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Licensed game building software


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#1 andrechan   Members   -  Reputation: 105

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 07:00 AM

Hi everyone. You may not remember me but I posted here a couple months back asking advice.
I've started a small indie studio with a really small staff. And we're building our first game and releasing it next year.

We really just pooled some money for rent and we're using existing software to build the game.

Question:
Will there be legal issues on on the tools used to build the game?
Not just the engine, but the other essentials, like photoshop and 3d max.

We're really just using whatever we have for the moment. Some of my guys probably pirate their stuff.
So, just asking if the company whose tools we're using will inspect the stuff we make.

thanks.

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#2 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3387

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 07:07 AM

Some of my guys probably pirate their stuff


I really don't recommend you say something like that.

#3 andrechan   Members   -  Reputation: 105

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 07:16 AM

Well in anycase, just asking.

We build our pieces separately. Im not saying all of us do. Im saying that in anycase that some of our parts may be built with pirated software, is our production gonna be put on hold?

#4 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10061

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 07:26 AM

It's unwise to permit your people to use software illegally. Make them stop or dismiss them (fire them).
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#5 bschmidt1962   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1872

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 09:59 AM

We're really just using whatever we have for the moment. Some of my guys probably pirate their stuff.


This was related to me by a producer at a major game developer at GDC, They had contracted a composer to create music for a game. A company that makes "Sample Libraries" (collections of recorded instruments used in music production) contacted them--or rather their lawyer did. Apparently they recognized that their sounds were used in the music. They looked up the composer and discovered that he didn't have license to use their samples--he was using a pirated version. (these libraries often cost hundreds to thousands of dollars). So the sample library company sued the game publisher for making and distributing unauthorized copies of their sound recordings. And the publisher had to settle (i.e. pay them $$).
Btw, that's one composer I imagine wasn't hired again...

Similarly, you may recall Microsoft was in the hot seat a few years back when it turned out that some of the 'wav' files that shipped with Windows were created by a cracked version of SoundForge. (http://www.techrepublic.com/forum/discussions/89-173539).

--Brian Schmidt
Executive Director, GameSoundCon

Brian Schmidt

Executive Director, GameSoundCon:

GameSoundCon 2014:October 7-8, Los Angeles, CA

 

Founder, EarGames

Founder, Brian Schmidt Studios, LLC

Music Composition & Sound Design

Audio Technology Consultant


#6 BronzeBeard   Members   -  Reputation: 160

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 11:41 AM

My advice is to make sure you hire everyone as an independent contractor. In your contract make sure you state that using illegal software is prohibited, and that they are responsible for any legal issues caused by any work they do for you.


This won't prevent you from being sued, but it will give you a strong case for when you sue your contractor for damages. (I learned that from watching "The People's Court" Posted Image )





They had contracted a composer to create music for a game. A company that makes "Sample Libraries" (collections of recorded instruments used in music production) contacted them--or rather their lawyer did. Apparently they recognized that their sounds were used in the music. They looked up the composer and discovered that he didn't have license to use their samples--he was using a pirated version. (these libraries often cost hundreds to thousands of dollars). So the sample library company sued the game publisher for making and distributing unauthorized copies of their sound recordings. And the publisher had to settle (i.e. pay them $$).


Ouch, companies like that are just as bad as patient trolls imo. Not saying they don't have a right to go after pirates, but charging outrageous amounts for things kinda breeds it.

#7 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3387

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 11:13 AM

Will there be legal issues on on the tools used to build the game?
Not just the engine, but the other essentials, like photoshop and 3d max.

We're really just using whatever we have for the moment. Some of my guys probably pirate their stuff.


We build our pieces separately. Im not saying all of us do. Im saying that in anycase that some of our parts may be built with pirated software, is our production gonna be put on hold?


My apologies I actually meant to return with a more lengthy post in reply to your question but managed to do my back in rendering me more useless than a newborn babe.

Firstly - with regards to the issue of piracy, by now you should have picked up on the fact that it is not good for you or your plans to launch a successful game. But to reinforce this point (as it is rather an important issue) I will give you an example of just how you may have already drawn the attention of "Adobe Systems Inc." and "Autodesk Media and Entertainment". By mentioning specific products i.e. photoshop and 3d Max and then suggesting that some of your team are probably operating with pirated copies (which may or may not be those two products) you effectively are providing enough causation for a lawyer to do the following:

1.) Write a letter to Gamedev seeking your personal contact details.

In the event of Gamedev refusing to do so (many countries do support privacy of information.

2.) Going to court to seek a court order to force Gamedev to release said details using your post as sufficient evidence in support of their request.

3.) Once your identity has been established it is not that difficult to then proceed with more aggressive legal techniques (though they may write a letter first or alternatively they may await an actual game release in order to maximise possible benefits including publicity).

4.) Allow me to say this very clearly - Piracy (and yes everyone does it yada yada) is a crime. You open yourself to both civil and criminal actions being taken against you. It doesn't matter if you are not the actual pirate; if you are aware of it then you also become culpable. It is not about what is fair or just, it is about the law and the law is not a friend to piracy.
  • Any art that is original i.e. wholly created from scratch is legal in that it is covered through copyright laws. Please note that it is advisable to establish your copyright.
  • Any art that is derived from another source will depend on several factors: is the copyright public domain, if the copyright is still retained then obtaining the permissions for use and distribution etc from the rights holder (in writing would be very sensible). There are further aspects to this area covering issues relating to alteration of the original source material etc. but you should be able to track down appropriate "local" information.
  • Utilisation of a proprietary game engine in your game will most probably require a license.
A simple (though not perfect) way to resolve/determine if you have legal issue with any of the tools you use is to do the following:
  • Any program that is pirated is a problem for you. Get legal versions or alternative programs that are legal.
  • Make a list of all the programs you are using and simply check each one out via the web.
  • Always understand that if you are breaching a license, you need to stop and change what you are doing or find an alternative program that you won't breach.
  • Make sure all of your team are on the same page when it comes to being "legal". All it takes is one person to frig it all up.
The truth be told there is a lot of different advice that can be given, it really comes down to this: It doesn't matter if a company will or will not track you down and legally attack you for doing the wrong thing. What matters is this: Why would you make yourselves vulnerable to being attacked?

#8 SimonForsman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6167

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 12:03 PM

Ouch, companies like that are just as bad as patient trolls imo. Not saying they don't have a right to go after pirates, but charging outrageous amounts for things kinda breeds it.


Professional software is expensive due to the small market for it (it still costs insane amounts to develop), There are always cheaper alternatives out there that one can use.

If the price for one piece of software is "outrageous" then it should be fairly easy to make an equivalent product and take over the market by selling it for alot less.

When it comes to things like sample libraries the prices are high because the customer isn't buying a copy of the samples, he is buying the right to sell derivate works. (Licensing a music track for use in a commercial game is far more expensive than buying a mp3 on iTunes aswell) (also, a few hundred or thousand dollars for a sample library isn't expensive, they cost alot to record and and the target market is fairly small)
I don't suffer from insanity, I'm enjoying every minute of it.
The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!

#9 BronzeBeard   Members   -  Reputation: 160

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 09:44 PM

This will be my last reply to this topic to prevent derailing it anymore, but I'd like to make one quick point.


Professional software is expensive due to the small market for it (it still costs insane amounts to develop), There are always cheaper alternatives out there that one can use.

If the price for one piece of software is "outrageous" then it should be fairly easy to make an equivalent product and take over the market by selling it for alot less.

When it comes to things like sample libraries the prices are high because the customer isn't buying a copy of the samples, he is buying the right to sell derivate works. (Licensing a music track for use in a commercial game is far more expensive than buying a mp3 on iTunes aswell) (also, a few hundred or thousand dollars for a sample library isn't expensive, they cost alot to record and and the target market is fairly small)



I have no statistics to prove it but tiered pricing is probably a much more effective means of 1) Reducing piracy 2) Generating Revenue 3) Creating vendor lock than current models.

Sure there are cheaper alternatives, but you can't tell me that blender is a better program than 3dsm. (If it was, blender would of never failed as a commercial product in the first place) Because max/maya are so common in the work place, it's hard to find modeling jobs that don't require one of those two programs (both combined had about a 70-80% marketshare a few years ago).

A typical person can not afford max/maya. Back in the early 00's a student copy of max would run you $1500. Piracy rates of max were around 60% ... Sure it has gotten better, it's about $150 a year now, but If it wasn't for most kids learning max via pirated copies would Autodesk enjoy its near monopoly of high quality modeling packages that they do now?

Anyhoo lets slip into the OP's shoes... Here is his dilemma, his people are trained in X software, X software is unfordable to any but well financed companies/individuals. The alternative is much lower quality which will effect the finish product (as well slow down production). His product no matter what software he uses could not justify cost of software X. So he pirates it. It results in a theoretical lost sale if he could afford it. And that's a damn shame imo. OP is vendor locked to something he can't afford. The vendor loses money because their product is not suitable for him. Everyone loses for no reason.

In my humble opinion, Autodesk should of never gotten rid of gmax, instead they should of indie licensed it, thus allowing commercial use for X amount of revenue just like so many others do. This creates brand loyalty and vendor lock without making criminals out of people. Rather than losing a sale: autodesk would of made ~some~ money and the OP would have the same tools minus features he did not need with a revenue cap. I believe there are a number of programs would benefit from dumbed down versions or subscriptions services rather than large flat drive people to piracy pricing model that we have now.

All in all I understand niche markets drive up prices, but I also understand they need to hook and retain users as well. A double edge sword that cuts both ways.




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