Wednesday, June 13, 2007

On Cathedrals, Copyright, and the Courts

Seems Sony's latest source of grief has been the Church of England getting miffed bout Manchester Cathedral being used as a locale in the PS3 title, Resistance.

The church threatening Sony with legal action, and Sony, staying true to the title's name, is resisting.

The subject seems frivolous at first glance, does it not? Games are art. The church is a building open to the public. Lighten up, folks in tall hats!

Now is the time you ask whether to take the blue pill, and keep on thinking that way; or take the red pill, and see just how far the entangled legal rabbit hole you want to go?

William Patry, who is Google's senior copyright counsel and maintains an awesome blog, has a great post on the subject.

Amongst the various facts at play here:

  • Architecture is a creative work and therefore copied under copyright.
  • Most copyright laws take this into account and allow for things like taking a picture in a public place where you might happen to get a building in the shot.
  • The INSIDE of buildings is another story
  • The laws are different in the UK and the US, and the game was made in the US but the 'source material' in this case is in the UK. The game is also sold there.
  • When the building was built is also an issue, and while this church is quite old, it underwent some renovation more recently.


Anyhow, it's very relevant to anyone making games that may hope to include real-world environments. Go read it.

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