Did Nicalis commit copyright infringement?

Apr 11, 2024 at 10:14 PM
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Before I get started, none of this actually matters. All the versions of the game that (Might) infringe copyright are not being sold anymore. Do not harass Tyrone or anyone at Nicalis over this. Also, I apologize if this is common knowledge.

The original version of Cave Story has several graphics that are in Japanese. Most notably, the "yes/no" box, the "Level Up/Level Down" text, and the "Arms/Item" text in the inventory screen.

Obviously, when Cave Story was translated into English by Aeon Genesis, these graphics had to be translated, resulting in these text graphics we know and love in the freeware version of the game. None of these "Aeon Genesis" text graphics exist in the original release of Cave Story.

Naturally, when the rights to Cave Story were bought my Nicalis, that was for the original Japanese version of Cave Story. That means they would have to do all the work that Aeon Genesis did, again. That means a new translation, and new text graphics for the "Original Graphics" mode, which they did. Even in the original 1.0 WiiWare release, we have new, Nicalis-owned text graphics. Note the difference below, with thicker lines for "Yes/No", and the "Level Up/Down" text being all uppercase.
CStextcomparison.jpg
So, everything seems just fine, right? Nicalis has their own assets that they can use in all their ports. Happy ending.

Well, let's look at some screenshots from the 3DS eShop version of the game.
Untitled 10.png
Yeah, for some reason everything is using the Aeon Genesis graphics. Additionally, the same thing is true for the DSiWare version of the game. These are assets that Nicalis does not own. I looked in the credits but didn't see anything mentioning Aeon Genesis.

Interestingly, Cave Story 3D uses the Aeon Genesis graphics for the "Level Up/Down" Text, but uses the Nicalis graphics for everything else.

Untitled 011.png

All other versions of the game (Wii, CS+, Switch) use all Nicalis graphics, which includes all versions of the game sold today. So, this doesn't really matter. And I don't think that Nicalis is EVIL because they STOLE from Aeon Genesis or anything like that, but I thought this was worth pointing out.

Anyway, if you guys have any evidence that Nicalis actually DID get the rights to use Aeon Genesis graphics in Cave Story DSi, 3DS, and 3D, then I'd love to see it. Because the way it looks now, it seems that for a time, Nicalis was actually using assets that did not belong to them.
 
Apr 11, 2024 at 10:57 PM
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Wait until you check out the DSiWare version. I'm just going to say it's nearly impossible that those graphics were copyrighted by Aeon Genesis and they used a font for them through whatever graphics editing software they were using. Much like how the original Cave Story title font pretty much just used Times New Roman "Cave Story" and a modified MS font "Doukutsu Monogatari". So it wouldn't be a surprise if Nicalis uses them as well. Should someone have to be credited, it'd have to be Microsoft, and neither translation has them mentioned in the credits, probably because Microsoft probably doesn't really care.

How much do you wanna bet someone on Twitter will go and find this thread, and try to use it as an excuse to attack Nicalis for the 15 billionth time?
 
Apr 12, 2024 at 12:09 AM
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I'm just going to say it's nearly impossible that those graphics were copyrighted by Aeon Genesis and they used a font for them through whatever graphics editing software they were using. Much like how the original Cave Story title font pretty much just used Times New Roman "Cave Story" and a modified MS font "Doukutsu Monogatari". So it wouldn't be a surprise if Nicalis uses them as well. Should someone have to be credited, it'd have to be Microsoft, and neither translation has them mentioned in the credits, probably because Microsoft probably doesn't really care.
Fair point. I guess the only evidence they were actually copyrighted in the first place is that Nicalis felt the need to make new versions of those graphics in the first place. If they could use the Aeon Genesis text graphics, why wouldn't they?
 
Apr 12, 2024 at 5:46 AM
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I guess the only evidence they were actually copyrighted in the first place is that Nicalis felt the need to make new versions of those graphics in the first place. If they could use the Aeon Genesis text graphics, why wouldn't they?
It's worth noting that both the DSiWare and 3ds eShop versions of Cave Story both only have the original freeware sprites; the remastered sprites don't exist in those versions (as far as I'm aware, anyway). Excluding Cave Story 3D, the Nicalis text graphics only seem to exist in releases of the game where you can pick between original and remastered graphics. Maybe they wanted certain UI elements to be consistent, regardless of settings?
 
Apr 13, 2024 at 1:08 AM
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Interesting little observation you've made here about the victimless crime that NICALiS technically might be committing. If I were looking to indict NICALiS on copyright infringement for using Aeon Genesis content for commercial purposes, though, I think this bug in the 2011 HIB would be a much more egregious instance of that. Basically, nearly all of the AGTP scripts accidentally wound up in this release, and are actually accessible in-game if you select "Sanctuary Time Attack" from the challenges menu. But that HIB release has since then been superseded by a bunch of different releases since then, so I guess if we're just counting releases that are still sold by NICALiS, then what you pointed out would be the only thing to go on.
 
Apr 13, 2024 at 5:53 AM
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But that HIB release has since then been superseded by a bunch of different releases since then, so I guess if we're just counting releases that are still sold by NICALiS, then what you pointed out would be the only thing to go on.
Well, actually none of the versions using Aeon Genesis assets are still being sold. The only one that is still legally obtainable is Cave Story 3D, and that's only from used copies. However, Cave Story 3DS eShop was sold for over 10 years, so I guess this would be the """copyright infringement""" that was sold for the longest time.

I If I were looking to indict NICALiS on copyright infringement for using Aeon Genesis content for commercial purposes, though, I think this bug in the 2011 HIB would be a much more egregious instance of that. Basically, nearly all of the AGTP scripts accidentally wound up in this release, and are actually accessible in-game if you select "Sanctuary Time Attack" from the challenges menu.
Also holy crap that actually might be the most hilarious bug in a game ever
 
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Apr 17, 2024 at 10:33 PM
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I'm surprised it hasn't been brought up in this thread yet that Nicalis quite literally used the Aeon Genesis translation in all pre-release footage of CS WiiWare, even up to the Developer's Voice interview (which to be fair, most likely re-used earlier footage, but still). That alone seems like it could've been grounds for claiming AG was used for commericial purposes, as the game was shown off with their scripts, as far as I know without a disclaimer saying this was a fan translation.
Screen Shot 2024-04-17 at 3.53.23 PM.pngScreen Shot 2024-04-17 at 3.53.48 PM.pngScreen Shot 2024-04-17 at 4.05.28 PM.pngScreen Shot 2024-04-17 at 4.08.43 PM.png
Screen Shot 2024-04-17 at 3.58.13 PM.png
There's also some evidence to suggest that they used the Aeon Genesis script files as a base that they slapped their translation onto (not necessarily that they plagiarized the Aeon Genesis translation, or anything of the sort): The unused duplicate save text in Yamashita Farm uses its unique Aeon Genesis translation in the Nicalis version, even though in the original Japanese version it is the same as the used save text.
Also, the typo in an unused Waterway script that was carried over into Aeon Genesis from an earlier version, was also found in the Nicalis script (though it's been suggested that CS+ was originally developed with an earlier version of the source code, as implied by the rough state of the 1x credits images in CS+ Steam, so that might explain it).
 
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Apr 17, 2024 at 11:16 PM
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I'm surprised it hasn't been brought up in this thread yet that Nicalis quite literally used the Aeon Genesis translation in all pre-release footage of CS WiiWare, even up to the Developer's Voice interview (which to be fair, most likely re-used earlier footage, but still). That alone seems like it could've been grounds for claiming AG was used for commericial purposes, as the game was shown off with their scripts, as far as I know without a disclaimer saying this was a fan translation.
See like, I knew about that, but i wouldn't figure out where the source of that information was from. Hilariously enough tho, even if it was an April Fool's joke, HaydenStudios' fourth ending explanation video indirectly confirmed that as well.
 
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