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safe to use copyrighted sprites for my game project?


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#1 gamer4127   Members   -  Reputation: 101

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 08:49 PM

Hi, I searched for this topic in these forums but I don't know if they apply to my case, so I have started a new thread. For anyone who have some expertise in this area can you please answer my questions.

I am making a multiplayer game where characters from the classic rpgs such as zelda and chronotrigger battle it out in a 1 on 1 death match where the first player to take the other characters health bar to zero wins . I intend on using sprites from these classic rpgs that I have downloaded from the internet. These sprites are exactly as they appear in the original Zelda, Chronotrigger, etc. Also, I intend on keeping the animations of the characters exactly as they are in the original games. I will state in the game somewhere or in a document that these sprites do not belong to me.

Is using these sprites safe to do? Will I get into trouble with the big companies such as Nintendo and SquareEnix. I won't be making a profit from this game at all. But I do intend to create a website for it where people can download it, and I will also put it youtube (what if i dont distribute it, and only put a video of it on youtube. Is it ok then?). Basically I am just making this game for experience and to have something on my computer programming resume.

Edited by gamer4127, 18 September 2012 - 08:54 PM.


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#2 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 22697

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 09:54 PM

No.

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#3 rscomposer   Members   -  Reputation: 162

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 10:20 PM

Definitely not safe or legal.

Whether or not you're making any money off the game is irrelevant to whether or not you're violating somebody's copyright by using their material.

#4 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 31798

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 10:23 PM

To expand on the above, the owners of those characters/sprites can and may send you demands to stop using their IP along with a threat to sue you if you don't comply.

Whether or not you're making money is irrelevant (one of the top 10 myths about copyright).

[edit] Ninja'd by rscomposer!Posted Image

Edited by Hodgman, 18 September 2012 - 10:24 PM.


#5 gamer4127   Members   -  Reputation: 101

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 11:34 PM

Ok it seems the answer to my question is NO and thats the end of it, I shouldn't make this game Posted Image

But how do you guys explain some of these Metroid remakes made by fans that are distributed for free over the internet for people to download: http://metroidcoven.com/ and http://metroid2remake.blogspot.com/ (the metroidcoven project has been going on for over 2 years). Maybe it is ok until a cease and desist warning is given to them? And as long as they take the warning, nothing will happen? Well, if this is the case then I think its pretty safe for me to make my game and post it online for people to download. I just need to take any warnings given to me. Or am i all wrong here?

Edited by gamer4127, 18 September 2012 - 11:36 PM.


#6 Cornstalks   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6991

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 11:49 PM

You are wrong. I'm going to say this as clearly as I can (though it's hard to get clearer than the 3 previous posters): It's never okay.

Copyright infringement is copyright infringement, regardless of whether or not you get caught, or if the person asks you to stop or not, or if you're making a profit from it or not.

You can, of course, go ahead and do whatever you want, and cross your fingers you don't get a cease and desist or a lawsuit thrown at you. Those are the risks you take if you infringe on copyright. Whether or not those risks are worth it to you or not is up to you (and your lawyer). Some people decide to ignore these risks and make fan games anyway. It's still not safe or okay, though. They still have the very real risk of being shut down or sued. The fact that they still exist and haven't been shut down yet just means their ticking time bomb hasn't exploded---yet.

If you decide to take the risks (I'd consult a lawyer if you do) and infringe on the copyright, note that GameDev.net has a fairly strict policy about not condoning copyright infringement, so you probably won't be able to get much help or publicity here.

If you get permission to use their IP, then that's a completely different case, of course.
[ 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 ]

#7 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 31798

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 11:51 PM

Yes you can infringe copyright if you want to, you can also run red lights if you want to, and hope no-one reports you.
You've just got to be aware that you are infringing copyright and the owner does have the right to sue you for it.
Usually they won't sue you off the bat -- they'll ask you nicely to stop, and if you don't then they'll sue you.

If you're lucky, they won't even do that, they might just ignore you, or not even know about you, but they can threaten you at any time.

I obviously don't encourage this -- but if you're game you can always make such an infringing game anonymously and distribute it using torrents so that you can't be stopped... but be aware that you are violating copyright.

It is very sad to see fan games get shut down -- For example a Kings Quest fangame worked for years after getting official permission to make it, but then was shut down when the parent company changed hands... Eventually, with enough fan support, they re-gained permission to continue work, but it shows that playing in this legal grey area is dangerous.

#8 gamer4127   Members   -  Reputation: 101

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 12:08 AM

Yes you can infringe copyright if you want to, you can also run red lights if you want to, and hope no-one reports you.
You've just got to be aware that you are infringing copyright and the owner does have the right to sue you for it.
Usually they won't sue you off the bat -- they'll ask you nicely to stop, and if you don't then they'll sue you.

If you're lucky, they won't even do that, they might just ignore you, or not even know about you, but they can threaten you at any time.

I obviously don't encourage this -- but if you're game you can always make such an infringing game anonymously and distribute it using torrents so that you can't be stopped... but be aware that you are violating copyright.

It is very sad to see fan games get shut down -- For example a Kings Quest fangame worked for years after getting official permission to make it, but then was shut down when the parent company changed hands... Eventually, with enough fan support, they re-gained permission to continue work, but it shows that playing in this legal grey area is dangerous.


I'm ok with getting a cease and desist warning, but what I'm wondering is are we garunteed to get that warning before they sue us? Has there ever been a case where someone who is making a game for the same purposes as I am was never even given that warning but was sued right away?

#9 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 19330

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 12:40 AM

I'm ok with getting a cease and desist warning, but what I'm wondering is are we garunteed to get that warning before they sue us?

No, you are not guaranteed to get a warning before being taken to court. I'm afraid I don't have any specific examples of it happening, but it's absolutely possible that you could be sued without first receiving a cease and desist. In the overwhelming majority of cases you would be warned first, but it is not guaranteed.

#10 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 31798

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 12:48 AM

Pessimist mode:
You can be sued for anything at any time.
You might decide that this is too much of a risk, so instead of using Zelda's Link, you'll make your own character in pink overalls, and then one day out of the blue, you get a court summons in the mail from John Smith claiming that he invented PinkOverallMan back in 1982 and he's launched a lawsuit against you!
All you can do is reduce your risk.

Cynicism mode:
It's expensive to sue people. It's cheaper to threaten to sue them first and see if that works.




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