Karl Pilkington Is No Longer An Idiot In Skyrim

You might remember that we posted this hilarious mod titled 'An Idiot In Skyrim' — a genius concept wherein sound bites from Karl Pilkington, and an uncanny likeness, were integrated into Skyrim. It was genius. But now... it's gone.

Apparently Karl Pilkington's manager has sent an email to the mod's creator demanding that the mod and all references to the mod be removed on account of copyright infringement.

The creator of the mod, Joel, got in contact with us to inform us that he had been in contact with Pilkington's management, and directed us to this blog which explains the entire situation.

An email from a member of Karl Pilkington's management team stated the following.

We appreciate very much the effort you have put into “An Idiot in Skyrim”; however, you must understand we have enormous sums invested in the intellectual property rights in and to the Work, and have contractual responsibilities to our investors and licensee around the world to protect same. We do not want to dampen your enthusiasm for the program, podcasts, audiobooks, or your loyalty to Karl Pilkington, but must insist that you abide by certain restrictions.

It has come to our attention that you are using clips of Karl Pilkington’s audio which incorporates elements and/or is substantially similar to our copyrighted Work. Specifically find: ”An Idiot In Skyrim” http://deck16.net/pilkington#Download

Permission was neither asked nor granted to reproduce our Work and your Work therefore constitutes infringement of our rights. Under federal copyright law, we are entitled to an injunction against your continued infringement.

Joel doesn't blame Karl's management, but does make a good point in his blog — no-one's making any money from this, there's no loss of income here, or any damage to the Karl Pilkington brand. So why be so heavy handed?

Firstly, as I said above, I never thought it’d be a big thing. I thought I’d have a small audience of at most a few hundred. (I’m talking people actually using the mod, not people looking at the YouTube videos etc.) If a high-school band plays “We Will Rock You” at the yearly dance does the RIAA bust in with a legal notice from Queen?

Secondly, and more importantly, I genuinely believe this would’ve done nothing to harm the Karl Pilkington brand. It wasn’t causing any loss of income — the mod was free and there were no official Karl games or mods that it could’ve been competing with (at least, as far as I know). It wasn’t denigrating Karl (the title “An Idiot in Skyrim” was a reference to An Idiot Abroad, not a personal attack). And I wasn’t claiming that the mod was official (though I admit I could’ve been more explicit in saying it wasn’t).

Indeed I personally think works like this add to the brand they are based on. It keeps Karl Pilkington in people’s minds. It may introduce newcomers to the wonders of Karl. Ironically I think Ricky Gervais may realise this — how often did he encourage and showcase people painting Karl, drawing Karl, sculpting Karl and remixing his quotes into music?

In the meantime Joel has stopped working on the 'An Idiot In Skyrim' mod, and has taken it down from the site.



    "In the meantime Joel as stopped working on the ‘An Idiot In Skyrim’ mod, and has taken it down from the site."
    shouldn't it be has stopped?

    It's heavy handed because they have to set precedent. They have to show that they are actively looking to "protect" their brand.
    It's exactly the same sort of thinking as ZeniMax/Bethesda suing Mojang over "Scrolls".

      That was seriously one of the dumbest law suits I've ever seen. Any idiot can tell the difference between TES and something named Scrolls.

        Any informed idiot. There's people out there, more than you realise, who can't or won't. We used to get people coming into a shop I worked in who would pick up anything and justify it to themselves for whatever reason. ''Oh, Daikatana must be great, its a japanese name! The japanese never make bad things!'' *slaps forehead* that's an actual comment I remember from waaaaaay back when.


      If you don't protect your work, under US federal law, it builds a case for you to lose it.

    I don't know who karl pilkington is.

      He's a friend of Ricky Gervais who hates... well, just about everything; they sent him overseas with a camera crew and made one of my favourite comedies of the last decade, An Idiot Abroad.

        That only helps if you know who Ricky Gervais is though.

        /goes to Google Karl and Ricky

      check him out - he's unwittingly brilliant


      Season 1 and 2 are fantastic. Before Karl realised he was funny.
      The rest is kinda forced and... fake, sadly.


      Season 1 and 2 are fantastic. Before Karl realised he was funny.
      The rest is kinda forced and... fake, sadly.

        I don't think he "realised he was funny" after the first two seasons. Karl, Ricky and Steven had been doing a podcast years before An Idiot Abroad that was hugely successful (and in my opinion much better than An Idiot Abroad) Before the podcast were on a radio show on Britain's XFM which is downloadable if you can find it.

          Check my youtube link, i am referring to the original XFM season 1 and 2 from 2001 and 2002 :P

        it all sounds fake. the only reason why the first seasons are good is the material fresh. after that the same old routine wears thin.

        then again for a couple of hundred grand i'd play stupid. The thing I hate though the most with the stuff he did with Ricky is how Ricky is constantly laughing at the jokes. Like we need a Ricky Gervais laugh track to tell us when Karl's said something funny.

          If you think Karl is some genius actor and Ricky forces himself to laugh, you're *wrong.* Anyways, Ricky's laugh makes everything funnier.

            Ricky Gervais is almost the least funny person on the planet. Only Stephen Merchant is less funny!!

    I think Karl probably got upset about seeing a doppelganger of himself on the screen.

    'If it's a perfect clone of me...how would I know which one I was?'

    It's not up to the modder to decide whether it's harming the brand.


    Funny that this sort of thing just shows pilkington up as being a neurotic dick. This does sound like something he'd do tho.

    This is the one thing i miss about the old days of game mods. Who doesnt remember all the fun doom mods that were out there, i bet no one got slapped with injunctions back then.

    One could claim fair use under artistic license. By artistically reproducing his likeness, it should be protected under US law as per the NCAA v EA. EA won that case by claiming that it is not a violation of the person's rights under copyright law to include their likeness into an artistic work, i.e. a game. Further as long as the clips used are available in the public domain (youtube, etc) it is not a breach of copyright to use small parts of those in a freely available artistic work with no profit or benefit to the artist being made from it (eg. a mod)

    This is all going off memory as the law is different here compared to the US, but long story short it doesn't sound like they would actually have a leg to stand on if he just change the name of his character slightly (Marl Dilkington?) to avoid a direct reference to the Karl Pilkington brand..

      Youtube isn't Public domain, it is a public space, but the owner still retains full copyright. Also, the lack of profit has no bearing on whether copyright infringement occurred.

      If he changed the character's name to Marl Dilkington and removed the audio clips, he could get away with it, but then it wouldn't work very well.

      The real loss here is for Karl Pilkington: instead of shutting down projects like these he should embrace them and allow them limited rights for the purposes of the mod. It would be good PR and increase brand awareness for zero cost.

        In fact, when are the marketers going to get onto it before the lawyers do, and send a letter saying:

        It has come to our attention that you are using the likeness and/or audio clips of Mr.Famous. This is in breach of copyright and under federal copyright law; we are entitled to an injunction against your continued infringement. However, f*ck that, your mod is awesome and we want you to continue with it. We hereby grant you limited rights to use Mr.Famous' likeness and audio clips in your mod. Here are some more audio clips and photos you may want to incorporate into future versions, as well as a whole heap of sway we're sending to your address. Thanks for being a fan!

      Yeah couldn't this be fair use under parody?

    I bet if Skyrim was set in a caravan in the Welsh countryside he'd be all over it.

    Seriously though - I love Karl's outlook on life it reminds me that no matter how bad I think something is Karl thinks it's worse.

    I think the modder has a pretty fair legal defence under fair use conventions. Particularly since he's not selling anything. Of course, he'd probably have to spend a fortune in legal fees to make his case, so I don't blame him for taking it down.

    I think this would, theoretically, constitute a parody, however considering he is using audio tracks from the "work" (Karl/An Idiot Abroad) there is solid ground for infringement. In the US (up until 2002 when I stopped caring) you could use 8 seconds of a copyrighted soundbite in a single piece. given this mod is a piece, the soundbites would add to over 8 seconds, therefore infringment, the loss of income could also be from the use of soundbites from a paid item, against the modder's claim of no loss of income. That being said, there was no money being earned by the modder and the image is likely NOT damaging the brand, but the brand owner has every right to protect themselves and, in theory, this could lead to problems with their brand in the future if a modder takes this as precedent and creates a damaging mod in a different game.

    You know what sucks? That fans can't do anything without being picked on by legal teams. Sure he may have been infringing, but it's such a cheap move.

    How about the modder asking for permission initially. it may gave been granted.

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