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Sony Entertainment Games

Defending Sony Against the Church Of England 78

Posted by Zonk
from the somebody-has-to dept.
Ian Bogost writes at Gamasutra about the (now quiet) controversy between Sony and the Church of England. You may recall the religious organization's objection to the use of the Manchester cathedral in Insomniac's alternate history WWII shooter Resistance. The result of this objection was a weak-kneed apology from Sony, and an attempt to push the whole thing under a rug. Bogost notes that never once did the company try to defend itself on artistic merit, simply capitulating to the objections of the church. That, he has decided, leaves the job up to him: "For my part, I think the cathedral creates one of the only significant experiences in the whole game, one steeped in reverence for the cathedral and the church, rather than desecration. Resistance is not a game richly imbued with wisdom. It's a first-person shooter, and it is a pretty good one. It's beautifully rendered, taking apparent advantage of the advanced graphical capabilities of the PlayStation 3. The game is very linear, both in its plot and the paths through each level, but that linearity allows it to focus the player on a smaller, more tightly crafted environment. Resistance takes up a common theme in science fiction: an ultimate test of humankind against the Other."
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Defending Sony Against the Church Of England

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  • Uh, right. (Score:2, Insightful)

    From TFA:

    Absent the creators' own ability, interest, or resolve to defend the artistic merits of their creation, that task is now left to the critic.

    Sony did something stupid - include a landmark owned by a church in a videogame of theirs without getting prior permission. If this church was to be included in a movie, you know that the studio would have to get permission, etc. So, Sony apologized for their stupidity, and moved on. This blogger has the "Al Sharpton" syndrome - take up a cause that very few people care about and act like it's the most important thing in the world. Good job.

    • Re:Uh, right. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sqlrob (173498) on Monday September 10, 2007 @12:41PM (#20541631)
      Why do they have to get permission? For a movie where it's done on location, that's understandable. But if it's done completely through CGI?
      • by mikael (484)
        Sony could have at least designed a 'generic church' by mixing and matching bits of different churches. There are a good many books on Gothic, medieval, renaissance, architecture that have floor plans and sketchings of many different churches.

        To me, it would seem like the art producer looked through one of these books, stuck a post-it note on the page of one church in particular and told the CGI modeller
        to use that one photograph as a reference.
        • Considering that they wanted that exact church because the game is based in an alternate version of human history, I'd say you don't know what you're talking about.
          • So, you're building a video game about Something Real (or alternate-reality-real). Do you model the building in a way that is Correct, or in a way which is Incorrect, but no one can tell?

            For example... I recall playing Rainbow Six: Eagle Watch. At one point, there was a hostage rescue scenario in some offices of the Capitol building. These may have been actual floor layouts, or not -- I really (as a player) have no idea. I relish the idea that they made it seem real enough, but don't really care much wh
        • by LKM (227954)
          That would be okay for non-public places; I don't particularly want my living room to be featured in a shooter. But the game plays where it plays, which is a real place, and the church is open to the public, so why the hell should the church in the game not look like the real church?
      • by LingNoi (1066278)
        Same reason they had to pay for using the image of the empire state building in spiderman for 2 seconds.
      • by donaldm (919619)
        Why would Sony have to get permission? It wasn't their game although it does play on their PS3.
    • Sony did something stupid - include a landmark owned by a church in a videogame of theirs without getting prior permission.

      As far as I am aware its a landmark, but it is a public landmark, for which you don't need permission to take pictures of etc, and likely the reason the COE hasn't done anything legally about it on the grounds it would get them no where. In anycase all you do is fight aliens in it, and is by far the most exciting thing ever likely to happen in a church.

      • Re:Uh, right. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Jarjarthejedi (996957) <christianpinch@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Monday September 10, 2007 @01:16PM (#20542183) Journal
        I love how the argument is always made that 'If I can photograph it, they should be able to create a three dimensional replica for use in a for-profit video game that the church may or may not like'. The two aren't the same at all*. Now then, the law may or may not have supported Sony, that depends on a huge number of factors and, in the end, a single judge's decision. Either way the nice thing to do is ask for permission, Sony didn't do that.

        Here's my POV. It is entirely possible to trademark a building's appearance, at least in the US, I don't know where the argument that that's not possible came from. Now then, in this case, the Church was probably not trademarked (unless the view is taken that any distinctive looking building is trademarked, which is a possible view). The inside of the Church, however, is private property. Unless I'm mistaken (having never played the game, I'm not a big horror person) Sony did model the inside of the Church. That is questionably legal without permission. In the US you're allowed to model (photograph, actually, but I'm extending it to modeling for this example) any non-trademarked buildings that can be seen from public property. Since the inside of the church can't be seen from public property...*cue drum roll*...that means that Sony was using private property in their for-profit game without permission. Whether or not that is legal, since the Church probably lets anyone in, is unknown but it's wrong to just say 'Yeah, that's legal' when it may or may not be.

        If I'm wrong on anything please point it out to me. Personally I think Sony should be able to do what they did, they should have asked for permission but it should be legal. Whether or not it is legal is something I believe to be unknown.
        • I agree with you, however if Sony had asked for permission to use the inside of the church then the church would probably have said no. This way they get to keep it in the game I think (I didn't rtfa so don't know if anything changed in the game).
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Derekloffin (741455)
          Trademarks have to be registered, are very limited in what you can register, and beyond that they don't protect you from having it used, only from having it misrepresented to a different competing product. Also, trademarks have to be very simple, you can't trademark a book for example, nor a painting, only a symbol or other simple graphical premise or set of words. Trademarking the whole church, no.

          As for modeling, you have no IP right over a look other than copyright, or patent. Any copyright or patent

        • by Kohath (38547)
          You're right until you say: that means that Sony was using private property.

          Since when is making a drawing of something "using" it? Can I picture it in my mind? How much money do I owe for that? Can I describe it to others? Can I write a story where I describe it to people and then sell the story?

          What law are you talking about anyway?
          • by tepples (727027)

            Since when is making a drawing of something "using" it?

            Since 1790 [wikipedia.org], or since 1978 [wikipedia.org] at the latest.

            Can I picture it in my mind?

            No, because under the law, neural patterns are not a "tangible medium" in which a work can be "fixed".

            What law are you talking about anyway?

            Copyright law (Title 17, United States Code, and foreign counterparts).

            • by SirSlud (67381)
              Looks to me as if architectural works were only added in 1990.
            • by Kohath (38547)
              Since 1790, or since 1978 at the latest.

              Really. Well construction on that church started in 1215 [wikipedia.org]. Since copyrights only last 50 years, it's safe to say that any copyright that may have existed is expired.

              • by tepples (727027)

                Well construction on that church started in 1215. Since copyrights only last 50 years
                Exclusive rights to land last a billion years or longer. The Church could assert that photographs taken within Church buildings shall be assigned to the Church. This would not be without precedent: the 1611 English translation of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer are under perpetual copyright-like exclusive rights.
                • by Kohath (38547)
                  I think you've just proven that any legal case, no matter how absurd, can be argued on either side. It's good to illustrate how extremely useless such legalistic thinking is in understanding and solving problems justly. You have done everyone a service.
                • by bentcd (690786)

                  Exclusive rights to land last a billion years or longer.

                  The land is not being used in the game. As an example, I can play the game while sitting immobile in my apartment in Norway and yet the land is in England.

                  The Church could assert that photographs taken within Church buildings shall be assigned to the Church.

                  The church could assert that pigs fly, but I'm not sure how far that would take them.

                  This would not be without precedent: the 1611 English translation of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer are under perpetual copyright-like exclusive rights.

                  Presumably, this depends on jurisidiction. So far as there is no case law that specifically states that this particular piece of property is under perpetual copyright, then it quite clearly isn't (yet).

        • by antek9 (305362)
          Trademarked? A church? For what kind of trade exactly would someone have cared to trademark it?

          And don't you think Jesus would have objected if that were the case?

          I think the only argument they have is a moral one. Which can be (should be?) rather strong. Compare: Let's have a downloadable map for a game like Resistance, Warhawk, UT3 or CS/S that's modeled around Mecca, to have a shootout in some mosques and around the Kaaba, and now try to imagine what the game designers would have summoned upon themsel
        • So, what Sony should do, is take $200,000,000 in small unmarked bills, throw it up in the air. All the money that God keeps would be payment for using His images, all the money that falls back to earth should be given back to Sony.
      • In anycase all you do is fight aliens in it, and is by far the most exciting thing ever likely to happen in a church.

        Well, I've done some 'exciting' things in church. I guess it's subjective. It was exciting for the two of us. Ahh catholic school girls....

        IANAP (I am not a priest)
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by njfuzzy (734116)
      I couldn't disagree more. A cathedral is a publicly available place, a historic monument, and as you put it "a landmark". Perhaps the use of the actual facility, such as required to shoot a movie, is up to the owner (the Church), but use of its image can't possibly be.

      What can they claim? Copyright infringement? I dare say a centuries-old Cathedral's image would be public domain now. Trademark? On a public place?

      Sony was within their rights, and it was a sign of weakness ("make everyone happy" PC nambypamby

    • by kalirion (728907)
      It may be owned by the church in this world, but the summary clearly states that the game takes place in an alternate reality.
    • Gamastura [gamasutra.com] is the web front of the CMP Game Group [cmpgame.com], which is in turn part of CMP Media at large. Amongst other things, this company organizes major industry events (such GDC [gdconf.com]), and publishes Game Developer Magazine [gdmag.com]. Gamasutra is mainly a web clearinghouse (and advertisement) for Game Developer Magazine content. Thusly, there are folks with editorial control over the content published on Gamasutra; this is not a blog, where a writer says whatever they want with nobody to edit their content for public consump
    • Re:Uh, right. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Monday September 10, 2007 @02:22PM (#20543217) Homepage Journal
      The building is over 700 years old, and its interior is well documented. What law, exactly, requires them to get permission before they model it in a videogame?

      Kids these days... sheesh. They have no disrespect for whiny, illegitimate authority.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sesshomaru (173381)
      Ok, a lot of what I'm reading here is in terms of this being a legal defense. Well, it's not supposed to be a legal defense because Sony doesn't need a legal defense. They don't have to recall their game or give a percentage of the profits to the Church of England, and they won't have to. They "won" basically (Church of England didn't have a leg to stand on, so their was never any chance of them losing), but said they won't do it again for public releations reasons.

      The article is an artistic defense of

  • Seriously.

    How did that gospel go?

    The Kingdom of God is inside you and all about you, not in mansions of wood and stone. Split a piece of wood and I am there; lift a stone and you will find me.
    • Don't you mean? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MikeRT (947531) on Monday September 10, 2007 @12:47PM (#20541731) Homepage

      20Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within[b] you."

      That's from the Gospel of Luke, one of the canonical Gospels. What you cite is from the Gospel of Thomas, which is considered to be a gnostic gospel. Seeing as how the CoE uses the canonical gospels only, Luke is more appropriate than Thomas here.

    • by alcmaeon (684971)

      How did that gospel go? The Kingdom of God is inside you and all about you, not in mansions of wood and stone. Split a piece of wood and I am there; lift a stone and you will find me.

      Um, you reallize that was from a Gnostic gospel, right? And that that Church of England, just like the Catholic Church, don't cotton to no damn Gnostics? In fact, during the Albigensian Crusade, the Catholic Church said to "kill them all [believers and heretics]. God will know his own."

      • How did that gospel go?

        The Kingdom of God is inside you and all about you

        Um, you reallize that was from a Gnostic gospel, right?

        In case you're watching only replies, MikeRT hinted [slashdot.org] that Luke 17:20-21 [biblegateway.com] is not considered "gnostic".

        • by alcmaeon (684971)

          In case you're watching only replies, MikeRT hinted that Luke 17:20-21 is not considered "gnostic".

          Luke isn't considered gnostic in the sense of heretical, since it is a canonical gospel, but it is certainly more gnostic in the lose sense than is Mark, for instance, but less gnostic than John.

          At any rate, the quote at issue wasn't from Luke, it was from the Gospel of Thomas and the quotes aren't the same.

    • Split a piece of wood and I am there; lift a stone and you will find me.

      All very well, but it's hard to convert people to your religion with broken twigs and cracked rocks. Stained glass and gold ornaments on the other hands really wow the average pleb. And hey, when you're going about saving people souls, who's to say you should look the part! It's all for a good cause right?
      • All very well, but it's hard to convert people to your religion with broken twigs and cracked rocks. Stained glass and gold ornaments on the other hands really wow the average pleb. And hey, when you're going about saving people souls, who's to say you should look the part! It's all for a good cause right?

        Except the Christian church grew incredibly fast before all of those things, and the reward for conversion was likely persecution or death.
    • "Not all drugs are good. Some ... are great.... You just have to know your way around them."
  • by Anonymous Coward
    to set fire to a pile of PS3s!
  • by nobuddy (952985) on Monday September 10, 2007 @12:45PM (#20541699) Homepage Journal
    two heavyweights of their genre (fantasy, magic, talking animals vs video games) stand toe to toe, and Sony pussies out instead of bringing the fight.
    • by rts008 (812749)
      Similar to my thoughts, but which side would be 'the good guys' here, are should this be an 'Asshat Deathmatch...In a Cage...of hungry lions, and...

      Well, Sony may have more money to fight with, but as for asshattedness, CoE have been past masters for centuries before Sony was even started.

      It would be an interesting match.
  • Manchester (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kohath (38547) on Monday September 10, 2007 @12:49PM (#20541769)
    That was a good scene in Resistance. The cathedral and the hospital beds were a good counterpoint to the alien attackers. And the layout really worked to focus the action.

    I'm not sure why anyone needs permission to copy something like that in a game or a movie. It's been there for a while now, so the design can't be copyrighted any more. The Church of England seemed to just want money.

    Some people might have been "offended" by a shooting game in the church, but people who are "offended" need to be told their choice to take offense is theirs alone. If you start empowering people based on their choices to take offense or not, then they'll eventually have 100% total power over you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 10, 2007 @12:52PM (#20541811)
    Church fails to spot the difference between fact and fiction.

    So what's new?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by TheMadcapZ (868196)
      Your right, maybe they just wanted Sony to model the church more accurately, you know, have a priest fingering a boy in the corner or something.
  • Funny (Score:5, Funny)

    by svendsen (1029716) on Monday September 10, 2007 @12:52PM (#20541815)
    The church asking sony to apologize for doing something bad

    I'm still waiting for the church's apology for everything bad thing it has done ;-)
    • by Guppy06 (410832)
      Dude, this is the Church of England we're talking about here.

      Cake or death?!
      • by Minwee (522556)
        Ah, the, uh, Psychotic Bastard Religion.
        • by miller701 (525024)
          But then that Luther guy came around with these "principles"... Ah, yes much better.
          • So yeah, and the Romans went Christian and then we had Christianity for about 1500 years. You know, Catholicism, we believed in the teachings of Cathol, and everything it stood for... Then Henry VIII came along. Henry VIII, a big, hairy king, and he said to the Pope, the head of the Catholic Church:

            "Mr. Pope! I'm going to marry my first wife, and then I'm going to divorce her. Now, I know what you're going to say but stick with me, my story gets better. I'm going to marry my second wife and then I'm gong

    • by Nerdfest (867930)
      Aren't they supposed to be all about forgiveness? Or does that go out the window when there's money involved?
  • Konami did it right with the House of Sacred Remains in "Castlevania: Lament of Innocence". And with gregorian-styled chants in the background.

    One of my favorite areas of the game.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PJ1216 (1063738) *
      It's supposed to be alternate history, therefore it's supposed to take place in places that people will recognize. If you start making up things, it no longer is alternate history fiction, it's just plain fiction.

      Imagine the Spider-man game based off the movie. If the Empire State building was something else, it wouldn't be New York. If Ellis Island was re-named and remodeled, it wouldn't be the same. It'd basically be Grand Theft Auto: Spider-man.

      The reason the author is making a big deal about this
      • by nickyj (142376)
        Hate to burst your bubble, but the NYC scenes in Spiderman were all inaccurate, most of the famous buildings are all wrong (inside and out) and this usually happens in all movies filmed in NYC. They use a couple of skyline shots and maybe a few scenes in the street, but most inside building shots are all done in a studio with backdrops.

        I'm almost sure that the church in the game is probably wrong if someone who knows the church well enough looked at it. It's not like they used blue prints to make an exact r
  • if the aliens were al effigies of jeebus. imagine mowing through a throng of bouncing crucified saviors with a minigun? that sounds like a good time to me!
  • I don't see the problem. Heck, I think the church should have taken advantage of it. Give you a "Hail Mary" button that forgives your wounds, put all the save points in the confessional booth. "I got saved and took out the alien leader from my sniper point here, father. How many hail marys is that? Wow."
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Since we're supposed to be all concerned for Sony (of recent rootkit fame) and defending them against criticism and wouldbe censorship by the Church of England how about we take a stand for another company we dislike as well? They need to be defended from criticism and censorship by Islam. Any takers?

    Remember this from back in August? Capcom Removes Islamic Phrase From Wii Game [gamasutra.com]

    If you read the linked article you might also notice that Kakuto Chojin back in 2003 got Microsoft in some hot water.

    Here's a cou
  • by tcolberg (998885)
    This may be the first time that I and organized religion agree: both of us want to punish Sony for almost irrelevant issues!
  • This sparks an interesting question in my mind. Would the Church of England be as upset if Resistance was a book and assuming it was just as popular?
  • You might begin by asking whether a western developer would have used the interior of the Al-Al-Asqua Mosque [wikipedia.org] or Kyotto's Yasaka Shrine as the setting for a first-person shooter.

Let's organize this thing and take all the fun out of it.

Working...