Facepalm: There is no excuse for any game company to use other artists’ IP without a license, especially since they would pull no punches if someone infringed their work. For a company as big as Capcom, though, this was just plain dumb.
According to a lawsuit filed last week with a Connecticut federal court, Capcom allegedly used numerous copyrighted images in several Resident Evil and Devil May Cry games. Plaintiff Judy Juracek claims that the game publisher took the pictures from her 1996 artistic reference book called “Surfaces: Visual Research for Artists, Architects, and Designers” without requesting a license. The book contains images of architectural surfaces with ornate or otherwise interesting designs and comes with a CD of the photos.
Juracek’s lawsuit contains more than 100 pages highlighting at least 200 examples where Capcom used her photographic work without permission. One notable example is the Resident Evil 4 logo. The lines crisscrossing the broken four are clearly identical to Juracek’s image titled “G079,” a picture of a cracked pane of glass taken in Italy. Capcom also used this image in other parts of the game to texture some old windows.
Another obvious example is a stained-glass window in the Resident Evil HD remaster from 2002 (comparisons below). The colors and patterns are identical to an image from the book labeled G033. Various other pictures are less obvious but are recognizable when pointed out. Among the games listed in the lawsuit are Devil May Cry (2001), Resident Evil Remake (2002), Devil May Cry 2 (2003), Resident Evil 4 (2005), Devil May Cry 4 (2008), and the Devil May Cry HD remaster (2013).
Some of the evidence Juracek presents comes from last year’s Capcom data breach. The cache of files included the personal information of Capcom customers but also contained high-resolution images of artwork used in Capcom games. At least one of the picture files has the same file name (ME009) as an image on the Surfaces CD.
Juracek’s filing seeks $12 million in damages for copyright infringement. Additionally, she claims Capcom is guilty of “false copyright management and removal of copyright management” in the use of her disc and seeks $2,500 to $25,000 for each photo used.
A Capcom spokesperson acknowledged to Polygon that it is “aware of the lawsuit” but declined to comment on the case.