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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

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

    • 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.

      • by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@noSPam.gmail.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?

        • Re:Why the surprise? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by erroneus (253617) on Friday January 01, 2010 @11:55AM (#30614356) Homepage

          Big business only likes "grass roots" when they can control it.

          • by stfvon007 (632997)

            Does this mean we will instead see a fan made movie soon called "The Story of Zalde: the hero of time", and it will open with Lunk destroying the evil organization of Nintondiz?

        • by Derosian (943622)
          Perhaps it has something to do with the large number of games turning into movies, perhaps we should expect a Zelda movie in the near future.
        • by Ogive17 (691899)
          Most fan pages don't really have revenue other than ad revenue which probably isn't enough to pay for hosting most pages. A movie that was released in theaters is clearly out to make a profit.

          If the movie was free to view by anyone, I would criticize Nintendo for this. I don't blame Nintendo for stopping others from profiting off their ideas, though.
          • by Ogive17 (691899)
            Guess I should have read the smaller print in bad font claiming they intended to turn no profit from it.... either way I think getting permission at the beginning probably would've been their best bet.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

            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.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          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
        • I think it was Edmund Burke who pointed out that "It isn't always wise to do what you have a right to do". However, the common law legal system doesn't operate that way. It tends to assume that it you don't exercise your rights, you implicitly abandon them.

          This is what makes companies take legal action in such cases, even if they might have sympathy for the project itself. If they do not, it might be used as a precedent next time, when somebody has a project that is less beneficial to Nintendo.

          So don't blam

          • They could sold a trademark license to the group for $1. Legally, they still demanded the trademark be licensed, but they allow the fan creation.

            Wouldn't that move generate positive press?

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

              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.

        • by Sethumme (1313479)

          What happens if fan-art popularizes counter-culture versions of the IP characters, like Zelda and Link doing cocaine or joining in orgies? It's true that fan art is for the most part supportive of the original artist's direction, much like the amateur film in question, but without any control over which derivative works are allowed, the integrity of the game character could be obliterated. Even something as mild as suggesting Link is gay, while not inherently or morally negative, could hurt the image and

  • 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 Threni (635302) on Friday January 01, 2010 @11:56AM (#30614370)

      Yeah, Nintendo have to protect them? No, they could license it for free and it would not dilute their ownership of trademarks. It's bollocks - like when companies say "unfortunately we can't fix your product for free". It's not unfortunate - it's a result of their policy, which they could change whenever they felt like it.

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        It's typically some low-level drone on the other end of the phone line that's saying "unfortunately". I think they really do empathize with you in that respect. I've had calls relating to service like this in my life where the dude says (in not so many words) "Dude, I wish I could help you, but it's against the stupid rules we have and I can't afford to get my ass shitcanned."

    • Conversely (Score:5, Insightful)

      by abigsmurf (919188) on Friday January 01, 2010 @12:18PM (#30614502)
      Without these pricks, the fans would have no Zelda.
      • by nurb432 (527695)

        And with the way things look, that wouldn't be a bad thing.

      • Losing a handful of fan filmmakers wouldn't make much of a dent in Nintendo's sales. But I doubt that the fan film hurts Nintendo any either. The problem is that the fans put a lot of work into something which they don't have permission to use the trademarks.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comiket [wikipedia.org]Comiket, where characters from all walks of ... from variety of different genres are regularly spoiled in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doujinshi [wikipedia.org]Doujinshi, often in ways not for the faint of heart.

  • So... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 01, 2010 @11:29AM (#30614204)

    Got a link?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mqduck (232646)

      Got a link?

      Yup [btjunkie.org].

      Way to go, Nintendo. I'd never heard of the movie before, but because of this story, I'm downloading it as we speak.

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

    ... on your favourite bittorrent search engine.

    • Is it any good?

  • Nintendo sucks (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by russotto (537200)

    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.

    It's bad enough Nintendo shut them down. 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. Even if they did manage to put

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sowelu (713889)
      Proof, please. Imagining the worst possible motives and threats when you don't know what really went on is absolutely disgusting.
      • While it's always possible it was something else, I think it's by far the most reasonable explanation for the given text. Why else would they write in legalese repeating what looks like what would be the Nintendo party line?

  • 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: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Easy as pie: http://thepiratebay.org/search/The%20Hero%20of%20Time/0/7/0

    • the nintendo party i mean ? by creating a stampede which the net community wouldnt like, they had advertised the thing in a way they couldnt even if they have spent tens of millions of bucks

    • I can see how it's mechanically like the Streisand Effect -- try to silence something, end up drawing more attention to it. But the reason for the suppression isn't that the thing being taken down is embarrassing or otherwise damaging to them, so the consequence seems... inconsequential.

      I also doubt it's deliberate. They probably just don't care. More people downloading the movie from torrent sites is less important than them throwing their legal weight around. The only downside is how we feel about the

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      Someone needs to upload a torrent and include this sound file [talkingwav.com].

  • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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: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.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          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!

      • by Chris Burke (6130)

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

        Unless their work is a derivative work of someone else's work, then they probably should. And I mean, it's not like we're talking about some light-gray area like a two second sample of a song, or a story that is clearly directly inspired (read: ripping off) another. It's a movie about the Legend of Zelda.

        Maybe in my perfect world they wouldn't need permission, but also in that world it would be polite to ask. In

      • by Blakey Rat (99501)

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

        They're not doing THEIR work, they're adapting SOMEONE ELSE's work. And it's not like Nintendo is abusing a copyright that should have long-since expired by now, either... they're perfectly within their legal and moral right in this case.

        If they wanted to make a fantasy movie, and more power to them, they could have made an *original* one, making it an original work. Then I might be able to respect the film.

        The onl

    • 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?

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        There's two possible conspiracies here.

        Nintendo conspiracy, they see the movie, they like it, and then they get it taken down claiming trademark blabbity blah. They have... something? to gain from it. I don't know. There's lots of angles that could be worked here.

        Filmmaker's conspiracy, they know it's not kosher to make this movie. They also know that Nintendo has a brand image to uphold and while they will threaten litigation, they won't really bring down the hammer too hard because it would tarnish their

    • by selven (1556643)

      Just because the fan could have handled this better doesn't make this takedown any less an evil act.

  • Kinda shocked (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lyinhart (1352173) on Friday January 01, 2010 @11:56AM (#30614366)
    I'm not sure why Nintendo would want to do this - it's only a negative for them, spreading all this ill will. Look at Star Trek and Star Wars. Lucasfilm and Paramount generally don't "crack down" on fan films or most other fan works, as long as they're nonprofit ventures. And fan films are more comparable to Lucasfilm and Paramount products. Nintendo primarily sells interactive products, so a noninteractive fan film would not be in direct competition with well, anything they sell. That is, unless they decide to develop a full length Zelda film. Remember how well Super Mario Bros. [wikipedia.org] turned out?
  • Reminds me of when Sqeenix decided to shut down that Chrono Trigger [destructoid.com] fan game.
  • Rename it to Legend of Grizelda, parody the character names and rerelease it as a parody.
    Joke em if they cant take a F**k! The gall! Screw with your fanbase and lose your old friends like Metallica.
    I bet they woulda ate poo if the takedown lawyers told em to. Damn, question authority even if it is as silly and insignificant as a video game company.
    If no one gets feisty, this will get as bad as the stinkin NFL and their fans art. At least they can always watch hockey instead of pansy pad football.

  • Whether Nintendo is right or wrong, all of the heartbreak could have been prevented in advance of all that work if the makers of the movie had done one simple thing first...ask permission. Of course, I'm also smart enough to know why they didn't do that...they knew they probably wouldn't get it.

  • thats why it is there. and, fuck nintendos strong arming legal team. if anything, they made the company lose much more in value in PR than they made save in zelda's image.

  • ambush (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shentino (1139071) on Friday January 01, 2010 @01:55PM (#30615038)

    If the geeks at Nintendo were even half way awake they'd have noticed this thing brewing a long time ago.

    Wait until the fans sink all their investments into the movie, then blow it out of the water with a lawsuit after they're too low on the budget to fight back.

  • Whereas Nintendo was protecting their franchise with the release of the CD-i rapes of Zelda. I'm sure whatever the amateur fans made couldn't have been as bad.

    http://screwattack.com/videos/AVGN-CD-i-Part-2 [screwattack.com]

    http://screwattack.com/videos/AVGN-CD-i-Part-3 [screwattack.com]

    • Whereas Nintendo was protecting their franchise with the release of the CD-i rapes of Zelda. I'm sure whatever the amateur fans made couldn't have been as bad.

      The CD-i Zelda games weren't made by Nintendo, but were apparently made by Philips to exploit a loop-hole in Nintendo's contract with Philips for the SNES CD-ROM addon. Even though said addon never came out.

  • by RyoShin (610051) <[tukaro] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday January 01, 2010 @03:48PM (#30615684) Homepage Journal

    Nintendo has always been stalwart when it comes to protecting their copyrights. Nintendo has a long history of comments about fair use, personal backups, and so forth that might even make Ken Kutaragi, Mr. "PS3 gamers should get a second job" [joystiq.com], laugh out loud. Their actions are usually quite in line with their statements.

    But, something I have never heard about, despite trawling some of the darkest parts of the internet, is Nintendo going after creators of porn based on Nintendo IP. This has always confused me--I'm not really for nor against them going after the artists, but considering the potential harm they might do to Nintendo's brand, you'd think it would be of a higher priority. Even more astounding, at least to me, is that as far as I can tell THOT was being given away for free, while there are plenty of toon porn sites out there that charge for their content (though piracy often slips around this). I would think it almost a no-brainer for Nintendo to go after the commercial sites and more popular/notorious artists to scare off the little guys. And, yet, I've never heard of a single case or even a C&D.

    In fact, I've never heard of any company acting upon toon porn (and any cosplay porn that may exist.) Why is this? Are they somehow not aware it exists? Rule 34 is a popular enough concept at this point that I would think the idea would have at least entered their head from somewhere. Are they scared of bringing the world of drawn pornography to the limelight? After an Iowa man was thrown in jail for kiddie toon porn [animenewsnetwork.com] ("shota yaoi"), Nintendo (and other similar companies) could get even more help from the FBI and local police forces (looking to make a name for themselves) going after the artists of any underaged characters. Nintendo obviously isn't going just for profit makers (Neither is Disney [snopes.com]), so their lack of action in this regard leaves me scratching my head. ..Oh, and, uh, boo copyright, overzealous corporations, fish, fish, etc.

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      The thing is, some of these pictures are so ridiculous (mildly NSFW) [boredofstudies.org]

      and/or funny that they would qualify as parody and be protected.

      You draw a picture of Barney Rubble banging a dinosaur, some Internet dwellers are going to see it as sexy, but the majority of people (including, say, a judge) are going to interpret it as a joke. A sick joke, but a joke, and thus protected as parody.

  • I cant believe I'm saying this about George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, but perhaps Nintendo would have been better served to take a lesson from them and embrace this fan production for what it is an homage to a great franchise? Anyone remember the fan made "remake" of Raiders of the Lost Ark? They could have even gone so far as to sponsor it, offer it as a download on the Wii or a bonus feature on the next Zelda game, instead all they managed to do was alienate some of the very fans they rely on for thei

  • Does anyone else find it interesting that this movie can open in theaters worldwide, and in major American markets like Los Angeles and New York, without a peep from Nintendo, but the moment it goes online, the beast awakens?
    Did Nintendo even know about the film before it was posted for all on the web?

    There may be nothing to it, but it does appear, at least, that Nintendo doesn't have any feelers at all in the real world, while actively hunting on the web.

  • I'm not usually one to buck the mob, but today is an exception.

    Yes, I actually rushed to download and watch the movie before the legal warriors started trying to get it stamped out, expecting to see a great work of art saved from suppression by corporate greed.

    But after watching the mp4, I think I have a pretty good idea why Nintendo would want to suppress this.

    The movie...freaking...SUCKED!

    Way too many deviations from the canon plot of the game, cheesy scripts, and "Darunia" was a complete ditz for a rock-

  • The thing that really gives me the shudders about this is the 1984-style public recantation: "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." You can just imagine the tearful, contrite speech through broken teeth ...

  • Personally, I think fan-art is reserved for those with little creative ability, but plenty of time and desire.

    Every time I see fan-art, no matter how good, I end up asking myself "Why don't they just come up with their own works/stories/plots that don't rely on the creativity of others?". The only reason I can come up with is they are incapable.

    My own daughter, a graphic artist, does the same thing. She spends hundreds of hours creating fan-art that has no possible monetary value, then complains that she ca

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