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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?
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+