Church in trouble over PS3 attack?

Written by Joe Martin

June 13, 2007 // 11:03 a.m.

Tags: #cathedral #christ #christian #church #court #fall-of-man #jesus #law #legal #manchester #ps3 #resistance #scea #scee #sony #sue

Sony and The Church of England have been going head-to-head to see who has the most power over youth-culture. You may have seen it in the news.

The Church is essentially more than a little angry that Sony used a likeness of Manchester Cathedral for its PS3 shooter, Resistance: Fall of Man. While Sony has wisely chosen not to comment on the situation at all and is dealing with representatives from the Cathedral directly, the Church has taken a slightly different tactic; asking for a 'large donation', that the game be pulled from shelves and that Sony offers a public apology.

However, it seems as if the church may not have a legal leg to stand on and GamesIndustry.biz recently did some research into the legal background of the case with help from Alex Chapman of Campbell Hooper Solicitors.

"The Church will have an uphill battle in a legal claim against Sony, and indeed it is likely that there is no basis for a claim." Began Alex as he talked about the case. He went on to explain how Sony is protected by copyright law via a provision in the 1988 Copyright Designs and Patents act;

"It explicitly states that it is not copyright infringement to represent certain artistic works that are on public display. This includes buildings and sculptures which are 'permanently situated in a public place or in premises open to the public'. Therefore, the inclusion of the Cathedral in the game could not be considered to be an infringement of any copyright in it."

Not only that, but under UK law a copyright claim on a building only lasts for seventy years after the architect's death. Manchester Cathedral, which truly is a very beautiful building, was built over eight hundred years ago. Sony has meanwhile issued a comment re-affirming that it is in direct contact with the Church but that it is not commenting to the media.

Given that the game has been out since late last year and has already shipped over a million copies, some are critical of the Church for being so late to file a case and of being out of touch with modern youth culture. As Alex Chapman pointed out; "there is no law against insensitivity and as with many matters of this kind, it is the public reaction that might be more damaging than the legal one."

So, today's question is this: Which is more important to you, your religious beliefs or your game? Should you be made to choose at all? Answers can be submitted on a postcard... or you could just drop your thoughts in the forums.
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