Sony Denies Accusations of Costume Theft
November 20, 2008 art

Sony recently held a costume design contest for the “Sackboy” character in their video game LittleBigPlanet, and fans have accused them of stealing costume design ideas from non-winning entries. Sony has released a statement denying this accusation.

If you’re not familiar with the game, take a look at the trailer above. Players control small customizable “Sackboy” characters to solve puzzles and interact with a 3D environment.

So what happened? Well, Sony picked a winner and offered the winning costume as a free download for LittleBigWorld players. THEN, they released additional costumes as well, but charged money for them. And that’s when the great Costume Controversy began.

Sony’s new costumes are remarkably similar to several non-winning contest entries. Fans have cried foul, accusing Sony of copying and profiting from their uncredited costume designs.

Here are a few examples of design similarities provided by the disgrunted gamers.

Fanmade Design:
Sony Costume ContestSony Costume Contest

Sony’s Design:
Sony Costume ContestSony Costume Contest



Fanmade Design:
Sony Costume Contest
Sony’s Design:
Sony Costume Contest



Fanmade Design:

Sony Costume Contest

Sony’s Design:
Sony Costume ContestSony Costume Contest


As you can see, there ARE strong similarities between the costume designs. But did Sony do anything illegal? It doesn’t appear to be the case. All contest participants agreed to Sony’s Terms & Conditions before submitting their artwork. The fine print of the contest rules makes it clear that all submitted materials became the property of Sony. Case closed, it would seem.

But Sony went a step further and denied that any copying took place at all. According to a Sony representative:

“This was always going to be a possibility when we ran the costumer competition – releasing new costumes which are similar in theme to ones that were entered. Here’s the fact of the matter, the art team who are responsible for designing new original (ie unlicensed) costumes were involved at the very final stage of judging, by which time the number of entries had been whittled down to 10 from each batch of entries (Europe, Japan, USA). If at any time we take inspiration from a costume competition entry that didn’t win overall we will contact the creator directly.”

Hmm, so what are the disgruntled Sackboy costume designers to do? There’s probably nothing they CAN do. Legally, Sony has their fine print to fall back on. Plus, it’s awfully hard to copyright a penguin or a shark.

But this costume fiasco does indeed make Sony look bad. Someone in their PR department should come forward and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that their new costumes pre-existed before the contest. Until then, their integrity and goodwill towards fans will be questioned and scorned by many.

Feel free to sound off with your opinion in the comments below.

"8" Comments
  1. sony should be sued for stealing it is SOOOoooo obvious!

  2. A shark, a biker suit and a penguin are hardly original ideas.
    Those two penguins don’t even look the same!

  3. I created the shark costume and would like to point out that my costume was in fact my second entry,
    and only one entry per person so the terms of the comp do not aply to it.
    Also your point about sony saying when they created the DLC is exactly what I asked the sony guy you quoted above,twice he refused to disclose the information.
    If the costume was created before mine then why take the bad publicity when it could all be settled once and for all.
    The answer is clear my costume was created first and you know the rest.

  4. Rusty, thanks for posting. Interesting twist that Sony may not have the rights to your Shark costume after all. So what’s happening? Are you persuing legal options?

  5. I am currently looking in to that YES.
    I’m not prepared to say more than that for now.
    But I would like to thank people for their support.
    To be honest all of this has put me off creating art and I havn’t played a video game in over a month.
    It makes you realise that these companies say that they are all about making things fun for fans but i’ts really all about what they can take from us…,ideas etc.
    So much for PLAY CREATE and SHARE.

  6. For those who are interested in my designs, you can find a range of clothes with original artwork by me here* or even here

  7. Right on, Rusty! Thanks for popping in for a visit.

  8. It is good that there are sites on the web where people can share their concerns in trust. Regardless of the country that one lives in there is always the need to act in goodwill and good intent is there not? And it is about time that individual creators could find a way to express their concerns if they have some about how the big boy may be dealing with others at times?

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