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Church of England Facing Uphill Battle Against Sony

| 12 Jun 2007 15:32
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The Church of England is facing an "uphill battle" if it chooses to pursue legal action against Sony, according to a game and copyright lawyer.

The Church has lodged a complaint with Sony over its use of images of the Manchester Cathedral in the game Resistance: Fall of Man, demanding an apology and a "substantial donation."

However, according to Alex Chapman of Campbell Hooper Solicitors, there is a provision in the United Kingdom's 1988 Copyright Designs and Patents Act which states that representing certain artistic works that are on public display, including buildings and sculptures which are "permanently situated in a public place or in premises open to the public," is not a copyright infringement. "Therefore, the inclusion of the Cathedral in the game could not be considered to be an infringement of any copyright on it," Chapman said.

Since copyright on a work expires 70 years after the death of its creator, it is also very unlikely that the Cathedral has any copyright remaining on it at all. Chapman added, "What all this means is that public buildings are generally fair game for inclusion in videogames, films, etc., and it is something that their owners just have to accept."

The Church could possibly find a basis for legal action if the Cathedral was presented in a defamatory fashion, or if it became so closely associated with the product or company that its presence could be misconstrued as an endorsement. Chapman, however, found both of those possibilities unlikely. "In each case, however, my impression is that the Church will have some difficulty in pursuing Sony," he said. "There is no law against insensitivity and as with many matters of this kind, it is the public reaction that might be more damaging than the legal one."

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