Is Lackey in danger of being shut down like Cockatrice?

Started by Chris, August 10, 2013, 07:19:56 AM

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I recently found out that Cockatrice has been shut down due to a Cease & Desist notice from Hasbro (see here).
I know that Lackey is far less popular than Cockatrice was, and also that Lackey is not specifically focused on playing MTG. But I was still wondering if Lackey isn't at risk of being shut down in a similar way. Especially now that an iPad version is being developed which will probably bring more attention to Lackey.



As I posted before, I don't think there will be a problem.

I don't endorse any particular plugin. I don't host any copyrighted material on my website if it's requested I don't. Most programs can be used in an unlawful manner. If people use photoshop to alter copyrighted images, you don't go after photoshop. People can use iTunes to play copyright protected songs, and you don't go after iTunes. eReader programs can display copyright protected books. And so on. That's the nature of software and it's unreasonable to expect a program to only work in such a narrow field that there isn't the potential for conflict.

Lackey was designed to let people play any sort of game you could play on a table top, as long as someone made a plugin for it. You could play monopoly with Lackey, for example. Or you can use Lackey to create your own original work as many people have done. I am really proud of the fact that I have helped game developers create new games, even if at present these original games tend to have a smaller following. Some people also use Lackey to play copyright-free games (like chess). If my program were designed specifically to play a specific copyrighted game, I can see why that could cause conflict. But that isn't what it is. Lackey is a versatile game engine, and it is my intent to let people do anything you could do on a table top. If a copyright owner has a problem, it would be with the plugin host, which is not me. (I do host some plugins, but if a copyright owner requests I take it down, I do.)

Another issue is that it is very debatable what is and is not legal with regard to allowing a copyrighted game to be played. For example, you could use any email client to play any game back and forth in some form. You could use skype to play a game with someone. You could use printed proxy cards to play a game. You could use a telephone. You could use an instant messenger. It's all different degrees of the same principle. Lackey is essentially a fancy instant messenger program with tools to let you do things like flip a coin virtually. There is the claim that copyright holders can tell you that you don't have the right to pretend to play their games. I think that claim is so broad that it is just not enforceable. I cannot imagine any system could be put in place to stop all forms of virtual play. And any attempt to do so would be very inconsistently applied to the myriad ways of playing virtually. That philosophy just seems untenable.

Some people might think Lackey is similar to a file-sharing program like Napster or kazaa which have been found to violate copyright law. But there is an important distinction between Lackey and those other programs. Napster was letting people download copyrighted data (like music files or image files) without the copyright owner's permission. So instead of paying to download a metallica song, people could obtain it from another unauthorized site. That is a crime because that was unauthorized distribution. But if Metallica posted that song file as a free download on their website, it would not be a crime to get it from there. That's the big distinction. The copyrighted material of a plugin that lackey might use is freely distributed by the copyright owner. In the case of many plugins, lackey users actually download the file directly from the website of the copyright holder. So that's a big difference between Lackey and those file sharing programs. So the issue with Lackey is not how the copyrighted material was obtained (since that is freely posted by the copyright owner), but how that material is used once it is obtained, and that's a lot more abstract. To continue my metallica analogy, if I download a metallica song that is posted as a free download from their website, and then I just play the intro riff over and over on repeat (because that's how I like to hear the song), they can't stop me from doing that. You can't stop people from pretending to play a virtual game, as I discussed in the previous paragraph.

But I don't want to start a whole legal debate on the subject and I'd rather people not do that in this forum.


Hi Trevor,

Sorry for posting this question. It's not my intention to start up a legal debate and I agree with your points.
(I did a forum search for 'Cockatrice' to see if this issue had been discussed before, but it didn't return any relevant results. So I decided to ask, because it seems that Hasbro has decided to take action against a program that serves a partially similar function as Lackey after a very long time.)

Kind regards,


just to let ya know cockitrice isnt down never was just changed server.