Minecraft has already become a super successful indie game, with estimates that the title’s creator Markus Persson has already banked millions off of the game. While some players have garnered attention for the incredible items built within the game, those users, unfortunately, could be putting themselves in the path of a lawsuit.
The most awe-inspiring megaobject built in Minecraft has to be the 1:1 scale replica of the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek, which was created by YouTube user halnicholas (aka Halkun).
A post on the Public Knowledge website (thanks TechDirt) states that, “Sadly, under current copyright law, you could go broke for crafting a tribute to your favorite book or movie.”
Public Knowledge writes that the construction of the Enterprise within Minecraft could be considered a “derivative work,” which means that “it is protected by the same copyright that protects Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
A sampling of what Halkun could face:
Viacom owns the Star Trek copyright. If they decide to sue Halkun, the fact that he spent 10 (or 100) hours making his replica, that it’s made out of digital blocks, or that he doesn’t plan to make money on it may or may not protect him. Either way, in order to find out, he would have to hire a legal team to go up against Viacom. That’s a hard (not to mention expensive) way to find out that your USS Enterprise model does not infringe on anyone’s copyright.
Public Knowledge also warns Minecraft players that copyrightable objects built on your server by other players could put you at risk: “In that case, you could be sued for secondary infringement just for running the server that contains this ‘infringing’ content.”
Gamers were further advised to “be aware that US copyright law is more behind the times than you might imagine.”