Mike Turner removes Interzone Futebol content from Interzone Perth studio

souri's picture

Company: 

News type: 

In the continuing saga of the Interzone debacle, Interzone employees have just released footage of a former Interzone manager attempting to unlawfully retrieve i.p from the Perth game studio containing the Interzone Futebol content and assets that the employees had worked on, the previous 18 months of which were completed without payment.

Last week, Mike Turner flew in from the U.S with the aim of obtaining the Interzone Futebol content and bringing it back home. He attempted to sneak into the offices at night expecting little to no confrontation, however, it seems he was caught red handed by staff.

Between February 10th and February 12th, Employees of Perth-based Interzone Games attempted to prevent a former manager from looting the office of Intellectual Property ahead of an Australian Taxation Office foreclosure of the business.

To this date, no current staff at Interzone have received notification of their termination. It is illegal under Australian Workplace Law to "suspend" employees without pay.

For a longer version of the footage embedded above, please click here...

Mike Turner Confronted by Interzone Employees

Mike Turner Confronted by Interzone Employees from Ring Mod on Vimeo.

On February 10th, 2010, Mike Turner arrived on the Premises of Interzone Pty., Perth. Minutes after he asked the producer in the office to take part in removal of intellectual property from the office (the Producer resigned on the spot), he came in to try and convince Interzone Employees to assist him. They were ready for him, with a camera, and a list of questions pertaining to outstanding payroll, superannuation/pension pay and tax debt, and how he and Marty Brickey / Greg Chadwell intended to resolve these issues.

Comments

Anonymous's picture

This is amazing. What a

This is amazing. What a ballsy effort by Mike Turner. I wish the best for the ;aid off employees at Interzone. And much like them, i was laid off from a local studio too and know exactly how it feels for terms of employment and pay to be stuffed around in and endless loop.

Anonymous's picture

Fucking hell. It's amazing

Fucking hell. It's amazing the heavyhandedness goes into petty theft, but if you're a corporate criminal dealing in 7 figure sums of money, the government will roll out the red carpets, lube up, bend over, and won't even ask for a reacharound while you fuck them.

I hope some justice prevails here but so far it seems the ATO really don't give a shit. I know in the Fuzzyeyes cases the ombudsman was completely powerless even *before* the CEO fled the country.

Anonymous's picture

So hang on, the company

So hang on, the company doesn't even control their own web site? 'Cause I'm guessing the "directors" haven't redirected it to that site...

Anonymous's picture

This situation is

This situation is unbelievable. I feel for the IZ staff who can't even get into the office to get their personal belongings. It's just crazy.

Anonymous's picture

Forgive me for not quite

Forgive me for not quite following this, but can someone tell me what laws have actually been broken here and by who?
(ie. what could Mike Turner et al actually be charged with?)

Anonymous's picture

sorry..... just to add....

sorry..... just to add.... if the company paid for the equipment and paid for people to write code, then surely they own the equipment and own the code?

I appreciate that people haven't been paid, but isn't that is a seperate issue to who owns the right to the code?

I am also not on the side of the company by the way, I just want to get my head around what laws have actually been broken here.

Anonymous's picture

from what I gather, two of

from what I gather, two of the alledged crimes are that they are trading while insolvent, and the guy was not her eon a work visa.

Anonymous's picture

they didnt pay for it

ahh , they didnt pay for it,
thats the point. Removing IP when the company is failing and having been issued a warning from the ato, BEFORE it go into administration is dogdy as hell. especialy owing soo much tax and wages and super.........(see the link)
its like building a boat for someone and they jump in and sail it to another country saying thanks.
while you stand there with hands in pockets without being paid for it! Oh, and the guy who hired you gets you illegaly banned from your boat shed while he drives off with your boat.

its fail.

Anonymous's picture

What a nightmare. I'd suggest

What a nightmare. I'd suggest that the IZ employees should get legal advice on their options.

Anonymous's picture

Useless Government

Jeez. How can a company be allowed to go into so much debt,owing so much super annuation and wages!!!!!!!! the ATO should have done something about this since they should have known this company was in trouble first..
this just proves that the more money you have ( and dont pay) the more you can get away with, dealing with our useless govt. departments.
What do the police do? nothin? you said in the video that legaly you were not terminated, so you have a right to be on the premises right? didnt the cops do something about that?

Best of luck to Interzone guys....

Anonymous's picture

LOL....is that what Transmission Management

did moments before closure? In that case im sure all of this stuff they took has magically re-appeared inside Trickstar then. Talk about bad press for what once was a very promising studio.

Anonymous's picture

Transmission -> Trickstar

Yeah, I hear Transmission owe the ATO almost a million bucks too, not to mention all the employees who are owed entitlements and super. According to public record, Trickstar was registered 2 months before Transmission folded, ready in waiting for the smooth transfer of projects over to the shiny new company.

Blitz's picture

But at least transmission

But at least transmission actually terminated the employment of it's employees so they could access GEERS to claim their entitlements, which gets most employees everything they're owed except super (just takes a while). It seems in interzones case, the employees haven't been officially terminated which means they can't even access GEERS or other support services that are available for unemployed people (dole etc.) which is a real arsehole thing to do. One can only assume that interzone have done this because shutting the company down/terminating all it's employees will cause extra legal/financial problems for them... They would either have to pay the employees their entitlements or declare insolvency, which would mean putting all their assets (including the futebol code/art etc.) into the hands of the insolvency practitioners, which is obviously what they're trying to avoid by removing their assets from the country before shutting shop.

Anonymous's picture

Trickstar 'Mis' Management team

crashed, burned and ripped off their transmission games employees. Why do these band of managers deserve to start with a clean slate at trickstar? Work under their business model with caution.... in fact dont work their or offer your services at all because same thing will happen...

Pheonix Company - 'A company that rises from the ashes'

Anonymous's picture

Clarification on payments

I don't agree with the actions of the Interzone management, but the phrase "the previous 18 months of which were completed without payment" could be a little misleading.

To the best of my knowledge, staff were "partially paid" because they still received (albeit often late and irregularly) their "take home" salaries. However, they were definitely not "fully paid" because the company did not make superannuation payments (which comprise 9% of total staff remuneration) or severance payments (leave entitlements and the usual 4 weeks notice). Moreover, the company very recently (within the last 3 weeks) failed to make any payments at all.

Anonymous's picture

more clarification

make that 6 weeks owing*
plus lot of staff were not being paid at their full rate of pay for over a year.
plus they were not paid gross but net, racking up a nice bit of income tax outstanding on the side.
plus they have not been terminated, so no letter of separation so people can get benefits in between jobs.
plus , technically they are still on the books!

Anonymous's picture

But the fact that people

But the fact that people weren't paid doesn't automatically mean everything those people did they suddenly own, surely?

Anonymous's picture

I believe what happens is the

I believe what happens is the company owns the IP and could sue anyone that attempted to steal or get in the way of the "directors" doing what they want with it.

The staff can sue their "former" employer for unpaid wages, benefits etc.

One possible exclusion to this is if their were contractors there and part of the contract states that ownership of work performed does not transfer until payment is made.

Even then though, the police could do nothing other than what they did, which was allow the rightful tenant (or owner I don't know) unfettered access to their own building. Unfortunately, the police can't just take the average Joe's word for things and even if they had evidence that wages were not paid, the police would have done nothing to stop Marty.

No work visa for Marty? Not a police issue.

Unfortunately the wheels of bureaucracy turn very, very slowly and sometimes people take advantage of that.

Out of interest, does anyone know if the transmission guys have been paid yet?

Anonymous's picture

Mike, not Marty

This wasn't Marty, the CEO of Interzone. This was Mike Turner. He was formerly a director, but when he entered the country to take the IP he had no proof of even being an employee of the company. A day later, after his first attempt to grab the IP failed, he was suddenly VP of Business Operations. There is a fairly reasonable suspicion that he wasn't in the country on a business visa when he grabbed the IP. But all it took for him to get the police and the management of the building on side was waving around a bit of paper.

The whole point of the video was just to document what he was doing. It is not necessarily the case that he was doing all this illegally, but as someone else said, it is dodgy as hell that he would take the IP when the company is on the verge of being wound up by the ATO and owes $1.5 million in taxes, wages and super.

Anonymous's picture

Sorry Mike, not Marty. To be

Sorry Mike, not Marty.

To be honest, sadly, I think the only benefit of this vid is for future people that might deal with these hacks. It gives them fair warning. The only other possibility is that it shames them into action (not likely)...

Anonymous's picture

Shame ?

I think this video proves that shame is not an emotion they even remotely understand.

As for Marty - in the same breath as saying he has made paying off debts his top priority (a story IZ Employees heard for over a year), in the same breath he threatens all manner of legal action against anyone trying to pursue those debts.

Shame is not a part of their vocabulary.

Anonymous's picture

Vp of the company

Wonder if the ATO has issued Director Penalty notices with regards unpaid tax. Would they take a really dim view of an attempt to spirit the only remaining assets of the company out of the country. How will this affect teh attempts to recover monies paid out under GEERS as well?

Anonymous's picture

A+ would lole again

Haha, oh shit, this is gold. I arrived far too late to the party, but I'm deeply saddened to read all of what has transpired and the impacts on my fellow employees, but am over the moon to see the trio of Marty, Greg and Mike have their names dragged through the mud - and duly so!

Those three have the collective business nous of two Tony Robbin's seminars and a "Dummies Guide to Managing" book between 'em. They were, and still are not fit to run a business or give direction to others. Interzone was a failed (and elongated) attempt to start an overnight studio and then sell the half-baked IP to someone else. This much was transparent and while I may have cottoned on sooner, I can guarantee everyone else in the studio picked it up fairly quickly.

I can't possibly quantify everyone's reasons for staying, but I know everyone got something out of it. You're all ridiculously talented and I was so often left in awe of your mad skillz. It was an absolute pleasure working with every single one of you and I was honoured to have you as my colleagues.

Lots of love,
Ianipoos.

Anonymous's picture

I can't say that I'm

I can't say that I'm surprised. I can't say that this will make much difference. Maybe these guys will have it tough in the future in trying to do the same thing again. Maybe. But game development is full of these guys running studios. When one mess comes to and end, they take the money (and/or IP) and run. Then they start all over again in creating a new mess.

But still, nice to see some hard evidence being brought forth. Makes it harder for people to justify or falsify what has happened -- I only wish more Australian studios and their management had such scrutiny when they fell over; as they were just as bad or even worse ;).

Anonymous's picture

Not Terminated by ATO Request?

Employees are not terminated - so that they do not receive benefits - could this be another good shag between business and ATO/Gov departments?

Hypothetically wiring, would it be a benfit, in real life, not on the paper that Australian laws are witten on, if the former and/or not so former employees took some 'backup copies' of all the Intelectual Property - and setup their own new company?

If the origiginal company is broke, then it is unlikely to have the resources to pursue this in any legal arena. Even if they do, they will have to go via the legal avenues = slow, costly and they have a clear risk that they might loose! Especially if employees who created the product did not receive fair consideration (pay) for their work. (breach of contract).

In that case any so called contract may be ruled void - and so the property is not leagally owned by the (failed?) com[pany. More liklely than not the wroteres/creators will have a good claim to ownership.

In any case, I'd like to see a so called excutive do that [midnight raid] to a mining or trucking company. No doubt if employees caught him they would find a few more good uses for a nice big fat video camera (wonder if it will still record in a tight dark place).

Anonymous's picture

Devil's advocate

I know nothing of Australian law but it seems a quite complicated situation. There is a multinational, apparently not based in Australia. They paid some amount of money to people in Australia. It seems that they do not have enough money to finish the project with top quality people in Australia, and a sudden million dollar judgement would wreck the company (it seems, I know nothing about all this).

Then, while everyone is saying how shady and all it is, it seems that by this man's actions at least they have the possibility of finishing the project and making enough money to pay those people. Whereas that would not be the case if half of it was auctioned off and then got stopped with lawsuits.

Having experienced the not getting paid thing enough times I can say that you should just quit when someone tells you they can't pay. It just isn't worth it. But if you follow it through to the bare end, gritting your teeth, you know something heavy will go down. The guy should maybe have discussed the issue earlier but then again maybe that would have made it impossible to finish the project. Not sure if any laws were broken but in fact, if he was or is VP of operations then it was his company's IP. I'm not so sure any laws were broken at all, in which case a lot of slander was done. It would seem to be an issue for arbitration (discussions with lawyers) with the other Interzone companies, the Australian investors and the new outfit. My guess is, if you worked for them in Australia, you should gather a bunch of likeminded coworkers and demand the full payment for your work from the people who are remaining in Australia waiting with lawyers to go after slander or so they say. You will get your money back quickest that way. Or, the whole company's workers could band together and hire some lawyers, and go after the other parts of Interzone. Though that would make more sense to do after it launches and makes some money...

Pages