Mojang is cracking down on copyright infringement, issuing take-down notices to developers

In the past, Mojang has been somwhat laissez faire with clones of Minecraft (or otherwise games inspired by Minecraft). However, it seems like that's changing, with many developers getting emails from Mojang requiring the removal of any Minecraft-related content they might have published.

We have started to get emails from smaller developers, telling us they received takedown notices from Mojang and asking if they are real. All of these emails come from enforcement@mojang.com, usually sent by 'Karl Lowry' (who does in fact work for Mojang).

The developer of 'Minetower', Gamma Production, forwarded the take-down request Mojang sent him to us:
> > Hello Gamma Production
> >
> > We are the developers/publishers of and the owners of all copyright and other intellectual property rights subsisting in the game "MINECRAFT" (the "Game").
> >
> > The Game and its content including the underlying software and art assets/designs (the “Content”) are original works in which copyright subsists under national and international law, including under the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. Mojang is the owner of all and any copyright subsisting in the Game and its Content.
> >
> > It has come to our attention that the application(s) entitled:
> >
> > Minetower
> >
> > has been made available for download through the Google Play Store by you, details of which can be found on the Google Play Store by the following link(s):
> >
> > https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=gamma.software.minecraftTowerDefense
> >
> > This app reproduces and uses the whole or a substantial part of Mojang’s copyright subsisting in the Content (and/or individual copyright works which forms part thereof) including visual elements such as the “Iron ingot”, “Diamond" and the “Crafting table” and such use is without Mojang’s consent. Such use amounts to copyright infringement.
> >
> > It is also a breach of the applicable platform developer terms, such as, in the case of Google Play Developer Program Policies under Content Policies: “Intellectual Property: Don’t infringe on the intellectual property rights of others, including patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright, and other proprietary rights…”
> >
> > As a result, we are entitled to request the removal of the affected App(s) immediately and without reference to you. However your misuse of its rights may be inadvertent and at this point we are willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. Accordingly we are instructed to give you an opportunity to remedy the position prior to further action being necessary.
> >
> > Please refer to the following terms and brand guidelines Mojang has established in relation to the use of its intellectual property rights in third party applications:
> >
> > http://www.minecraft.net/terms ("Terms")
> > http://www.minecraft.net/brand-guidelines ("Brand Guidelines").
> >
> > Please note that Mojang has rights in the content of its MINECRAFT game and you should ensure that you do not infringe these rights by ensuring that you also comply with the foregoing guidelines in relation to the content of your App(s).
> >
> > As you are aware, the App(s) and/or its content includes material and/or is marketed in a manner that infringes Mojang's trade mark rights and/or other intellectual property rights and is not consistent with the Terms and or Brand Guidelines. Please therefore take all necessary steps to remedy the position and amend the use of "MINECRAFT" in the title of your App(s) / your use of Content in the app failing which we are instructed to seek the apps removal from the applicable app stores. If your affected App(s) must be resubmitted before any required changes you should take down the App(s) until such time as you are able to republish it without infringing our rights or breaching the applicable platform agreements.
> >
> > Please confirm your receipt of this email and your confirmation that you will take the requested action. If we do not hear from you within 1 week of this email, we will formally notify Google Play and other applicable platform holders, to remove the App(s) from their app stores.
> >
> > Yours sincerely
> > Karl Lowry
> > Mojang

unnamed

As seen in the above screenshot, it's pretty obvious the app is riding on Minecraft's brand. The developer also sent us this, sent exactly a week later:
>
> Hi Gamma Production,
>
> On the 15 Jan 2015 we contacted you regarding your application Minetower at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=gamma.software.minecraftTowerDefense
>
> Please comply to the demands in the previous email immediately or we will have Google remove the application from the Google Play Store.
>
> Please see https://help.mojang.com/customer/portal/articles/1590522-minecraft-commercial-use for more information regarding our terms and brand guidelines.
>
> Kind regards,
>
> Karl Lowry
> Mojang

The game has been removed from the Play Store, as indicated by it's current link. A cached version of the page can be seen here, but it will likely expire soon.

We have had several other developer send us similar take-down requests, which seems to be an indication that Mojang is ramping up take-down requests. Maybe Microsoft wants to protect the brand it payed $2.5 billion for, who knows.

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KalHasChicken
February 8, 2015 at 7:31 AM delete

I really hope The Blockheads will stay up!! I don't know if it's similar enought to Minecraft for them to think it should be taken down. It has it's own block textures and is kind of 2Dish. In alot of ways it's better than Minecraft...

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cyka
February 8, 2015 at 7:33 AM delete

They even took down bukkit, and now spigot...
Microsoft is completetly crushing the programmer community that keeped MC alive.

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February 8, 2015 at 8:16 AM delete

Good thing I'm not a video game developer. XD

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February 8, 2015 at 8:35 AM delete

I don't really like Minecraft clones, so hmm.

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carpet111
February 8, 2015 at 8:58 AM delete

no it isn't close enough to minecraft I don't believe.

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carpet111
February 8, 2015 at 8:59 AM delete

microsoft didn't take down bukkit

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Adam Easley
February 8, 2015 at 9:28 AM delete

Bukkit was bought by Mojang before Microsoft ever bought them. Bukkit is still in development it is just very slow due to most of their head devs leaving.

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Turducken
February 8, 2015 at 11:14 AM delete

Hmmm... I am torn. I don't like Minecraft Clones, but I also don't like Mojang (As cyka so rightly stated) "completetly crushing the programmer community that keeped MC alive."

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NintendoGuy64J
February 8, 2015 at 12:04 PM delete

I hope Terraria dosent gets taken down, but then again the games are very different!!!

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February 8, 2015 at 1:07 PM delete

It will be interesting how this folds out. I think games like "Minetower" are pretty obviously taking Minecraft's textures and that they should take it down since it's there content, but I hope they don't go to far and start taking stuff such as "blockheads" and similar games that don't use they're content.

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bendik mann
February 8, 2015 at 2:10 PM delete

Terraria will not get taken down under any circumstance.Due to the fact that the games hold none of the same textures,little of the same mobs and little of the same mechanics.Some are the same of course,they have rails,minecraft has rails etc,however since all of the content is by no means based off Minecraft any attempt at taking Terraria down would be futile without some major twisting and favor using within the courts.I could go into depth about how the game didn't copy any works from Minecraft into terarria but I would rather not continue.

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Ryan
February 8, 2015 at 5:35 PM delete

when notch owned minecraft he also said it was a great game and by no means is copying

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Android_Walker
February 9, 2015 at 2:25 AM delete

I think it's good to finally be taking down some of the clones of minecraft because the app stores are flooded with them. As long as they don't go to far it should be great :)

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Redstoneminer
February 9, 2015 at 3:41 AM delete

When you said "We have had several other developer" in the last paragraph it should have a s at the end of developer. Sorry for being picky but just saying :)

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Metaflyer
February 9, 2015 at 8:09 PM delete

Well, Mojang made Minecraft, so there would be no Minecraft without Mojang. Mojang is technically the birthmother of all of the community.

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JoshB104
February 10, 2015 at 3:22 AM delete

Hmm. Minecraft clones are annoying and they don't take as much work and thought to make since they are basically the same thing. Therefore I think it is a good thing that Mojang is finally paying attention to this.

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February 11, 2015 at 7:01 PM delete

I was nearly going to develop a game with minecraft like graphics

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February 20, 2015 at 8:37 AM delete

Yet they still have not contacted the creators of Survivalcraft or MultiCraft II

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