Artist Says The Last Of Us Ripped Off His Boston Subway Map Redesign

A transit-map enthusiast who painstakingly redesigned Boston's MBTA rail map says The Last of Us took his work, without his permission and without compensating him, for use in the game. He's not happy about it.

In his own words, Cameron Booth said he was "fucking furious", before cooling off later today. Still, via his Twitter feed, he says he's received no response from developing studio Naughty Dog nor publisher Sony regarding his allegations and, it should be said, neither have we.

Booth's Tumblr and a personal blog features his detailed study of transit maps from all around the world. Back in 2011, he called the T's map a "hot mess" and set about to clean it up himself, altering its scale and some of the lines' colours. His effort is marked as copyrighted under his name.

Following the release of The Last of Us, Booth discovered the use of his work through a Twitter search he has set up to scan for discussion of transit maps. Some Last of Us Fans praised an environment in the game for depicting Boston's T map with detailed authenticity. Booth checked it out and says he saw his map, which is more rectangular in scale than the square official rapid transit map for the MBTA.

"Naughty Dog seems to have known that they couldn't use the official map without paying a hefty licence fee," alleges Booth, "so it looks like they just went on the Internet and found another one. Cos, you know, images on the Internet are free for anyone to use, right? Not."

Booth says "at no point have Naughty Dog contacted me about using my intellectual property," and that he was trying to contact them ("with very pointed questions about their approvals and legal process.")

I reached out to representatives of Naughty Dog and Sony Computer Entertainment America but have heard nothing back as of publication time. Specifically, I wanted to know if a Naughty Dog artist simply mistook Booth's map for an official work and assumed it to be in the public domain, as the MBTA is a public authority. Booth insists that any map would still require a licence.

As angry as Booth was in his original post on the matter, he seems to have backed down the tone somewhat. "I'd really prefer to come to an amicable agreement without resorting to legal measures," he said via Twitter about an hour ago. "To clarify, I'm not after a 'payday'," he said an hour before that. "An acknowledgement of error from [Naughty Dog] and a token licensing fee would be fine."

Boston Theft [transitmaps.tumblr.com. Images from transitmaps.tumblr.com]


Comments

    I'd probably be pretty wrapped if my "hobby" was portrayed in a game like this.
    I guess a note in the credits or something wouldn't go astray, but I think this dude over reacted.

      Not an overreaction at all. He would have put many hours into this and his hard work should be acknowledged. I'd be really upset if something I did was used without my permission and reading his latter message seems that he is going to be reasonable about it. It's likely an honest mistake rather than an intention attempt to 'steal' from him, and would be resolved with an e-mail, phone call etc.

      Agree I'd be stoked that my work was used in a game like this, but I'd also appreciate a small acknowledgement for my efforts.

      I think he's right though. It was his labour of love and someone else has stolen(without credit) and passed it off as their own creation. Even after he's tried to contact them. They should buy a creative license to use it and add a credit to the end and it'll be sorted.

      That's a really common thought amongst people who aren't content creators, but it's also the reason why we can't have nice things. Art has to be respected, which means it has to be paid for. If companies could go around using other peoples content and just making sure they just put a note in the credits, then a lot less new and interesting art would be getting made. The laws against using other people's work are there for a good reason.

      Imagine if whatever work you do, some big company took it and claimed it as theirs, and used it to help them make lots of money. Would you be wrapped because it spoke well of the quality of your work? A note in the credit might be enough for you if they contacted you beforehand and asked permission, but a pay cheque is really the best way to do it.

      I love this clip (warning: NSFW language - the guy is a bit of an asshole, but I love it): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj5IV23g-fE

      Art has to be paid for, hobby or not.

      Last edited 26/06/13 11:14 am

        Yeah, but how long did he wait to get a reply. This sort of thing can happen. The adult thing to do is to contact the company in writing and include your prior artwork etc. and let them know you wish to be contacted ASAP. It takes a while for:
        (1) The company to receive your letter and it to go to the right department
        (2) To verify it isn't some troll/faker
        (3) To find out how it ended up in the game/ who was responsible/ whether it was sanctioned
        (4) Work out if it is indeed a case for compensation and credit or if there may be issues there.
        (5) Run it through your legal department to make sure you aren't leaving yourself open to being sued.

        In this case, the 'artist' has modified a map and passed it off as his own, this is usually not allowed. If you want to make a map you have to do the survey's etc. yourself or pay the rights to use existing survey data. The artist has most likely broken copyright himself.

    I assume he paid the MBTA for re-creating their map, right? Since he is making such a big deal and all...

    UPDATE, TUESDAY JUNE 25, 1:00pm: I’ve just spoken with Naughty Dog over the phone in a very constructive conversation. Can’t say more at the moment, but it seems as if matters will be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction shortly. I can say that they do acknowledge their error in using my map and were very apologetic for it. I likewise apologised for my initial vitriolic post. A lot of mutual respect for each other’s creative work.

    It’s been a hell of a last couple of days: thanks for the support from many, and the interesting and varied comments from most.

    Hopefully, back to regularly scheduled Transit Maps content soon!

      i didn't think naughty dog were your garden variety corporate assholes, so good to hear

    How does that even happen? Surely Naughty Dog would have known millions of eyes would be on their game and not to do something like this.

      Someone in the Dev team probably used this map without looking into it, and the other members probably didn't question the source, as this is the first time I've heard of such an event happening.

        Plus, transit maps aren't something you'd immediately question as being someone else's IP.

    Alot of the time when you are making a mock-up level, or an alpha level you use real things pulled from a quick google search as placeholders for textures, then when the level is finished you make your own textures to replace... i would bet that they simply just missed this texture when they were polishing thier assets from those google images into thier own... no biggie...

    Awh, that's a shame. I like their work, so I want to like the company. Hopefully Naughty Dog will make things right.

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