Santa Cruz, Japan?

18 August 2009

One thing the Ippers like to do on this blog is discuss strange IP sightings, things they’ve seen that look like they could include an intellectual property issue. This past weekend the Ippers had a splendid one!

Ipper dtrizzle and his friends take an annual camping trip to Big Basin Park, and for the past two years, goldenrail has been fortunate enough to go along. This weekend excursion always includes a Saturday afternoon spent at the historical Santa Cruz Boardwalk. In addition to the amusement park rides, sandy beach and cotton candy vendors, the Boardwalk features a large arcade. A large arcade with one of dtrizzle’s favorite games, Street Fighter II.

drummaniaWhile dtrizzle was busy proceeding through the game, destroying every opponent in his path, goldenrail was standing idly near by, occasionally watching, occasionally peering at other nearby games. Next to Street Fighter II stood a game called drummania 10th Mix. Similar to the drum set portion of Rock Band, the screen rolled through lists of “popular” songs from which the player could choose. The reason I say “popular” in quotes is because the game billed the songs as such but none of them were familiar. It soon became apparent why.

A young boy came over and plopped a few tokens into the game. As the game began its warm-up cycle, a license flashed on the screen, “This game for sale and use only in Japan.” (goldenrail wasted a dollar in tokens attempting to get the notice to reappear for a picture, but it did not. She already knew she is terrible at fake music games and did not need an attempt to play drummania 10th Mix to reconfirm this for her.)

japanese screenIt’s possible the game was sold in Japan, but it was certainly being used in not-Japan. This explained not only why the songs were not familiar, but why so many of them were in a mix of English and Japanese, and why the screen often flashed Japanese warnings. [If anyone would care to translate the warning to the left, the Ippers would be most obliged.]

There are several reasons a game like this might have such a licensing restriction on it. This Ipper thinks it most likely that the licenses obtained by the game owner for the music included in the game are not international licenses. International licensing in music can be very complicated, often requiring dealing with collecting rights societies in each country where the music will be performed. It is also quite common for different parties to own the rights to the same song in different geographical areas.

Another possibility is similar geographical restrictions on patents that might be part of the game. Or, perhaps there is an agreement between manufacturers and distributers that certain versions of the game only go to certain regions, or that only one distributor may sell in a given area. Maybe the licensing restriction has to do with delayed release dates, with the games first being made available in Japan and other countries needing to wait (similar to Hollywood movies in the US verses elsewhere.) These reasons are all speculation of course; the real reason for the licenses restriction is not clear from the license notice itself. One thing, however, is clear: that game does not belong in Santa Cruz, California.

Purchase your own drummania 10th Mix here.


One response to “Santa Cruz, Japan?”
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Joi Ito said...

"If you swing the stick widely while playing, it can be very dangerous. Beware."

September 24, 2009 at 4:45:00 AM PDT