Portland-based cartographer Cameron Booth was alerted to quite the surprise the other day when someone pointed out that his unofficial map of the Boston subway system was copy and pasted into Naughty Dog's post-apocalyptic epic, The Last of Us. As it turns out "unofficial" and "public domain" aren't quite the same thing and Booth's map was copyrighted after all. Uh oh!
Thankfully, Naughty Dog has acknowledged its mistake and according to Booth, "it seems as if matters will be resolved to everyone's satisfaction."
"I can say that they do acknowledge their error in using my map and were very apologetic for it," Booth noted on his blog.
Of course, it caused Booth a couple days of stress first before the matter got sorted.
First, the map maker wrote a fiery rant on his blog [since removed]. "For a software developer - especially a big developer working on a blockbuster title like this - to casually appropriate someone else's work and incorporate it into their game without any discussion with the owner of that work is completely unacceptable," he railed. "Not to mention hugely ironic, as the software industry is always complaining about piracy of their work."
He further tweeted that beyond this issue, he has no problem with the game itself. "From what I've seen, it looks great. It just uses my work without permission," he tweeted.
When I contacted Booth to see if he was threatening legal action, he replied, "I really, really want to resolve this without resorting to legal methods. To be clear, I'm not after any huge punitive damages: I'd be satisfied with a public acknowledgement of the error from Naughty Dog to build awareness of this type of copyright infringement, and a fee that's agreeable to both sides that could act as a retrospective licence fee."
While Booth wanted compensation, he claimed that his primary goal was to educate the public about copyright infringement. "Education about copyright infringement is important stuff. And it works both ways: companies like Naughty Dog are worried about software piracy, designers like me are worried about ethical and fair usage of our work."
Booth wouldn't explain to me the specifics of his new arrangement with Naughty Dog, so it's unclear if he's simply getting compensation or if the game will be patched to include a new map. We'll update once the deal's done and he's ready to talk about it.