Copyright, and why everyone is so blasé about it

No one cares about the rights of a copyright holder unless they are the wronged party, or they have been slammed with a cease and desist. Most people’s attitude is, everyone is doing it, no one cares. If someone complains I’ll take it down, no biggie, no harm. And in the meantime I will continue to share my stuff with illegal recordings, and copyrighted characters because people like it.

The gaming media encourage this behaviour. They promote remakes of games in Dreams which sample the music and recreate whole scenes because they know the audience will respond to the familiar. Dreamers encourage it by liking the recreations and fan art and stolen music. At the moment everyone is impressed if you make a shot for shot remake of PT, or the Death Stranding Trailer, or create an amazing sculpture of Mario and Luigi.

Dreams is overrun with this stuff. Is it a problem? Potentially, a huge one. Media Molecule have put rules in place about copyright that say this:

We get lots of questions about copyright, creative commons, public domain and fair use. It’s a complicated topic and often the laws are different depending on where you live. The safest approach is to not make things inside Dreams that you know were created by someone else. Yes, this includes pretty much every game, character, song, etc., that you know. Copyrighted content belongs to the original author, who has the right to request that PlayStation take down anything that replicates their content in Dreams if they wish. If we receive such a report, the infringing content will be removed from the Dreamiverse, and you’ll lose all the time and effort you put in to making that content.

So, basically, DONT. Would Media Molecule take things down even without a request from the copyright holder? Maybe, they might want to clean out all the copyright stuff before they launch the game – clean slate. That is a lot of stuff. What is worrying is how much stuff it is. They could decimate the amount of levels available in Dreams.

Experiment:

24th July 2019 Trending. Looked at first 40 creations. 12.5% were violations

1 Reconstruction of a AAA game plus a recording of a pop song
1 Game using characters from 4 different AAA games recording of music from all 4
1 Music cover of a piece of Film music made in Dreams
1 Piece of fan art of an anime character
1 Showcase of 5 versions of a AAA game character made by different people

Newest . Looked at first 40 creations. 17.5% were violations

1 recreation of a piece of music from a AAA game
1 level containing  a character from a AAA game
1 level containing characters from a TV show
1  character from a AAA game
1 recreation of a AAA game
1 recording of game music
1 character from an anime

What is the penalty for violating the rules that Media Molecule have in place? Pretty much nothing. If you were very unlucky your level would come down. Most will get away with it, and their levels will get more obscure and not played over time, and they will just add more violations. You could potentially lose your account if you keep doing it, but the chances of that seem pretty slim at the moment.

Now lets look at the morality of the whole thing. Fan art I understand, you are showing your love for a franchise. Recreating your favourite games in Dreams I understand, its good practice to try to recreate game mechanics you know before working out your own. Putting your headset against your phone speaker to record a tinny version of the latest Drake song I do not understand. That is definitely copyright theft. If you did it on YouTube you would get a copyright claim and possibly a strike. Also, it sounds terrible. It is also morally wrong to steal, even from millionaires, and you are stealing even though you are making no money from it – you are stopping an artist from getting royalties on something they made. You would be the first to complain if someone stole your hard earned revenue for your artistic efforts.

I will not show any level that contains copyright music on my YouTube channel because I do not want a strike or a channel takedown. I also try to only show original characters and gameplay, but I obviously dont know every anime, US cartoon and Nintendo game in existence, so some slip in. Sometimes I have to make a judgement call. For example I showed the recreation of the Media Molecule start up sequence, and a recreation of a house from an old film. What I am not going to show is a recreation of Mario 64 or a perfect character model of Simba from The Lion King. And I will definitely not be featuring your game with a bad recording of The Harlem Shake playing over the top (or a good recording for that matter).

 

3 thoughts on “Copyright, and why everyone is so blasé about it

Add yours

  1. I would like to comment on this article because the truth is legally that an artist being musical, literary, artistic possesses ownership through copyright and is protected by law for certain timeframes until such timeframe expires into public domain. Not only are you putting Media Molecule in jeopardy of lawsuits but the offender will also be prosecuted. I am not sure about copyright law in other countries but in the United States, public domain use to start after the life of the artist plus 50 years. It may have changed from that length of time but there is also the issue of other Entertainment Corporations picking up the copyright and extending it past the original end date for example Disney Corporation. In the United States it is a Federal crime with serious consequences. It would at least warrant checking if the copyright was still in place or not and determine if it is public domain. At best if you are in doubt don’t do it, create your own media.

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  2. Well, I just saw Mario, Sonic, and Crash Bandicoot again in Dreams as of early April 2021. I think lots of folks are of the notion nothing will happen to them so they continue. I think your heart is in the right place, but what you desire also goes against freedom. Dreams would be a lot duller without famous characters. I guess we will see what happens, if anything.

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  3. When it suits people to break the law, steal and generally infringe on other peoples rights in this world they claim it all as a matter of FREEDOM. Let me tell you that if someone stole from you, you would not be happy to let them get away with it because they wanted the freedom to do it. Mm have a code of conduct and they very clearly tell us what we can and cannot do. If Nintendo, Disney or any other big concern wanted to, all of that fan content would be gone tomorrow. And they have every right to do it. I have NO interest in the Sonic, Mario clones etc… they are BORING and UNIMAGINATIVE.

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