Nintendo Appears To Be Using A Fan-Made Drawing Of Mario Without Artist's Permission Or Credit

from the real-nice-guys dept

Nintendo, of course, has an impressively long history of being IP protectionist in the extreme. But if there is one thing that Nintendo really cannot stand, it's when its own fans choose to express their fandom with art and creativity. Cool ways to use Animal Crossing? Nintendo shut it down. Dedicated gamers porting an antique Mario title to the PC? Nintendo shut it down. Fan game, after fan game, after fan game? Nintendo shut those down too. In other words, the impression you're left with is that fan creations using anything remotely close to Nintendo IP is the devil's work in the eyes of the company.

Except, perhaps, when the company would like to use some of that work without permission or giving credit to the artist, it seems.

A new website for Nintendo’s upcoming Japanese theme park Super Nintendo World went live yesterday. It featured new details and a virtual tour of the video game wonderland ahead of its February 4 opening. It also used an image of Mario for its loading screen that appears to have been created not by Nintendo, but one of its fans.

“I love how Nintendo used MY old ass Mario render in their official Nintendo World website,” Twitter user and Mario fan artist ujiidow tweeted earlier today. Their image of Mario was created roughly three years ago using the open source animation software Blender, and was shared on Reddit at the time. The Mario model used for the render wasn’t one of Nintendo’s, but instead belonged to 3D artist RafaKnight, who shared it for download on their Patreon in 2017.

Nintendo hasn't bothered to comment on any of this, but it's a funny thing how those that scream about respecting artists and creators can't seem to find it in themselves to treat others the way they want to be treated. Now, some will point out that Nintendo controls the Mario Bros. IP, as though it gave them the right to simply use any 3rd party artwork as though it were their own. That almost certainly isn't true, though, and is sort of besides the point. Nintendo goes way beyond just following the law in its intellectual property enforcement and treats it like some sort of ethos that aggressive protection is the right way to go.

So why, then, not seek permission from the artist to use what he created? Why not credit the artist in some way? It's not like said artist wouldn't have been amendable to any of this.

Ujiidow isn’t necessarily complaining though. “I’m so used to my Mario renders getting very little attention,” they told Kotaku in an email. “I’m being told to take action on the matter but I find it very nice to finally have some recognition on it.”

Holy shit, imagine if Nintendo had the same gentle attitude towards its fans that its fans have toward Nintendo? What a wonderful world that would be.

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Filed Under: copyright, fan art
Companies: nintendo


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  1. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 13 Jan 2021 @ 6:17pm

    Must be a day ending in 'y'

    You can practically set your clock by the frequency and reliability that the same people who scream the loudest about how evil copyright infringement is and how it's stealing food right from the mouths of creators will in turn engage in the same if not worse behavior.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 13 Jan 2021 @ 6:49pm

    Reminds me of what a Daily Show writer once said…

    Reminds me of what a Daily Show writer once said during the WGA strike of 2007 about Sumner Redstone as head of Viacom suing YouTube but being cheap when it came to paying the writers:

    If you're not paying [Sumner Redstone], you owe him $342 million. If he's not paying you, he's not paying you.

    Same deal with Nintendo vis-à-vis their fans.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Mononymous Tim (profile), 13 Jan 2021 @ 9:23pm

    Nintendo and the Hollywood MAFIAA are in an evil competition for the most contempt for their own fans.

    HORRIBLE business model!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2021 @ 9:42pm

    Re:

    HORRIBLE business model!!

    Yep. With Capitalism the most corrupt wins. Why? Because it's often the most profitable.

    Don't worry though, Nintendo has done it's best in fufilling it's obligations to it's shareholders in this action and will continue to look for even more ways to do so in the future. After all, the shareholders's profits are all that need to matter to companies right?

    TL;DR: Don't complain about the business model being corrupt when you and your governments allow companies to do whatever they want to society in the name of Capitalism.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2021 @ 1:48am

    Re: Re:

    "Don't complain about the business model being corrupt when you and your governments allow companies to do whatever they want to society in the name of Capitalism."

    Yeah, it's totally up to me and me alone. My fault, sorry 'bout that.
    I will bring capitalism to an end this week end for you, is that soon enough?
    btw, what system do you want in its place? I could put any one of several systems in play. Anarchy is possibly the best choice if you want total freedom to do whatever you want. Rugged Individualism seems to be the Nouveau Chic trendy thing these days, it suits you. I think you'll like it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    GHB (profile), 14 Jan 2021 @ 2:36am

    This film has not yet rated, Nintendo edition

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2021 @ 3:46am

    Every time Theres a new expansion of copyright law its said by big corporations we must protect artists and creators
    , everyday music and video is being dmca claimed or removed by big corporations ,
    Content that's made by indie artists or YouTube creators
    Nintendo is a Japanese Company the laws on copyright in Japan are extremely strict
    There's no concept of fair use or parody
    There's no way twitch or YouTube would exist
    Or be invented if America followed Asian laws
    on copyright
    Nintendo was the only company that actually
    Asked for money from YouTube let's players
    they would dmca let's plays of Nintendo games
    All other video game devs know let's play is a form of free promotion
    Amongst us is a massive hit after 2 years
    Because Streamers started playing it on twitch
    Most small creators and artists cannot afford to go to court to defend their content
    against dmca strikes
    on YouTube
    Corporations exist to make money
    See streaming music
    Most money goes to record company's
    Not the people who create the content

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2021 @ 3:51am

    Blatant hypocrisy is a prerequisite for copyright maximalism.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2021 @ 6:42am

    funny how, particularly with Nintendo, anything fans do that isn't liked is condemned and removed under the sternest of threats. when the boot is on the other foot however, funny how Nintendo thinks it is perfectly ok for it to 'steal' something from a fan! talk about double standards and two-facedness! not cool, Nintendo! not cool at all!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2021 @ 6:59am

    I'm just waiting for Nintendo to start issuing DMCA takedowns of the creator's works and websites, thus claiming the creator is stealing from himself and violating his IP rights.

    Copyright was meant to be a short term guarantee that the creator "could" profit from their works. The short term portion was the incentive to continue to create new works. Now the duration is something like Life + 70 years, or something stupid. The argument is now being made (typically by the heirs), "what incentive does their deceased relative have to create new works, without 10+ generations of descendants being able to do absolutely nothing to contribute to society but still make millions?" Talk about giving new definition to Ghost Writing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2021 @ 8:37am

    Re:

    The heirs are being disenfranchised by new business model - think investment companies will be happy with death+70?

    https://www.bbc.com/news/business-55557633 (Neil Young sells song rights in '$150m' deal) "Hipgnosis turns music royalties into an income stream."

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-55645178 (Shakira is the latest star to sell the rights to her songs) "... while Hipgnosis - which owns the songs in perpetuity - hopes to profit ..."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Rekrul, 14 Jan 2021 @ 11:54am

    Everyone knows that copyright protection only applies to big corporations.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2021 @ 2:02pm

    old ass Mario render seems ripe for use as a generic phrase.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jan 2021 @ 2:32pm

    That's what an "exclusive" right means...

    <<some will point out that Nintendo controls the Mario Bros. IP, as though it gave them the right to simply use any 3rd party artwork as though it were their own. That almost certainly isn't true, though...>>

    There's pretty good authority that the author of an unauthorized derivative work can't own a copyright for it - at least not a copyright that he can assert against the owner of the original work.

    Pickett v. Prince, 207 F. 3d 402, 405-406(7th Cir. 2000) ("The Copyright Act grants the owner of a copyright the exclusive right to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work. So [the artist] could not make a derivative work based on the [original] without ... authorization[.]") If the only copyright at issue is one that the derivative work's author "had no right to obtain," then it's hard to see how he can sue for copyright infringement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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