The Chrysler Building, Copyright, Spider-Man and Rules

This is not what I’m talking about for this week’s ‘Saturday’ post.

But since I’m interested in both intellectual property rights and the fiction side of writing, I’m taking a few minutes from my Wednesday afternoon to share this excerpt and a link to Blake Hester’s article:

Spider-Man 2 Is Missing This Major New York City Landmark
Blake Hester, Game Informer (October 20, 2023)

“The recently released Spider-Man 2 is also missing the Chrysler Building. In its place is the same building that replaced it in Spider-Man Miles Morales, though this time with a new coat of paint….

“…with the building coming under new ownership in 2019, it looks like the Chrysler Building may be making fewer appearances. We talked to a copyright lawyer about the ways buildings are protected by copyright and to developer Insomniac Games about why it had to change its version of the New York City skyline.

“The Chrysler Building opened on May 27, 1930, and stood as the tallest building in the world until the Empire State Building was completed in May 1931, one mile away. … The Art Deco building, which rises to 1,046 feet with 77 floors, is particularly famous for its eight eagles, which protrude from the exterior of the 61st floor….”

Whoops. Left out an important bit:

“…As of 1990, architectural works such as the Chrysler Building can be protected under copyright, no different than other forms of art. According to the United States Copyright Office, an architectural work is defined as ‘the design of a building as embodied in any tangible medium of expression, including a building, architectural plans, or drawings. […] Examples of works that satisfy this requirement include houses, office buildings, churches, and museums. By contrast, the Office will refuse to register bridges, cloverleaves, dams, walkways, tents, recreational vehicles, or boats (although a house boat that is permanently affixed to a dock may be registerable as an architectural work).’

“While copyright owners won’t go after a picture you took of a building, they do protect themselves from more obvious infringements, such as another company copying a building’s design for its own purpose, and building owners have, on occasion, gone after companies for copyright-protected architecture on merchandising….”
(“Spider-Man 2 Is Missing This Major New York City Landmark
Blake Hester, Game Informer (October 20, 2023)) [emphasis mine]

As I see it, folks in New York City are still allowed to look at the Chrysler Building and other non-bland objects. They’re even allowed (apparently) to take snapshots. That, my opinion, is good news.

I can, with a little imagination, see the viewpoint of a corporation bigwig who wants another corporation bigwig’s minions to give the corporation of the first part a piece of the corporation of the second part’s action — whoosh. That’s a syntactic mouthful.

Anyway, I can see why SIGNA Group and RFR Holding LLC — I gather they’re the current owners of the Chrysler Building — don’t want their big shiny building associated with Spider-Man. Not until they get an offer they like, at any rate.

On the other hand, I don’t know where the dividing line is between some New York City tourist taking pictures and the likes of Sony Interactive Entertainment and Marvel Comics. Or maybe it’s a dividing zone, where one writer or artist gets sued and another doesn’t.

This doesn’t affect me, happily. At least not yet. But I like to keep mildly up to date with rules involving intellectual property rights.

Now, I’d better get back to work on that ‘Saturday’ thing.

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About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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3 Responses to The Chrysler Building, Copyright, Spider-Man and Rules

  1. Speaking of keeping up with intellectual property issues, I’m reminded of my recently growing appreciation for Ed Sheeran despite his own issues in that area. It’s more a matter about getting a refresher on the value of good manners to anyone and everyone more than about finding reassurance about being able to get away with posing as the unique I’m not, though, I think. I don’t think manners, much like other things from other people, are something I can really demand or ask for, let alone proudly, but I guess practicing good manners myself makes getting good manners and more from other people easier to receive. Besides, as far as I’ve experienced, if I practice cynicism about good manners on the regular, I might as well be making myself blind to truth. XD

    • I lost track of pop culture, somewhere back in the 20th century: but thought I’d heard the name Ed Sheeran. That said, I had to look him up: – learned that he had an Irish father, which accounts for his family name. And that Wikipedia page mentions some of his intellectual property issues. – – –

      “…Sheeran has faced accusations of plagiarism with regards to chord progression and other elements of his music. However, tort actions which have reached a jury have all been decided decisively in Sheeran’s favour.
      “In 2017, Sheeran settled out of court over claims his song ‘Photograph’ was a ‘note-for-note’ copy of the chorus in the song ‘Amazing’ by X Factor UK winner Matt Cardle. Sheeran later regretted the decision to settle, saying that it was done on the advice of his lawyers who thought the case was ‘more trouble than it was worth.’ He said he regretted settling the claim not because of the money involved, but because it changed his relationship with the song. He said: ‘I didn’t play “Photograph” for ages after that. I just stopped playing it. I felt weird about it, it kind of made me feel dirty.’ He also thought that settling the case opened a floodgate of claims, including the ‘Shape of You’ lawsuit….”

      – – – based only on what I read there, and my knowledge of music, I’m guessing that pretty much every songwriter/composer could be accused of plagiarism: given a bit of creative license on the part of the accusers.
      There are only so many ways notes can be put together, and that’s another topic.

      About what you said, “good manners” was out of fashion for some time – and may still be.

      There was some reason, I think, for abandoning the habits of flattery and evasion which had seeped into social interactions. But I think good manners, in the sense of showing due respect for others, is vital for the continued functioning of any society.

      And, yes: showing respect for others does, my experiences suggest, increase the odds that you or I will be shown respect. And in my case at least, it helps me avoid making more of a fool of myself than – well, ‘nuf said.

      • Well, flattery and evasion can be considered manners, but I think I’d rather question the “good” part we often like to add there. Especially with how tricky we can make that get. XD

Thanks for taking time to comment!