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Nintendo Games Your Rights Online

Nintendo Shuts Down Fan-Made Zelda Movie 222

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the lawyers-don't-make-any-sense-to-me dept.
Andorin writes "An independently filmed adaptation of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, called The Hero Of Time, has been taken offline by Nintendo as of the end of December. The film's producers write: 'We came to an agreement with Nintendo earlier this month to stop distributing the film... We understand Nintendo's right to protect its characters and trademarks and understand how in order to keep their property unspoiled by fan's interpretation of the franchise, Nintendo needs to protect itself — even from fan-works with good intentions.' Filming for the feature-length, non-profit film began in August 2004 and the movie was completed in 2008. It premiered in various theaters worldwide, including in New York and Los Angeles, and then became available online in the middle of December, before it was targeted by Nintendo's legal team. As both an avid Zelda fan and an appreciator of independent works, I was extremely disappointed in Nintendo's strong-arming of a noncommercial adaptation to the Game of the Year for 1999."
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Nintendo Shuts Down Fan-Made Zelda Movie

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  • Why the surprise? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01, 2010 @11:28AM (#30614200)

    We all know you wouldn't get anywhere with Micky Mouse, why should a game character be any different?

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Friday January 01, 2010 @11:28AM (#30614202) Homepage Journal

    Without these evil fans they have no sales. Pricks. And I'm not even a gamer.

  • by loufoque (1400831) on Friday January 01, 2010 @11:32AM (#30614218)

    ... on your favourite bittorrent search engine.

  • by rhyder128k (1051042) on Friday January 01, 2010 @11:34AM (#30614236) Homepage

    I agree. What did they expect?

    Having said that, it's about time that there was a standardised way for IP holders to grant a "fan art licence" for projects such as this.

  • Derivative Works (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01, 2010 @11:35AM (#30614246)

    The owner of the copyright has the *exclusive* right to make derivative works.

    That includes everything, for-profit or not-for-profit.

    If you want to make a derivative work of someone else's stuff, you have to ask for (and receive) permission first.

    I realize the slashdot crowd doesn't agree with all that, but it is the existing law.

  • Re:Actually... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Plunky (929104) on Friday January 01, 2010 @11:38AM (#30614264)

    They took so long to enforce it as part of the agreement. If they don't enforce their trademarks, they lose them. Waiting to take it down was the best they could have done, honestly. Props for waiting.

    No, it was not the best they could have done. That would have been saying "cool" and granting a free licence.

  • Re:Actually... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Friday January 01, 2010 @11:40AM (#30614276) Journal

    Bullshit. You can enforce your trademarks and still allow fan works. For instance, CBS allows use of Star Trek [thefreelibrary.com] properties for non-profit use. Nintendo should be encouraging their most enthusiastic fans, not threatening them with legal action.

  • by Plunky (929104) on Friday January 01, 2010 @11:41AM (#30614280)

    The owner of the copyright has the *exclusive* right to make derivative works.

    No, the owner of the copyright has the *exclusive* right to distribute, and the *exclusive* right to licence others to distribute.

    The owner of the trademark has the *exclusive* right to make derivative works, and the *exclusive* right to licence other derivative works.

    That they chose to deny approval to a derivative work is their choice even if it shows them up as asshats

  • Streisand effect! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pecosdave (536896) * on Friday January 01, 2010 @11:42AM (#30614282) Homepage Journal

    Now I'm curious and I'm going to have to hunt down a copy of that movie, that I would never have heard of had Nintendo just let it be.

  • Re:Nintendo sucks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sowelu (713889) on Friday January 01, 2010 @11:45AM (#30614304)
    Proof, please. Imagining the worst possible motives and threats when you don't know what really went on is absolutely disgusting.
  • by hort_wort (1401963) on Friday January 01, 2010 @11:51AM (#30614330)

    This probably isn't the best time to bring attention to another of your liked series. Just a thought.

  • by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@gmai l . com> on Friday January 01, 2010 @11:52AM (#30614334) Homepage Journal

    Fan projects like this only help to keep the IP in people's minds, effectively generated free promotion.

    Anyone recall the early days of the internet when Fox and Lucas were threatening to sue all the X-Files and Star Wars fan pages on the internet in order to protect their trademarks? At some point they decided it was too hard to fight, and that fan pages weren't a threat to their trademarks. So why are fan movies different?

  • Lessons Learned (Score:5, Insightful)

    by westlake (615356) on Friday January 01, 2010 @11:56AM (#30614360)

    The fan spends four years in production. The film is screened in New York and L.A.

    It never occurs to him at any point along the way to ask Nintendo for their permission and support. It comes as a surprise when the rights holder pulls the plug.

    There is a way to get it right:

    The Hunt for Gollum [thehuntforgollum.com]
       

  • Re:Actually... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by abigsmurf (919188) on Friday January 01, 2010 @12:06PM (#30614428)
    You have no right to rip off other people's work without permission. What is an homage to one person is a horrible butchering of something they've spent years of their lives working to another.

    CBS are liberal with permissions to use Star Trek stuff. Good for them. Other creators do not wish the same things of their properties. Do not confuse one group's good will with something that should be expected from everyone.

    I gave to a charity the other day. You should give to them too. It's outrageous that you have yet to donate to them! If I can donate, I see no reason why you shouldn't too!
  • Conversely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by abigsmurf (919188) on Friday January 01, 2010 @12:18PM (#30614502)
    Without these pricks, the fans would have no Zelda.
  • Re:Lessons Learned (Score:3, Insightful)

    by digitaltraveller (167469) on Friday January 01, 2010 @12:23PM (#30614536) Homepage

    It never occurs to him at any point along the way to ask Nintendo for their permission and support. It comes as a surprise when the rights holder pulls the plug.

    I get what your saying but...c'mon. Artists shouldn't have to ask permission to do their work.

    This happened because trademark law says companies are required to defend their TM or lose them.
    The rise of the global DNS makes (word) trademark law obsolete however it will probably take at least another
    century before governments figure this out.

    In the meantime, the creators of this should rename their word to the Legend of Velda, to avoid the legal
    hassles.

  • Re:Nintendo sucks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sowelu (713889) on Friday January 01, 2010 @12:24PM (#30614538)
    I didn't see anything about regret. All I saw was "Yeah, they have a legal or financial need to protect their brand, so they had to take us down". Why would you even think that their statement was coerced? Sure, they were forced to take it down to avoid big lawsuits, but that's not what you said. You said "Forcing them to put out a "mea culpa" statement like this (no doubt with hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars of lawsuits promised if they did not) is absolutely disgusting." Again, what exactly makes you think it's coerced?
  • Re:Lessons Learned (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vellmont (569020) on Friday January 01, 2010 @12:29PM (#30614558)


    The fan spends four years in production. The film is screened in New York and L.A.

    Sounds like they did it about exactly right. They finished the film, had it shown in at least two major cities, had it up for online distribution for a month, and now there's a story about it in one of the best places to advertise.

    So you REALLY think they should have tried to approach a company as large as Nintendo and alert them to the fact they're trying to make a movie that would make Nintendo essentially zero dollars and Nintendo would have zero input on? It might have worked, but I wouldn't bet on it. It would be tough enough to just get an ANSWER from them. The most likely scenario is you'd get a letter from legal telling you how they'll sue you if you release the movie. Why bait the sharks?

  • Re:Took awhile? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by skine (1524819) on Friday January 01, 2010 @12:41PM (#30614622)

    As with most slashdot articles, they say [big company] does something outrageous and evil to [little guy who's not even trying to profit or nothing!].

    Then you find out that they're showing it in theaters (which tend to be for-profit ventures).

  • Re:Lessons Learned (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Friday January 01, 2010 @12:45PM (#30614654) Homepage Journal

    I get what your saying but...c'mon. Artists shouldn't have to ask permission to do their work.

    That's a bit on the utopian side. They're making a derivative of someone else's "art". If it's really artistry, then it seems to me that they could have been more original than that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01, 2010 @12:53PM (#30614700)

    Fan projects like this only help to keep the IP in people's minds, effectively generated free promotion.

    It also takes it out of Nintendo's hands and reduces their control over their creation, and hence the ability to steer and sell it the way that they want.

    For example, although a lot of (e.g.) fan-created Sonic the Hedgehog porn exists (no, really...) , I very much doubt that Sega would be too happy with this form of "free promotion". If it was to become more prominent and obvious, it could damage their ability to sell the character in family-friendly games and the like.

  • by Vainglorious Coward (267452) on Friday January 01, 2010 @12:55PM (#30614710) Journal

    The owner of the copyright has the *exclusive* right to make derivative works...I realize the slashdot crowd doesn't agree with all that, but it is the existing law.

    Apart from the first statement being simply untrue (there are a number of uses permitted without the copyright holder's permisssion), it is also completely irrelevant - this case is not about copyright, it's about trademarks. I know the fudmongers want us all to be seduced into the "information is property" paradigm, but copyrights and trademarks (and for that matter, patents and trade secrets) are not the same thing at all, and blurring the distinctions between them does nobody any good. Before you go berating us all in your role as AC law expert you might want to get a better understanding of the law yourself.

  • Re:Actually... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Friday January 01, 2010 @12:58PM (#30614728) Homepage

    Do not confuse one group's good will with something that should be expected from everyone.

    I think you're being a little bit harsh but raise a good point all the same. It would be really easy to tweak the story line and character names to come up with an original story. At least then you'd have a small but non-zero chance of being able to sell your final product.

    I've seen the same thing in Star Wars fan films. Some of them are really quite good and required a huge amount of effort. Had they put that effort into an original story in a vaguely similar universe, they'd own it.

    A Zelda fan might enjoy a Zelda-like story line nearly as much. You just have to invest in the back story, which you can skip in a fan film. But if you use a similar setting and environment, the history can be pretty short. A narrator can read it in if you really want to go cheap. The fans will get it. If it's too similar you could still get sued, but then it's a big corporation beating up on a bunch of poor kids. Not a bunch of poor kids encroaching on a big company's copyright.

  • by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Friday January 01, 2010 @01:53PM (#30615026)
    I'm not one usually to reference YTNMD on /., but this [ytmnd.com] is appropriate.

    However, if you look at the whole issue from a broader perspective, you begin to wonder if this sort of thing isn't deliberate, by which I mean people must understand the Streisand Effect by now and maybe people are trying to exploit it. The first thought of a lot of people on the internet when they hear 'x is being banned/censored/removed' is 'wow, I need to both satisfy my curiosity AND stick it to The Man!' Maybe some companies are pulling things like this not in a pure bid just to get them removed (since that doesn't work), but really to make them the center of a controversy such that their (albeit hijacked) IP reaches a broader audience that otherwise wouldn't hear about it without free press from places like /. getting upset about stuff being removed.

    Or maybe I'm getting paranoid and seeing conspiracies...
  • Re:Lessons Learned (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01, 2010 @02:59PM (#30615378)

    They're making a derivative of someone else's "art". If it's really artistry, then it seems to me that they could have been more original than that.

    Damn right! Walt Disney was a leech!

  • Re:Lessons Learned (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RicardoGCE (1173519) on Friday January 01, 2010 @03:39PM (#30615630)

    How about people actually start creating original material instead of endlessly wanking to someone else's creations?

    Yeah, infinite copyright sucks. However, nothing's stopping anyone from coming up with new characters, settings, and stories.

    Write one new story, make one new film, paint one new picture. It'll benefit us all far more than yet another "fan" mashup/fanfic/homage/whatever.

  • by shentino (1139071) on Friday January 01, 2010 @06:46PM (#30616784)

    Considering the piss-poor quality of the movie itself I don't blame nintendo either.

  • Re:Lessons Learned (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01, 2010 @10:21PM (#30618696)

    How about people actually start creating original material instead of endlessly wanking to someone else's creations?

    You really don't know anything about art do you?

    ALL art is derived. Originality in culture is a post-industrial myth created out of the despair of the universal man required to service the needs of industrialization.

  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:46PM (#30624018)

    If the Myst movie had fucked up the Myst story, Cyan would not have loved it.

    That's basically what happened here, fan makes game movie, game creator hates what fan movie does to his characters, game company kills game movie.

    Zelda is Zelda because of the creative power behind it, and what the fans did didn't jive with the creative power behind Zelda. Ergo, Zelda fan movie was not disirable as it would screw up the future stories.

  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:50PM (#30624054)

    From what others have said, it's more a case of it being a complete piece of shit and Nintendo not wanting it to damage the Zelda franchise.

    Can't say I blame them.

  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @01:52PM (#30624082)

    I could see it if they had made a good movie, but apparently it was a real tomato. Licensing it would have been a stupid thing for Nintendo to do, if it was terrible.

  • Re:Lessons Learned (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Andorin (1624303) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @06:57PM (#30627102)

    But the obvious point that you're missing is that this is not creative, nor is it innovative.

    Have you even watched the movie? Or are you just assuming it's a cut-and-paste of Ocarina of Time in movie form? The plot of THOT is not all that similar to OoT's. The basic idea is the same- Ganondorf gaining the Triforce of Power, and Link and Zelda working to stop him- but aside from that, they made a lot of changes, some minor and some not-so-minor, to the storyline. It's almost its own Zelda story. Because of these changes- for example, Saria is Link's adopted Kokiri mother, instead of his friend, and the king of Hyrule holds the Triforce of Power originally, instead of the Sacred Realm- I see a fair amount of creativity in the movie.

    Creative would have been coming up with their own universe to tell a story in.

    I already told you that the point was a Zelda movie. Not just any fantasy movie. Can't really be a Zelda movie if you don't have any of: Link, Zelda, Ganon, Hyrule, the Master Sword, the Triforce, or any other well-known Zelda-universe names. Complete originality therefore defeats the purpose of the movie.

    Innovative would be doing something on film that has never been done before.

    I never said the film itself was particularly innovative. Creative, yes. I mentioned innovation because laws that stifle peoples' ability to create do stifle innovation.

    and the movie's producers are retarded for not asking permission *before* they expended so much time and effort on the project.

    I'm sure I'm not the only one who doesn't want to live in a 'permission culture' wherein we have to ask for someone else's permission before creating anything. As I've already touched on, no harm was being done here. Nintendo can whine all they want about their image, but the film was clearly an independently made work and not endorsed by Nintendo. Even says so on their website. Besides, if they want to protect the image of the LoZ franchise, there is a lot worse out there online (think rule 34) that Nintendo should be targeting. And if no harm was being done, there should be no reason to have to get permission.

    Of the major gaming companies- Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo- I used to like Nintendo the most. Now I dislike them all more or less equally, and will not be likely to do business with Nintendo in the future. And I can't imagine the film's producers are happy with Nintendo either, not when it would have been so easy for Nintendo to help them out, even with just a free license.

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