A few weeks ago, a science-fiction author by the name of John Beiswenger decided he was going to sue Ubisoft. He claimed that the French publisher had stolen his ideas about a machine that would allow a person to access their ancestral memories. Beiswenger’s book, LINK, explored this theme and the plot took protagonists in and out of historical periods. Ubioft’s game franchise, Assassin’s Creed, is based on very similar themes and narrative devices.
Needless to say, the Internet did what the Internet does best: it rallied against Beiswenger and attempted to debunk all of his claims by pointing to similar themes of genetic memories in books that were published way before his. Oh yes, and the obligatory Amazon Review Bombing happened too.
Now, however, Beiswenger has withdrawn his move for litigation against Ubisoft on the grounds that he cannot afford to go after the publisher.
According to Beiswenger’s legal representation:
“My client’s decision to exercise his right to voluntarily dismiss the action, without prejudice, in no way diminishes his stalwart conviction in the merit of his claims against Ubisoft. He is unwavering in his belief that many key components of the Assassin’s Creed video game franchise infringe on many key components of his novel, LINK. We believe Ubisoft has engaged in egregious acts of copyright infringement…”
Beiswenger has voluntarily dropped the case but has done so “without prejudice”, which means that he’s free to resume proceedings in the future. The author stated that he filed the complaint because he believes “authors should vigorously defend their rights in their creative works; otherwise, the laws protecting them simply have no purpose.” In explaining his decision to drop the case against Ubisoft, Beiswenger said “the resources required to defend those rights are unavailable to many individual creators. As a result, rampant infringement is occurring with impunity.”
There’s no way of telling whether Beiswenger will resume legal action in the future. For now, it looks like the Assassin’s Creed franchise is free to stab historical figures without fear of litigation – because Ubisoft was so obviously very afraid. Obviously.