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The One Thing Blocking Remasters & Expansions People Aren't Talking About


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jje1000

Building trademarks.

 

That's right- in the last decade or so, landmark buildings have slowly been acquiring trademark protection for their exteriors, in yet another perversion of American copyright law.

 

This is why for instance, the Division 1 (2016) could not get the real Empire State Building in its game, and why the new Spiderman Miles Morales (2020) game had to literally cut out the Chrysler building as the building was recently sold and the new owners wanted more $$$ for the access rights.

 

Quote

"If you have just a basic box of a building that looks like just a generic building, you can't go around and sue every building in Manhattan, and say, 'You have stolen my idea of what a building looks like,'" Lee said. "You can't protect the functionality of something, but you could protect the artistic parts of it. So when it comes to certain architecture, whether it has big spires at the top, or whether it has curved glass, whether you see something and you see that it's unique and different, that's absolutely protected by copyright. So in order to reproduce it in either another building or make a derivative work such as a T-shirt, a model, or even putting it in a video game, you need authorization from the copyright owner to reproduce the protected thing – which in this case could be the Chrysler Building."

 

Lee also mentioned that if a movie or form of media has a quick glimpse of the Chrysler Building or other skyscraper, it may not be an issue, but for a game like Spider-Man: Miles Morales where you can climb up and inspect every part of the building, it could have opened up Insomniac, Marvel, and Sony to possible litigation.

 

Insomniac Games reportedly tried to get permission to use the Chrysler Building, but the new owners and Insomniac could not come to an agreement for Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales.

 

1607622054528.png

The Division 1's 'not-Empire State Building'

 

1607621934531.png1607621982195.png

Left: Spiderman PS4 (2018), Right: Spidermorales PS5 (2020)- sans Chrysler Building

 

In a smaller GTA instance, the original Vespucci Beach sculpture was replaced by some monstrosity that looks nothing like the original as well- I think copyright law applied there as well.

 

B2ed01 3Strange metal sculpture on the beach : gtaonline

Left: The original Vespucci Beach statue, gone after a request by the artist (Right)


I think it has serious ramifications on GTA remasters + the future of GTA games, and one of the factors why we haven't seen a GTA IV remaster, or a Liberty City expansion in GTA Online. If the access rights acquired for a game doesn't cover any future iterations of a game, it may have made these expansions and remasters financially nonviable in the eyes of the bean counters at TakeTwo.

 

Furthermore, it may make spot-on popular city recreations more difficult and costly as the GTA franchise is uniquely exposed to this issue- though I do think that TakeTwo would be willing to cover the costs for at least a mainline GTA game, at least. Might this force future GTA games to focus on lesser-known locations, or force Rockstar to squeeze more out of each GTA iteration (i.e. through Online)?

 

What do you think?

 

 

Edited by jje1000
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universetwisters

idk if they can afford all the music on the radio in the games surely they can afford to license some buildings

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jje1000
1 hour ago, universetwisters said:

idk if they can afford all the music on the radio in the games surely they can afford to license some buildings

True, that's why I think the next mainline GTA should be fine, as TakeTwo will be willing to pay for its blockbusters.

However, I think it gets iffier when you delve into the territory of remasters and a GTAIV expansion to GTA Online, which may not be expected to earn as much as a brand-new GTA game. GTA IV came out before these sorts of copyrights became a thing- so I think it may also lack the licensing arrangements that might have allowed for a GTA V-style continuous remastering of the game.

 

Rockstar probably is a bit iffy on paying these fees as well, due to the GTA IV's age (i.e. if you consider that Rockstar has removed some of the older GTA IV songs just because their licenses ran out and they weren't willing to pay to renew them.)

 

Edited by jje1000
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Bob Loblaw

And  yet somehow this trademark law isn't stopping them from remastering/rereleasing GTA V for the 3th time.

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Americana

I mean, I'm sure you can create something 100% better than this abomination from The Division. Here you can see that some developers are lazy and just can't design a good looking building. 

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jje1000
5 hours ago, Ho Diver said:

And  yet somehow this trademark law isn't stopping them from remastering/rereleasing GTA V for the 3th time.

Probably because they've likely negotiated access rights, which emerged around the time of GTA V (2013-ish). Could be that the rights cover GTA V as a single title (why they can release the same game over and over again, while something like Spidermorales PS5/Spiderman PS4 could be considered two separate games, which is probably how they got nailed.

 

I think there's a strong possibility that GTAIV (2008) completely lacks these access rights as it was developed before the emergence of these building copyrights, and which may also be a reason why TakeTwo is sort of touchy about any major Liberty City ports since it may expose them to lawsuits.

 

5 hours ago, Americana said:

I mean, I'm sure you can create something 100% better than this abomination from The Division. Here you can see that some developers are lazy and just can't design a good looking building. 

I'd say it's likely more due to the lawyers- they'd be the ones telling the developers to make something that the publisher absolutely can't be sued over.

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BelfastBrawler

I don't think that's a big issue seeing how R* creates an in-universe homologue of every aspect of reality, which are parodies. So it could be argued that since they are parodies they fall within the realm of fair use. For example the Zirconium Building is a parody of the Chrysler Building in GTA IV. Apparently this is a reference to how zirconium is used in making cheap false diamonds, which is a jab at how Chrysler makes cheap crappy cars, meaning it is parodying the original. Though it should be noted that it's not uncommon for parodies to still license the rights to the original. 

 

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jje1000
On 1/19/2021 at 4:22 PM, BelfastBrawler said:

I don't think that's a big issue seeing how R* creates an in-universe homologue of every aspect of reality, which are parodies. So it could be argued that since they are parodies they fall within the realm of fair use. For example the Zirconium Building is a parody of the Chrysler Building in GTA IV. Apparently this is a reference to how zirconium is used in making cheap false diamonds, which is a jab at how Chrysler makes cheap crappy cars, meaning it is parodying the original. Though it should be noted that it's not uncommon for parodies to still license the rights to the original. 

No, the problem is the visual appearance of the building itself, not the fact that they're named differently:

 

Quote

"If you have just a basic box of a building that looks like just a generic building, you can't go around and sue every building in Manhattan, and say, 'You have stolen my idea of what a building looks like,'" Lee said. "You can't protect the functionality of something, but you could protect the artistic parts of it. So when it comes to certain architecture, whether it has big spires at the top, or whether it has curved glass, whether you see something and you see that it's unique and different, that's absolutely protected by copyright. So in order to reproduce it in either another building or make a derivative work such as a T-shirt, a model, or even putting it in a video game, you need authorization from the copyright owner to reproduce the protected thing – which in this case could be the Chrysler Building."

 

Lee also mentioned that if a movie or form of media has a quick glimpse of the Chrysler Building or other skyscraper, it may not be an issue, but for a game like Spider-Man: Miles Morales where you can climb up and inspect every part of the building, it could have opened up Insomniac, Marvel, and Sony to possible litigation.

 

Insomniac Games reportedly tried to get permission to use the Chrysler Building, but the new owners and Insomniac could not come to an agreement for Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales.


Being a parody wasn't enough to stop the Venice sculpture from being taken out of the PC version of GTA V.
 

Edited by jje1000
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