You probably don't need me to recap it all here - and it had so many twists and turns that I struggled to keep abreast of it, in all honesty. But I felt I wanted to at least acknowledge what transpired, and sorry if I'm a bit late to the party.
From what I gather, the short version of it is this: one Paul Andrews, via his company Subvert Ltd, exercised his alleged ownership of the ZX Spectrum character Horace to instigate copyright strikes on YouTube videos produced by Digitiser The Show co-host Octav1us, as well as plush toys made by friend-of-Digi Retro Princess.
There's more to it than that, of course, with Andrews - already a notorious figure in retro gaming circles - attempting to justify his side of the story.
In the words of Paul Andrews, regarding the plushies: "Several months ago a mutual contact introduced myself to the person who runs sew8bit/retro princess as they were making soft toy versions of the game character we purchased ‘Horace’ (as referenced on Wikipedia etc. these games among others was purchased through the historical chain of owners which is fully documented) this is not in dispute.
"I said how much I liked her work and was happy for her to continue and said we could discuss a small donation from the sale price of £35 a toy to our chosen charity (which is normally the MS society) we agreed to pick up the conversation in future emails.
"I sent several more emails over several months even going so far as to offer the potential use of other characters again with a small donation to the charity. I received no answers to these emails. I asked the original mutual contact to ask her to reply to my emails as they were both attending an event. They did and told me her reply was she would answer when she had time. I privately messaged her asking her to respond to my emails.
"What followed was a brief but polite on my part exchange in which she disputed our ownership of the games and promptly blocked me allowing no further means of communication. This person also acts as a point of contact for her friend a youtuber. They went on to make public statements they wished to find replacement retro characters to produce toys with but did not wish to make charity donations to others which might also request them."
With regard to the Octav1us situation, here's what Andrews had to say: "At no point have I demanded or asked or even mentioned money to the youtuber this issue is about, I have no interest in their income, this has solely been about the use of our character in a manner we were not comfortable with.
"There is no point re-treading the story of the past 18 hours or so, other than to be very clear as soon as the youtuber reached out to me via twitter we had a dialogue in which I made it clear I had no axe to grind but was unhappy with the way the character had been used as a sort of co-presenter of the videos but in a sexualised way.
"I also over the course of the dialogue tried to compromise with them, again even going so far as to offer to resolve the situation with mutually agreed guidelines for its continued use, and even other characters we also own if they wished to.
"I made it very clear I had sent one email to YouTube, and yes had asked for removal of those handful of videos but did not ask for a copyright strike, nor was I aware why or how two strikes had been issued by youtube having never emailed them before and having no plans to again as things stand, as that was not requested by me.
"The youtuber declined these offers, and when I requested she make public the fact I was trying to resolve it and would she agree to our conversation being made public she also declined that request.
"I also told her I would be writing to youtube to ask why they had done two copyright strikes, when I did not request even one, and I have done this as I had already planned to. I have no wish to inflame this situation further but I also cannot stand back and be attacked over claims which are literally untrue, or distorted.
"I am doing my best to resolve this unfortunate situation, but feel I have to make this statement of the facts, as opposed to wild speculation and untruths being told, let alone threats of physical violence also being made on social media."
Drama... meet Triangle.
Suffice to say, it did little to quell the fury of the retro gaming community at large (not least when screenshots of the copyright strikes appeared to show that Subvert Ltd. was indeed behind them), and Andrews' reputation did little to assuage the argument that he'd been acting in good faith.
Octav1us, naturally alarmed at having her sole source of income threatened, removed herself temporarily from the internet after posting a video in which she appeared tearful and shaken, kicking off a lot of anti-Andrews sentiment. In the wake of this, and the huge backlash against Andrews, she and Subvert came to an agreement which allowed her to reinstate the videos.
Most objective assessments of the situation would suggest that Octav1us's use of Horace is protected under UK fair use laws, in which parody and comment are legal, and that Andrews had no claim to issue copyright strikes against her.
Suffice to say, Andrews did not come out of the Horace situation well.
The backlash was swift and widespread. He had apparently purchased the 36 year-old Horace IP a year or so ago ago - along with a bunch of other ageing trademarks (Subvert seemingly also owns "Sinclair Spectrum", "Zike" and "Jet Set Willy", among others) - with an alleged view to "cultivating the legacy" of these brands.
However, his actions appear - at least on face value - those of a "patent troll".
Wikipedia describes it thus: "Patent trolling or patent hoarding is a categorical or pejorative term applied to a person or company that attempts to enforce patent rights against accused infringers far beyond the patent's actual value or contribution to the prior art, often through hardball legal tactics (frivolous litigation, vexatious litigation, strategic lawsuit against public participation, chilling effects and the like). Patent trolls often do not manufacture products or supply services based upon the patents in question."
In short, the technique is typically deployed to scare individuals by issuing heavy, official-sounding, threats, which in many instances aren't ever backed up by action. I've had a couple of them on this site, and on both occasions simply dug my heels in until they went away.
Wikipedia continues: "While in most cases the entities termed 'trolls' are operating within the bounds of the legal system, their aggressive tactics achieve outcomes contrary to the origins of the patent system as a legislated social contract to foster and protect innovation."
Paul Andrews is a curious figure, with his fingers in many pies. As well as Subvert, he's part of the core team at Retro Games Ltd, which is currently planning to release a full-size recreation of the Commodore 64.
Previously, he conceived the ill-fated Spectrum Vega, and was embroiled in the Vega+ debacle, at one point being accused of "illegally" appointing himself, along with Chris Smith, as director of Retro Computers Ltd, having earlier resigned due to "irreconcilable differences".
Dr David Levy, chairman of the company, and hardly a man with an unblemished copybook, described Andrews as "the vilest enemy of RCL and the Vega+ project".
Andrews was also CEO of Altern8, which announced the controversial mobile game Office Massacre in 2006, causing another backlash (including Altern8 being called a "bunch of idiots who don't understand the first thing about social responsibility" by Bethesda founder Christopher Weaver) that led it to being rebranded Office Zombies.
Oddly, in addition to its obscure mobile games, Altern8 released a DVD featuring Animal Magic presenters Johnny Morris and Terry Nutkins.
Andrews' self-penned IMDB biography describes him as "A media producer, and business entrepreneur in the media and technology fields. Paul has conceived and helped bring to market two video game consoles already with sales of hundreds of thousands of units across the globe.
"Other milestones of note Paul is behind, include; the creation of online video material watched in excess of one million times, over one million phone game downloads, created the worlds one time most visited online retro game store, hundreds of thousands of DVD and CD sales in retail, the words first 3D film embedded in an eBook, heading for two million book related sales, writer/producer of multiple TV/Film projects.
"He is funding a new educational inspirational 'creative and business program' for young people which will be launched in 2019 working in conjunction with the (UK Government funded) SEMLEP Enterprise team."
The latter, by all accounts, is being done via Subvert, the company which is alleged to have issued the copyright strikes against Octav1us. All very educational and inspirational.
Andrews' most recent credit is as producer for a crowd-funded burlesque film called Dirty Tuppence. The synopsis reveals the following: "Two egotistical all-female rock bands who can't stand the sight of each other are on tour - documenting them are the presenter and cameraman for 'Degenerate TV' - and what they see is shocking, petty and at times just purely ridiculous ."
Since all this happened... Andrews' ownership of Horace, and other properties, has been called into question. This has become murkier still after Andrews posted the above statement on his Twitter account only today.
The vagueness of the wording suggests that even Andrews himself is unsure whether he has the rights to Horace, and certainly doesn't clarify whether Subvert simply owns the IP names, or ownership of the character's likeness.
The rights history of Horace, like so many characters of that era, is a bit of a mire. The games - Hungry Horace, Horace Goes Skiing, and Horace And The Spiders - were created by William Tang and published by Melbourne House/Sinclair Research.
Through bankruptcies, and company closures, it's almost impossible to trace exactly where the rights to Horace ended up, and who exactly Andrews could have purchased them from.
Indeed, earlier this year 505 Games published a nostalgic platformer entitled Horace, and it seems strange that Andrews would not have contested it given his determination to protect all things Horace. Would Sega let it pass if somebody released an unrelated game called Sonic?
Ultimately, the whole thing was an enormous own goal, causing unnecessary distress, and only damaging the IP that Andrews claimed to be protecting. It has also soured attitudes towards Andrews' Commodore 64 project.
It's hard to know precisely what Andrews and Subvert was attempting to achieve, and the actions taken in the wake of the initial copyright strikes reeks of trying to save face. Not least if Andrews didn't even have any claim to Horace in the first place.
Horace, as a character, is remembered fondly, but it seems unlikely he'd ever have been a big earner for Andrews. The three games he appeared in were derivative of popular arcade titles, and the character's design seemed like an afterthought, sort of accidentally iconic because, frankly, he was a bit rubbish. Nobody, apart from gamers of a certain age, remembered him... and even fewer of them really cared.
For Andrews to claim that he was protecting the integrity of the character, and objected to Horace being used in a "sexual" context - as he alleged was the case in Octav1us's videos - seems tenuous at best. The best summation of the situation seems to be that it was a massive lot of fuss and upset about quite literally nothing.
All that seems to have come out of this is for Andrews to have frittered away any stubbornly lingering goodwill that might've been remaining for him in the retro gaming community, and simply reaffirmed his reputation as somebody to whom the label "vilest enemy" could be applicable.