By Quinton Miles
According to a report in yesterday’s editon of USA Today, Marvel Enterprises is suing NCSoft and Cryptic Studios. In the lawsuit, the company claims that their [i]City of Heroes[/i] game allows players to create characters that are too similar to “The Hulk”, “X-Men” and other heroes in their lineup.
The suit, filed Wednesday by the U.S. District Court, also goes on to claim that gamers have the ability to go as far as naming their heroes after Marvel characters as well, and it is not sitting too well with them.
“The argument can still be made that City of Heroes is only empowering users to the same degree that an establishment like Kinkos enables customers to make paper copies of copyrighted material,” said Fred von Lohmann, senior intellectual property attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“Is it a violation of copyright to make up a character in the virtual world or is that fair use?” von Lohmann said. “This is really untested ground in the courts.”
This case is looking to be the first one that questions the course of an online game and how it is used. Early cases, like the Napster file sharing, found Napster liable on the part of the customers downloading the music.