Recently, artist Cameron Booth put up a post on Tumblr explaining that a transit map that shows up in The Last of Us was way too similar to a map he had created previously. After mentioning how successful Naughty Dog’s latest game has been so far, including the first week sales and amazing review scores, he launched into this big explanation comparing the above picture against a map of his own design:
For a software developer — especially a big developer working on a blockbuster title like this — to casually appropriate someone else’s work and incorporate it into their game without any discussion with the owner of that work is completely unacceptable. (Not to mention hugely ironic, as the software industry is always complaining about piracy of their work.) Naughty Dog seems to have known that they couldn’t use the official map without paying a hefty license fee, so it looks like they just went on the internet and found another one. Cos, you know, images on the internet are free for anyone to use, right? Not.
To be clear: at no point have Naughty Dog contacted me about using my intellectual property (this visual representation of the Boston rapid transit network) in their product.
To be even more clear: if you want to use my work commercially, payment before usage is required. If you’re making money from your product, then you can pay me for my work as well.
Cameron then went into a little more detail on the matter in the comments section, revealing that he “didn’t know anything about my map’s inclusion in the game until I stumbled across it by accident.” Booth continued by breaking down the issue even further:
Really, what this comes down to is ethics. What Naughty Dog has done is not ethical, or good industry practice. I have people at my work who come to me all the time saying, “I found this picture on the Internet we can use”. My answer is always a solid, “Unless you can prove to me that we have the rights to use that image, then legally, we can’t use it.” That’s what someone at Naughty Dog should have said, but for some reason, they didn’t. Regardless of whether you think my work is original or not (which it legally is), it was not Naughty Dog’s to use.
Perhaps putting an end to this once and for all, Booth updated his post on Tumblr:
I’ve just spoken with Naughty Dog over the phone in a very constructive conversation. Can’t say more at the moment, but it seems as if matters will be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction shortly. I can say that they do acknowledge their error in using my map and were very apologetic for it. I likewise apologised for my initial vitriolic post. A lot of mutual respect for each other’s creative work.
It’s been a hell of a last couple of days: thanks for the support from many, and the interesting and varied comments from most.
Hopefully, back to regularly scheduled Transit Maps content soon!
So, while we don’t have specific details on the resolution right now, it seems that both parties are working together to create an easy fix, and if there’s any further developments on this matter, we’ll be sure to let you know.
How do you think Naughty Dog and Cameron are going to resolve the situation? Removing the map altogether? Let us know in the comments below.