Cloned at Birth: The Story of Ridiculous Fishing

May 01, 2013

Fenwick & West copyright litigation partner Jennifer Kelly, chair of the firm's gaming and digital media industry group, is featured in minute six of a Polygon video titled “Cloned at Birth: The Story of Ridiculous Fishing” on the copyright law implications of game cloning.

The video features the story of Dutch game design duo Vlambeer, whose video game, Ridiculous Fishing, was stolen, or “cloned” in 2011: “It is the story of Ridiculous Fishing, and how two men from the Netherlands rallied the worldwide community of independent game developers to take on the practice of game cloning and reclaim their invention to launch what will become (for a time) the best-reviewed iOS game of 2013.”

Vlambeer sold Ridiculous Fishing to a Flash web gaming hub in 2010, retaining the right to produce a version for Apple devices. One year later, Gamenauts released a similar video game for iOS called Ninja Fishing. “The art had been changed and the game had been renamed, but it was in every other way the same game Vlambeer had created. And it was being sold as if it were an original creation. But it was a clone,” according to Polygon.

In the video, Kelly explains that certain aspects of games, including the game idea, are not covered by copyright law.

“When people hear the term cloning, they think that that necessarily means that it’s wrongful, that copying is necessarily copyright infringement,” she says. “There’s an important distinction because if you copy elements of a game that are not protectable by copyright, that’s ok.”