Lieutenant
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 81
So, question.. regarding the canon characters in STO, it seems like we're getting a lot of "that one guest star who was in one episode", and we're not getting too many Major Characters. There seems to be some kind of legal dilemma here, but I'm not sure what it is.

The obvious exception here is Worf, who kind of actually looks like worf.. and Spock, who kind of actually looks like Spock. Bones looks like bones.

Then you have Scotty, who doesn't look like Scotty.. Holo leeta, who doesn't look like Leeta.. the list goes on.. Taris, Sela, the female changeling, Klag..

Then there are a whole slew of characters that were children, but are now adults, and so would not resemble themselves anyway.. Q jr, Naomi Wildman, Icheb and all.

So, what gives? I can understand that the laws behind likenesses are complicated.. but you'd think that the actors themselves would have the rights to their own likenesses, so why doesn't Leeta look like Masterson?

And also.. why doesn't Scotty look like Doohan, while Mccoy looks like Kelley?

Now that they have Denise Crosby coming in, will Sela look like Sela?
Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 655
# 2
01-14-2013, 07:37 AM
The issue has to do with likenesses, as you pointed out. It's one thing for an actor to do a voice for a character. But you have to remember that most of these people are members of the Screen Actors' Guild. I am not entirely sure how it works, and my facts may not be entirely straight here, but I think I remember reading somewhere that licensing a voice and licensing the likeness are two separate things, and while doing voice work entitles the actor to a one-time payment, if their likeness is used, there are ongoing royalty payments involved. In other words, If they added Picard into the game, aside from having a somewhat elderly-looking bald NPC, if they made it look like Patrick Steward, they might be required to pay a royalty fee for as long as Patrick Stewart's likeness is in there.

Like I said, my details may be a bit fuzzy, but really I think it all comes down to one thing: MONEY.
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There are many problems with STO that only the Devs can fix. And they should...
At the same time, there are many problems that we are perfectly capable of fixing ourselves. And we should...
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Lieutenant
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 81
# 3
01-14-2013, 07:49 AM
Certainly it has to do with money, but from my non-expert perspective it seems inconsistent how this is handled in games.

In Example: Star Trek TNG: A Final Unity has the likenesses of the entire TNG cast and their voices.

Elite Force has most, if not all of the Voyager cast likenesses and voices..

there are other examples of course.

Armada has Patrick Stewart's likeness and voice.. it didn't seem to be a problem for those games to obtain the rights to Star Trek likenesses.

And what about Scotty? Doohan isn't alive, so who controls the rights to his Star Trek likeness?

And what about cases like Morn, who the makeup is clearly not a person, it doesn't really matter who's inside morn's suit, its gonna look like Morn.
Starfleet Veteran
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 2,455
# 4
01-14-2013, 08:01 AM
It's not a matter of it being a problem, but of cost. Final Unity had a ridiculous budget for a game with a really small scope - strip out the Star Trek license and it would have been a small low budget game with unusually good graphics for a DOS game, one of the first to require an FPU. Armada, like all of Activision's Trek games, also had a massive budget. Activision lost money on most of its Star Trek games, and even its most successful ones had less success at higher cost than a generic military shooter, leading to their very public hissy fit, lawsuit, and then losing the license in 2003. Same pattern with Zenimax's run of Trek games - budgets rivaling an Elderscrolls game with a fraction of the sales to show for it. They at least skipped the hissy fit and confessed they'd overinvested, releasing too many games in too short a time for the niche they filled. MMOs have additional considerations potentially driving the cost even higher, hence why most that do have extensive voice acting use developers or other people already on the team instead of guild actors... Not all of them with the cheesy results STO does.

As for Doohan: Your estate does not die with you. Whoever controls his estate, be that an heir or an appointed trustee or a corporation he created before dying to own his likeness for him (don't see this much with actors, more common with artists or writers, but still possible) controls his likeness.

Last edited by hevach; 01-14-2013 at 08:09 AM.
Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 655
# 5
01-14-2013, 08:05 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by klaitu View Post
Certainly it has to do with money, but from my non-expert perspective it seems inconsistent how this is handled in games.

In Example: Star Trek TNG: A Final Unity has the likenesses of the entire TNG cast and their voices.
The royalties were likely a fixed rate based on sales. But an MMO is considered live content and that may change things. Their image would be perpetually out there.

Quote:
Elite Force has most, if not all of the Voyager cast likenesses and voices..
Again, another stand-alone game where profits only come from sales.

Quote:
there are other examples of course.

Armada has Patrick Stewart's likeness and voice.. it didn't seem to be a problem for those games to obtain the rights to Star Trek likenesses.
Again, another game whose only profits came from direct sales.

Quote:
And what about Scotty? Doohan isn't alive, so who controls the rights to his Star Trek likeness?
Perhaps his family did not want his likeness used?

Quote:
And what about cases like Morn, who the makeup is clearly not a person, it doesn't really matter who's inside morn's suit, its gonna look like Morn.
Morn looks like Morn to me... He's sitting there at the bar in Quarks, just as silent as ever. They are not worried about the likeness of Morn, though they might have had to get permission to use the character from CBS, I don't think they paid any royalties for it.

See you have to realize that an MMO is not the same as a stand-alone game in that when they made stand alone games like Armada, Elite Forces and others, they factored royalties into the equation. You know that when a game is sold in stores, it is bought by the store from the publisher. It is the sale of those units that are used to calculate the royaltyies, not the reseller sales. There could be several copies of those games still floating around out there through varrious outlets. But they have already been paid for.

With an MMO, such royalties would be on-going, and have to be factored into everything associated with Cryptic/PWE's revenue. That means C-store sales as well. Some people already feel that some C-store items cost too much as it is. Imagine if they had to tack on considerations for royalty fees as well...

At least that's my reasoning on the matter...
------------------------------------------------------------------------
There are many problems with STO that only the Devs can fix. And they should...
At the same time, there are many problems that we are perfectly capable of fixing ourselves. And we should...
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commander
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 366
# 6
01-14-2013, 08:09 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by klaitu View Post
Certainly it has to do with money, but from my non-expert perspective it seems inconsistent how this is handled in games.

In Example: Star Trek TNG: A Final Unity has the likenesses of the entire TNG cast and their voices.

Elite Force has most, if not all of the Voyager cast likenesses and voices..

there are other examples of course.

Armada has Patrick Stewart's likeness and voice.. it didn't seem to be a problem for those games to obtain the rights to Star Trek likenesses.

And what about Scotty? Doohan isn't alive, so who controls the rights to his Star Trek likeness?

And what about cases like Morn, who the makeup is clearly not a person, it doesn't really matter who's inside morn's suit, its gonna look like Morn.
How it's handled and the fees involved can vary from game to game, most games are stand alone and the actors may recieve a flat fee or a percentage of the profits for X years, in the instance of most Star Trek games, many of them were licensed by the copyright holder whilst the show was aired so depending on the contract with the actor they may have had the rights to license the actors likeness and voice for the games.

Now we're talking 10 years since the last official Star Trek production from the TNG era, most of the contracts signed are now null and void meaning that it'd be down to the individual actors to decide if they want their likeness and voice ingame and if and how much they want to charge for it.

Actors wearing prosthetics are an entirely different matter altogether and can depend on how recognisable the actor is whilst wearing the prosthetics, but most prosthetics, especially ones like Morn, have their appearance licensed to the copyright holder rather than the actor.

Last edited by bluedarky; 01-14-2013 at 08:11 AM.
Lieutenant
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 81
# 7
01-14-2013, 08:17 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by sirsitsalot View Post
The royalties were likely a fixed rate based on sales. But an MMO is considered live content and that may change things. Their image would be perpetually out there.
I would argue that no matter how they are displayed, their images are perpetually out there. You could go back and play any of those old Trek games and see their likeness.

Heck, all you have to do is pick up a star trek paperback to see their likenesses perpetually out there.

I don't understand why there would be a difference in licensing a likeness for a MMO vs a single player game. There doesn't appear to be any difference in the voice acting side of things..
Starfleet Veteran
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 2,455
# 8
01-14-2013, 08:28 AM
There's a difference between being able to go back and play them and an MMO. You actually can't buy most of those Star Trek games anymore, they're no longer sold new. Likewise with those paperbacks. Books likewise are not printed indefinitely, you can't buy older Trek books new. Anyplace you get either one from is on the other side of the first sale doctrine, the actors already got their likeness paid from it.

MMOs on the other hand, are "sold new" as long as they're operating. There will never be a point at which the only way to play STO is by digging through the bargain bin of a used game store hoping to get lucky. It's either new or no longer exists.
Captain
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 3,465
# 9
01-14-2013, 08:33 AM
Combine CBS's stranglehold on the IP with Cryptic's scattershot (at best) writing and an inability to actually make anyone who looks like anything in the STO character creator, and you've got what we get ingame.
Republic Veteran
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 5,607
# 10
01-14-2013, 08:34 AM
So where do you guys get your law dagrees from?
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