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LawyerBigPlanet

Between all the concerns over who owns your levels and the rampant copyright violations out there on Sony's (finally functional) servers, how many legal headaches can LBP cause?

Would you file a suit against this sack?
Well, it's finally happened. Actually, it seems to have happened late last week, or perhaps over the weekend, but LittleBigPlanet's servers seem to be up and mostly functional. I'm still getting the occasional "failed to load level" error, but that seems to be temporary.

Actually, there's one "failed to load level" error that I couldn't get to go away. It came from a level that was named Super Mario Bros: Level 1-1 and had a fat picture of Mario as the level label. It had me start to wonder if Sony and Media Molecule were starting to police the servers for copyrighted content.

And make no mistake, scanning in pictures of Mario and remaking 1-1 has got to be some sort of copyright violation. But it's not just Mario. It seems like every popular classic game and current hit is going to get some sort of LittleBigPlanet treatment. There's a cool 2D version of the demo level from Mirror's Edge out there already. Some evil genius in Japan managed to recreate the first level of Gradius, complete with a shot of the Vic Viper. Gears of War, Batman, God of War, Ninja Warrior, Takeshi's Castle, Gladiators, Final Fantasy... the list of Other People's Property is nearly endless.

The level "Final Fantasy theme song" is especially cool, because it's not really much of a game. It uses a vehicle, driving past different triggers to simply play the music from the game. In fact, there seems to be a handful of people just going nuts with music. Right now, I'm watching my sack dude sit on a vehicle while a crude and awesome version of Guns 'n' Roses' Sweet Child O' Mine is playing. It's madness! Sweet madness!

At some point, some lawyer's going to come downstairs and shout "WHOEVER CAME UP WITH THIS USER-GENERATED CONTENT THING HAS SOME EXPLAINING TO DO" at Sony and/or Media Molecule. It'll be a disappointing, but legally necessary clampdown, I guess. It's just cool to see what kind of cool homages to other games, movies, and music.

The other legal issue over LittleBigPlanet is the ownership of the levels you create. Sony's EULA says one thing, executives have said something else in interviews. I guess my personal feeling is that it'd be great if users owned their own levels, but I can't think of a good reason why Sony would allow users to actually sell their own levels in the game. A big, user-run marketplace that Sony gets a piece of would probably be awesome... but they're going to need to clean out all the copyright violations first.

Joystiq's regular series on legal matters in games covered the topic of user-content ownership in LBP today, and if you're the sort of person who's concerned about this sort of thing, I recommend you give it a read. And watch a couple of blatantly awesome LBP "homages" below!

  


  

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
50 Comments
Posted by Jeff
Would you file a suit against this sack?
Well, it's finally happened. Actually, it seems to have happened late last week, or perhaps over the weekend, but LittleBigPlanet's servers seem to be up and mostly functional. I'm still getting the occasional "failed to load level" error, but that seems to be temporary.

Actually, there's one "failed to load level" error that I couldn't get to go away. It came from a level that was named Super Mario Bros: Level 1-1 and had a fat picture of Mario as the level label. It had me start to wonder if Sony and Media Molecule were starting to police the servers for copyrighted content.

And make no mistake, scanning in pictures of Mario and remaking 1-1 has got to be some sort of copyright violation. But it's not just Mario. It seems like every popular classic game and current hit is going to get some sort of LittleBigPlanet treatment. There's a cool 2D version of the demo level from Mirror's Edge out there already. Some evil genius in Japan managed to recreate the first level of Gradius, complete with a shot of the Vic Viper. Gears of War, Batman, God of War, Ninja Warrior, Takeshi's Castle, Gladiators, Final Fantasy... the list of Other People's Property is nearly endless.

The level "Final Fantasy theme song" is especially cool, because it's not really much of a game. It uses a vehicle, driving past different triggers to simply play the music from the game. In fact, there seems to be a handful of people just going nuts with music. Right now, I'm watching my sack dude sit on a vehicle while a crude and awesome version of Guns 'n' Roses' Sweet Child O' Mine is playing. It's madness! Sweet madness!

At some point, some lawyer's going to come downstairs and shout "WHOEVER CAME UP WITH THIS USER-GENERATED CONTENT THING HAS SOME EXPLAINING TO DO" at Sony and/or Media Molecule. It'll be a disappointing, but legally necessary clampdown, I guess. It's just cool to see what kind of cool homages to other games, movies, and music.

The other legal issue over LittleBigPlanet is the ownership of the levels you create. Sony's EULA says one thing, executives have said something else in interviews. I guess my personal feeling is that it'd be great if users owned their own levels, but I can't think of a good reason why Sony would allow users to actually sell their own levels in the game. A big, user-run marketplace that Sony gets a piece of would probably be awesome... but they're going to need to clean out all the copyright violations first.

Joystiq's regular series on legal matters in games covered the topic of user-content ownership in LBP today, and if you're the sort of person who's concerned about this sort of thing, I recommend you give it a read. And watch a couple of blatantly awesome LBP "homages" below!

  


  

Staff
Posted by Broman6015

Servers good enough to review? Any time this week?

Posted by Coltonio7

Already? Huh...

Posted by Fr0Br0

I hope this doesn't constrict the limitations of the level creating. Some of the stuff on there is amazing and deserves to stay up regardless of the whole "Well it kinda looks like this so we will sue you" crap.

Posted by Spencer

That Mirror's Edge level was pretty cool.  I don't want that kind of content to just go away; I can see myself going back to this game years from now to see what titles are getting the LittleBigPlanet treatment.  Odds are good Sony will crack down on the Microsoft and Nintendo brands, but I wouldn't think there will be a problem with the awesome God of War level I played earlier today.

Posted by Milkman

So, when's the review coming?

Edited by BurningChimaera
Yeah, the server's are working well now, I've had some fun with co-op. I managed to stick a third eye on to my friend( There's a trophy for doing that, I'm not just a douchebag), and he couldn't figure out how to get it off.
I hope they don't go crazy with the copyright thing, though. Most of the levels that are actually fun happen to be related to some sort of movie or game. I would be much happier if they would patrol LittleBigPlanet for boring levels, instead of copyright infringement.
Posted by Deltico

I finally played some of the "custom levels" and the ones made for strictly for getting multiple Trophies in under 30 seconds felt way cheaper than any janky imitation level (that someone who's not even payed to work on the game) wastes their time with. Boo! Having said that... if it was on the 360 then it would help with my local points war. Don't judge these levels as you're ruining the magic by doing so.

Posted by yellownumber5

I remember back when I was a kid in the eighties I had these grim images of the future where everyone is policed ,our freedoms are stripped, and big brother is always watching.  Sure maybe the reality now that I am here in the future its not as bad as I thought, but stuff like banning people from making doodles of levels from their favorite games still puts a sour taste in my mouth.  Makes me feel all sad inside.

Next up we raid seventh grade classrooms and burn notebooks that have drawings of Ratchet and Clank.

Posted by dtran1212

playing co-op in this game is so fucking fun! its a shame this is happening becuase some of the user created levels are pretty awesome

Posted by BawlZINmotion

It's unfortunate that a legal battle will likely erupt over the recreation of popular games, but I think the creation of these levels is more novel than anything else. In a few months I expect such things to slow and creators to be more comfortable with making completely original ideas and themes. I've already played a couple smokin' hot levels in the week I've had LBP. As for Sony owning levels which users create, it doesn't bother me so long as credit for said levels creation is given (and it is) and no profit is received (the very concept behind LBP would suggest this to never happen).

Now I got to go play me that Gradius level you wrote about, thanks Jeff!
Posted by Death_Burnout

Yeah this was bound to happen, no questions asked really, its unfortunate to say the least. Give people creative tools and well, yeah you know the rest.

Im not interested in other peoples level's unless its from some other game, so im kinda screwed, however, i do find certain levels from other games to be a step too far sometimes.

Looking forward to picking it up this wednesday, im gunna make hella caves fool!

Posted by SynAzrael

The thing is....making parodies of other IPs isn't illegal.  I wonder if these types of treatments would fall more in that category rather than straight up copyright violation.

Edited by Media_Master

Interesting, although Mario wasn't present!

Posted by coonce

he's too cute... never!

Posted by jangofett88

The Final Fantasy Song level was my 'oh snap' moment with this game.

Posted by Preacher

You don't suppose any of the tribute levels would be considered under the laws regaurding parody and fair use? Plus, it's not like Sony is directly charging money for other companies' IP. I'd really like to see more video games get "Sweded" like this in LiitleBigPlanet.

Posted by ArclightBorealis

Oh well. I'll enjoy the levels while they last. I especially enjoyed the takeshi's castle levels.
Oh, and thanks for the heads up on the Gradius level, Jeff. I'll be sure to check it out.

Edited by Erock

Those mario levels are uninspired drivel! make something original you slobs. But the God of War level is freakin sweet. And that side scrolling shooter one is pretty awesome how it was done. But thats more interesting than remaking a super old side scrolling platforming level in a game that easily does side scrolling platforming. its the other stuff that matters!!

Posted by radion_null

I personally like the ninja warrior level.  Although seeing that mario 1-1 level was quite awesome. 

Posted by Bill_Hickz

Man I really underestimated this game. Does anyone know if this is coming to PC or if there is  a program like this at the moment that has gone under my rader. Is there any Vote Obama/McCain, Coca-Cola, Xbox 360 advertising levels out there yet lol. Oh yeah, Americans GO OUT AND VOTE, you get fined if you dont vote in my country and some countrys dont even have that right, so stop being ignorant of the freedoms you have and vote.

Posted by Kyle

"Oh yeah, Americans GO OUT AND VOTE, you get fined if you dont vote in my country and some countrys dont even have that right, so stop being ignorant of the freedoms you have and vote."

so basically . . . you talk about how horrible it is that your country forces you to vote . . . and then tell all americans to go vote?? Well which is it? Is it bad that your country forces you to vote, or is it bad that americans exercise their right to not vote? Make up your mind.

Posted by Junpei
Posted by daniel_beck_90

Now I want Little Big Planet even more !!!

Posted by TheWorstPlayerEver

I played that mario level but after watching that gradius video, I have to find that level and heart it. so cool

Posted by Red

Man does LBP have some awesome levels.

Although, I hate how the Final Fantasy Theme Song level is so popular. He actually copied a level that was in the beta and then put a vehicle in that moves the box. Plus, it's not the FF Theme song, it's To Zanarkand.

Posted by Coldbrand

This is why regulated user generated content is crap.

Posted by ahoodedfigure

These are brilliant, but I'm not sure how they violate copyright.  Those games aren't copied in any significant way, really.  Their formats and behavior are so different, and they're not part of the original product but user content made from the product.  The person who made it doesn't get any money for their having created it, but if anyone should be prosecuted it's the creators.  Going after Sony is like going after a VCR manufacturer for making a machine that can be used to copy tapes, whether or not the machine is actually used for that.  But since these aren't even copies and only Sony profits, they are testing to see if they can expand their copyright protection in new ways with a sympathetic judge.

This is a legal probe if ever there was one.

Posted by ep_driver

As a huge Gradius fan, playing it since the day I was born, I must say that's the most fucking amazing level EVER. But where's 'option' at?!

Posted by StaticFalconar

As good as that was. It was still different enough for me to know that is totally a homage to another game. The whole thing just screams paper mario-esque, theme park ride.

Posted by Blinck

GIEF

Posted by Xymox

And Spore gets away with having creatures from every single movie, comic, tv-show and video game ever made? 

Posted by Zebadee

That space ship level is incredible...

Posted by MordeaniisChaos

To be expected. I suppose its better then what Limewire does, and just stays the fuck our of it while people loose money. I'm guessing they won't be too hard on it, but I'm sure they will take down any serious things. Its not like you loose money though, in fact I bet you we will see Microsoft and Nintendo planting levels in there to advertise their shit. And you know Sony is already doing that. All in all I think it would be better to just leave it be, because unlike limewire and related services, this isn't going to really effect anyone in a negative way. We have covers of bands made by teenage kids in their basement, we have flash clones of old favorites, why not let LBP go crazy?

To Erock: Really? Were you even alive when Mario came out? I'm guessing not. I wasn't, but I was brought up on that shit. Your ignorance couldn't be clearer. It might not be original, but I bet you were all over the RE remake on the Wii, and have played a remake of tetris at least once. Seriously. Leave the legends be.

And to Hickz: Yes, your right, we should vote. Especially with numb pants and dingle brain in office right now. But I'm afraid everyone who is gunna vote has voted, so I doubt your gunna sway the election results too much =p Here's to praying for Obama though!!!

Posted by TheWesman

I think they were hoping people would be more CREATIVE about level design and not just rip off everything they'd ever played ever.  My big problem is if Sony didn't expect this, then why are they putting licensed characters into this thing?  Right now it's just Sony branded stuff, but Squeenix and Konami characters are coming soon.  Do they not expect us to build Metal Gear levels or Final Fantasy themed ones? 

Truth be told, there's probably something in that EULA user agreement (U know, the one you agreed to and didn't read because you wanted to get started on LBP Jurassic Park or whatever...)   about not reproducing copyrighted material in the game.  Maybe we should all take a gander at it...

Posted by albedos_shadow

First of all, whoever made that Gradius level is absolutely batshit insane. And wouldn't these kinds of tributes fall legally under the label of parody?

Posted by Jayzilla

You Down With OPP?! Yeah You Know Me! Nice reference Jeff.

Posted by Great_Ragnarok

wow if u put time in to this game it really has some neat potential. but I'm dissapointed about the limited freedoms. a game like this should come to PC as well. it would really boom there. 

Posted by Kohe321

LBP 4tw.

Online
Posted by ScottEFresh

A game like this will never come to Xbox360 because MS terrible terrible rules on MODS and generated content.  This game will thrive on PS3 (lawsuits or no lawsuits).   If you don't like this game then you ARE NOT A GAMER.  SOrry....I don't care what you say...you ARE NOT A GAMER IF YOU DON'T LIKE THIS GAME!!!!

Posted by DukeTogo

I guess that means the Burgertime level I wanted will never happen.  My opinion of this "game" hasn't changed, it's still a $60 Garry's Mod with far less utility.  Making stuff you make open for copyright inspection just killed any hope of some choice content.  Funny how it's bad to make a level from an existing game or IP, but one where you shove a giant cock into a giant cunt and squirt fluid is ok.

And yes that level exists.

Posted by PLWolf

I need to get online tonight and check these out before they're gone. Could you post the Sweet Child o' Mine one, Jeff?
I wanna check that out for sure.

Posted by addictedtopinescent

Nice, the creator has so much potential to make so OH SNAP moments happen, this is sad, yes there are copyrights but Nintendo and those ohter people should be glad to see these tributes to their games

Posted by TwoOneFive

where can i find links to youtube videos of the best levels, the one above is fuckin hilarious and awesome, the mario one is cool too, but i played tons of that stuff in the beta

Posted by parr03

This game is absolutely amazing in my opinion. I hope they let the level creators keep on creating levels like they are and do not have to worry about copyright infringement.

and to user Bill_Hickz, I went out and voted! I would not miss it for the world. Voting gives the right to complain.

---
PS3 makes me happy

Posted by Systech

I don't understand why no one saw this coming.

Posted by Valandil

That Batman one is amazing. Youtube it.

Posted by NekoFusion

@DukeTogo

Oh I see what you did there. You put 'game' in quotation marks. How funny. You know, since a platformer with 50 levels on the disc isn't a game and all. And nevermind that they are brilliant levels. Oh, and Super Mario? That wasn't a game either.

And no, that level does not exist. Look around. You'll get tired looking for it. I saw the level you speak of, but on Youtube. Just because a member records a level they made doesn't mean it's published. If they ever did publish it, they'd risk a ban from the online. Just so you know.

Posted by ryanwho

I hope it doesn't become an issue of "this is a copyright violation.... unless its for a game being released or that was released on a Sony system".

Because that would be bullshit.
Posted by GonzoGuy

This whole thing is BS.
The only level that could amount to a lawsuit is a Muppet Movie level because that's the only intellectual property it would be infringing on/confusing people about.

Anyone who confuses the God of War level with God of War either never played god of war or is a complete moron.

Do game companies sue the publishers of web comics? No, because it's satire.

It's clearly BS. Now I just want to know why they're really doing this.