Last week a lawsuit was filed in a Connecticut court that alleges that Capcom used unlicensed images in several of its games that are covered by copyright law.
The complaint was filed by Judy A. Juracek, an artist. She claims that the developer took photographs from her book and used them without her permission. The book, Surfaces, apparently contains images that were used to design environments for Devil May Cry, Resident Evil 4, and many other titles.
Juracek says at least 80 images from her book have been used without her consent. The book was published in 1996, so there’s definitely been enough time for Capcom to have gotten their hands on them. The lawsuit contains a reference for images from the book and those in each game side by side. The similarities are highlighted for all to see.
Part of what might have made it so easy for Capcom to use these images is the fact that the book comes with a CD containing all of them. However, the images are strictly not for commercial use, and require a paid license. Juracek alleges that Capcom has not contacted her about acquiring any images.
Juracek’s legal team is asking Capcom to pay $12 million in damages on a count of copyright infringement. The money also covers further compensation for false copyright management and copyright management removal.
A representative from Capcom has been in touch with press outlet Polygon to explain that the company is aware of the lawsuit. However, the company has no further comments to make about it at this time.
Interestingly, part of the evidence in this case came from last year’s ransomware attack on Capcom. A lot of private information was stolen in the attack, including these images that Juracek has now been able to obtain.
A game developer will always usually use its own in-house art team when designing environments. However, Capcom does have a history of troubled development cycles. Resident Evil 4 in particular changed a lot, and almost never made it to a full release. Perhaps corners were cut by using images like Juracek’s. It’s down to a judge to decide whether that’s the case or not though.