Jun 25, 2013

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Just A Map? Last of Us Draws More Controversy (UPDATE)

Just A Map? Last of Us Draws More Controversy (UPDATE)


Recently, Naughty Dog, developers of the hit The Last of Us, found themselves in some hot water when it appeared one of the character models closely resembled an actress who was not involved in the game itself.

Today, a graphic designer named Cameron Booth has come out (via an angry post on his Tumblr that has since been rewritten), saying that’s not all Naughty Dog has stole.

The in-game subway map looks a lot like his redesigned map of the Boston transit system. If you look at it carefully, it doesn’t resemble the official map (which Naughty Dog would still have needed permission to use legally), but it’s identical to Mr. Booth’s design.

Many on twitter expressed confusion over Mr. Booth’s vehemence and anger (“I’m fucking furious.”) over the issue.

User @buckyayo50 said in regards to Mr. Booth’s post, “[U]m, who cares? It’s a fucking map.”


Mr. Booth spent the day defending his case on twitter, claiming he spent 60-80 hours on the map’s design, and deserves at least acknowledgement for his work, if not compensation, including citing US Copyright law regarding maps:

“Yes, virtually all maps (except some U.S. government publications) are subject to copyright, regardless of the media.”

Some of the ambiguity seems to be over the fact that Mr. Booth’s map is not official, and obviously, he had to use the official map in producing his own design. He’s apparently attempting to contact Naughty Dog in the matter, and hopes to resolve it amicably, admitting that he may have been a little “cranky” when he wrote the blog post.

Personally, I recently had someone steal one of my own stories and combine it with a friend’s into something the author claimed as being their own work, so I can commiserate with Mr. Booth. While my situation and his are very different, I can understand why he would be upset.

Even if you use a material as a source, if you create a unique work of art, it’s still your own work, and deserves protection. A photograph of a famous building is still protected, even though the photographer obviously didn’t create that building. A book that uses other books as references is still a unique work. Likewise, Mr. Booth’s map design is his own work, and it’s sad that Naughty Dog apparently used it so thoughtlessly.

UPDATE: It looks like Mr. Booth was finally able to talk to Naughty Dog and it looks like the issue will be resolved to his satisfaction:


He has also rewritten his original Tumblr post, apologizing for the vitriol of the original.

[Source: Tumblr, Twitter, MBTA]