Manchester Cathedral, you’re driving me crazy

Originally posted 2007-06-14 11:42:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Manchester Cathedral, Winchester Cathedral – same thing. We’ve written in the past — well, not us, there is only just me here; sorry — about the dubious concept of trademark rights in building exteriors. Now Bill Patry writes about a proposed copyright lawsuit by the Church of England, which does not object to violence against Jews, who have it coming to them, but gets the vapors over virtual gunfights being depicted in its magnificent hallowed (and hollow) halls:

Manchester Cathedral

Various UK sources ran stories yesterday about the Church of England’s pique over Sony’s Playstation 3 alleged replication of the interior of the Manchester Cathedral as a dropback in a gunfight in the game “Resistance: The Fall of Man. (HT to Bruce C. in the frozen north). Andrew Mills has a fantastic, very detailed piece on the story, here, including a YouTube link to the sequence in question.

The Church of England has threatened to sue Sony after the Japanese company used Manchester Cathedral as the backdrop to the gunfight in the PlayStation 3 game Resistance: The Fall of Man.

It could have a case, lawyers say.

In general, [however], the outside of a well-known building is not considered to be protected under the law, Tom Frederikse, an intellectual property specialist with Clintons, the law firm, said.

Patry points out that under Section 120(a) of the Copyright Act, U.S. law, which does protect copyright in archtectural works, nonetheless explicitly permits “the making, distributing, or public display of pictures, paintings, photographs, or other pictorial representations of the work, if the building in which the work is embodied is located in or ordinarily visible from a public place.” He notes that the question of whether the interior of a building could be “ordinary visible from a public space” is one he had not considered, and he’s considered a lot. Of course the building is publicly accessible, as he points out, but it seems a bit churlish to reward the building’s owner for making its space accessible by deeming that space itself “public” and thereby denuding him of rights he otherwise would have.

Well, that’s American law, anyway. Manchester Cathedral is in another country; regarding UK law on this topic, one British lawyer quoted by Patry explained,

“If a computer game developer is copying a landmark there generally isn’t a problem,” Mr Frederikse said. “But if a developer were to use details from inside a new building they will run into real trouble if they don’t have permission.”

This is not a new building. The Manchester Cathedral is built on foundations that were in place about a century before Columbus’ voyage. Even Disney doesn’t get copyright for that long. Yet.

UPDATE:  On a related issue — iconic buildings, intellectual property, and, of course onion rings — you want to super-size that?

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Author:Ron Coleman

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2 Responses to “Manchester Cathedral, you’re driving me crazy”

  1. jack kough
    January 26, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

    you know i love this blog so much–it’s so brilliant.

    but really? the church of england “does not object to violence against jews”? merely because the church does not wish to financially support a company whose equipment is used in the construction of illegal settlements?

    they are hardly the same thing, and no one is served by such gross oversimplifications.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION® » Blog Archive » Edifice of absurdity - November 9, 2007

    [...] Well, Lynn, that’s just the upper towers of it.  We’ve discussed building trademarks — copyrights almost certainly don’t even come into this, regardless of what the condo association says, though that is not to say they never can — at some length on this blog in the past (also here).  But the image of a building cannot be protected by copyright, and no one can stop another person from describing the Marina City towers as the Marina City towers — certainly not under copyright or trademark law. [...]

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