Former Alone in the Dark Developer, Frederick Raynal, Wins a Decade-Long Legal Battle Against Atari

By Shanker Varma 25.09.2016 1

Former Alone in the Dark Developer, Frederick Raynal, Wins a Decade-Long Legal Battle Against Atari on Nintendo gaming news, videos and discussion

The High Court of Lyon (natively known as Le Tribunal de grande instance de Lyon) ruled in favour of Frédérick Raynal, who made significant contributions to video game technology through the Alone in the Dark series. After a decade long legal battle, it was held that developers themselves ought to receive named recognition and financial remuneration for their work as acclaim should not be awarded solely to the publishing body who may in fact make no tangible contribution to the work.
Raynal worked to bring new experiences to the world through technology that displayed video games in three dimensions, let players see the work through different points of view and altogether immerse themselves in Alone in the Dark. Nonetheless, when his contract was up, Atari gave no additional remuneration for his work, despite the game inspiring four sequels, a film adaptation and receiving the 1993 game of the year award from French magazine Génération 4.
In France, the vast majority of law is outlined in various corpora known as Codes. The Code of IP Law (le Code de propriété interllectuelle) has a provision that allows the rights over software to flow from the developers to their employing companies, usually publishers like Atari. This means that, through contracts of work, developers of a game can hand over their copyrights to publishers. Nonetheless, the French Supreme Court (la Cour de cassation) held in 2009 that a video game is a complex work that cannot be reduced to a single piece of software.
It is on this ruling that the Lyon court based its decision that the publisher did not have a role in the development of Alone in the Dark and so the work of different individuals was the predominant force behind the game's creation. This let the court find that that game isn't a single piece of work whose copyright can wholly be attributed to Atari alone in its role as publisher. Raynal was therefore deemed the author of the softwares 3D Desk and Scene Edit, as well as various gameplay features.
An expert has been appointed to evaluate the monetary amount of damages and interest that will be awarded to Raynal in his role as author of parts of Alone in the Dark. The court also said that Raynal's moral rights had been infringed by Atari when it did not credit is name when collecting its awards from the magazine Génération 4.

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Cant help but wonder if this will have knock-on effects with other french developers. Seems like a far reaching judgement. <-- Tells some truly terrible tales.
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