Tuesday, June 28, 2016

When 'Firewatch' Art Is Used for a Ford Ad?

It's just so easy to steal art in the digital age.

Firewatch developer Campo Santo is experiencing the aftereffects after a Ford dealership in Quincy, Massachusetts used their art to promote the Ford Focus without their knowledge. No payments. No inquiries. Not even a "hi, we're using this." They took the art and ran with it. Part of the Ford Freedom Sales Event, the huge image sent to customer's via e-mail is an exact copy of the promotional artwork used for Firewatch, with the orange and red mountain-tops among a landscape of trees with the infamous park tower in the center.

The home office for Ford has commented that they have no control over the marketing of affiliates. Dealerships are independent businesses. They also addresses concerns over a video ad they produced earlier this year that had a similar art-style (the colors are the same, but the design itself is slightly different) that the content was all produced in-house and is original.

Game Informer reached out to the dealership once the image started making it's rounds on Twitter. Initially, upon reaching their art department, they were informed that they did not check to see if the image was safe to use and hung up on the magazine. Later, they received an e-mail with clarification that they always use "DMCA compliant sites" and the image was a wallpaper on one such site. However, most people don't actually check to see if the image is really DMCA compliant. The wallpaper site allows anyone to upload images without a care about if the image is under copyright. People can submit requests to have images removed that violate copyright, but it's moot if there is no vetting system to prevent the upload in the first place.

Campo Santo hasn't responded to the incident, but some of their employees are getting a kick out of it. Including one who was avoiding Twitter for Game of Thrones spoilers, and instead found the Firewatch madness going down! The Ford dealership in question hasn't responded to follow-up requests by the media, and hasn't addressed the blatant stealing of content for ad promotions.

If Campo Santo wants to pursue legal action at this point they can, not only against the car dealership but the wallpaper site as well for not properly checking that the image was DMCA compliant. For the rest of us, always watermark your art and include a copyright claim in the notes. That's the best we can do for now until the laws of the internet catch up with art.


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