Cooking Mama Shows How To Respond To Critical Parody

from the thanks-for-the-promotion! dept

We’ve seen plenty of organizations react poorly and sue when someone creates a parody of what they do. Parody is protected under fair use rules, but that doesn’t always stop lawsuits. And, some were apparently wondering if Cooking Mama, a popular video game for Nintendo platforms would get offended and sue over a critical video from PETA. Cooking Mama is apparently a game where you simulate preparing a meal. The PETA version used artwork from the original game and created Cooking Mama: Mama Kills Animals, with the rather overt position. Some had thought that the company behind the game, Majesco, might sue. But, Jeff Leyser points out, the company took the high road, responding to the parody game and essentially said “thanks for the free publicity,” while noting that the game has options for vegetarian meals.

“Food lover and culinary cutie Cooking Mama is a virtual chef who believes that good home cooked food, properly prepared from the best ingredients, can bring people together around the table and make the world a happier place. That’s why Mama is taking a stand with oven mitts raised high against the latest PETA objection targeting her freshly released videogame, Cooking Mama World Kitchen, that shipped this week for Wii from Majesco Entertainment Company. Mama wants people to know that World Kitchen includes 51 recipes from around the world, ranging from vegetarian fare like miso soup and rice cakes to international delicacies like ginger pork and octopus dumplings.”

See? It’s not that difficult to respond without resorting to a lawsuit.

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Companies: majesco, peta

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Comments on “Cooking Mama Shows How To Respond To Critical Parody”

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Justin Grimes (user link) says:


While I agree with the spirit of the article, ie that it is classy that Nintendo took the non lawsuit route…I do have a couple of quibblingly comments.

First, just because it is a parody, doesn’t automatically mean it is fair use. Parody falls under just one of the four factors of fair use, ie purpose. Therefore, parody doesn’t necessarily equal fair use.

Second, Cooking Mama doesn’t exactly seem to be a parody to me but more of a satire. To me, after playing it, the PETA game appears to not be making fun of Nintendo’s Cooking Mama game, but is rather attempting to make a broader social critique of society, specifically, the issue of animal treatment. Satire, as opposed to parody, tends to be treated differently in fair use cases ie satire is not fair use. It is a strange but important distinguish, as this is how the courts have ruled in the past.

Third, fair use only applies to the issue of copyright not trademark. There may be a whole trademark issue to consider independently of the issue of copyright infringement.

Anonymous Poster says:

Re: Technically...

1.) The purpose of the parody is to both poke fun at/offer a heavy-handed satire of the Cooking Mama game and to offer PETA’s heavy-handed “ANIMALS ARE GREAT, PLEASE EAT VEGGIES” message. The effect upon the original work (in this case, Cooking Mama) is pretty much negligible, considering the only people that really take PETA seriously are those who are like-minded; most people tend to ignore PETA, and thus most people probably learned about the game after reading about it on the Internet (and most of the sites who reported it — including this game — includes the information that it’s a parody/satire of the actual Cooking Mama series). Technically, the game very well falls under fair use, whether you like PETA or not.

2.) Satire may not necessarily be fair use, but it does count as being protected by the First Amendment. Pesky little thing, that Free Speech protection, hmm?

3.) This is the only thing about your post that makes sense. Majesco could very well sue PETA for trademark infringement, but I’d certainly hope that they have better things to do than to give those idiots at PETA any more attention.

Justin Grimes (user link) says:

Re: Re: Technically...

Anonymous, I wasn’t attempting to be glib, I’m just attempting to be specific and precise about the issue at hand.

Re: 1) Once again, you are mixing parody and satire. They can overlap but they are fundamentally two distinct things in their treatment towards fair use. Plainly speaking, parody pokes fun at the original work itself, while satire pokes fun or comments at something else. While the courts have created this arbitrary distinguish, a distinguish still exists whether you agree with it or not. To the courts, parody is perceived to be more fair use, while satire is perceived to be less. While you can argue that the over all impact is negligible, you can’t mix parody and satire in such a way, specifically when the courts make a clear distinguish when analyzing a case for fair use. I’m not making a moral or ethical judgement on use of parody, satire, PETA or the development of games like this. I’m just expressing that copyright law merely isn’t that simple. Fair use is highly qualitative in its judgement. Just because something is a parody does not mean its fair use, as there are other factors. You mentioned the impact was negligible, which would fall under another factor. Fair use’s four factor test are purpose, nature, amount and impact on value. I wish fair use was simpler but it is not. I was merely explaining the distinguish between parody and satire under fair use. I was arguing, in my original post, that while it may be a parody of the original game that it’s greater intent is social commentary in the form of satire. Which you can feel free to disagree that it is satire? But for clarity, parody isn’t satire and satire isn’t parody and parody does not always equal fair use. There are three other factors to consider.

Re: 2) The discussion was about copyright and fair use not a discussion about the freedom of speech and the First Amendment. Free Speech is not pesky nor is it little but isn’t a carte blanche check to say and do whatever you like. Freedom of speech, like copyright, has certain limitations under the law.

Re: 3) As I mentioned, in my first post, I applauded Nintendo for their classy move and agree that this is a much better response (particularly from a PR perspective). My intent was to clarify and be precise in this discussion about copyright and fair use but thanks for at least understanding 1/3 of what I wrote.

Gyffes (profile) says:

And, as noted...

this is yet another instance where the PROTEST is the best advertising: I’d never heard of this game ’til now and if it seemed even mildly interesting, the company’s reaction definitely would push me towards buying it.

Oh, and here’s another for the PETA hater’s club. Anyone capable of making a game where we cook PETA members?

Anonymous Coward says:

Funny. I would have just talked to another gaming franchise and created “Call of Kitchen Duty”. The first version would be a hunting game where you had to dress and cook your kill. In the first sequel, I’d arm the animals and offer a mode where you play animals. And, in the third installment, I’d add cannibalism.

McCrea says:

Death to all; Food for all

I’m going to be weird now.

PETA doesn’t like animal slaughter, at odds with the majority who feel killing for food is the best justification.

Well, I am an unheard minority that doesn’t think killing plants is any more noble. Life is life, or life is nothing — pick a side.

PETA was a bit over the line in this case, so I applaud the company who isn’t allowing them to get extra exposure.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t understand the divisiveness this issue causes in comparison with what other issues face us today. We should stop making comments to hurt the other side in these arguments and start making suggestions instead. Eat less meat and buy free range; That is good for you! Stop demonizing meat eaters: it is only natural that humans eat meat in moderation. It is really sick we are so divided.

whatever says:

umm.. miso soup is not vegetarian; it’s made with fish stock.

However, in response to “Stop demonizing meat eaters”, I’d like to add that I wish people would stop sterotyping vegetarians.

What is it about people who, when they hear “vegetarian” automatically think “PETA nut job”? I’m a vegetarian, of sorts; I don’t eat red meat (well, maybe once or twice a year) or fish (maybe tuna out of a can sometimes). And it’s just because I don’t like it very much. But when I go to the States, and say “vegetarian” when invited out to dinner, people roll their eyes and make faces at each other.

I fervently hope that #16 is right, and that PETA really is considered fringe, because it doesn’t seem so in my experience. People generally see no grey or in-between area .. it’s just black or white: vegetarian = whacko.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: whatever

I did not say ‘vegetarian’ nor stereotype vegetarians. I only meant to bring some peaceful conversation to this. I did not wish to offend you.
I agree with you that eating less meat (and humane treatment of livestock) is good move. I tried to say that sometimes PETA offers more division than solutions: of which must involve parties of differing opinions. One of which is we must vote out politicians that cater to large scale meat producers and enact strict laws against animal cruelty. Organization on such level must take corporation on both sides, vegetarian and omnivores, and I don’t think PETA has that sort of diplomacy.
PETA must ask themselves if ‘Mama’ divides us purposely. Does it serve any other purpose?

Evan (profile) says:

PETA? More like...

PUETA (People for the UnEthical Treatment of Animals). Last I checked, PETA euthanizes more cats and dogs than the ASPCA and ARL combined, yearly. They also keep the animals in much worse conditions than either the ASPCA or ARL before they euthanize them.

Also – a lot of people have been saying, “Good for Nintendo for not suing!” I just have to say, RTFA. The company behind the game is Majesco, and they are the ones who issued the statement. The game is third party software, made for the Nintendo Wii.

Pertaining to the legality of use – I would say that, regardless of the parody’s content, the name alone is most definitely enough for trademark infringement. Cooking Mama is a registered trademark of Majesco, and it would seem like a no-brainer to me to NOT sue. Good for Majesco for having the junk to hold back and laugh at PETA, but I think PETA would back down right away if Majesco even threatened to sue.

another mike says:

devout omnivore

PETA- People for the Eating of Tasty Animals
Vegetarian- Red Indian slang for the village idiot who can’t hunt, fish, or cook.

I wish Cabela’s hunting video games had bonus rounds for skinning and gutting your kill and picking your cuts of meat. Bonus points awarded for most efficient and complete use of the kill.

If you can’t use 75% of the animal by weight, you’ve got no business killing it. Leave it for those of us who know what we’re doing.

(and Red Indian wasn’t meant as a slur, just differentiating North American natives from the Indian subcontinent.)
(I hate Columbus Day. He never made it to the mainland. And how could he have discovered North America if there were already people here?)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: devout omnivore

I have trouble eating bowls and genitals (but my dogs love them)… But I do eat stomach and intestine (They make good sausage casing) I eat lung. I don’t eat brain (But, once again, my dogs do) I like liver. The tongue is another peice of dog-feed but kidneys are alright. The bones are fun to carve, and I sell the hide to a leather worker I know. There’s typicaly not much left when I’m done. So. Question.

How wasteful is using some of the kill to feed my dogs?

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