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Sunday, July 14, 2024 | Back issues
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‘God of War’ Doesn’t Infringe Screenplays

(CN) - Sony Entertainment's "God of War" video game is not similar enough in plot, theme, character, dialogue and setting to infringe on the screenplays of two writers who accused Sony of swiping their ideas, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled.

Jonathan Bissoon-Dath and Jennifer Dath said their screenplays tell a similar story to "God of War," in which the hero Kratos "fights myriad human and mythical opponents and ultimately replaces Ares as the god of war," the ruling states. In the game, Kratos is betrayed by Ares, to whom he sold his soul when his army is "almost annihilated and a barbarian king is about to kill him."

Each of the Daths' screenplays opens with a Spartan attack on Athens, in which "it is later revealed that the Spartan kings are loyal to the god Ares," the ruling states. In the end, the Spartan kings are removed from power and a champion, who grows tired of serving Ares, convinces the Spartan army to withdraw from Athens.

"Peace and democracy then reign over Greece," the ruling states.

In a ruling published Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel found "the plaintiffs' protagonist has no discernible similarity to Kratos' suicidal anguish, wrenching guilt and murderous violence. This is in keeping with the fact that plaintiffs' works culminate in an era of peace and prosperity, while 'God of War' ends with a new god of war overseeing wars throughout the ages. Moreover, democracy plays absolutely no thematic role in 'God of War.'"

Though the stories are somewhat similar, as "both involve a questing hero acting in accord with a divine power or powers," Patel said the similarities end there.

Even the dialogue in the screenplays, called "Theseus: A Screenplay Treatment," "The Adventures of Owen," "Olympiad: Version A" and "Olympiad," differ drastically from "God of War," Patel wrote.

Patel found that Sony's use of the "ordinary and clichéd" phrase "knew no bounds" does not infringe on the Daths' use of the same phrase.

The judge also noted the scarcity of violence in the Daths' screenplays. While the Daths' protagonist refuses to kill such an "amazing animal" as the Nemean Lion and decides instead to keep him as a pet, violence pervades "God of War," as Kratos slaughters his enemies and "thrusts his sword upwards, ripping through Ares," as described in the complaint.

The Daths' screenplays are "generally light-hearted, with elements of romance and comedy," while "God of War" "is dark and extremely violent," Patel ruled. "There are virtually no light-hearted or comic moments in the game."

She granted Sony Entertainment's motion for summary judgment.

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