The Spider-Man 2 video game will go beyond Manhattan, into Brooklyn and Queens

Originally published at: The Spider-Man 2 video game will go beyond Manhattan, into Brooklyn and Queens | Boing Boing

The Chrysler building bit doesn’t feel to me like it’s in the spirit of the purpose of copyright. The point of copyrighting a building would be to prevent someone from actually reproducing your building. Let’s say an architect designs a unique and interesting residential house and sells the design to a developer who builds it. And then another developer builds an exact copy without acquiring the rights to the building design. That is a copyright violation. I cannot for the life of me imagine how the current owners of the physical Chrysler building would even own the copyright to that. But I suppose that was a copyright owned and registered by whatever corporation owned the building in 1990. So fine, let’s say they properly registered the copyright in 1990, and ownership of that copyright has properly passed to the current owners. That would prevent a developer from building a replica of the Chrysler building. It would also prevent someone from creating and selling architectural plans without a license or authorization. It would not prevent someone from taking a picture of the Chrysler building. It would not prevent someone from selling that picture, or putting it on a t-shirt or a coffee mug. And unless the interior of the Chrysler building has been replicated in the video game, that representation is nothing more than an artist’s rendering, possibly with the aid of photographs, of the Chrysler building. It’s no more of a copyright violation that someone making a series of paintings of the New York skyline including the Chrysler building.

This is an example of corporations (Sony and Insomniac) just not wanting to deal with the cost of defending a frivolous lawsuit. The owners of the Chrysler building do not own its likeness. They own its design. Now, maybe they trademarked it. That’s a possibility. And if they did, then I could see this being a legitimate issue, because trademark protection works completely differently than copyright. But there is no way putting that building in the game would violate copyright.

ETA: I looked into this some more. Here’s the relevant bit from the actual US Copyright Law as it pertains to architectural works (emphasis mine):

(a) Pictorial representations permitted. --The copyright in an architectural work that has been constructed does not include the right to prevent the making, distributing, or public display of pictures, paintings, photographs, or other pictorial representations of the work, if the building in which the work is embodied is located in or ordinarily visible from a public place.

Sony and Insomniac are being ridiculous here. Put the damn building in the game and let the owners sue them. That case will be dismissed in a heartbeat.


there are many houses in queens that look like the ones depicted in those opening moments, just not where they depicted them. a minor quibble.


At this point, the rich and wealthy and large corporations use copyright to get anything that they don’t like shut down. It’s certainly a vicious misuse of copyright law, but copyright law has gotten so far out of control, it’s hard to know what is a proper use vs. a malicious one, even for lawyers…

If only someone had warned the world about this kind of behavior in the past, but sadly no one ever did!



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