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Scribblenauts Dev Faces Copyright Infringement Over Internet Memes

scribblenauts_unlimitedCopyright is always a pesky problem when it comes to designing characters in the video games industry. Most recently a female Yoshi look-a-like was spotted in an indie game released for the iOS, but fortunately Nintendo worked outside of the courtroom. Scribblenauts developer 5th Cell hasn’t been so lucky. The company is being sued, alongside publishers Warner Bros., over copyright infringement from the use of internet memes Keyboard Cat and Nyan Cat within their Scribblenauts series.

Keyboard Cat creator Charles Schmidt, who found success on YouTube, and Christopher Orlando Torres who developed the Nyan Cat animated gif are both suing on copyright grounds, and allegedly claim that their creations were used without license or authority. 5th Cell and Warner Bros. featured the animated versions of the two aforementioned cats which were included as Easter eggs in the 2009 Scribblenauts release, Super Scribblenauts in 2010, Scribblenauts Remix, and the most recent title Scribblenauts Unlimited.

“For the past three years, WB, along with game developer 5th, have knowingly and intentionally infringed plaintiffs’ copyrights and trademarks by using ‘Nyan Cat’ and Fatso’s image in WB’s top selling ‘Scribblenauts’ games. Including, most recently, ‘Scribblenauts Unlimited’, which WB released in 2011.”

Complaint from the legal paperwork of Schmidt and Torres V Warner Bros and 5th Cell Media

Warner Bros. and 5th Cell are yet to make an official statement.

89 comments

      1. any meme that was ever made (and didn’t itself violate copyright) is protected by copyright

        if you went along and drew a picture it would be yours and yours alone and automatically protected by copyright

        there’s nothing retarded about that

      2. tiny correction: even those memes that did violate copyright are still protected by it, unless they were just plain copies of existing works.. there has to be at least something creative about it

    1. In the US you automatically own the copyright on anything you create, the instant you create it.

    2. the trollface once sued a website for using his image. The court failed on the website’s side. The images was never properly copyrighted
      I guess Nyan Cat was

      1. you don’t have to “copyright” anything
        it’s an automatic process, you don’t have to do anything for your creations to be protected by copyright

        however the owner of the copyright has to be identified beyond doubt, i assume that might have been the issue

  1. It would be nice to live in a world where these people would just ask 5th Cell to not put the stupid internet characters in the games. And leave it at that.

    1. It would. But the problem with a working society of capitalism, is everything is about money. Everybody’s out to make the quickest bit of cash possible at every opportunity and if you’re not in, you’re losing. You decide to not sue him but he sues you at the first chance he gets :/

      1. Well, that, and the fact that the global economy is practically belly-up at this point thanks to the 1% hoarding so much and giving so little.

      2. Yes, that’s exactly why the world is belly up. It wouldn’t have anything to do with the 99% living out of their means at all.

      3. You are a complete fool. A large proportion of that 99% have little or no means. The ‘wealth’ is being sucked gradually upwards to the extent that it’s of detriment to the rest of the world, and you think that’s fair play because it’s ‘business’?

  2. Nyan nyan nyan nyan nyaaannn nyaann nyaan nyan nyyy nyaan nyyaaann nyaan nyan nyaa nnn nananananana.

    Nyan nyan nyan nyan nyaaannn nyaann nyaan nyan nyyy nyaan nyyaaann nyaan nyan nyaa nnn nananananana.

    Nyan nyan nyan nyan nyaaannn nyaann nyaan nyan nyyy nyaan nyyaaann nyaan nyan nyaa nnn nananananana.

    Nyan nyan nyan nyan nyaaannn nyaann nyaan nyan nyyy nyaan nyyaaann nyaan nyan nyaa nnn nananananana.

    Nyan nyan nyan nyan nyaaannn nyaann nyaan nyan nyyy nyaan nyyaaann nyaan nyan nyaa nnn nananananana.

    1. Im going to sue you for copyright infringement, you have no right to use that without my express permission.

      1. that, technically, is copyrighted to hatsune miku
        The Nyan cat guy is suing for copyright when he could get sue for the music

      2. I guess people can sue for the use of Pingas. :troll face:

      3. Actually it was an Utau user. Which makes it even worse because he is technically taking some girl’s voice and claiming it as his own. So if he “copyrights” the song too, then newsflash for him: You are using someone else’s voice and claiming it as your own. They are getting nothing out of it apparently, so in a way, it’s already unfair.

      4. TokenDuelist is incorrect, and portalduck only partially correct, as Nyan Cat’s theme is actually a cover of Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya by Japanese Pop Artist Daniwell-P (Which explains why the song goes “Nyan” instead of “Meow” or “Mew”), which is sang by Hatsune Miku.

        http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/nyanyanyanyanyanyanya

  3. Interesting that they don’t mind jillions of people sharing their stuff, but as soon as it’s referenced by anything that makes real money, then suddenly it’s time to get the lawyers.

  4. “which WB released in 2011.”

    If they can’t even get the release date right on the game they are suing for, I don’t think they have the mental capacity to pull a successful court case.

  5. I would have that memes were public domain. They only are successful if they are viral and who is going to pay for that shit. But, I don’t know.

    1. nah
      it’s difficult to even put one of your own works into public domain voluntarily because the law isn’t designed for that

  6. Hey maybe PETA will join the fun and sue Nyan Cat creator just for kicks.
    How dare you breed a cat with a poptart!

  7. I might aswell sue the entire human species for destroying my creation, Earth…

    But I’m still giving you a chance…

  8. The Internet is filled with both videos and games that uses Nyan Cat, why don’t you sue them?

  9. Are you fucking serious?
    Sueing over internet memes? Fuck you *person who made it here*
    Go on Memebase, Reddit, 4chan ect, lots of people for you to sue there…

    1. Hatsune only sang the song.

      It’s actually owned by Daniwell-P.

      Besides, saying Hatsune owns a song is like saying Microsoft Word owns your word documents (as she’s actually a singing voice synthesizer).

    2. Besides, Nyan Cat’s safe from being sued, for one, the video of Nyan Cat with that song wasn’t the original source of the character (Nyan Cat started out as a animated GIF). Two, the maker of that video specifically got permission to do that.

  10. If the game could release here in Europe, I would be happy. I don’t give a shit about these copyrights, I just want to play the damn game!

  11. They should be able to toss out cases like this and the scribblenaut’s developers get away with a slap on the wrist when they know the plaintiff is just out to make a quick and dirty buck. Its almost on the same level as McDonald’s being sued for serving coffee that was too hot.

    1. I’ve seen information regarding that case. The media painted the woman who got burned as a “time-waster” but I’ve seen the photos of the burns and it wasn’t pretty; her legs were horribly scarred, worse than you’d think. The family originally just wanted McDonald’s to cover the medial costs, but they refused and it escalated from there. The jury awarded her a hefty amount as a way of telling McDonald’s off for allowing dangerously hot coffee to be served (there were apparently many records of burns caused by coffee on record before this). The judge actually knocked the amount down and the public mocked her.

  12. If I created either of those things I honestly wouldn’t give a fuck about copyright infringement and I would be happy my creation is there

  13. Holy poop! First I didnt know that either of those names were copywritten. Second, I had no idea either of the things were even in the game and… Third! it’s a stupid lawsuit, but it looks like 5th Cell and Warner Bros. are in the wrong… 💋

  14. This is stupid.
    Its no different than South Park referencing the media on their show.

  15. Keyboard Cat ain’t a copyrighted internet meme. It’s just some nobody’s pet cat playing piano just to get famous. And Nyan Cat is only a cat made of waffles farting rainbows everywhere that also got its fame on YouTube. Where are the copyright documents that proves otherwise?
    Psht!

    1. also copyright doesn’t require any documents it just requires that you prove that the work is actually yours

      in case of the video that should be fairly easy

  16. it’s still a creative work and as such created by copyright

    you own all the rights to the videos you made yourself aswell

    1. protected by copyright*

      damn this site.. they made a fricking useless upgrade to the interface so now no one sees who someone is replying to but there’s still no edit functionality which would actually be useful

  17. I feel like people choose to sue far too often. If they have something they think they can sue over they do it. It’s really annoying and people who put something out that’s not benefiting them are the first to sue. Ugh, whatever.

    1. well how would you feel if you drew a picture that got popular on the web and someone else used it without even asking for permission in order to make money off it?
      i’m not saying 5th cell did this on purpose, it was probably just a mistake, or maybe they thought the owner of the works can’t be identified

      but you have to be very careful when using works you know you don’t own the rights to (and there’s ALWAYS someone who owns the rights unless it has been around for more than 50 years.. which the nyan cat clearly hasn’t) in a commercial product that will reach millions of people
      if you print nyan cat on a t-shirt and sell that to someone you probably don’t have to fear any copyright claims because they will never hear about it^^

      1. the difference is that those cats aren’t the selling point of the game

      2. true they’re not, but the game is still generating money and the cat is now part of the assets of the game
        without assets -> no game

      3. those are two assets in over 20.000, it’s pretentious to claim that they’re making money BEACUSE there’s the nyan cat or the piano one which are just easter eggs.

      4. it’s still part of the game and without assets the game would make no money at all

        it really doesn’t matter to what extent the nyan cat is affecting that

      5. if the game consistet only of copyright protected assets and 5th cell hadn’t bothered to ask *any* of the owners for their permission would that still be fair game to you?

  18. Yet another threat to Free Speech and Internet Freedom. Really sad.

    This is another reason why IP these days are terrible. It hurts people, that’s it.

  19. It’s ironic considering the BGM for the .gif infringes the copyrigt of the japanese artist who made it and the studio which published said music.

    1. a gif doesn’t have background music

      the original didn’t infringe any copyright

      someone else then proceeded to make a video out of it using that background music and put it on youtube

      1. Besides, the uploader of said video specifically got permission to use the song.

  20. why is nintendo making a fuss about it, they get to sell the games on their platforms…

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