A transit-map enthusiast who painstakingly redesigned Boston's MBTA rail map says The Last of Us took his work, without his permission and without compensating him, for use in the game. He's not happy about it.
In his own words, Cameron Booth said he was "fucking furious," before cooling off later today. Still, via his Twitter feed, he says he's received no response from developing studio Naughty Dog nor publisher Sony regarding his allegations and, it should be said, neither have we.
[Update, 3:55 p.m. It appears someone from Sony has reached out to him and after a "very constructive phone conversation," it "seems as if the issue will be resolved to the satisfaction of everyone soon."]
[Update 4:26 p.m. Per Booth, who has rewritten his original post: "I can say that they do acknowledge their error in using my map and were very apologetic for it. I likewise apologised for my initial vitriolic post. A lot of mutual respect for each other’s creative work."]
Booth's Tumblr and personal Web site features his detailed study of transit maps from all around the world. Back in 2011, he called the T's map a "hot mess" and set about to clean it up himself, altering its scale and some of the lines' colors. His effort is marked as copyrighted under his name.
Following the release of The Last of Us, Booth discovered the use of his work through a Twitter search he has set up to scan for discussion of transit maps. Some Last of Us Fans praised an environment in the game for depicting Boston's T map with detailed authenticity. Booth checked it out and says he saw his map, which is more rectangular in scale than the square official rapid transit map for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
"Naughty Dog seems to have known that they couldn't use the official map without paying a hefty license fee," alleges Booth, "so it looks like they just went on the Internet and found another one. Cos, you know, images on the Internet are free for anyone to use, right? Not."
Booth says "at no point have Naughty Dog contacted me about using my intellectual property," and that he was trying to contact them ("with very pointed questions about their approvals and legal process.")
I reached out to representatives of Naughty Dog and Sony Computer Entertainment America but have heard nothing back as of publication time. Specifically, I wanted to know if a Naughty Dog artist simply mistook Booth's map for an official work and assumed it to be in the public domain, as the MBTA is a public authority. Booth insists that any map would still require a license.
As angry as Booth was in his original post on the matter, he seems to have backed down the tone somewhat. "I'd really prefer to come to an amicable agreement without resorting to legal measures," he said via Twitter about an hour ago. "To clarify, I'm not after a 'payday,'" he said an hour before that. "An acknowledgement of error from [Naughty Dog] and a token licensing fee would be fine."
Boston Theft [transitmaps.tumblr.com. Images from transitmaps.tumblr.com]