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copyright? mechs?


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#1 menyo   Members   -  Reputation: 407

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 04:03 AM

Hi,
First i like to know if mechs like in mechwarrior are copyrighted? Can i make a robot where a human opperates it from inside at all? Or are just the names copyrighted?

To avoid asking these questions in the future i would like to know how to find out if something is copyrighted. There a list or something online?


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#2 rip-off   Moderators   -  Reputation: 8119

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 04:56 AM

IANAL, but AFAIK the concept of a robot operated by a human is not copyrighted, nor would it even be copywritable.

The name "Mechwarrior" is a trademark, so you cannot use it. I'm not sure about the word "Mech" itself. You would have to do a trademark search or consult a qualified lawyer in the area.

There is no global list of copyrighted works. Legally, copyright is the default, it is only if something has been explicitly licensed, released into the public domain or if the copyright has expired.

#3 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9554

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 09:52 AM

All the Mechwarrior mech designs are copyrighted and the mech names are trademarked, and FASA is a Microsoft property, so it's strongly protected. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FASA_Studio
Design your own original ridable war robots.
-- Tom Sloper
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#4 bschmidt1962   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1825

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 02:38 PM

To avoid asking these questions in the future i would like to know how to find out if something is copyrighted.


Sorry, there aren't any 'lists' of things that are copyrighted..
However, here's a pretty easy, pretty accurate test.

If you see it, hear it, or read it, then yes, it is copyrighted.

But to be clear, if you see a "robot operated with a human inside" then it is that particular robot that is copyrighted. So you can't copy that one, or make yours look extremely similar to it. But you can make your own.

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#5 Dan Lee Rogers   Members   -  Reputation: 123

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 09:32 AM

Menyo,

You may want to read my article on EA's copyright infringement claim against Zynga: http://dlr-law.com/3/post/2012/08/zyngas-key-defense.html

In the article I outline the basic idea of what can and can't be copyrighted.

While I am NOT giving you legal advice here, the basic idea of a robotic warrior, as in MechWarrior, as in the television series Falling Skies, as in BattleTech games, as in Sierra/Dynamix's Metaltech video game series, has been repeated in television, movies, and games to the point that a unique unit with similar attributes would probably not infringe the MechWarrior franchise under the scenes a faire doctrine.

That said, as you mention, you DO NOT have the right to copy the specific mechs within the Mechwarrior universe, nor copy their specific attributes, etc.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, this is NOT specific legal advice and the purpose of my response is editorial only, to communicate the basic ideas and concepts of copyright and copyright defenses. Make sure you clear your specific creations with a knowledgeable lawyer before you publish. There's lots of gotchas out there. For example, Treasure Island may be in the public domain, but Disney's Treasure Island film, including the specific deviations they've taken from the original book, are protected. :)

Good luck out there.

#6 bschmidt1962   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1825

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 10:47 AM

Excellent article. A must-read for anyone who asks about copyright and games.
thanks for posting!

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





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