoss
jakesoss

I want to see that movie.

dmastor
dmastor

I thought it was a good game and was hoping for a sequel all well but midway come on, you think someone would of had some sense and say hey you know what we should do! Change the name and characters a little[duh] plus how the title get copy written twice? Because on was caps lol

redskinStu
redskinStu

Does seem like a lot of coincidences, IF it's true.

Louis_Armstrong
Louis_Armstrong

but why did he wait so many years to demand? that's kinda suspicious to me.

SteveTwo
SteveTwo

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

CaptainLunchbox
CaptainLunchbox

Haha winey, money-grubbing, garbage-@$$ screenplay writer.

DJDarkViper
DJDarkViper

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

majestikk
majestikk

Can't say much. The man has proof that his work is copyrighted in 1998. Midway definitely should pay out whatever Crawford is asking. As for the concept of Psi-Ops, I remember thinking the idea behind the game was pretty clever. Hopefully Crawford will get his due.

Wedge55
Wedge55

If Clawford's claim turns out to be valid, I suspect that Midway will settle out of court for a lesser amount to make the problem go away. The only reason it would end up a drawn out legal fight is if Crawford gets greedy.

deathknight107
deathknight107

The only thing that Crawford has in his advatage is the point that he does have the part psi ops copyrighted as well as his script 6 years before the game came out. Despite it giving him some ammo that will lead to some questionable actions on why he didn't file it sooner and what claim doe she hae to the game itself. he also need to give proof to back up his claims form the screenplay, if he can't then the ruling will be dismissed and he will lose the case.

xspawn69
xspawn69

I's sure that midway has people who do nothing but fidn and read screenplays that have never been made into anything. It's not exactly an original plot. Maybe someone at Midway watched Scanners when he was younger. " a slender, muscular build, black hair, and sunglasses"... no, that doesn't sound like every generic action hero. A rogue agent trying to take over... never heard of one of those before. Someone with a troubled past... that's never been in a video game or movie before either. It's more likely that they just had similar ideas, that weren't that original. The "screenwriter" is probably just trying to get his 15 seconds of fame and cash in on someone else's work.

blackace
blackace

This will be another drawn-out lawsuit. The guy probably won't see any money for years. Even if he wins, Midway could make an appeal which will last more years. This Crawford guy will probably spend 1/2 the money he would get in legal fees. I can understand him waiting for the sales of the game to go through, so he could get a larger profit if he wins. Doesn't mean he won't have to spends lot and lots of time in court to try and get it.

MrSickVisionz
MrSickVisionz

I know why he waited. If he had sued early on, Midway can pull the game from the shelves and just pay him whatever. 3 years later, its too late from that. The game was fully promoted and has sold whatever amount of copies it sold. It might have even done well enough for the developer to consider a sequel. If you wait to sue then, its puts all the power in your hands because now, ideally, the property is one that the developer doesn't want to just let go of. Now only can you seek more money (due to sales), but the developer may actually want to keep that producet and more forward with it.

Irve
Irve

Hmmm , considering the state of most game plots i'm sure there are many talentless hacks around that have come up with very similar ideas. Hell i'm sure one of the Scanner movies has a fairly similar plot to Psi ops. Or how about xmen characters or other comics ! the States are full of Chancers !!

Gen-Gawl
Gen-Gawl

"Its funny how ignorant some of you really are! It can take years to bring a lawsuit to court, most civil courts are years behind and will take years to catch up on the cases. If he was just greedy like you claim why is he not suing for more than the meager 1.5 million? Why don't you stick to what you guys are good at: trolling systems wars claiming to be hardcore gamers!" I think you need to read the article before insulting other people. It says he only just filed suit last month. Who's the ignorant troll now?

ewjim
ewjim

It looks like thruth...

Lord_Daemon
Lord_Daemon

I guess we'll have to wait and see how valid his case is but what I want to know is where is the sequel to this game?

DevilD2005
DevilD2005

Pro's and cons for his case Pro's: I doubt the word Psi-ops is actually as generic a name as people would think If he was greedy, why ask for a meeger 1.5 mil from a company when he would be well within his rights to ask for 5-15? His screenplay was copy writed in 1998, despite what some of you may think, You cant change a screenplay and have it copywrited on a later date. This whole paragraph ""The premise for the Psi-Ops screenplay is government soldiers with paranormal abilities, or 'Psi-Agents,' that fight terrorists that also have paranormal abilities," according to the lawsuit. It mentions a number of characters, including a foreign-born pyrokinetic with a troubled past; a cool and menacing mind control specialist with a slender masculine build, black hair, trench coat, and sunglasses; and a rogue Psi-Agent who establishes his own underground terrorist organization using other Psi-Agents. " Midway and midway representitives had means to access his story. Cons: The three year wait's purpose cannot be proven. It is possible that the characters run off of cliche's He is asking for money Personally, I think yall shouuld refrain from criticizing the writer being that you critics really know nothing in this subject as does 99-100 percent of us. All we know is what the article says.

CyphenX
CyphenX

Man, that game was an unappreciated masterpiece

Unstoppable_1
Unstoppable_1

Wow this is crazy. Anyway I wouldn't doubt it if Midway stole the idea.

psyko7144
psyko7144

Its funny how ignorant some of you really are! It can take years to bring a lawsuit to court, most civil courts are years behind and will take years to catch up on the cases. If he was just greedy like you claim why is he not suing for more than the meager 1.5 million? Why don't you stick to what you guys are good at: trolling systems wars claiming to be hardcore gamers!

Pete5506
Pete5506

He just wants money, but that game was so fun

ThrawnEternal
ThrawnEternal

This might be true, and he might be owed $$$, but I don't believe it so much if you wait 3 years to sue. If you've been wronged, you should be on their arse ASAP.

pyromaniac
pyromaniac

I am sure this Crawford guy became homeless because he could not find any work with all the crappy scripts he wrote in his life. He did want to do any decent work like everyone does. While he was looking for something to burn and cook his recently killed rat, he found an old copy of some game magazine. As he was tearing the pages to keep his fire burning, lo and behold, he came up on a page which had the review of psi-ops. His head lit up with excitement thinking he can once again gain enough money by suing midway and continue to use his newfound resources to write crappy scripts until he becomes homeless once again. It took him a couple of years to find his long forgotten crappy treasure but he found it nevertheless. To those of you who were wandering why he waited 3 years to sue, your answer lies right here. If he wins the case he should only get a couple of cents for writing such a crappy script. Ofcourse, he should get a bucket of crap as a bonus. Psi-ops was good because of its gameplay and that credit goes to the programmers and artists, not to him.

jakob_187
jakob_187

First off...Psi-Ops was an amazing game, and one of the first on consoles to use the type of physics engine it had in it. Just amazing, and I'm still waiting patiently for the sequel. Second...to whoever is saying "Psi-Ops wasn't even that good of a game"...you aren't that good at life. So shuddup! Third...whether this lawsuit is bogus or not is a tough thing to decide. The thing is, we know what the screenwriter said that matched with the story. However, as someone said earlier...those are very generic types of characters. Nonetheless, if you've watched the special features on that game, or any of the making of stuff, the guys at Midway definitely did their homework on all that s***, so for this douche to come around three years later and demand money for his generic idea is just retarded. Hey, guess what? Half-Life AND Halo has big guns and aliens to kill ! So...with this going to court possibly, the judge would have to look at just how similar they both are. I mean, if the black guy in the dood's script is "Garrett"...then it's seemingly true that Midway's "Barrett" character is a bit of a rip off. lol

Ryo_Kensen
Ryo_Kensen

Looks like he wants some $ to me.

nyjrad
nyjrad

hey u californian screenwriter, if u werent really stupid how come u finally found this out 3 years after the game's been launched?

samurai_rocket8
samurai_rocket8

... he must be strapped for cash.... unless he was stuck in court these past 3 years, this just looks like he's greedy

gonzalezj1
gonzalezj1

Blackstaff "If they had stolen the stuff, he should have filed a lawsuit THREE YEARS AGO when it came out" Agreed. Isn't this a little late? (not legally, just in general) Then again, maybe the screenwriter's not a gamer, so who knows.

Blackstaff
Blackstaff

If they had stolen the stuff, he should have filed a lawsuit THREE YEARS AGO when it came out

fartys
fartys

Not a bad game but they shouldn't have stole the idea, they could have at least asked the guy first. Ahwell thats life.......

Gigatron
Gigatron

this is CRAP!! Get your pitchforks & torches everyone, cuz we demand a sequel. some desperate guy is jealous cuz a game shares similarities with his work. It flopped as a game... so imagine how much it would bomb in theaters!! It was a great game, too. Looks like this douche wants a slice of the pie. I can imagine... "Hmm... I bet I can get a couple million suing this company who made a game whose generic story shares similarities with my failed screenplay. But I'll wait until the game stops selling copies... so I can collect the revenue. Sounds like a plan!" absolutely pathetic. long live midway!

umbracascade
umbracascade

It seems profitable nowadays to write generic bs and then sue the other guy who made similar generic bs. Thank god for the lack of "originality"

Gen-Gawl
Gen-Gawl

It seems a little odd that this guy waited three years to file suit. And to be quite honest, the whole storyline is as generic as they come. Actually, I think I also saw a movie just like this on the sci-fi channel. I'm all for having copyrighted work. But that shouldn't preclude anyone else from having a similar idea. What if I wanted to write a book on a psychic anti-terrorist agency? Would I get sued too? There's a fine line. BUT, if they really did use his work as a basis for the game then they should pay. But they shouldn't just based on some similarities.