Sony Fingered in God of War Plagiarism Case

Game maker Sony Computer Entertainment and one-time employee David Jaffe have been named in a lawsuit that accuses both Sony and Jaffe of blatantly stealing the work of two others and using that information in the God of War video game series.

Plantiffs Jonathon Bissoon-Dath and Jennifer Barrette-Herzog say that they sent a screenplay entitled Olympiad and an original illustrated map to Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2002. Three years later, a Sony-produced game entitled God of War was on store shelves, which they claim to share many similarities with their work.

"God of War is a derivative work based on and incorporating protected material unlawfully copied by defendants from plantiffs' original works," reads the filing, which was acquired by GamePolitics. "The similarities between plantiffs' works and God of War include similarities of plot, relationships among major characters, themes, setting, mood, pace and dialogue that are unique and pervasive."

Accused similarities include:

  • "The original story of how a champion saves Athens from destruction by the invading Spartan army that has been sent by Areas...Athens is backed by Zeus and Athena."
  • "The God of War image of the Bottomless Chasm in front of Pandora's Temple were clearly derived [from Barrette-Herzog's original map]."
  • "The Champion's family is hacked to pieces...In both stories the Champion feels partially responsible even though he is really not to blame...Each seeks revenge."
  • Both God of War lead Kratos and Bisson-Dath's character Dayh Gaylon are a "fanatical worshipper of Ares to the exclusion of Athena and the other gods."
  • Kratos is equipped with "two massive, glowing sword-like blades fastened to chains fused to Kratos' wrists." Meanwhile, a scene in Bisson Dath's work sees the hands of Zeus "morph into two massive swords that glow like light sabers" while he performs "blades swirling" attacks.
  • "Both Kratos and Gaylon have uncontrollable tempers...Both thirst for conquest."
  • Both works see "flesh and blood" gods morphing out of stone statues.
  • "Both works also take an identical and entire novel approach in their portrayal of the Olympic gods, virtually redefining what it means to be a god."

The original suit was filed on February 29, 2008, with Sony issued its legal response on August 29, 2008.

In that response, God of War creator David Jaffe denied the allegations, labeling most of the apparent similarities as "inaccurate, incomplete, abstracted and/or misleading."

The plantiffs are seeking damages, profits attributable to infringement, and injunctive relief from Sony and Jaffe.

First released on PlayStation 2 in 2005, the first entry in the God of War action series was developed by SCE Santa Monica. A PS2 sequel, God of War II, followed in 2007, with a Ready at Dawn-developed prequel arriving on PSP earlier this year.

A new God of War game is currently in development for PlayStation 3, though Sony has yet to specify a release date for the title. A motion pictured based on the franchise is also in the works.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    September 17, 2008 10:18 AM

    So the accused similarities are roughly the same similarities to be found in any number of stories told within greek mythology? Such stories, even, that were written well before David Jaffe's great, great, great, great, great grandparents were even a twinkle in their great, great, great, great, great, great grandparents' eyes?

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      September 17, 2008 10:19 AM

      would it really surprise you though if sony pulled some shit like this?

      • reply
        September 17, 2008 10:21 AM

        Get Fingered?

      • reply
        September 17, 2008 10:21 AM

        Yes, it would.

      • reply
        September 17, 2008 10:26 AM


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          September 17, 2008 10:29 AM

          you trust them entirely too much then. it's fuckin sony - their team of lawyers can guard them from smalltime screenplay writers with ease.

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            September 17, 2008 10:31 AM

            Giant corporations never do anything wrong, especially the ones that make my favorite video games.

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              September 17, 2008 11:06 AM

              Giant corporations do everything wrong, expecially the ones that make your favorite video games.

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            September 17, 2008 10:32 AM

            Oh, hush up.

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            September 17, 2008 10:44 AM

            Seriously dude, all the examples that were given can be pulled up from ancient mythology, the only similarity they mentioned was the champions family being slain, and the only way that would match up is if the champion himself did it, it was his directly his fault. If these guys haven't sold a script in the last 6 years, then chances are they are bitter they never made it and they want some recognition.

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        September 17, 2008 8:12 PM

        Having worked for both SCEA and SOE, I'd be *very* surprised if they were ever aware of scripts turned down by Sony Pictures. What do you think, that they keep some archive of declined movie scripts and Jaffe was perusing it for ideas? Or is it, rather, that some movie producer read the script, decided it would make a terrible movie but one of the greatest games of all time, and was able to contact Jaffe, a person he had never met, working in an entirely autonomous division within a company that employs tens of thousands of people, and provide him with the script?

        Please, the idea that Sony Pictures is feeding ideas to SCEA or SOE is utterly preposterous. The channels for communication between the two don't even exist. You might as well say Warner Brothers gave Microsoft the idea for Halo.

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      September 17, 2008 10:24 AM

      exactly, what a bunch of bullshit.

      Also it's plagiarism (do the editors mind when we point out typos, or do they welcome them) ? I never point them out in regular posts, but I figure for headlines and stuff the editors might want a heads up if there's a mistake.

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        September 17, 2008 10:27 AM

        We welcome them. My head is fucking spinning from reading the legal docs.

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      September 17, 2008 10:49 AM

      Exactly. They might as well have only put "Both games feature an angry Greek."

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