Publishers: Know your rights

However when you examine the facts, there were no rights and no infringement. Whilst the story is old news, the issues are not – and these recent events provide a timely reminder to those making games that we need to be careful about what we do and don’t include in them.

The Manchester Cathedral issue brings the main issues into focus if only to show why there was no legal case to answer, it also provides a good opportunity to explain how similar facts might have had a very different outcome.

The starting point for considering these complaints is copyright. However Section 62 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 says that there is no copyright infringement in representing a building (or in fact any sculpture or artistic work) permanently on display in a public place and including that within a graphic work or film.

So the church had no legal basis for a copyright claim.

There are other rights that may have existed but they weren’t infringed.

Defamation, for example arises when a person, group or company is reduced in the eyes of right-thinking people or caused to be shunned or avoided by something someone else says or does. So could the Church have been defamed here? No.

There is no suggestion in Resistance that the Church was involved in the violence or supported it.

Then there are trademark rights. These require an owner to register the mark, following which they can stop others using the same mark in relation to the same goods or services. Confused?

The line between what is lawful and what is not can be wafer thin and it is a line that even top lawyers disagree on – so what hope the QA teams?

Also the dangers are increasing as organisations become more aware of their rights. 15 years ago no-one obtained licences for the use of real player data in football games. 10 years later and not even a supposed licence from FifaPro could stop EA being sued by Oliver Khan for infringing his rights.

Fast-forward to today and designers are asking me whether they have to get clearance on a weapon that may or may not look a bit like a Magnum and whether a soldier’s combat camouflage infringes.

IP law serves our industry very well – though enforcing it against pirates is still a process that is all to difficult – but it can also be a right pain.

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