Midway Cleared Of Psi-Ops Copyright InfringementS

A federal judge has ruled in favor of Midway in a copyright infringement case over its 2004 game Psi-Ops. A California screenwriter sued the publisher last year, claiming Midway swiped elements from his movie script, also titled Psi-Ops.

William L. Crawford II filed suit against Midway in March of 2007, pointing out similarities between the the 1998 screenplay for Psi-Ops and the video game Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy, both of which feature similar plot devices, characters and naming. Both projects featured similarly named Psi-Agents with telekinetic or pyrokinetic powers and a terrorist organization comprised of psionic soldiers.

Judge Florence-Marie Cooper didn't find the similarities "protectable" under the Copyright Act.

Cooper granted summary judgment on all claims for Midway Games, represented in the case by Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, agreeing with the Chicago-based publisher that “few, if any, similarities between the works at issue that are protectable."

Crawford claimed in his original suit against Midway that the publisher may have had access to details of his Psi-Ops screenplay he'd written via several web sites built to support the project. He also then claimed he'd showcased his works at E3 2001 and been given media attention in various sci-fi publications.

Judge Cooper rule there was “minimal evidence supporting a reasonable possibility” that Midway had access to Crawford's works. She noted “No reasonable juror can find that Plaintiffs’ [screenplay and web sites] and Defendants’ video game are substantially similar in the expression of their ideas.”

Crawford was seeking $1.5 million in compensation for his copyright infringement claim.