The Last Of Us Faces Another Rip-Off Accusation - UPDATED

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The Last Of Us Faces Another Rip-Off Accusation - UPDATED

The maker of an unofficial Boston transit map claims that Naughty Dog used it in The Last Of Us without his permission.

The Last Of Us came under fire yesterday when actress Ellen Page accused it of using her likeness for one of its main characters without her permission. There's a definite similarity (although as one Twitter wit noted, it's unlikely that Page holds a "property-like title to being a generic 4'9" brunette") and while Naughty Dog's claim that it was a "complete coincidence" that Ellie's appearance was changed to be less Page-like shortly after she signed up for Beyond Two Souls is a little dodgy, the studio also made a point of noting that the role was actually filled by a completely different actor, Ashley Johnson.

But the game is also facing a somewhat less-high-profile claim of bad behavior from Cameron Booth, a graphic designer who created and posted a redesigned "Boston MBTA Map" back in 2012 in response to what he felt were shortcomings in the real thing. I don't really get the whole idea of redesigning mass transit maps as a hobby but it's apparently pretty good as these things go and he's actually received several very positive comments about it on his blog.

Somehow, that map ended up in The Last Of Us without his knowledge or permission, a fact brought to Booth's attention on Twitter a few days ago that left him "fucking furious," as he put it on the Transit Maps tumblr.

"For a software developer - especially a big developer working on a blockbuster title like this - to casually appropriate someone else's work and incorporate it into their game without any discussion with the owner of that work is completely unacceptable. (Not to mention hugely ironic, as the software industry is always complaining about piracy of their work)," he wrote.

"Naughty Dog seems to have known that they couldn't use the official map without paying a hefty license fee, so it looks like they just went on the internet and found another one. Cos, you know, images on the internet are free for anyone to use, right? Not," he continued. "To be clear: at no point have Naughty Dog contacted me about using my intellectual property (this visual representation of the Boston rapid transit network) in their product. To be even more clear: if you want to use my work commercially, payment before usage is required. If you're making money from your product, then you can pay me for my work as well."

Booth said he's attempted to contact Naughty Dog to learn where they found the image, how it ended up in the game and how he'll be compensated for his work, but in a recent Twitter update he revealed that he's not yet received any response. "I started on Twitter, moved on to their corporate email, next step will be an actual, physical letter," he wrote.

A substantial number of comments on the Tumblr post have criticized Booth's response, suggesting that he has no right to claim credit for a slightly-modified copy of the official MBTA map, but Booth said his map is original work and that this is a very clear case of unethical behavior. "What Naughty Dog has done is not ethical, or good industry practice. I have people at my work who come to me all the time saying, 'I found this picture on the Internet we can use.' My answer is always a solid, 'Unless you can prove to me that we have the rights to use that image, then legally, we can't use it'," he wrote. "That's what someone at Naughty Dog should have said, but for some reason, they didn't. Regardless of whether you think my work is original or not (which it legally is), it was not Naughty Dog's to use. "

Naughty Dog has yet to comment on the complaint.

UPDATE: Naughty Dog still hasn't publicly commented but the situation appears to be headed to a happy ending, as Booth updated his blog post yesterday to say that he'd had a "very constructive conversation" with the studio on the telephone.

"Can't say more at the moment, but it seems as if matters will be resolved to everyone's satisfaction shortly," he wrote. "I can say that they do acknowledge their error in using my map and were very apologetic for it. I likewise apologized for my initial vitriolic post. A lot of mutual respect for each other's creative work."

We'll update again if and when Booth reveals the details of his agreement with Naughty Dog but for now it's just nice to see everyone trying to work this out like adults. If only all such conflicts could be handled that way.

Source: Transitmaps.tumblr.com, thanks to @NickCapozzoli for the tip.

Permalink

Now that they know it is his, I agree they should respond, but to be honest depending on how they discovered it I can't see it being difficult to not realise that it was made by a graphic designer, it's not like it was a well known intellectual property or anything. I wouldn't be surprised if they just image searched for a map and it came up somewhere.

Although of course they should still have done their research and looked into it properly.

Maybe it showed up in Google Images and they thought it was free source.

As much as I would love to back somebody using the same tactics that big businesses use to screw over your average joe this guy comes off as a massive dick just trying to money grub it reminds me of that guy that tried to sue Rockstar Games cause he looked kinda like CJ from San Andreas

Oh boy its gang up on the new big game out there for cash time. uh uh They stole my burrito design! You remember that old crusty one in the background of the game. Yeah, that ones mine the theifs. They obviously intentionally did this to get under my specific skin and be the bad guys cause thats what all big game developers do

RedEyesBlackGamer:
Maybe it showed up in Google Images and they thought it was free source.

That would still be remarkably unprofessional. Ensuring that you have the rights to everything you use is a pretty basic legal requirement when making something like this.

Blessed be all who infringe on another's IP without their permission and build something new and amazing while using it.

And fuck'em all who would use IP laws to hinder and limit and manipulate the telling of new stories, invention of new tools, and production of new knowledge for no good reason.

RedEyesBlackGamer:
Maybe it showed up in Google Images and they thought it was free source.

Well, if THAT'S the case, then come ON, Naughty Dog. I used free sounds from the internet in a presentation once, and even my derpy Grade 10 self was careful enough to cite the things. You know, just in case THIS happens.

ClockworkUniverse:

RedEyesBlackGamer:
Maybe it showed up in Google Images and they thought it was free source.

That would still be remarkably unprofessional. Ensuring that you have the rights to everything you use is a pretty basic legal requirement when making something like this.

I'm not defending them, I just think an employee saw the image and was too lazy to look into it. I guess I'm trying to say that this is probably the cause of laziness or ineptitude instead of there being malicious intent.

This guy did site his redesigned map with the title, logo, and website of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority; it's entirely reasonable to assume that someone mistook it for the real thing, rather than an... artist reinterpretation?

Couldn't this Booth guy get sued by Massachusetts Bay for using their trademarks without permission, let alone the aforementioned taking of their map, changing 2 turns & calling it original (just looked up the original; he changed 2 routes slightly)?

I'm finding it difficult to pick a side on this one

RedEyesBlackGamer:

ClockworkUniverse:

RedEyesBlackGamer:
Maybe it showed up in Google Images and they thought it was free source.

That would still be remarkably unprofessional. Ensuring that you have the rights to everything you use is a pretty basic legal requirement when making something like this.

I'm not defending them, I just think an employee saw the image and was too lazy to look into it. I guess I'm trying to say that this is probably the cause of laziness or ineptitude instead of there being malicious intent.

I would think that to be most likely the case.
Either way, they should at least contact the guy, else the probability that it was of malicious intent grows.

Hm... I think I'd only get annoyed about this if it was my map and Naughty Dog was rude to or about me. To be fucking furious seems an over reaction.

And did he make his map dirty, grubby and on a 3D model? No sir. Too many changes, I say!

Also, if you make a painting of, say, a company logo and sell it, are you infringing on copyright?

Huh... didn't even think of maps being copyrighted, but apparently it's a big business. Some manufacturers even have copyright traps in their maps, adding towns or points of interest on their maps that don't actually exist to make it easier to tell if the map is theirs or not.

But here's the trick in this case. Sounds like this guy didn't publish or distribute the map they used, he just did it for S&Gs to show what was wrong. Naughty Dog basically found a way to use a non-copyright map, which is pretty rare, and now this guy doesn't have a leg to stand on in the conversation. Posting an edited map on your blog doesn't make it copyrighted.

Sure it's a bit conniving on Naughty Dog's end, but this guy isn't a victim either. Hell, he just got free publicity for a map edit he's received ZERO money for... past, present and future. Take the publicity and shut up, dude.

Unless he has permission from Massachusetts Bay to use their name and to modify their intellectual property he has got no right to the map. As long as Massachusetts Bay is fine about naughty dog using it they can do what they like with the map.

Zombie_Moogle:
This guy did site his redesigned map with the title, logo, and website of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority; it's entirely reasonable to assume that someone mistook it for the real thing, rather than an... artist reinterpretation?

Couldn't this Booth guy get sued by Massachusetts Bay for using their trademarks without permission, let alone the aforementioned taking of their map, changing 2 turns & calling it original (just looked up the original; he changed 2 routes slightly)?

I'm finding it difficult to pick a side on this one

Fair point, after reviewing the case, I could not tell you if Booth has a legitimate copyright claim on the map. That would have to be up to the courts to decided.

Well whoever was in charge of the assets borked it, he probably thought it's the official map which as far as I know wouldn't need permissions.
And obviously it is very questionable what claim this guy has on earnings since his map is only a minor variation of someone else's work.

I can see why the guy's upset but for fuck's sake, what kind of a reaction is that? he's 'fucking furious'?

good god. how about contacting Naughty Dog first and describe the situation in a POLITE manner? I know this is the internet but would it kill him to behave like a human being for a change?

lacktheknack:

RedEyesBlackGamer:
Maybe it showed up in Google Images and they thought it was free source.

Well, if THAT'S the case, then come ON, Naughty Dog. I used free sounds from the internet in a presentation once, and even my derpy Grade 10 self was careful enough to cite the things. You know, just in case THIS happens.

Naughty Dog should really take a ...Page out of your book.

Quiotu:
Huh... didn't even think of maps being copyrighted, but apparently it's a big business. Some manufacturers even have copyright traps in their maps, adding towns or points of interest on their maps that don't actually exist to make it easier to tell if the map is theirs or not

I would be so pissed if I went to a town that had an interesting name, only for it to turn out not to exist. Isn't the point of maps to show what's actually there?

By the sound of it, most of his peers are against him. Could he choose to sue?

He may have a strong stance (or not. I don't know how much copyright protection maps fall under), but he seems to come off as pretty antagonistic. If his map was that good to be confused with the actual map, then maybe ND didn't even know it was really his? Maybe someone meant to contact him but ended up being lazy? Besides, its not like ND took his map and used it in promotional material constantly or in posters or something (besides being in the actual game of course). Theft is theft, sure, but maybe he should calm down a bit.

All I'm saying is that these things can happen but his attitude, while justifiable, makes him come off as greedy or desperate or something. If he had already tried everything he could to contact ND and still didn't get a response, THEN I could see him getting upset. From what I see, its clear the map is his, so hopefully this gets resolved easily and soon.

Just like the guy said, with how much of a stink the gaming, movie and music industry makes about their precious intellectual property, to make mistakes of this kind deserve outrage.

My partner and I run a business, we purchase the rights to images, music, etc., for the sake of it all the time. We're just a small two-person operation and we'd never make this kind of action. In the past we had purchased images for specific uses even, only to later decide they would be great promotional material for other things (i.e. bought it for our website, but wanted to use it for a book cover). So we contacted the artists/owners and secured the rights/permission to use it in the new medium. This is basic stuff.

An apology and a money offer of some sort is due.

Quiotu:
Huh... didn't even think of maps being copyrighted, but apparently it's a big business. Some manufacturers even have copyright traps in their maps, adding towns or points of interest on their maps that don't actually exist to make it easier to tell if the map is theirs or not.

But here's the trick in this case. Sounds like this guy didn't publish or distribute the map they used, he just did it for S&Gs to show what was wrong. Naughty Dog basically found a way to use a non-copyright map, which is pretty rare, and now this guy doesn't have a leg to stand on in the conversation. Posting an edited map on your blog doesn't make it copyrighted.

Actually, it does. Copyright is granted to whoever created something in the US. You might be able to claim that the creation was derivitive or something, but, barring that, he has a copyright on the image. You do not have to distribute or even regsiter a work to have it protected by copyright. Not registering it will decrease the types of damage you could sue for.

This guy has a very legitimate reason to be mad. Anyone working with intellectual property, like Naughty Dog, definitely understand that you can't just download random images from the internet, slightly tweak them, and use them in their game.

Unless Mass has weird rules, they probably could have just used the official map. Generally, IP created by the government is automatically in the public domain. Some states have different rules about this though.

Clovus:

Quiotu:
Huh... didn't even think of maps being copyrighted, but apparently it's a big business. Some manufacturers even have copyright traps in their maps, adding towns or points of interest on their maps that don't actually exist to make it easier to tell if the map is theirs or not.

But here's the trick in this case. Sounds like this guy didn't publish or distribute the map they used, he just did it for S&Gs to show what was wrong. Naughty Dog basically found a way to use a non-copyright map, which is pretty rare, and now this guy doesn't have a leg to stand on in the conversation. Posting an edited map on your blog doesn't make it copyrighted.

Actually, it does. Copyright is granted to whoever created something in the US. You might be able to claim that the creation was derivitive or something, but, barring that, he has a copyright on the image. You do not have to distribute or even regsiter a work to have it protected by copyright. Not registering it will decrease the types of damage you could sue for.

This guy has a very legitimate reason to be mad. Anyone working with intellectual property, like Naughty Dog, definitely understand that you can't just download random images from the internet, slightly tweak them, and use them in their game.

Unless Mass has weird rules, they probably could have just used the official map. Generally, IP created by the government is automatically in the public domain. Some states have different rules about this though.

Ultimately the states don't really have a lot of leverage on that front, since copyright law is federal, so anything produced after... I think 1979 is outside of their control. Not that actual jurisdiction's ever stopped a state from legislating something it wants, but, the official map would be public domain.

kailus13:
I would be so pissed if I went to a town that had an interesting name, only for it to turn out not to exist. Isn't the point of maps to show what's actually there?

Traps are a very old tradition in map making. Inventing an entire town is a bit of an extreme version, I've seen maps that exclude a street for a single block at the edge (outside the city being presented), and the norm was to manipulate a geographic feature slightly, adding a tiny bay or peninsula where none existed.

kailus13:
By the sound of it, most of his peers are against him. Could he choose to sue?

Yeah, if he can prove that Naughty Dog actually used his map, and not the official one? He certainly can. It might be difficult proving damages, beyond the studio failing to pay his licensing fees. But, otherwise, yeah, he can.

Clovus:

Quiotu:
Huh... didn't even think of maps being copyrighted, but apparently it's a big business. Some manufacturers even have copyright traps in their maps, adding towns or points of interest on their maps that don't actually exist to make it easier to tell if the map is theirs or not.

But here's the trick in this case. Sounds like this guy didn't publish or distribute the map they used, he just did it for S&Gs to show what was wrong. Naughty Dog basically found a way to use a non-copyright map, which is pretty rare, and now this guy doesn't have a leg to stand on in the conversation. Posting an edited map on your blog doesn't make it copyrighted.

Actually, it does. Copyright is granted to whoever created something in the US. You might be able to claim that the creation was derivitive or something, but, barring that, he has a copyright on the image. You do not have to distribute or even regsiter a work to have it protected by copyright. Not registering it will decrease the types of damage you could sue for.

This guy has a very legitimate reason to be mad. Anyone working with intellectual property, like Naughty Dog, definitely understand that you can't just download random images from the internet, slightly tweak them, and use them in their game.

Unless Mass has weird rules, they probably could have just used the official map. Generally, IP created by the government is automatically in the public domain. Some states have different rules about this though.

It was the same map as the official MBTA map with two small changes made. Same colors, same font, etc... As it still had all the official MBTA trademarks on it, as well as their web address, he cannot remotely claim copyright.

Legion:

Although of course they should still have done their research and looked into it properly.

Of course, one of the basic tenents of law is "ignorance is not an excuse."

This is something the gaming industry hammers us with, by the way, so you can see why I might think this a little funny.

Bix96:
As much as I would love to back somebody using the same tactics that big businesses use to screw over your average joe this guy comes off as a massive dick just trying to money grub it reminds me of that guy that tried to sue Rockstar Games cause he looked kinda like CJ from San Andreas

We're talking about the theft of someone's livelihood here, not a passing resemblance to an intangible quality.

More power to him.

I wear plaid shirts. GIVE ME MONEY!

ravenshrike:
It was the same map as the official MBTA map with two small changes made. Same colors, same font, etc... As it still had all the official MBTA trademarks on it, as well as their web address, he cannot remotely claim copyright.

I won't comment on this guy suing or whatever, but if it's virtually identical to the actual official map down to MBTA trademarks, Naughty Dog are REALLY bloody stupid.

Hey, Hollywood! Quit stealing ideas directly from my brain that go into your movies! You don't even have the imagination to use them properly! GIMME MONEY!!

Hmmm...nope, doesn't work. Sorry.

If he gets any money, would he not have to give that money to the Massachusetts Transit Committee for altering their map? I mean, if the maps are nearly identical, I don't think this Booth guy should get any compensation without give it to the MBTA. Fair is fair right?

ravenshrike:
It was the same map as the official MBTA map with two small changes made. Same colors, same font, etc... As it still had all the official MBTA trademarks on it, as well as their web address, he cannot remotely claim copyright.

If you'd read the blog you'd have noticed he changed the font, colours, routes, added routes, omitted routes, etc...
He did a surprising amount of work, not just two small changes like you said.

I need to see the legality of this guy's rip off of the MBTA map first and then I need to see his legal rights to this image. Until then I am neutral.

It's not until something "serious" like this happens that you realise how silly the company name Naughty Dog sounds when used in a sentence.

I get the whole protection of intellectual property thing but this, like the Ellen Paige thing, is just clutching at straws. Also I feel the artist's reaction is disproportionate to the severity of the crime that has been perpetrated.

Zachary Amaranth:

ravenshrike:
It was the same map as the official MBTA map with two small changes made. Same colors, same font, etc... As it still had all the official MBTA trademarks on it, as well as their web address, he cannot remotely claim copyright.

I won't comment on this guy suing or whatever, but if it's virtually identical to the actual official map down to MBTA trademarks, Naughty Dog are REALLY bloody stupid.

Because gods forbid ND try to make it look like you're really in Boston?

I hope they didn't use actual landmarks in the game, or they're in for a really bad time at the rate things are going. People can't help but hate on success sometimes..

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