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October 26 2007

Trouble on the Horizon for 'Warehouse 13'? Jane Espenson's new show seems to be very similar to Steve Jackson Games' 'Warehouse 23'.

To insure order.

Sigh.

Anyway, I don't think the concept of the government housing a bunch of famous mythical crap is entirely new to either of these things. Maybe a name change would be good, I guess, but otherwise they share only the premise that conspiracists have been talking about for decades already.

But I like Jane more than random-RPG-book-guy. So maybe I've got my biased face on.
Well, Steve Jackson isn't so much a 'random-RPG-book-guy'. He's one of the biggies in the industry. It's known that you don't want to butt heads with him.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Jackson_Games

[ edited by kbmartinez on 2007-10-26 14:03 ]
So change the name. As for wikipedia, I can't really take it seriously, who knows what's "real", unless it's supported by newspaper articles about the lawsuits?
And if you want to get really nit-picky about basic concepts, there are even some similarities to Torchwood. Or at least from my "five eps into season 1 on BBC America" point of view.

And I guess I also have my "biased for Jane" face on. But also, this is a TV show, it will have live actors and scripted storylines & all that good stuff. A game is just .... well, a game. Please don't bash me, game lovers, I hate 'em & I want some good new SciFi on my TV.
Trust me, the Secrect Service raid was VERY Much real. That was just the easiest link I could find on the subject. For more information, check this one: http://w2.eff.org/legal/cases/SJG/

Yes, a game is just the game, but both concepts are VERY simiular and since the game is copyrighted, there is more than likely going to be an issue.
I do understand the potential legal issues kbmartinez, I'm just bummed that there may be a glitch in something that sounds like a really promising show. I hope it can be worked out.
Me too. I found the link from one of our SJG reps. I'm sure I'll be hearing more about it soon, once they decide what they're going to. I'm hoping that they settle it without having to go to court, but you never know. :(
The only thing I can see similar is the word 'Warehouse', both in the name and concept. Other than that, I don't think they remotely relate.

Sci-Fi is owned by NBC Universal. If there's any legal trouble, I'm pretty sure it'll get proper attention.

I remember with Tim Minear's 'Drive', somebody claimed they came with the concept, and tried to hassle FOX about it. It turns out they did indeed come up with the concept for a book about a secret illegal cross country roadrace - after the pilot script had been written for the series.
Of course, the idea of a secret illegal cross-country roadrace isn't new, anyway; "The Cannonball Run" dates back to 1981, and it was based on a real race. So I think those claims would have been just wishful thinking even if their concept had been written before Tim's.
I wouldn't worry. The only potential issue is the name, and that's easy enough to change. "Warehouse 13" isn't all that captivating a title anyway.

[ edited by Resolute on 2007-10-26 15:05 ]
Well, there are clearly some similarities. And The SJG game clearly predates the show concept. So, I'd say there is some potential for copyright trouble. On the other hand, you could probably argue, as others pointed out, that the basic concept (secret government warehouse of cool stuff) is relatively generic (though not so generic, I think, that it would count as a scene a faire) so without more similarities (i.e. we'd need to know more details about both works), it's hard to really make the call. (A title change might be a good precautionary move, though.)
You can't copyright ideas, and even if the Warehouse 23 name was trademarked the name Warehouse 13 isn't.

Really, Warehouse 23 is a -more- clever name ;-)

I was struck by the similarities when I saw the original news here, but on reflection I don't see any legal grounds. IANAL, though.
I always thought the "13" was a bit tacky, anyway. So this is a good thing. There are a lot of great shows that have suffered because of their names. (It can very, very hard to convince people to watch a show called "Buffy the Vampire Slayer")

I have mixed feelings about this show. The concept, "Two FBI agents are promoted to a top-secret facility with alien artifacts after saving the President", has the potential to go very, very wrong. On the other hand, Jane Espenson has always been the former Buffy writer I've most wanted to produce a pilot.
I agree...the concept of a warehouse containing secret artifacts controlled by the government is much older than the SJ game AND even older than Raiders of the Lost Arc. It's that conspiracy theory culture.

It's just unfortunate that the names are similar. If it were called 'Storage Facility 13', this probably wouldn't even be a topic of conversation...
Both the description of the game, and the television concept seem to me to owe a lot to the final scene of "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
Jane Espenson was probably my second favorite writer after Joss. So I'm definitely not gonna be too choked up if SJG doesn't have a case (not to mention the fact Steve Jackson Games does GURPS, which I've never liked).
The final scene of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' is a rip-off of the final scene of 'Citizen Kane'.
Well I have to say that to me 'Warehouse 13' sounds like it has more in common with 'Friday the 13th the series' which was on back in the 80's.

Searching for cursed items, be it government or other agency is a common pratice in entertainment and reading the plot of the RPG, he has no real case because the comparrisons are far to broad. He does not have the exclusive use of the #3 or the word warehouse.
It sounds like it could be interesting, as long as they keep away from anything having to do with Vampires and they make it a point to give a wink and a nod to "Dr. Henry Jones Jr." for acquiring some of the older items that were brought in around the 1930s.
"You can't copyright ideas, and even if the Warehouse 23 name was trademarked the name Warehouse 13 isn't."
This is true, but copyright is not the only form of protection available. There is also trademark protection, trade secrets and patents. The similarities here are very close, when I read this, and so it may be wiser to make some changes along the way.
I think this whole thing is making a mountain out of a mole hill. Which is odd for the Internet I know.
Why are people automatically assuming that they haven't already talked to Jackson?

Simon, it's crazy, huh?
Yup, Tamara, They may have already dealt with these interests. If not, no problem at this early stage to change it sufficiently, if necessary , to avoid hassle.
Warehouse 23 was one of the first RPG books I bought. It was the first thing that came to mind when I read the name Warehouse 13. Which was just further justified when I read the storyline summary. So, take that as the reaction of a person who had knowledge of one when he heard about the other.

I like how the article makes it sound like SJ Games is renowned for being lawsuit happy, when their suit against the government was uberjustified. I actually met Steve Jackson a few years ago. Pretty cool guy. Well, you know, cool in the way that an RPG nerd is cool.

Edit: Heh, and I'm comment number 23. Fnord.

[ edited by kishi on 2007-10-26 18:42 ]
I met Steve Jackson at a con in Denver a few years ago. He told the story about the Secret Service raid and his fight.

I hope this can be ironed out, since I love Jane Espenson!
Steve tells that story pretty much everytime he gets the chance. Nice fellow and picky con guest (he must ALWAYS have cold cans of coke and peanut butter cups in his room).
Please don't bash me, game lovers, I hate 'em & I want some good new SciFi on my TV.


Well, since you ask so nicely, I won't...

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