Sat. Feb 4th, 2023
Reddit user and Guild Wars 2 fan galveyra2 explains exactly how a Beijing hockey team infringed on the logo of a well-known video game.

Reddit user and Guild Wars 2 fan galveyra2 explains exactly how a Beijing hockey team infringed on the logo of a well-known video game.

News came on Wednesday that the indistinguishable logo and art style of a video game had been removed without permission, all to advertise a totally unrelated product. Unfortunately, the news triggered a real case of deja vu. As in: wait, didn’t do this only to happen?

It turned out that it had. Two very similar stories unfolded within 48 hours of each other, and they each speak to a few modern copyright issues: the ease with which images can be picked up and re-appropriated by a lazy design firm, and how easy it is for such copycats to get busted by the courts of public opinion.

The more recent case involved a professional hockey team from Beijing, announced last week as the latest team to join an upstart, high-budget Eurasian league known as the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). As soon as the Kunlun Red Star unveiled its logo, eagle-eyed hockey fans noticed it was almost a beat-for-beat copy of the dragon head from MMO sensation Guild Wars 2. Eyes, nose, tongue and general shape – it’s very clearly a match, minus some feeble efforts to stretch the width by Kunlun’s Photoshopper. (Pros on Guild Wars 2 fan galveyra2 for the specific image analysis posted above.)

This news followed a Monday complaint from Panic Inc.called the co-producer of a wonderful video game Fire watch, who noted that his particular brand of sun-scorched, Utah-inspired visual design had been lifted by a Ford dealership in Massachusetts. A modest email ad had been spotted in the wild promoting the “Ford Freedom Sales Event,” as if encouraging shoppers to drive a 2016 Ford Focus out of a beautiful, virtualized national park.

The dealer in question and Ford’s national division promptly issued an apology, but not before Fire watch Developer Sean Vanaman made a much bigger point: that the game’s lead artist, Olly Moss, faces such infringement issues “100 times a day.”

Indeed, a small Ford dealer won’t get much more than a “my bad” moment on the internet, while the KHL and Kunlun Red Star have yet to issue a statement about their apparent Guild Wars 2 infringing, let alone announcing plans to change or delete the offending logo. (In addition to those stories, the editors of Eurogamer noticed on Wednesday that a Los Angeles hotel had a Grand Theft Auto V image – specifically one pulled from a fan run GTA V wiki site – to promote the location in the center of the hotel. That hotel, the Figueroa, promptly changed course when it was caught.)

While copyright infringement is a common problem in China, this is not the usual case of a Chinese company taking all-American content and reselling it in a counterfeit state. Guild Wars 2 is run and moderated in China by Kongzhong, an all-Chinese company that owns the GW2 license to operate the game locally (a requirement to cross the legal hurdles for video games in the communist country). Therefore, Kongzhong is able to take all possible legal action against the KHL. ArenaNet, the game’s US development team, has confirmed that it has “marked” the matter for review – and that neither ArenaNet nor Kongzhong have formally authorized this use of the main logo.

But as Vanaman mentioned this is just one outlier on the internet where image theft for the sake of head images on social media, blogs and news outlets is rampant and generally goes unchecked other than the occasional eagle-eyed DMCA request but that’s kinda a burden for smaller chip makers who don’t spend time double-checking the entire internet for image borrowing. In those cases, all on the side of the image creators is a legion of online fans searching for reverse images at the ready and have justice on their minds.

By akfire1

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