Monday, June 11, 2007

Give Us This Day Our Daily Shootout

For some strange reason the Church of England is angry that people are going to their Winchester Cathedral. Well, they're not really going there but they are in a video game. And no, it's not in some religious expansion for The Sims. It's to kill people in Sony's PS3 game "Resistance -- Fall of Man."

Granted, I'm not surprised that they are upset.

I wasn't really sure what side of this debate I sympathized with. After all, the Church owns the building. Don't they have a right to say how it's depicted? But the bricks of the building are not the same thing as images of the building. Suppose I take a picture of the Cathedral and I make it look like it's on fire. Or being crushed by an 80-foot tall Jesus. Or placing Pauly Shore in front of it. All of these things depict the Cathedral in a negative way. If I put them on the web, does the Church of England have a right to make me take them down (free speech arguments aside)? After all, don't I own those pictures?

You might say that because the subject didn't consent, I don't have that right. Let's ignore the fact that the subject is a building and cannot consent. I'm talking about the nature of private property. The Church of England allows people to take pictures of the Cathedral (granted, I don't know this for sure but I think it's a reasonable assumption). If they wanted to control its image so much, why don't they ban such photography?

It's a question worth thinking about, not just if the Church has a right under private property but if it's socially optimal to extend private property that far. Again, I'm siding with Sony and not just because I think it would be fun.


Anonymous said...

I'm on Sony's side of this. More like against the Church. It's tough to be neutral considering my own spiritual beliefs. But remember the copyright laws. What is it now, 100 years after the death of the creator. The church is 800 years old. Unless there's some 700 year old archeict walking around, they can't claim copyright. They also open their doors to anyone and its construction and internal pictures are easily available in printed matter.

Consider the game itself. It's a work of fiction. How accurate are the pictures? Do they pose a security risk? Disney used Notre Damne (sp) in their movies. Sears Tower, Empire State Building, Shinto shrines, Hollywoodland sign, and others are also privately owned buildings used in games and movies and destroyed. So why is this game being singled out? It makes the Church look bad? Sorry but the Church does a pretty good job of making itself look bad without needing outside help.

The game was not an attack. As far as I can tell it is just a setting for part of a level. This is a frivilous claim from an organization who feels they deserve special treatment.

Jacob said...

Pauly Shore? That's low, David. Low.

I don't know if I should be opposed to that because it would besmirch the church or because it would improve Pauly's image...