Zombies Attack!!: Is a Japanese Video Game Too Similar To 'Dawn of the Dead'?

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Zombies Attack!!: Is a Japanese Video Game Too Similar To 'Dawn of the Dead'?

Wed Feb 13, 2008 @ 10:48AM PST

Posted by Eriq Gardner

Deadrising Awards season is almost over, so we can now bestow the prize for this year's most gruesome claim of fair use to...wait for it....Japanese video game maker Capcom!

In this complaint filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Capcom says that "humans battling zombies in a shopping mall" is a "wholly unprotectible idea" by copyright standards.

Capcom, represented by Rodger Cole at Fenwick & West, is seeking a declaratory judgment and attorneys' fees after New Line Cinema complained in a letter about similarities between Capcom's "Dead Rising" video game and George A. Romero's 1979 film and 2004 remake, "Dawn of the Dead." Capcom is seeking to stop The MKR Group, which claims to be the exclusive owner of the copyright to the films, from asserting its intellectual property, including copyright and trademark.

The complaint says that the parties have unsuccessfully engaged in discussions in an attempt to resolve the matter. Capcom also stamped a disclaimer on its video games that read, "This game was not developed, approved or licensed by the owners or creators of George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead."

MKR's outside counsel allegedly sent a letter and a copy of a draft complaint to Capcom, Microsoft, and Best Buy.

Will the judge offer guidance as to when video game makers must license rights from films with similar themes? More interestingly, does the battle for humankind die by the judicial hammer or live on through the spirit of intellectual obviousness? Don't expect these issues to ever rest in peace.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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