Activision delivers cease and desist to Skylanders tinkerer

first_imgOne of the more clever things about the rising Skylanders game franchise is the models you need to play the game. Not only does is re-ignite the urge to “collect ’em all” but it also binds experience and items to the individual models. When graphing calculator tinkerer Brandon Wilson discovered that the Skylanders communicate with the base that comes with the game via RFID, he decided to do a little bit of looking to see how that worked. Like any of his other digital projects, he posted the notes of his existing research on his website. Days later, Wilson was greeted with a letter from Activision demanding he cease all of his research and remove his work immediately. Too often in the tech sphere does the mighty take down notice get used incorrectly to scare those who behave in a way that a company doesn’t approve. Often times there’s not a real legal leg to stand on, but the fear inspired by the letter is enough to get the content in question removed. Brandon Wilson was greeted at the front door of his home, moments after coming home from work, by a hand-delivered cease and desist letter from Activision’s legal council [PDF]. The letter accused Wilson of violating the anti-circumvention provisions section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by attempting to publishing data that would allow others to decrypt and circumvent the RFID encryption that protects the data on the Skylanders models. The end result of this, according to Activision, would be to change the stats and equipment of the Skylanders without actually playing the game. Or, potentially, use something a little smarter than a Skylander model to allow the user to switch back and forth between Skylanders they didn’t own. There’s just one slight problem with the accusation in the DMCA notice: almost every accusation fails to apply to Wilson in any way. In his response to the notice, along with his statement of compliance, Brandon Wilson points out that none of the examples pointed out in the take down notice, including a link to a website where Wilson supposedly published his findings, aren’t his work at all. Wilson continues to note that the only thing he had was a zip file with the file dump from one of the Skylanders, which wasn’t made publicly available and wasn’t announced when it was put on his website. Despite all of that, Wilson removed the information from his website, and replaced them with the take down notice and his response. Wilson commented that since he replied, he had not heard anything from Activision except their acknowledgment of his compliance. A spokesperson from Activision was not available at the time to comment on this situation. I can understand wanting to keep people from “stealing” Skylanders or to keep Skylander information from being tampered with. However, as a parent of a budding Skylanders fan, I would personally like to have rapid access to a list of Skylanders my child owns on my phone. My phone, with its NFC reader that is clearly aware that these Skylanders are something worth playing with, could really benefit from being able to just tap the Skylander to the back of the phone and have it saved to a database app on my phone. As far as I can tell, Activision isn’t planning on doing that anytime soon, so its a good thing they tinkerers like Brandon Wilson who aren’t doing anything wrong can be thanked for their efforts with cease and desist letters.Read more at brandonw.netlast_img