Activision/Infinity Ward Appropriates BCM/BPRE Promotional Imagery for Latest Call of Duty Release

Back in 2013, prior to the release of Call of Duty: Ghosts, a beta for the game featured a slightly-altered version of the Mil-Spec Monkey logo as an in-game player customization icon.

Needless to say, this was not an authorized use of that copyrighted material. And, it looks like Activision and Infinity Ward are at it again:


This is a loading screen for the upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

.300 Blk

And this is promotional imagery for BCM and BPRE. Strikingly similar, aren’t they?

For the curious, this image was featured in promotional materials for BCM’s line of .300 Blackout carbines, among other uses.

Not to excuse the use of this imagery, but it’s worth mentioning that the new Modern Warfare is currently in a pre-release state, and it’s possible that this is being used as placeholder art until the game launches later this year. Still, you’d figure that a big corporation like Activision would be a bit more cautious when it comes to potential intellectual property violations for their multi-billion dollar franchise.

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21 Responses to “Activision/Infinity Ward Appropriates BCM/BPRE Promotional Imagery for Latest Call of Duty Release”

  1. PTM says:

    BCM should work out a deal with Activision to provide all their various rifle variants to Activision for a reasonable royalty…huge potential customer base here!!

  2. PTM says:

    Clarification: let them come in and 3D scan all BCM rifles, etc. License it and…boom fantastic advertising.

    • h says:

      There’s no reason to 3d scan it, you just send 2-3 ortho views and let them model it with video games-appropriate geometry

  3. txJM says:

    “Back in 2013, prior to the release of Call of Duty: Ghosts, a beta for the game featured a slightly-altered version of the Mil-Spec Monkey logo as an in-game player customization icon.”

    MSM sued and got slapped down in court, and rightly so. This very moment, I’m looking at MSM morale patches – for sale – that directly draw imagery and quotes from ‘Tropic Thunder’, the ‘Fallout’ series, ‘The Hurt Locker’, Hanna-Barbera productions, ‘Team America’, ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’, and more.

    Why he thought the MSM logo was immune to parody when memes are MSM’s primary source of income, I’ll never know.

    • Geoff says:

      This is original artistic product though.

    • Complicated story short, the law firm also poorly attempted a trademark case (pretty much thrown out) when it should have just been a copyright case, which we won, because all they did was add a beard to my monkey logo and call it good. We actually offered to work with them, and their chump lawyers tried to act like we were scandalous by selling guns, which we weren’t, they were just reference info / pics, but in general shows some pretty crazy thinking as many could call the game a murder simulator if trying to win a morality contest.
      Us making original art inspired by something else is a totally different thing.
      Anyone working at Activision should be getting paid alright so to just jack stuff is super lazy. They could have busted out a similar pic using existing 3D resources in a fairly short amount of time.

      • txJM says:

        Thanks for weighing in.

        I have a distaste for IP law, because it is so open to interpretation.

        As I mentioned: your designs piggyback off of many original ideas, and you get paid alright, too.
        So, from the outside looking in, fair’s fair.

        Is it not “super-lazy” to vectorize this image and sell it as an original IP?

        Not trying to discredit what you do for a living, just giving a layman’s perspective.

        Once again: thanks for taking the time to address.

        • It isn’t always black and white for sure, but maybe watching some youtube vids on the subject would help narrow down some copyright basics for you.
          On your EOD running example the pose is obviously inspired by, but is recreated in vector from scratch and not the exact same main lines while the original work was a full length movie. So consider it went from at the very least 1 image with a whole lot going on with full color detail, to a simplified vector patch design that vaguely uses a similar pose from 1 relatively small element in the original image.
          The full lazy which it appears Activision did would be to take the screenshot and try and brute force that into a product so instead of inspired by it is I’ll just “I’ll take that as is, thanks.”

  4. madman says:

    I hope BCM and BPRE can either sue or work a deal out on this.

    Both are amazing company’s that worked hard to get where they are to see a Multi billion dollar franchise steal there hard earned work to use for them selves to promote there own product is terrible.

  5. Archer says:

    I wonder if perhaps BCM used a photographer for the images and the photographer didn’t sell them the images exclusive rights, leaving him open to also license its use to Activision/Infinity Ward?

    Just playing devils advocate here.

    • Geoff says:

      I believe Jon Chang/BCM IS the photographer. No middle man.

      • txJM says:

        That’s most likely.

        I think Jon went a step further and subbed it through his Echelon studio, which he later hired former Jamie King as a marketing consultant. Dollars to donuts, King cut a deal with Activision and 2K – and who knows how many other publishers – for visual material, in exchange for promotion opportunities and financial assistance with Chang’s Black Powder Red Earth products.
        It’s all speculative, but that’s my bet.

  6. Stu says:

    Same image. Same scope, mounts, etc.

  7. Victor DiCosola says:

    Heck they use a TNVC MOHAWK in the game as well.

  8. R711 says:

    All anyone has to do is prove 10% difference and it’s not copying. Look at he picture almost 10+% is blocked or cut out.

    • Lasse says:

      If they used someones photo, then the 10% doesn’t work. It’s still the property of the photographer.

      If they painted over it (which it looks like) and then removed the photo, then it’s “new art” even though it looks exactly like the photo.

      It’s pretty absurd, but legal.

  9. Stickman says:

    I agree the entire thing is foolish in that both companies should be working together (including the photographer if its not a work for hire arrangement).

    COD is a highly successful video game based around killing bad guys. The company can’t distance themselves from what they are making their money from, nor is there a moral high ground to be had. Firearms are simply tools with no inherent abilities of their own. I’m not sure what COD thinks they would be gaining by refusing to talk with the companies they are using to model hardware for the games. Refusing to talk to them over use of the stolen pic is just childish.

    On a side note, if all the firearm and component manufacturers went after COD, its would create a firestorm of publicity they might not enjoy.