We recently reported on the Kickstarter campaign for Bitmap Books' NES/Famicom: A Visual Compendium. Part of the publisher's long-running Visual Compendium series - which has previously featured the Commodore, Amiga and ZX Spectrum - the book is intended as a celebration of Nintendo's iconic 8-bit console, a machine which changed the way the public viewed video games forever.
Packed with exclusive interviews and content, the book had a modest funding goal of £25,000 but as its campaign drew to a close it managed to reach £170,000.
However, the Kickstarter has now been halted due to an "intellectual property dispute" by Nintendo. A legal notice has been posted, which reads:
The copyrighted material includes images and fictional character depictions from Nintendo's video games, including but not limited to, U.S. Copyright Reg. Nos. PA0000273028, supp. by PA0000547457 (Super Mario Bros.); PA0000427614, supp. by PA0000547456 (Super Mario Bros. 2); PA0000563454 (Super Mario Bros. 3); PA0000356140 (The Legend of Zelda); PA0000427613 (Zelda II – Adventure of Link); PA0000254906 (VS. Excitebike); PA0000260315 (VS. Hogan's Alley); PA0000583907 (Yoshi(NES)); PA0000254151 (VS. Duck Hunt); PA0000366687 (Ice Hockey); PA0000356141 (Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!); PA0000564771 (Punch-Out!!); PA0000356142 (Metroid); and PA0000115040 (Donkey Kong). Publication of this book will further infringe these and other copyrights owned by Nintendo. This Kickstarter project makes unauthorized use of Nintendo's copyrights as noted above. The description of the book states that it is 'mainly visual', and the campaign shows pages of the book which consist simply of large screenshots copied directly from Nintendo's video games.
On the cover of the book, a clearly modified version of Nintendo's famous "seal of quality" appears, something the company feels might confuse backers:
This campaign also makes use of a mark that is confusingly similar to registered trademarks owned by Nintendo. Specifically, the project's creator is using a modified version of Nintendo's 'Official Nintendo Seal' mark (protected by U.S. Trademark Registration Nos. 3114368 (Class 16), 3117154(Class 28), 3173562(Class 9), and 1570911(Classes 16 and 28)) and Nintendo's "Original Seal of Quality" mark (protected by EU Trademark Registration No. 3475977 (Classes 9, 16, 28) to promote this project.
This use of Nintendo's intellectual property may confuse Kickstarter backers into thinking this project is sponsored or licensed by Nintendo, when in fact it is not.
The book makes extensive use of in-game screenshots and game artwork, but it's certainly not the first to do so, which makes this issue a little odd - especially when you consider that the venture is all about celebrating Nintendo's past and bringing its games to a wider audience, something that you could argue is beneficial to the company.
Did you back the book? What are your thoughts on this takedown, which seems likely to have come from Nintendo? Let us know by posting a comment.