Update 2: After publication, a representative claiming to represent both the trademark holder and a third party developer (which we have since disproved) reached out to us with conditions of an article change. During our communications the representative acted in a hostile way and send us the following statement, which was also sent to Nick Rizzo:
Today, we spoke confidentially with Mr. Rizzo and came to an agreement allowing Supermarket Tycoon to go back up. It was a misunderstanding and in no way were any of Mr. Rizzo’s friends involved. As of now, we will no longer be pursuing this matter.
Update: Nick has alerted SteamWatch that as of 30/08/2017, the party making the DMCA claim on Supermarket Tycoon has backed down and the game is once again available for purchase on Steam here.
The original story continues below.
Recently, the upcoming indie game Supermarket Tycoon was removed from the Steam store. The game was set to be released on August 28th however, that date is having to be delayed an expected extra 10-14 days due to the game recently receiving a DMCA takedown notice from an undisclosed individual. The developer Nicholas Rizzo came out with a post on his other game Sneak Thief stating that he views the DMCA claim placed on Supermarket Tycoon as being “fraudulent.” Additionally, Nick states in the post that the claim came from someone that he actually knows in real life and also adds is not the copyright holder for the content that he is trying to claim. Nick adds in the post that the game’s content is “100% original content.” So far the DMCA appears to only be filed on the Steam page, with the youtube trailer and itch.io store page still up
After viewing the post, a member of the SteamWatch team went and contacted Nick on Twitter, and Nick was more than happy to provide further comment on the situation.
The first question that was asked was that if Nick worked alone on the project or if he employed some other people to help him with it, to this he responded:
Just my self I’m an independent developer, all my games including Sneak Thief and Supermarket Tycoon have been independently produced
When asked what his stance was on the claimant, whether they genuinely believed the content in the game was their’s or if they were doing it out of spite due to a grudge against Nick, he stated:
In my opinion, it’s mainly a grudge against me, they have no copyright on the content I allegedly stole, even though all my content is 100% original nor do they own it.
In addition to this, Nick supplied the SteamWatch contact with images of a text conversation that he had with the claimant when attempting to negotiate in regards to the takedown.
In addition to the images, Nick expressed ideas of possibly talking to his lawyer in regards to the supposed damages the claimant has done, delaying the release date of the game, with him adding:
The sender wants a royalty for him to lift the claims, which is blackmail in my opinion. I will make absolutely no deal with him as he owns no copyright and the game violates no copyright laws whatsoever. So even if he tries to take it to court which a judge wouldn’t even let him do, he will lose. Therefore I’ll just have to wait the 14 days. In the meantime I’ll be speaking to my lawyer about if I can take him to court for damages due to this.
Talks of a possible trademark infringement are brought up in the text message conversation, which is a separate issue from copyright infringement, so when questioned on if the individual mistook one form of infringement for the other, Nick responded by saying:
He’s not. I mean he could be but he doesnt have a trademark either.
Nick was essentially saying that the friend of his that filed the takedown doesn’t actually own the property that the claimant is stating Supermarket Tycoon violates and is instead attempting to file on his behalf, while also attempting to get additional money out of Nick to release the claim. Nick gave a bit further insight as to what the claimant believes his game is infringing upon, stating:
He states the whole game is a ripoff of a mod for Roblox. The game and mod are similar but in no way is a rip off and contains no content from the mod therefore there is no violation of copyright (if the mod actually has a copyright). It’s like saying King of the Kill is in violation of copyright of PlayerUnknown’s Battle Grounds.
When the SteamWatch representative requested to know what the Roblox mod was, Nick decided to not give the name as he did not want the author of the mod to be harassed in any way, and in addition to this, Nick told the SteamWatch representative, in regards to communication with the creator of the Roblox mod:
…he said he has no connection with the copyright claim. Even if he did there still would be no ground for the claim.
When asked for any additional final comments on the issue, Nick responded by saying:
Nothing much, except for Valve should do a much better job of filtering these reports, maybe do some research into who is making the claim, and perhaps actually displaying proof of copyright before taking games off the steam store.
SteamWatch were unable to get in contact with the claimant for comment on the situation due to them not publically being known, however, we’re happy to take comment if the individual is willing to give it.