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Soapbox: Ripping Off Japan - Japanese Video Game Copyright Protection & Preservation (Or Lack Thereof)
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Soapbox: Ripping Off Japan - Japanese Video Game Copyright Protection & Preservation (Or Lack Thereof)


October 24, 2006 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next
 

Meanwhile, the original Japanese copyright owners aren't receiving any credit or financial compensation for their work. Their property loses value and also gives users the insinuation they may also clone or copy any video game property they wish without consequences. It's important to note that G-mode, Irem, and Taito, along with many other Japanese publishers, do not maintain North American offices to combat illegal use of their games.

The legal department of Taito was contacted in preparation for this column to ask how they felt about the Space Invaders clone of X Attack on the CBC website. The legal department of Taito released the following statement to Gamasutra:

We have taken necessary steps to prevent the game entitled "X Attack!" from being on the CBC children's web site making use of your information.

So, the verdict was in, Taito is none too pleased to see a Space Invaders clone online.

It's unfortunate that the CBC can't bring more creative originality to its Flash games. There is a fine line between being inspired by a game, and to cloning it altogether. It's ok if a plumber named Mario collects coins and a hedgehog named Sonic collects rings, but a problem arises when very specific creative contributions such as layout design, character design, object placement and movement are clearly identical. Secondly, games such as Burgertime and Space Invaders have been accessible for more than 20 years, through numerous coin-op and console versions, so it's not as if they're unknown.


Taito's Space Invaders (1978, left) and CBC Network's X Attack (2006, right)

How these Flash versions passed by CBC legal personnel and management remains unclear. Video game copyright and trademark infringement is not just being committed by corner store operations, but by legitimate corporations. It has potential to damper business development between international publishers. It says to the original authors in Japan, "We don't respect you or your games, even though we can pay for licensing".

A company or person will never forget when they've had something stolen from them. They'll never forget when they've had a copy of their creative work cloned, copied or bootlegged. Let's not forget that it hurts the bank account, and can even discourage product and business development altogether.


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