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Naughty Dog accused of swiping Last of Us art

Naughty Dog accused of swiping Last of Us art

Tue 25 Jun 2013 6:11pm GMT / 2:11pm EDT / 11:11am PDT

Update: Designer accuses developer of using his Boston transit map without permission, acknowledgement

Update: Booth said he has now discussed the situation with Naughty Dog and the two parties have come to a mutual agreement.

"I've just spoken with Naughty Dog over the phone in a very constructive conversation," he wrote. "Can't say more at the moment, but it seems as if matters will be resolved to everyone's satisfaction shortly.

"I can say that they do acknowledge their error in using my map and were very apologetic for it. I likewise apologised for my initial vitriolic post. A lot of mutual respect for each other's creative work."

Original story: Naughty Dog is being scolded by an artist who says his work was stolen by the developer for use in its latest game, The Last of Us. In a post on his Transit Maps Tumblr this week, graphic designer Cameron Booth said he was "f****** furious" to discover that an unofficial map he created of the Boston subway system appeared in the game.

"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," Booth said. "(Not to mention hugely ironic, as the software industry is always complaining about piracy of their work.)" [Emphasis in original.]

"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," he continued. "Cos, you know, images on the internet are free for anyone to use, right? Not."

Booth said he was never contacted by the developer for permission to use his work. He has also reached out to Naughty Dog asking to find out how his image wound up in the game, and "what kind of compensation I can expect for the theft of my work."

Booth isn't the only person upset with The Last of Us' image appropriations. Earlier this week, Ellen Page said she didn't appreciate Naughty Dog using her likeness as the basis for the game's heroine, Ellie.

As of press time, Sony had not responded to a request for comment.


Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
Popular Comment
Wether this guy has a case or not, Im very sick of these copyright laws. They are good to an extent, but its come to a point where a tattoo artist can sue you for using your tattoo in a photo, you cant appear with brand name clothing in a video or even a softdrink bottle. This artist obviosly did this art for the "MBTA". What rights can he claim over an artwork he did for someone else. The "MBTA" is the one who would need to sue.

But really at least here in america, where they seek to cash in on everything you do.... they give you the right to express yourself freely, yet almost anything you have to say is either copyrighted or trademarked by someone else. Whats next "Gibson Guitars" Suing people for using there musical instruments in a video without proper authorization.

So if you happen to make a game and the character looks like someone, that person can sue because you used there likeness?

These copyright and trademark laws really suck. I mean if the map was a fictional map of some imaginary world someone created for their own story, fine. But we are talking about a real map of a real city...

Posted:A year ago


Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
I would of thought art made for public owned institutions would be free to use.

Posted:A year ago

drip drip drab

Posted:A year ago


Matt Charleton Studying Law, University of Alberta

1 2 2.0
WIth respect, Rick, I think you misunderstand the nature of copyright law. They are grounded in the concept of balancing promotion of public interest in disseminating work and rewarding the creator. The balance sometimes results in situations that people find hard to take, but achieving the goal isn't an easy task. That said, in fair use (fair dealing, in Canada) allows for the use of works without infringing copyright laws for certain situations. The US has broader exceptions than Canada, but personal use in many ways, is exempted from protection.

If someone uses your original work for their commercial benefit, without your authorization or compensation, why shouldn't you be entitled to seek action? Like I said, the results are hard to stomach, but these protections inevitably do more good than harm.

Tell me that a subway map doesn't require skill and knowledge in its creation, or that it is original (better yet, how is it not incredibly creative?)

@Paul Not necessarily; publicly owned institutions may allow for that kind of use, but presumably there is nothing saying they have to. Ownership and use of commissioned work is dictated by both contract and statute. Look how aggressively one NY State Department protects I <3 NY!

Posted:A year ago


Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
The "I <3 NY" brand is different as that is used to make money. There must be some difference in the law (US&UK) between a brand/logo that is used for profit and a brand/logo which is used for public awareness, I would think this map falls under the same distinction as street signs.

Posted:A year ago


Pier Castonguay Programmer

189 106 0.6
Any screenshot of the map used in-game? I'm intrigued.

Posted:A year ago


Stephen Richards Game Deisgner

68 28 0.4
Any unique piece of art you create yourself is automatically copyrighted. Obviously this doesn't apply to something very simple e.g. a square. But something as detailed as a map definitely counts, although it probably wouldn't be worth a huge amount in a lawsuit as I doubt it had any influence on Last of Us sales.

But yeah, the layout of the map itself can't be copyrighted as that's just Boston. All Naughty Dog had to do was spend ten minutes in photoshop changing the style and colour scheme and they'd be fine.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Stephen Richards on 25th June 2013 10:08pm

Posted:A year ago


Jade Law Senior concept artist, Reloaded Productions

72 291 4.0
Popular Comment
Did anyone here bother to read the guys tumblr before posting?

This is not the map used by the subway in boston, its his own version. Subway maps are a very respectable form of graphic design that often simplify very messy routes. He owns this and he sells prints of it on his site.
He even made a reference to the fact they didnt use the official one.

Would i be pissed if i found a piece of my private work that I sell prints of used in any commercial product without my permission? Hell yes i would. Its very disrespectful to have done so especially when they have the means to create their own.

Posted:A year ago


Gareth Eckley Commercial Analyst

88 67 0.8
Naughty Dog have apparently already apologised and are taking steps to redress the situation. But hey, let's all get angry about something before anyone has discussed it like adults? That's the gamer way, right?

Posted:A year ago


James Prendergast Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
The article needs an update as per the tumblr page you linked in the the article:

Posted:A year ago


Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

527 786 1.5
Popular Comment

Posted:A year ago

Just because you pay an artist doesn't mean you own that work. The law says that unless you have a contract with that artist for the use of their artwork it belongs to them. That contract could say anything.

Lesson to be learned. Don't go to Google images whenever you have a deadline looming :-)

However on another note, How does Google get away with it? They must have some shit hot lobbyists and lawyers.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by John Owens on 26th June 2013 4:06pm

Posted:A year ago


Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany

819 652 0.8

They used without permission a design I made for everyone to have free and absolute access to it on a very successful game? Easy sue moneyz!! :D

Posted:A year ago


Helen Merete Simm Senior UI Artist, Codemasters

49 262 5.3
Clearly above its mentioned many times that this guy did NOT make it for everyone to have "for free". Its his OWN version of the Boston map, and he is selling it on his website.

Why is it so hard for people to see that this is WORK he did. Work he deserves to be paid for.

Posted:A year ago


Iain Stanford Experienced Software Engineer, Tinderstone

33 126 3.8
@Rick Lopez
So if you happen to make a game and the character looks like someone, that person can sue because you used there likeness?
Erm. Yes.

If not, I could go make a character with someones likeness, and then make that character do or "be" whatever I want. What if I picked your likeness and made a character who was a homicidal maniac, a child molester, maybe a raving alcoholic and you happen to be recovering? I could make him homosexual, perfectly right to do so, but some people would take offence. I can do whatever I like because the character in the game is "mine"....he just looks exactly like you.

We have to have rules like that because some people can abuse someones likeness, and people very much have the right to defend their own image.

We can't just say, "oh it ok as long as you don't do anything bad with it", because that "bad" becomes subjective to the person creating the content vs the person who's likeness has been "copied".

Same with companies, sure we could "hate" on them because their "big evil multinationals", but they have built up an image, a logo, a presence. I have no right to just slap their logo on whatever I want as much as they have no right to use *my* company logo (if I had one) on anything they want. It helps prevent smear, misrepresentation and the ridiculously childlike attacks that would occur otherwise.

Posted:A year ago


Gary LaRochelle Digital Artist/Game Designer, Flea Ranch Games

64 55 0.9

I recently found out that Playboy used a copyrighted piece of artwork of mine in one of their centerfold layouts.

I wonder what I could get for compensation?

(September 2003)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Gary LaRochelle on 27th June 2013 2:40pm

Posted:A year ago

Same with companies, sure we could "hate" on them because their "big evil multinationals", but they have built up an image, a logo, a presence. I have no right to just slap their logo on whatever I want as much as they have no right to use *my* company logo (if I had one) on anything they want. It helps prevent smear, misrepresentation and the ridiculously childlike attacks that would occur otherwise.

You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.

- Banksy

Posted:A year ago


Christopher Garratty European Counsel, Electronic Arts

83 98 1.2
@Rick & Iain: If you have never before seen Booth's map and happen to draw a map that looks identical to it, then you aren't likely to have breached any copyright. The clue is in the name Copyright. Image rights for people are a bit different and vary massively depending on where you are (oddly California, home to Hollywood, is very favourable to people who want to sue for protection of image rights).

On the subject of copyright, it's not unheard of for people to take stuff off of an image search and either not check it because they don't get Copyright rules or because the source they got it from makes it appear that it is rights free and they haven't done enough digging. Artists are human, they make mistakes and there isn't usually a person scouring every single asset in a game just in case one happens to be a copy of something else. Normally these sorts of issues are sorted by contacting the company directly, informing them of their presumably honest mistake and sorting out a solution. That might be recognition in the game, a bit of cash, or whatever. They don't normally result in people throwing a public tantrum.

Booth was a bit harsh to publicly paint Naughty Dog as the villain of the piece when really this was probably just an oversight and not a concerted attempt to steal. I'm sure he would have received the same response if he'd gone to them personally rather than rage-tumbling.

Posted:A year ago


Jean-Marc Wellers Assistant Online Services, Ubisoft

17 7 0.4
Wow Rick, hold it.

Copy-pasting is stealing someone's work. The MBTA ended up not using this map which is why it didin't sue if I recall right.
If you copy-paste a tattoo artist's art in your game without even asking, there's something wrong here.
On the opposite, peopke buy the "Gibson Guitars" (to use your example ;D) and do what they want with them and GG has no word in that.
But stealing someone's work is a very sensitive topic. Numerous politicians and other well-knowned people ended up losing their positions for plagiarism (e.g.).
You, as an illustrator, designer, DJ, wouldn't mind seeing your work being employed by some other entity, without them asking you, funding your work or even citing your name?
I think you should understand that :)

trying to Buzz maybe Rick? xD

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jean-Marc Wellers on 11th July 2013 11:22am

Posted:A year ago


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