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Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Manchester Cathedral, you're getting me down

The IPKat is a little puzzled by an article in today’s Times, claiming that the Church of England may have grounds to bring an IP-based action against Sony. The C of E is objecting to the use of images of Manchester Cathedral in a violent computer game sold by Sony. The article claims:
"the cathedral and its clergy could have grounds for an action against Sony for defamation and breach of copyright. The cathedral could also sue Sony for “endorsement rights”".
This is news to the IPKat. While the UK does provide copyright protection for works of architecture, Manchester Cathedral is a little too old to qualify. Likewise, we can’t even manage publicity rights for people, let alone endorsement rights. Perhaps the best chance would be to argue passing off, but would the public really be deceived into thinking that the C of E has authorised a game based on gun battles?

5 comments:

Andrew Mills said...

I've written a long piece about the legal issues. It's at http://impact.freethcartwright.com/2007/06/church_of_engla.html

Graham said...

Could the issue be where Sony sourced their images? Copyright might have been infringed if the images were copied in some measure from a third party's images, for example images on Manchester Cathedral's own web site, which has a virtual tour of the cathedral.

Anonymous said...

Proving that would be fun! :)

Gerontius said...

I've been thinking about this and it occurred to me that the whole copyright/passing off issue might just be a red herring. Sure, the motivation behind the church/cathedral wanting to sue Sony is the use of images of the cathedral in the game, but the general consensus is that they wouldn't have a case on those grounds.

What else might the church be able to sue Sony for? As (self-appointed?) moral leaders for England, could the church bring a case on behalf of the people of this country against this "filth" and try to have a Mary Whitehouse/video nasty type effect on the gaming industry as a whole. Any other grounds that they could bring a case on?

To use a mixed and probably inappropriate analogy: while the slap to the cheek may be what the church was upset about, why should they retaliate by trying to cut off Sony's hands when they might be able to take them out more effectively with a swift knee to the groin instead?

David said...

Sony has now apologised for including the depiction of Manchester cathedral in the game (see the BBC report here), but have not removed the game from sale.

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