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how do i keep someone from stealing my whole project, if they help work on it and it becomes fairly big?


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#1 scrap   Members   -  Reputation: 140

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 03:02 AM

i want to get a partner, artist or programmer or both to help with some game ideas...now its just a hobby right now, but if it turns out to be big, at least big enough to make some money or get recognized, how do i keep them from totally stealing my idea, with out at least giving me credit of the design?

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#2 Rld_   Members   -  Reputation: 1403

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 04:17 AM

I think it is always a bit of a gray area when it comes to that. How much of the idea is changed so it is not directly referable to your idea. I am no expert on this topic, but there are ways of protecting your IP. However I think that in for example, A mario clone that does exactly the same as mario, but has different character and such is perfectly fine in terms of law (to a certain degree, you can't just name is dudebro and change only the main character).

The best solution is probably find someone you know you can trust, that doesn't walk away with your idea. I don't think that you can fully stop someone from stealing your idea should it happen.

#3 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3331

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 08:04 AM

Edited: Incorrect advice given. Refer Frob and Technogoth's posts

#4 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 21068

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 07:36 PM

The standard legal tools to prevent people from taking idea are Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) and non-compete agreements. If you are entering the world of business they are some of the first documents your lawyer will help you with. If you are dealing with a partner you will also want to get a collaboration agreement.

The cost of a business lawyer is relatively cheap (in my area it is$150/hr or so for this type of work) which is tiny compared to the losses you would sustain if your stuff became the 'next big thing' and was stolen. Setting everything up to be legally protected will run a few hundred dollars, but serves as a very valuable insurance policy if you are serious about developing your products.
Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#5 TechnoGoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2762

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 06:11 AM

first off ignore stormynatures post. Copyright has no relevance in protecting ideas. Copyright law concerns the right to reproduce original creative works, If you copyright a game design document all the gives you is protection if someone were to reprint in for a example a book or website without your consent. The ideas themselves and any can legally create their own version as long as they don't reuses any of your creatives(text, images,audio)

What you are looking for is normally covered under a combination of an NDA and employment contract. If you are planning on doing any real work with these people and are worried that you have the next big idea then you'll want to enter into a legally binding contract with them. Most employment contract will contain a work for hire agreement that states that anything the employee does is owned by company and not the employee, which ensures anything produced while working on the project is owned by you.

The contract should clearly state what you are expecting from the other person and what they are getting in return.

Keeping files on the different projects being worked on is also import, as if issue goes to litigation you'll have to prove that a concept someone stole from you was something they were involved inn while they were under contract.

#6 monalaw   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1065

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 04:07 PM

An additional note-- once you have something fixed in a tangible form, whether it be a script or prototype, you will be running the risk of being joint authors/owners of the work. If that happens there's little you can do to prevent them from exploiting the work, since joint ownership in IP is tantamount to being tenants-in-common. In other words, you'll each own an undivided interest in the work. At that point either party can, with the exception of assignment or exclusive licensing of the entire work, do whatever they want with it. This includes selling off their interest in the work.

To avoid this you'll want to ensure that any agreement you enter into has an IP control provision. This could be a work for hire, assignment, or rights management provision that limits how the other party can exploit the work both prior to or after the release.

You'll need to be careful with non-compete provisions, as excessively broad non-competes are invalid in most jurisdictions. In fact non-competes in general are invalid in many states, so it's important that your contract is governed under a jurisdiction that recognizes this constraint.

Finally, it's important to specify in detail what constitutes confidential information. The most problematic aspect of upholding an NDA is the fact that the other party may be unaware of what is confidential versus what isn't, so you need to make it clear in the agreement itself that correspondences relating to ideas concerning the game's production, both oral and written, are confidential and the disclosure of those ideas will lead to economic harm.
~Mona Ibrahim, Esq.
J.D., LL.M.
Trademark & Entertainment Attorney


MAI Entertainment Law

#7 mdwh   Members   -  Reputation: 871

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 07:47 AM

How much of this is a hobby, and how much is it business - e.g., will you be paying someone to do this?

Consider it from their point of view too - who is going to help you with your "idea", if that means signing something that means you can sue them if you later decide any work they do in future has any similarity to your ideas?

I think it's also worth asking yourself if it's worth worrying about, if you're talking about mere "ideas", and not the tangible work (which is worth worrying about).
http://erebusrpg.sourceforge.net/ - Erebus, Open Source RPG for Windows/Linux/Android
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/mark.harman/conquests.html - Conquests, Open Source Civ-like Game for Windows/Linux




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