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[Sorted out] My helpful post was deleted/The issue of fan fiction games


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#1 d k h   Members   -  Reputation: 435

Posted 20 December 2011 - 09:48 AM

I really hope this is the proper area to put this kind of thread in. If you follow my post history you'll see that, up to this point, I've always been a helpful and happy forum member.

This hasn't changed, it's not a huge deal overall but I still want to ask.


In this thread, I let the OP know that I had previously worked on a very similar project, a simplified Street Fighter II clone. It's an entirely free game, the OP or anybody else could easily check it out and ask me how I did specific things and so on. I'm not advertising, you don't need to register, nothing. The link I posted lead to this page: http://www.barnettco...hterspecial.htm

Now, to me, that kind of offer is pretty helpful, right?

I also let him know that his mentioned implementation was a good way to go as it was the same way I did it when I wrote the game I linked to.

A moderator (can't remember who it was, the ID was an actual name, I believe Tim was the first name) asked me about the licensing behind using the name and look of the Indiana Jones character in that project. I told him that it is a fan game and this probably isn't the right place to discuss these issues. It's not about one of the fighter characters you can choose, it's about implementing a fighting game a la Street Fighter.

I wouldn't mind if those 2 posts of unhelpful discussion would have gotten erased, but the link to my previous project with the offer to help out the OP, why did that go as well?

If the problem is really that the game uses the Indiana Jones name and look (nothing behind character design, all the art and so on is 100% made by the team), then why did the older thread in the announcements section go by without a problem? And, really, is it forbidden on gamedev.net to post fan games? I wasn't aware of that and I find that very hard to believe. This is my thread I created before: http://www.gamedev.n..._1#entry3629382

This, for reference is another Indiana Jones fan game thread which also was not closed or moderated: http://www.gamedev.n..._1#entry4280581

I'm a little confused here, any idea what's wrong?

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#2 Michael Tanczos   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 5209

Posted 20 December 2011 - 01:38 PM

If the problem is really that the game uses the Indiana Jones name and look (nothing behind character design, all the art and so on is 100% made by the team), then why did the older thread in the announcements section go by without a problem? And, really, is it forbidden on gamedev.net to post fan games? I wasn't aware of that and I find that very hard to believe. This is my thread I created before: http://www.gamedev.n..._1#entry3629382

This, for reference is another Indiana Jones fan game thread which also was not closed or moderated: http://www.gamedev.n..._1#entry4280581

I'm a little confused here, any idea what's wrong?


Different moderators.. Fan games tend to use characters and likenesses without permission because they feel it's just an expression of their interest in the character.. but that doesn't mean "fan game" = fair use unfortunately. Now we don't have to enforce these rules ourselves, it's the company's responsibility.. but since we do have an awareness of copyright law we tend to frown upon using unlicensed / copyrighted material.

#3 d k h   Members   -  Reputation: 435

Posted 20 December 2011 - 01:51 PM

That makes perfect sense, it's just absolutely unfair to the people that frequent the forum when there's tons of material posted every day that contains 'fan-game' material, so to speak. I've seen countless games actually rip Doom 3 or Half-Life models. Or Quake levels. I've seen Mario clones with ripped sprites. And then there's games like the one I'm working on that just uses a character design, a trademarked name and a setting but uses it's own graphics, sound, music and so on.

I personally believe you should consider having one set rule for this kind of stuff on Gamedev.net, making that rule public to the people that use the forum and then you can apply it where necessary. That would eliminate the 'unfair' element which is the reason I made this post.

Furthermore, I personally believe it is quite ridiculous to delete a post about a game just because it uses the name Indiana Jones, especially since it's not an announcement of the game, but rather a hint to a help-seeking OP to go give that game a try and come back with more specific questions. There's nothing you guys have to be afraid of, it's not like giving out links to warez sites or similar. But that is my personal opinion, I can live by different rules if they actually come into existence (which, again, I *personally* hope they don't, in my opinion fan fiction is not a crime).

Thanks for taking the time to come back to me on the issue. I feel better having talked about it. Getting your posts deleted when you're not breaking rules and not see yourself as having done anything but being helpful is quite an irritating feeling.

#4 Michael Tanczos   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 5209

Posted 21 December 2011 - 07:07 AM

Just think about how these guys felt, and then you'll know why we do it - it's mostly to protect our own members.

#5 d k h   Members   -  Reputation: 435

Posted 21 December 2011 - 08:40 AM

I'm well aware of the risks that developers take when they decide to create fan fiction. In our case it's reviving those legendary Indiana Jones point'n'click games from the 80s. I don't require protection from a game development forum on that matter. Please don't misunderstand my choice of words here as angry, I just want to clearly state my point of view and why I think the current situation is very far from being optimal.

I accept the fact that there is no ruling on the subject but that apparently, instead, some moderators personally dislike the idea or feel the need to protect the members and so they moderate according to that. It's unfortunate (in my personal opinion) that this goes as far as deleting very helpful advice. Again, I urge the authority on Gamedev.net to decide on a general rule, make it public and then it's all clear for everybody, one way or the other.

Assuming there is no rule on the matter in the future I will not mention the game project I'm working on around these parts any more, of course!

#6 FLeBlanc   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3101

Posted 21 December 2011 - 09:17 AM

You don't need a whole list of concrete rules on everything, you know. That only leads to trouble. Just let gamedev mods use their best judgement, and if something goes wrong take it up with the mods in private rather than posting a complaint thread calling for yet more laws to be passed.

#7 d k h   Members   -  Reputation: 435

Posted 21 December 2011 - 09:32 AM

You don't need a whole list of concrete rules on everything, you know. That only leads to trouble.


I believe the opposite, not having necessary (and concrete) rules leads to trouble.

Just let gamedev mods use their best judgement, and if something goes wrong take it up with the mods in private rather than posting a complaint thread calling for yet more laws to be passed.


I created this thread (which isn't a complaint thread, it's me asking for the reasons behind what happened) because I have no idea and no way to find out which moderator deleted my posts, am I supposed to send them all PMs? Rather unlikely.

I'm also not actually interested in a new, as you call it, 'law' (ie. rule) on the matter, in fact I've made it very clear that I personally would like the opposite. I'd love for Gamedev.net not to shut itself close to fan games that, while running the risk of getting shut down, pose zero threat of any kind to this place. I'd love it if we did NOT have a new rule that people can't mention fan fiction games. That's the way it is right now, actually, except that some moderators don't like it personally and act on that notion.

I don't think this is leading anywhere, I don't exactly believe this thread will actually end up changing anything so I am, as I have said, simply going to not post or mention my project anymore. No big deal!

#8 Cornstalks   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6990

Posted 21 December 2011 - 12:02 PM

Now, to me, that kind of offer is pretty helpful, right?


To be honest, for me, No, I don't think it's very helpful. His question is more about how Street Fighter II handles state, and what you mentioned there is more along the lines of "Check out my game, it's a similar clone." Why would playing another clone of the game provide some kind of answer to his question? Obviously he's familiar with the Street Fighter II game, and I'm guessing he's played it. If he wants to play a game to get some kind of reference, Street Fighter II would be the best one, not some (sorry, but illegal) clone. Digging through the Dev Diary might give him a couple ideas, but it doesn't sound like you pointed him to it at all.

I'm opposed to GameDev openly supporting/allowing development of illegal fan games. For one, I have no motivation to help the individuals should they have any questions because I'm pretty confident they'll get shut down. And for another, it doesn't foster any creativity.

Now if you had instead said "I worked on a similar clone, and this is how I did X, Y, and Z" then maybe that might actually be pretty helpful.
[ I was ninja'd 71 times before I stopped counting a long time ago ] [ f.k.a. MikeTacular ] [ My Blog ] [ SWFer: Gaplessly looped MP3s in your Flash games ]

#9 Josh Petrie   Moderators   -  Reputation: 3116

Posted 21 December 2011 - 12:15 PM

I was not the moderator who removed your post, but had I seen it before it was removed I would have done so on the grounds that you were using somebody else's IP without permission and using GDNet as a vehicle to distribute or promote that infringing material. I could have just edited the offending bits of your post out, leaving your original comment, but I generally prefer not to do that kind of surgical editing to users' posts because it runs the risk of putting words in their mouths. The surrounding discussion would have also lacked context. I suspect that was why your post (and the subsequent ones) were ultimately just removed. You would probably be perfectly OK reposting the content of your message without the IP infringement or links to the same.

That is my theory about your post in the specific. As to the general topic, while it is not GDNet's business to enforce the intellectual property rights of others (nor is it even within the company's authority), it is not ethical for a site purporting to be about the furthering of the game development craft to support or even allow blatant violation of intellectual property rights. This should be common sense, and as such we shouldn't need a rule for it. But unfortunately the myth persists throughout the independent or hobby game development community (and even to an extent within the professional one) that not-for-profit appropriation of intellectual property is "okay," that just because some other person or entity committed an IP violation that makes it acceptable.

It's not. It's just like piracy.


I'd love for Gamedev.net not to shut itself close to fan games that, while running the risk of getting shut down, pose zero threat of any kind to this place


They do pose a threat; at the very least they are extremely harmful to the perception of the site by people who do have very strong feelings about the flaws of intellectual property law and the seriously broken perception (and thus, violations) of those laws by the developer community at large (such as myself and several fellow professional developers I know). There probably is no solid legal danger for GDNet as far as allowing users to violate IP laws is concerned, assuming the TOS and other legal documents, et cetera, are appropriately constructed (not that that would stop anybody from suing the company should they want to, but that's another issue). But it does represent a concern for the company's business model.

As such you should treat posts concerning "fan games" or other such violations of intellectual property rights to be live grenades, likely to explode at any time. We are only human and will obviously miss some posts and some entire threads dealing that should be closed or whatnot, but that doesn't mean that they are acceptable whereas others that were caught and moderated were. The former were just overlooked by mistake.

Josh Petrie | Core Tools Engineer, 343i | Microsoft C++ MVP


#10 d k h   Members   -  Reputation: 435

Posted 21 December 2011 - 12:32 PM

I accept your view on these matters and will, according to this, not post about mine or anybody else's fan game anymore. I personally disagree but that is of no importance in the matter. Considering just how many posts, announcements and Image of the Days are posted, often times not just stealing a name or look of a copyrighted character but even actual art assets, I would really like to see a short addition to the rules that makes this clear for future users.

#11 monalaw   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1065

Posted 21 December 2011 - 05:17 PM

It's been a long time since I posted-- hi everyone!

I just wanted to point out that it's the user's responsibility to refrain from engaging in legally questionable conduct on this site-- and there is, generally speaking, little to no question that fan games and clone games violate US copyright and trademark law. These are strict liability crimes that don't require ill will. Even if you're creating it as a fan, you're still on the hook. Ignorance of the law is also never a defense to a crime (any crime, by the way, not just copyright and trademark).

When a moderator deletes a post that clearly demonstrates or promotes this kind of conduct, the moderators are protecting you, the poster. In other words it's for your own good and the good of those who may, in their ignorance, follow your example.

That being said, it's been a while since the ToS has been revised so that's something we'll need to take into consideration in the future. However, I thought that the forum guidelines (from what I remember, as I said, it's been a while) include provisions for this kind of thing? If not I'll see about getting that taken care of.
~Mona Ibrahim, Esq.
J.D., LL.M.
Trademark & Entertainment Attorney


MAI Entertainment Law

#12 d k h   Members   -  Reputation: 435

Posted 22 December 2011 - 09:20 AM

The law side of things is clear to me, I'm considered a criminal under US American law. Of course, we shouldn't omit the fact that not a single soul has ever (to the very best of my knowledge) suffered any consequences whatsoever beyond getting a nice letter that tells you to please stop developing the fan game. So, to me, that doesn't exactly make me very nervous to be honest. If anybody was actually punished ever in any way, share or form, please let me know!

If you're going by the minuscule amount of 'trouble' that a cease and desist letter causes and you feel the need to protect me against that, feel free to do so. As I have said already, I'm absolutely okay with following rules I personally dislike or don't understand.

I guess you might also actually be enforced to erase criminal content anyways or doesn't Gamedev.net fall under American law in that way?

Personally, I really wish we we're still kids working on cool stuff in garages during long nights and it wasn't all big business and lawyer talk, but I realize the naivety of that attitude.

Out of interest, what's the deal with all the big titles that shamelessly rip off intellectual copyright? I'm thinking of the game Rift for example, which is a carbon copy of World of Warcraft down to the names and prices of the perks and tech trees. What's with Blizzard's StarCraft universe where the races and almost all units are taken directly from Warhammer 40k? And, ironically, the character Indiana Jones was actually stolen from old Italian Western movies from the 30s. I assume they used enough loopholes to make sure they couldn't get sued? Especially since I'm always talking about absolutely free fan games and these are all huge commercial titles!

#13 Michael Tanczos   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 5209

Posted 22 December 2011 - 03:22 PM

The law side of things is clear to me, I'm considered a criminal under US American law. Of course, we shouldn't omit the fact that not a single soul has ever (to the very best of my knowledge) suffered any consequences whatsoever beyond getting a nice letter that tells you to please stop developing the fan game. So, to me, that doesn't exactly make me very nervous to be honest. If anybody was actually punished ever in any way, share or form, please let me know!

If you're going by the minuscule amount of 'trouble' that a cease and desist letter causes and you feel the need to protect me against that, feel free to do so. As I have said already, I'm absolutely okay with following rules I personally dislike or don't understand.

I guess you might also actually be enforced to erase criminal content anyways or doesn't Gamedev.net fall under American law in that way?

Personally, I really wish we we're still kids working on cool stuff in garages during long nights and it wasn't all big business and lawyer talk, but I realize the naivety of that attitude.

Out of interest, what's the deal with all the big titles that shamelessly rip off intellectual copyright? I'm thinking of the game Rift for example, which is a carbon copy of World of Warcraft down to the names and prices of the perks and tech trees. What's with Blizzard's StarCraft universe where the races and almost all units are taken directly from Warhammer 40k? And, ironically, the character Indiana Jones was actually stolen from old Italian Western movies from the 30s. I assume they used enough loopholes to make sure they couldn't get sued? Especially since I'm always talking about absolutely free fan games and these are all huge commercial titles!


There is a difference between creating a character with similar attributes and directly taking artwork or using the same exact names for characters. Besides, Mona is an attorney - she stated things pretty clearly. I'd probably take up a new thread in the lounge if you want to discuss the last paragraph more..

For now I'm going to close this because we've pretty much stated our explanation of how things were handled pretty clearly.




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