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The Church vs. Sony update: money and apologies demanded


Following on from the news that Sony had supposedly used the interior of Manchester Cathedral in Resistance: Fall of Man without permission, The Church of England will send a letter to the Japanese company stating their demands. The BBC reports that Church leaders will meet today to draft the letter and discuss what other action to take. Sony will be asked to do four things:

  • Apologise for using Manchester Cathedral’s interior without permission.
  • Withdrawal Resistance: Fall of Man from sale, or remove the cathedral interior from it.
  • Make a ‘substantial donation’ from the profits made from the game to the cathedral’s education department.
  • Support other groups in Manchester fighting against gun crime.

I guess you could look at this story two ways. Firstly, you could say that Sony should have put greater thought into their choice of location for a gun battle in the game, even if it is set in the future and involves shooting aliens. Some people are understandably sensitive to using such locations for anything other than places of worship and sanctuary, especially in a town with a gun crime problem.

On the other hand, Sony appears to have done nothing particularly illegal, having created a reproduction of the interior. It’s pretty straightforward if you sell pictures you’ve taken without permission, but when it’s an original work like a painting or a game, I’m not sure that it’s quite so clear cut. The Church is also assuming that it has the moral high ground, even though violence is an integral part of the institution’s history. You could be somewhat cynical and say that they were using this position to gain ground where other non-religious lobby groups would not.

In a sense, it doesn’t matter what Sony does in reply to The Church’s demands. The PR damage has already been done and any donations or apologies are going to do little to earn them any reprieve.

We’ll keep you updated on this story, but in the meantime let us know what you think.

Update: Sony has issued the following statement in response:

“Sony Computer Entertainment Europe is aware of the concerns expressed by the Bishop of Manchester and the Cathedral authorities about the use of Manchester Cathedral in the game Resistance: Fall of Man, and we naturally take their concerns very seriously.

Resistance: Fall of Man is a fantasy science fiction game and is not based on reality. The game is set in an alternate and mythical version of Europe in the 1950s, in which the enemy are strange looking alien invaders seeking to destroy humanity.

Whilst we believe that we have sought and received all permissions necessary for the creation of the game, we will be contacting the Cathedral authorities in order to better understand their concerns in more detail.”

The author of this fine article

is the Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in November 2000. Get in touch on Twitter @PhilipMorton.

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