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Nerdilydone
10-23-2015, 06:39 AM
Okay, so this is a little different from the other research threads. What I need is opinion, and any relevant legal facts. It's a bit of a weird situation, but I need the research on how you would feel about a certain situation. As everyone here is a writer, that may help me find an angle I'm missing.

So I'm writing a story about an alien, one who has randomly ended up on Earth. Trouble is, he's not supposed to be real; he's from a fictitous video game franchise. That means he's come face to face with the video game he's in. The way the game portrays him is not good -- he's dismissive of humans to the point of being willing to kill them when their planets have been infested by a third, very dangerous species. While he hates his portrayal in the game, the game is accurate as to his motives. So, essentially, he considers humanity inferior, and everyone knows it.

What I need to know is this:
1. If he were going to sue or otherwise act to stop the game from illegally using his identity, what are his options?

2. How would you feel if an alien who didn't like humans showed up, alone and with no known way of going home? Do you think he should be punished for his actions against other characters in the game, whom apparently are also real, in some other dimension?

ShaunHorton
10-23-2015, 06:54 AM
Do you play Starcraft by any chance?

Well, first, if the portrayal of him in the game is accurate, and he does consider Humanity inferior, why would he care about it?

1. I kind of don't think he has any options to keep the game from using his identity. He would have to somehow be completely aware of the legal system of the country he's in, and that would likely have to be the same country the HQ of the game developer/producer is in. Then he would have to convince a lawyer or judge that he is the the same individual in the game and that the individual in the game was based on him. I think an alien being would have much bigger issues trying not to be dragged into a laboratory though than the legal ramifications of a version of himself being used in a computer game.

2. No. Why would it even occur to anyone to try and prosecute an alien being that we didn't know to be real until moments ago, for things he may or may not have done in another dimension? If someone commits a crime in one country, another country doesn't prosecute him for those crimes, they usually (or don't) send him back to where the crime was committed.

Nerdilydone
10-23-2015, 06:59 AM
Ah, thanks. Yes, this is for a fanfiction of Starcraft, but I didn't want to mention it because I didn't want people to get bogged down in details of the game. Besides a lot of people not knowing what that is.

Alright, so if it's not a legal issue, how would you feel about a potentially dangerous alien being allowed on the planet, despite not being that fond of us?

cornflake
10-23-2015, 07:48 AM
Ah, thanks. Yes, this is for a fanfiction of Starcraft, but I didn't want to mention it because I didn't want people to get bogged down in details of the game. Besides a lot of people not knowing what that is.

Alright, so if it's not a legal issue, how would you feel about a potentially dangerous alien being allowed on the planet, despite not being that fond of us?

Being allowed? By whom? Is there a planetary authority I'm not aware of you're thinking of that'd be able to allow or disallow?

Nerdilydone
10-23-2015, 08:12 AM
"Allow" is a bit of a strong word. The alien simply has nowhere to go. Presumably each nation would decide for itself, although they may consider allowing a UN decision or advisement on the matter.

King Neptune
10-23-2015, 04:24 PM
Does the imaginary alien have standing to sue? I don't know, but considering that it is a created work by a human I would doubt that it has standing to sue, but the creator might be able to sure for it.

GeorgeK
10-23-2015, 05:36 PM
I haven't played Starcraft, but if the alien considers humanity that inferior then I agree the alien should not care about laws or suing. The response would likely range from either obliterating the gaming company or ignoring them completely. I would expect the alien to only follow just enough laws to not have to fight an army to be incarcerated.

Nerdilydone
10-23-2015, 06:22 PM
Does the imaginary alien have standing to sue? I don't know, but considering that it is a created work by a human I would doubt that it has standing to sue, but the creator might be able to sure for it.

Well, in the US there are laws against using someone's identity without their permission in certain contexts, and can constitute libel. The law would seem to apply because the people who did it are Americans, and are selling their game within America. Probably other nations can do that too.

cornflake
10-23-2015, 07:36 PM
Well, in the US there are laws against using someone's identity without their permission in certain contexts, and can constitute libel. The law would seem to apply because the people who did it are Americans, and are selling their game within America. Probably other nations can do that too.

The poster was asking about standing - not the rules about libel, but whether a non-human entity (with no citizenship or anything else) can walk into a courtroom as a plaintiff.

In addition, I don't know how libel works with something no one knew existed.

ShaunHorton
10-23-2015, 08:27 PM
Well, keep in mind most works of fiction carry the disclaimer "All characters within this piece are fictional and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental."


Well, in the US there are laws against using someone's identity without their permission in certain contexts, and can constitute libel. The law would seem to apply because the people who did it are Americans, and are selling their game within America. Probably other nations can do that too.

It would be a long and thoroughly arduous process trying to get that to apply to an alien being that nobody knew existed decades after the game was released.

ironmikezero
10-23-2015, 08:46 PM
In the US, even non-citizens (aliens of any stripe) are afforded certain protections under the law (constitutionally articulated rights, etc., mostly regarding criminal matters), although your inquiry seems to be more of a civil nature. An obviously sentient being seeking redress through the civil court system would not be beyond the realm of extrapolated possibility--especially if said sentient had the resources (cash or medium of equivalent value) to engage well regarded legal representation. A court could easily set an appropriate precedent in finding standing for such a plaintiff--after all, non-US corporations frequently engage in civil suits in US courts (remember that corporations are treated as individuals).

Darn, that might make a pretty good legal thriller . . . Good Luck, and have some fun writing it!

cornflake
10-23-2015, 08:53 PM
In the US, even non-citizens (aliens of any stripe) are afforded certain protections under the law (constitutionally articulated rights, etc., mostly regarding criminal matters), although your inquiry seems to be more of a civil nature. An obviously sentient being seeking redress through the civil court system would not be beyond the realm of extrapolated possibility--especially if said sentient had the resources (cash or medium of equivalent value) to engage well regarded legal representation. A court could easily set an appropriate precedent in finding standing for such a plaintiff--after all, non-US corporations frequently engage in civil suits in US courts (remember that corporations are treated as individuals).

Darn, that might make a pretty good legal thriller . . . Good Luck, and have some fun writing it!

I don't think anyone said it wasn't possible - people were questioning. Didn't a court toss a suit brought by humans on behalf of chimps held in some facility recently because habeas corpus can't, they said, apply to a non-human? I'm not saying it's the same, but that I think it indicates there would be at least hesitation.

I think there'd be a lot to establish before a court would accept an alien plaintiff.

ironmikezero
10-23-2015, 09:14 PM
I don't think anyone said it wasn't possible - people were questioning. Didn't a court toss a suit brought by humans on behalf of chimps held in some facility recently because habeas corpus can't, they said, apply to a non-human? I'm not saying it's the same, but that I think it indicates there would be at least hesitation.

I think there'd be a lot to establish before a court would accept an alien plaintiff.


Oh, to be sure, I agree . . . I was fascinated with the element of sentience becoming a game-changer . . .

King Neptune
10-23-2015, 09:35 PM
In addition to the chimp precedent, there is the matter that alien is "not supposed to be real; he's from a fictitous video game franchise." If this alien were allowed to sue, then computer programs of various AI sorts might also be allowed to bring legal actions, and that would be unacceptable to the software industry. For that reason I think that the alien would not be allowed to use U.S. courts, but there might be another country that would allow it.

Nerdilydone
10-24-2015, 08:06 AM
In addition to the chimp precedent, there is the matter that alien is "not supposed to be real; he's from a fictitous video game franchise." If this alien were allowed to sue, then computer programs of various AI sorts might also be allowed to bring legal actions, and that would be unacceptable to the software industry. For that reason I think that the alien would not be allowed to use U.S. courts, but there might be another country that would allow it.

The trouble with your assessment is that you're treating the character as though he did come out of the video game. The angle of my story was more that the game world itself was real, and the game itself was an alternate universe. That is, the character himself is real, not a compliation of pixels or any form of AI.

cornflake
10-24-2015, 08:09 AM
The trouble with your assessment is that you're treating the character as though he did come out of the video game. The angle of my story was more that the game world itself was real, and the game itself was an alternate universe. That is, the character himself is real, not a compliation of pixels or any form of AI.

How is anyone on Earth supposed to differentiate that?

'I came from an alternate universe that's actually that game created by Bob Jones of EA?' How would that be distinctive from the game somehow spawning something, or I don't even know.

Nerdilydone
10-24-2015, 10:47 AM
How is anyone on Earth supposed to differentiate that?

'I came from an alternate universe that's actually that game created by Bob Jones of EA?' How would that be distinctive from the game somehow spawning something, or I don't even know.

True. King seemed to be stating that a pixelated person has no rights. Certainly they should in both cases, but a pixelated person might not be able to properly sue -- the game would have brought them into existence. But if the alien is real, which he is in my story, the game amounts more or less to misuse of identity.

Cath
10-24-2015, 02:08 PM
Your second question belongs in the Brainstorming Sandbox.