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Things Aren't Looking Good For Resident Evil In This Lawsuit

A recently filed lawsuit is almost scarier for Capcom than "Resident Evil Village" was for fans. Artist Judy A. Juracek has claimed that Capcom used her pictures in its games without ever contacting her about commercial use, and she's pointing the finger at some of Capcom's most celebrated titles, including "Resident Evil 4" and "Devil May Cry."


On June 4, 2021, Juracek filed a lawsuit against Capcom, as initially reported by Polygon. Juracek's suit spans over 100 pages in length and features dozens of comparisons between her work to design elements seen in various video games from Capcom's library. In fact, the main logo for "Resident Evil 4" was one of the pictures included. When compared, a picture of shattered glass in Juracek's book appears eerily similar to the scratch marks seen on the "RE4" logo.

The suit argued that the chances of just such a coincidence were basically slim to none: "It is hard to imagine that Juracek would take a photo of shattered glass in Italy and interior mansion door design and that Capcom artists would reproduce the exact same pattern of shattered glass in a logo and interior design without benefit of Juracek's photographs."


According to Polygon, Juracek pointed out that she has strict licensing policies, and that any entity wanting to use her work for any project must first contact her — something that Capcom allegedly never did.

Judy A. Juracek is a respected artist

The pictures named in the suit all came from Judy A. Juracek's 1996 book "Surfaces," which is one of a four-part series, as well as from a CD-ROM that accompanied "Surfaces." According to the website for the series, the books "are compact picture libraries of images ... for artists, architects, designers, illustrators, and picture editors." The site also explicitly states that the images "may" be used for educational purposes and that they "may not be used commercially without [Judy's] express permission."


In 2003, Judy Juracek won the USITT Golden Pen Award for one of the books in the "Surface" series, according to Live Design. In other words, Juracek isn't some random name within the design world.

Because of Capcom's major data breach in November 2020, which resulted in a vast number of Capcom assets being dumped onto the internet, Juracek was able to further her point that her pictures and the images in Capcom's games are related. One of the images in the Capcom leak featured a file name that was identical to a corresponding image seen on an officially licensed CD-ROM of Juracek's work.

In addition to providing a copy of Juracek's complete complaint, Polygon has posted multiple side-by-side images of pieces mentioned in the suit, including a distinct ram's head design seen both in "Surfaces" and in "Resident Evil HD." While it's too early to say what a jury will find, it should be noted that there are shocking similarities between some of the photographs and the architecture found within these games.


Capcom, Frankenstein's Army, and Judy A. Juracek

This isn't the first time Capcom has gotten into a lawsuit because of copyright issues. In May, the company was called out after allegedly ripping off monsters in "Resident Evil Village" from the movie "Frankenstein's Army." Filmmaker Richard Raaphorst noted multiple similarities between enemies featured in "Village" and the monstrosities showcased in his movie, and expressed his sadness over the whole thing.


In an interview with Eurogamer, Raaphorst described his shock at seeing what looked like a "one-to-one" recreation of one of his film's set pieces in "Resident Evil Village." He said, "It's really hard to actually think about something that communicates as a cool design. It's not just that ideas are floating around that you can grab. It's actually hard labour. Then they just grab it and put it somewhere in the game." He further described the alleged theft as "creative abuse" on Capcom's part.

Jaracek appears to be acutely aware of this controversy. Although it doesn't appear that Raaphorst has filed any sort of suit against Capcom — and has said that he doubts he'd be awarded anything, even if he did — his complaints have been noted in the lawsuit concerning Jaracek's work.


Juracek's lawsuit is calling for millions — $12 million, to be exact. Additionally, Juracek is asking for $2,500 to $25,000 for each picture used in Capcom's games, citing "false copyright management and removal of copyright management." Polygon reached out to Capcom to get an official statement; in response, the developer just acknowledged that it had been informed of the lawsuit and that it has "no further comment" at this time.