Judge Dismisses Zombie Lawsuit

Judge Dismisses Zombie Lawsuit

A U.S. District Court judge has dismissed claims that Capcom’s shopping mall-based zombie action title Dead Rising infringes on the George A. Romero horror flick Dawn of the Dead.

In an October 20 filing obtained by Edge, Judge Richard Seeborg said that Dead Rising is not "substantially similar" to Dawn of the Dead.

MKR in February alleged that Dead Rising’s premise of people trapped in a shopping mall full of zombies was stolen from Dawn of the Dead, and constitutes copyright infringement. MKR also cited various other instances of similarities.

Among other cases, Judge Seeborg cited the 1984 case Litchfield vs. Spielberg, in which the writer of the musical play, Lokey from Maldemar, sued film director Stephen Spielberg over similarities between the play and the movie E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.

That case found that "’random similarities scattered throughout the works’ do not support a finding of substantial similarity," according to the ruling. The judge found the case applicable to the MKR vs. Capcom suit.

Judge Seeborg compared various aspects of both works, including the mood of both games: "The mood of Dawn of the Dead is dark, horrific, but somewhat comedic in featuring the main characters struggling to survive for months in the mall.

"The mood of Dead Rising, on the other hand, is one of adventure and mystery as Frank [West, Dead Rising's lead character] tries to uncover the secret behind the zombie infestation of the town.

"In short, Dawn of the Dead endeavors to create an atmosphere of suspense and anxiety while the videogame focuses on action and competition."

MKR’s complaint cited various similarities between the products:

  • Both works are set in a bi-level shopping mall
  • The mall has a gun shop, in which action takes place
  • The mall is located in a rural area with the National Guard patrolling its environs
  • Both works are set in motion by a helicopter that takes the lead characters to a mall besieged by zombies
  • Many of the zombies wear plaid shirts
  • Both works feature a subtext critique of  sensationalistic journalism through their use of tough, cynical journalists, with short brown hair and leather jackets, as a lead male character
  • Both works feature the creative use of items such as propane tanks, chainsaws, and vehicles to kill zombies
  • Both works are a parody of rampant consumerism
  • Both works use music in the mall for comedic effect
  • Dead Rising’s use of the word "hell" references the tagline for Dawn of the Dead’s release ("When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth)

Thanks to GameSpot for the heads-up on the case.

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