SCP: The Largest Online Shared Universe is Under Legal Attack (2024)

SCP Foundation launched back in 2008 and has since grown into one of the biggest online writing communities around. The SCP Wiki outlines several fantastic and sometimes horrific entities, collected and cataloged in the Foundation. The Foundation's in-universe goal is to contain these sometimes dangerous and sometimes bewildering entities for the public's safety.

It's real-life purpose, however, is to offer a community of writers the opportunity to collaborate and craft the most outlandish entities imaginable. It has flourished in the years since its creation thanks in part to the game SCP Containment Breach, an independent game that has taken the internet by storm, partially because it's been the subject of multiple popular Let's Players, such as Markiplier.

However, all that hard work may soon be eradicated thanks to a Russian trademark for SCP filed by one Andrey Duskin. This issue has been ongoing for the better part of a year, but many people learned about it for the first time when Markiplier posted a video about it to his YouTube channel. However, there are specifics Markiplier didn't go into detail on, so this article will offer more context to better understand the situation.

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The Situation

SCP is registered under a Creative Commons copyright license. A CC License allows people other than the author to share, use and build upon a creative work free of charge and without any legal repercussions. Because of this license, anyone can create merchandise off the SCP brand. This is why SCP Containment Breach not only exists but is also just one of multiple SCP-related games. In short, if you wanted to tell a story in the SCP universe, you could right now. That's one of the many reasons this universe has grown so vastly in such a short period of time.

Months ago, Duskin filed a trademark for SCP after attempting to sell merchandise based on the work. He's allowed to do so, but he used his trademark to bully and push down potential competition. While the situation seemed resolved for a time , things have since escalated. Over two months ago, Duskin used his trademark to suppress and shutter the legitimate Russian branch of the SCP Foundation. The main site could do little to nothing about the matter since Duskin's legal foothold gives him an air of legitimacy in Russia.

So What Does This Mean Outside of Russia?

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This might not seem as important outside of Russia. After all, Duskin's trademark doesn't extend beyond that country, right? Well, that's the thing. If left unchecked, Duskin's trademark could, in fact, affect all of SCP outside of Russia, too. If he was able to legitimately take down entire pages of work for SCP, that means Russian contributors to the site can no longer share, which cuts into SCP's core appeal: that every writer, regardless of their status or connection to the work, can collaborate.

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On top of that, many countries do honor international copyright. If Duskin succeeded in Russia, it's highly possible he might push even further, registering an international trademark. Or, worse yet, he could use his trademark as leverage against other country's potential trademarks.

The prospective legal battle over the SCP trademark could also lead to further division over the Creative Commons copyright license as a concept. If anyone can just register a trademark and then own what isn't theirs by default, what's stopping them from doing that to any other work in the Creative Commons? The whole matter has far-reaching implications that could very possibly strip this important cultural icon from the internet.

What is Being Done?

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At the time of this writing, a legal fund has been started. While it has reached its goal, there is no telling how costly the lawsuit will become.

The SCP Reddit announced shortly after Markiplier's video was postedthat legal documents had finally been submitted to the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service. That means the real struggle starts now: the legal battle over Duskin's trademark. The results of this could have an international ripple effect on Creative Commons, but more than that, it will decide the fate of the SCP community as a whole.

With any luck, this will be sorted out and things will return to the way they were. However, it is a story that should remind everyone that while online culture is a place where the greatest of narratives can flourish, people can also ruin things just because they want money. Hopefully the SCP Foundation can continue to secure, contain and protect all those eldritch monsters that haunt our nightmares and fuel our fantasies.

NEXT: Let's Face It, Open-World Games Are Overrated

SCP: The Largest Online Shared Universe is Under Legal Attack (2024)

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