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Spider Man PS5 game caught in the web of YouTube copyright disputes

June 22, 2020, By

Sony’s recent announcement that its long-awaited PS5 games console would be launched before the end of the year has been met with much excitement – enhanced by the very real possibility that staying will indeed become the new going out.

One of the titles fans are particularly looking forward to is the latest instalment in the Spider Man franchise: Spider Man: Miles Morales. In fact, such was the buzz that the title’s announcement created, that its trailer quickly attracted over 10 million views on YouTube.

The momentum was brought to an abrupt end this weekend, when the trailer was removed from the official PlayStation YouTube channel, following a copyright claim made by French mobile game publisher Gameloft.

Gameloft had previously developed a licensed Spider Man game for mobile platforms, but its involvement in the high profile Miles Morales game – or the reasons for the copyright claim – remain unknown at time of writing.

The copyright claim would suggest that Gameloft saw something in Sony’s trailer which it considers to be in breach of its intellectual property rights, and as a result submitted a claim to YouTube for the removal of the infringing content, while it contemplates its next steps in the legal process to enforce its rights.

Given Gameloft are owned by media juggernaut Vivendi, subject to what caused the original copyright claim, there could potentially be a costly and high profile legal battle brewing. Certainly one to watch!

Briffa commentary

This incident serves as a timely reminder that nobody is safe from an unexpected copyright dispute. No matter the budget involved in a project, it is always crucial to be prepared to deal with unforeseen obstacles such as third party copyright claims, disputes with designers and freelancers, and other issues which are outside of your control but nevertheless end up causing all sorts of trouble.

Taking legal advice from the start of a project and having expert help in drafting and negotiating agreements may help mitigate the risk as much as possible, but it is always important to know who to call when something goes wrong, and a fast response is needed to minimise damage.

YouTube content is particularly tricky to navigate, and can often cause problems if the relevant content (including music) has not been appropriately cleared before use. YouTube’s controversial algorithm and “three strikes” policy mean that many of you will have come across similarly unforeseen content removal/blocking following a third party complaint.

So whether you are at the very beginning of your project and require some preliminary advice on some of the main risks you need to consider, or are already facing an unwelcome crisis which requires urgent attention, feel free to contact us at [email protected] and we can discuss what the best way forward is to overcome whatever obstacles you and your business are facing.

Written by Joshua Schuermann, Associate Solicitor

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