Yep, there’s more information on the Alex Mauer saga. Trying to keep up to date on an issue as complicated as this when you’re not doing this full-time is tricky because it seems like if you blink, you just missed another two pages worth of useful information. While things have quieted down a TINY bit compared to the last three months or so thanks to the ongoing litigation that Mauer seems to be preoccupied with, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t more to talk about. So, I’m going to try to highlight as much as I can that has occurred over the last seven days. The biggest source of information on the issue came from a livestream performed by Leonard French, the attorney representing Imagos Softworks in their on going legal battle with Alex Mauer.
Actually, let’s start there, because you may find it weird that an attorney is doing a public livestream for a company he is representing. I mean, you’re basically giving the other side some possible insight/information regarding the case that you may not realize that you’re giving away. I’m not talking things like the evidence that is going to be presented but more so possible strategies and the way you’ll argue your points in court. While his YouTube channel existed before the case where he talked about other copyright and YouTube related cases, French never talked about any case he was currently involved in.
Well, Leonard actually answered the question about livestreaming during, of course, the livestream on July 21st, 2017. Basically, the case with Alex Mauer needs Leonard to also provide some public relations work to counter the public statements made by Mauer over the length of the ordeal. It’s a weird form of “damage control” even though Mauer is causing a lot of damage to herself publicly as well.
In that livestream, Imagos Softworks owner Don Thacker and producer Lindsay Peck kicked things off. They talked about how things are looking a lot more positive with Leonard French taking the reins of the case, as Don went on to say that a lot of the issues over the last several months with trying to get funding or deciding to go forward on projects had to do with how they were going to handle the ongoing Mauer problem. While they are still waiting to restart the work on Starr Mazer itself, it seems like they aren’t that far off from feeling comfortable enough to start it back up, indicating that art teams were at the ready waiting for the go ahead. Starr Mazer: DSP seems to be already up and running work-wise, as they are working toward the next update for the early access title.
In addition, they clarified some information regarding the DMCA takedowns on Starr Mazer: DSP as well. One case was down to a self-removal by developer Imagos Softworks, where they decided to remove all of Mauer’s work to avoid any future claims. This came after the first claim by Mauer that seemed to target the music but not necessarily the sound she worked on. However, the last claim (made by Mauer) seemed to target one specific sound in the archived branch of the source code. That sound file wasn’t actually used in the live build of the game, but Imagos did remove it from the source despite that after that claim.
However, there’s some good news that’s come out of this, even if the restraining order somehow didn’t stop Alex Mauer from making more claims on Imagos’ work. Valve has indicated that their music/sound is now protected from audio DMCA claims made on the Steam store going forward on Starr Mazer: DSP. Basically, even if I make a DMCA claim on it (even though I have no valid claim), Valve won’t automatically take it down, and it’s implied it won’t be taken down period. That’s good to hear for anyone looking to pick up the game and for Imagos themselves; it’ll be available for anyone to buy without fear now, especially if Alex decides to ignore the restraining order or use a third party to try to get the game taken down. Remember, the last claim made by Mauer was during the Steam summer sale where Imagos could have maximized the sales of their titles.
After Imagos signed off the livestream, Leonard French went into some of the newer details regarding the restraining order and latest in the ongoing court case. First of all, French took the threats against his life from Mauer very seriously. At one point, French wore a stab-proof vest to protect himself and was generally cautious when it came to the hearing.
Secondly, it should be noted that the Restraining Order on Alex Mauer regarding the DMCA situation is a bit rare (noted as Rule 65: Injunctions and Restraining Orders). Specifically, restraining orders are usually against acts of violence and keeping people away from each other, but there are provisions like we saw with the DMCA takedown requests ban on Alex Mauer in this case. French had gotten the temporary restraining order hearing (TRO) by speaking to a clerk. If you missed the explanation in the first article in this series, basically Alex Mauer cannot make any more DMCAs claims on the Starr Mazer: DSP game, as well as any video/related work using Starr Mazer: DSP in fair use. If she does so, she’ll be found in contempt of court and could face jail time and fines.
After the hearing was scheduled, a lawyer for Mauer requested some time extension to try to get up to date, as the lawyer was hired in the time frame of the TRO being submitted. That extension was denied. This leads us to the day of the TRO hearing. Mauer challenged the order indicating that she had already agreed to halt all DMCA takedowns in the extension request, why should a TRO be needed. Leonard French argued that he wanted Mauer under the rules of the judge’s contempt powers. A judge’s contempt powers are one of the most powerful tools in his arsenal: as it allows him to enforce court orders by imposing punishment if they are broken: including fines and jail times. There would be a direct consequence for Mauer to send out a DMCA claim, as opposed to a verbal agreement that she could easily break, and not have any punishment other than potential legal action. The claim was granted, and then Mauer apparently attempted to fire her counsel. This information came from some briefs made by Mauer’s lawyer at the time.
The lawyer indicated that Mauer did not want to talk to her anymore, and based on the 1.16(a)(3) Pennslyvania Rule of Professional Conduct, they had to remove themselves. In addition, the lawyer indicated that Alex did not listen to his legal advice, going to Leonard French and discussing issues publicly. Now, despite all of what just occurred, there was another hearing regarding the TRO that was scheduled a week after the original date.
On July 19th, 2017 Alex Mauer showed up to the second court date with her father and indicated that she still hadn’t found a lawyer. The TRO was still granted, however, and new information came from this hearing. She has until Monday, August 21st, 2017 to locate an attorney to represent her. That’s just to find the lawyer in question, however, that lawyer would have additional time to get up to speed, and respond to the Plantiff’s case by September 25th, 2017. Now, you may find that a little strange given the fact that the extension for the TRO wasn’t granted originally. But as French said in the livestream, the judge is giving Alex every opportunity to defend herself, and if she can’t seem to figure it out, well, that’s entirely on her. Basically, Alex needs to find an attorney, if she can find one that will take the case.
Leonard French indicated that hearing, despite extending the time frame, can work in Imagos’ favor. It gives French time to possibly amend the case with new charges, which you may think should be pretty cut and dry considering the evidence presented. However, there’s a case that just happened that could have an effect on Imagos v. Mauer.
In the livestream, French referred to it as the Copyright Cookbook case. In terms of explanation, Leonard French does it the best considering he’s a lawyer. So I’ll link to this part of the livestream here. But the important part that I pulled out: the unreasonableness of the copyright claim made in the Copyright Cookbook case not only led to the case being dismissed, but the claims were so bad that the judge rewarded the defendants the lawyer’s fees from the plaintiff and his lawyers. It’s implied that lawyers may be uneasy to take the case of Mauer considering the lack of evidence and weakness of the argument presented, as they could be in the sights of the courts cost-wise. To be clear: they wouldn’t be responsible for Mauer’s prior behavior and attitude, but by taking on a weak case that Mauer has, the judge may deem they didn’t do their due diligence and wasted the court’s time. I have to stress that’s only a possibility and is up to the discretion of the judge. But it is a possibility that has recent case law to support it.
It was indicated that after the court case is done, Imagos may add Leonard French to the game for all he’s done for the company as a pilot to Starr Mazer DSP.
TechRaptor will continue to monitor the story, and attempt to update on a weekly basis if there are reasonable updates to the story.