As reported by Game Informer, the Chrysler Building went under new ownership in 2019 and no agreement was made before the launch of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
Since 2008, the Abu Dhabi Investment Council, which is an investment arm of the Abu Dhabi government, owned 90% of the building while the New York-based real estate investment company Tishman Speyer Properties owned 10% and managed the building.
In January 2019, the Chrysler Building was put up for sale and it was co-purchased by the Austrian company SIGNA Group and New York real estate development company RGR Holding LLC. for $150 million. As an interesting aside, this sale price was “down from the reported $300 million ($433 million inflated for 2019) it was purchased for in 2001, and significantly less than the $800 million ($957 million inflated for 2019) Abu Dhabi Investment Council reportedly spent in 2008 for its majority of the building and the retail space next door.”
Michael Lee, the founder of Lee Law, spoke to Game Informer and explained how the copyright process works in regards to buildings like the Chrysler Building.
“If you have just a basic box of a building that looks like just a generic building, you can’t go around and sue every building in Manhattan, and say, ‘You have stolen my idea of what a building looks like,'” Lee said. “You can’t protect the functionality of something, but you could protect the artistic parts of it. So when it comes to certain architecture, whether it has big spires at the top, or whether it has curved glass, whether you see something and you see that it’s unique and different, that’s absolutely protected by copyright. So in order to reproduce it in either another building or make a derivative work such as a T-shirt, a model, or even putting it in a video game, you need authorization from the copyright owner to reproduce the protected thing – which in this case could be the Chrysler Building.”
Lee also mentioned that if a movie or form of media has a quick glimpse of the Chrysler Building or other skyscraper, it may not be an issue, but for a game like Spider-Man: Miles Morales where you can climb up and inspect every part of the building, it could have opened up Insomniac, Marvel, and Sony to possible litigation.
Insomniac Games reportedly tried to get permission to use the Chrysler Building, but the new owners and Insomniac could not come to an agreement for Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
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“When creating our representation of the city we wanted to include as many landmarks as we could to add to the sense of immersion,” James Stevenson, Insomniac’s community director, told Game Informer when asked for comment. “Sometimes negotiations to use those locations didn’t work out, which was the case with the Chrysler Building in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales.”
For more on Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, check out our review, some of the greatest Easter Eggs in the game, and how it pays homage to both Stan Lee and Chadwick Boseman.
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