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Guns in games - copywright issues


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#1 Piter3   Members   -  Reputation: 201

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 06:23 AM

Could I implement real guns in game?

 

Simply exact design and other stuff like handling a gun and firing like that real world gun with exact name?

 

Or I can't do so?

 

In another way - Could I take design, modify it and give it another name? Something like parody of that real world gun but it would be still recognizable in some way.



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#2 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 17924

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 06:35 AM

Nitpick correction: it's copyright not copywright.  I'll move you to our "business and law" forum for this question. smile.png

 

The names of specific weapons are often covered by trademark, and the specific designs may also be legally protected.  Unless you have explicit written permission you would be best not to use them as you could potentially land yourself in legal trouble.

 

 

It's pretty common for developers to use un-protected variations on protected items in order to avoid legal trouble.  The more similar your fictional variation is to the real thing the more likely it is to still land you in some trouble, so you'll have to decide how much risk you're willing to take.

 

 

I am not a lawyer, and the above is not proper legal advice. smile.png



#3 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 29298

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 06:51 AM

It's a bit of a grey area.

  • If a character in a book uses a real-world product, that's just the author trying to make his world seem real, and to relate to the reader.
  • If a person on TV uses a product, the TV station will usually blur out the branding, so that they're not accused of trying to create a false association.
  • If a person in a film uses a real product, you can be sure that a lot of money changed hands in an advertising deal biggrin.png

These are all basically the same situation, but the precedents set in each medium are different...

 

In shooter games, many companies in the past have been threatened with IP infringement lawsuits for including real guns, tanks, helicopters (names and forms that are trademarked and under copyright), which has caused many games to use fake names for their guns.

However, recently EA notoriously decided to stop bowing to these threats, and they have started using real names and looks in their shooter games again (without paying the licensing fees). This is a dangerous game -- the product owners may sue them at any time. They might win the lawsuit, because they're just "depicting real products in real settings", or they might lose, and be forced to pay licensing fees to acquire the rights to use this IP...

 

If I was making an indie shooter game set in the real world, I'd probably just shoulder that risk and use real products for the sake of authenticity... and because I think the lawsuits are BS... but it is a risk.



#4 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2781

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 06:54 AM

Whilst not directly pertaining to guns persay - a similar thread regarding cars was recently covered in this forum including in it a link with regard to EA refusing to pay for licences with regard usage of guns.



#5 Piter3   Members   -  Reputation: 201

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 07:06 AM

I have a question in similiar nature but in something other.

 

Can I title game with title of the song - song's name isn't a name of something it's made of normal days. And in the game nothing related to song

 

well, im not EA and it would ruin me eventually. But thanks, I'll be carefull and probably create own guns only related to real guns design


Edited by Piter3, 01 September 2013 - 07:10 AM.


#6 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9435

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 07:36 AM


Could I implement real guns in game?

I have a question in similiar nature but in something other.

Can I title game with title of the song

 

Piter, you should read the FAQ on copyright and trademark. 

http://sloperama.com/advice/faq61.htm

The look of a gun is copyrighted.  Its name is trademarked.

The composition of a song is copyrighted. Its name is in the realm of trademark.

You want to stay away from using other people's copyrights and trademarks.  If you're going into business (releasing a game is going into business), you should consult a lawyer at least once.


-- 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.

#7 Piter3   Members   -  Reputation: 201

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 08:19 AM

But well, in GTA the cars are their own creation, their design is only slightly made on real cars (I saw some posts like "GTA cars in real life" on some websites) so it should be okay to make own guns making them only a bit similiar to a real ones and with different name, shouldn't it?

 

And about a song - it isn't related to some popular song title like creating game and naming it "hit me baby one more time". I just made a title and googled it - and I've found a song with exact title. So nothing related to lyrics and performers. Should it be okay?

 

And another example that it worked - there's a game Heaven and Hell realesed in 2003 and there's a song Heaven and Hell by C.C Catch made in '80s. There's also Black Sabbath album with such a name and one band uses that name. So should it be okay?


Edited by Piter3, 01 September 2013 - 08:39 AM.


#8 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9435

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 09:39 AM

Song titles are a unique case. There are songs with the same title, but are different songs.  For the most part, nobody would be confused if a game and a song had the same title (nobody would think the game was made by the composer of the song, or vice versa).  But if you made a game and titled it the same as a hit song by One Dimension (for example) during the time that the song is causing a splash in the pop culture world, it's possible that One Dimension's attorneys could initiate some kind of action against you.  Possible, I say.  I don't say it's likely.  A lawyer could give you better advice. 


-- 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.

#9 Piter3   Members   -  Reputation: 201

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 10:40 AM

The song I'm thinking to use isn't popular and is a bit old (90s)

So I probably will that title.

 

And what's One Dimension by the way?



#10 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9435

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 11:05 AM

And what's One Dimension by the way?

 
It's an imaginary boy band, a play on the name One Direction (didn't want to use their trademarked name in my example).


jk

Edited by Tom Sloper, 01 September 2013 - 12:21 PM.
oops

-- 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.

#11 wintertime   Members   -  Reputation: 1640

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 02:10 PM

Some days ago I clicked on a link to eurogamer.net with an article about how weapons get licensed(sadly I didnt bookmark the link).

There seems to be a company made by some gun manufacturers just for licensing to games developers which have to pay although they practically do free advertising and even are nearly forced to buy a real gun as a base for their artists to make them look identically and have to get the game approved.

Then there was an example of a game where they nearly copied the look, redacted the names and just used model numbers and then had their lawyers approve every tiny bit to be halfway safe.

The easiest example in the article was about some just making up some fantasy raygun theirself so they didnt have to be in fear of legal trouble.



#12 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 20111

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 03:03 PM

When RockStar or Electronic Arts decide to do something, remember that they have lawyers. In fact, they have entire LEGAL DEPARTMENTS, who are employed to research that sort of thing. Those legal departments decided that they in the event they were sued, the cost of the lawsuits would be more reasonable than the licensing.

You, however, do not have a legal department. You probably don't even have a single lawyer. You probably cannot afford even the threat of a lawsuit or a C&D order.


If you are a major company and you have a legal department you can follow their advice. If you don't have that kind of money, the best advice is to stay far away from anyone else's intellectual property.
Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#13 cardinal   Members   -  Reputation: 823

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 04:42 PM

Let's also not forget that even though EA did decide to not license vehicle names for Battlefield as a 1st amendment claim, they WERE taken to court over this and they did end up settling the lawsuit.

 

http://www.joystiq.com/2013/08/16/ea-settles-battlefield-3-and-textron-helicopter-lawsuit/

 

Another thing to consider with EA, is that they were likely taking a calculated risk that they could get the lawsuit thrown out due to a 1st amendment claim and set a legal precedent for fair use of trademarks in games. They knew full well that the lawsuit would come at them, they didn't get the result they wanted, so they settled the claim with the IP owner.

 

It wasn't so much less costly to settle the lawsuit than to legally license the property in the first place (in fact it probably cost them more), but to them it was worth the risk trying since it would set legal precedent and give them the go ahead to use trademarks without license in the future (which would save tons of money over the years).



#14 3Ddreamer   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3133

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 08:38 PM

There is a lot of good advice here.

 

If you are only making games for practice and in private, then you should expect to be okay.  Companies know that it is expensive to fight, but some are very willing to do it, even if only to send a message and prevent open stealing of their intellectual property.

 

  I know of several companies that got sued or had cease and desist orders put on them.  On face value a cease and desist order may not seem like a big deal but the company gives a "shot across the bow" with this.  You have to stop and restart your game development which can destroy some game development entities in this case.  The legal fees for counsel are hundreds of dollars per hour, so fighting is not an option.

 

I say better safe than sorry.

 

Creating fictional weapons is just as fun as historical ones but with little risk if you secure your rights by publishing the rights with your product.

 

On the other hand, some companies seek the publicity and will gladly grant you written permission to use their product designs.  Asking for permission is low risk and only costs you time.  With negotiating skills, you may be able to offer value to the copyright holder by giving them credit and perhaps also free advertising somewhere.

 

Game development success apparently requires many skills in order to sustain an income with it.

 

 

Clinton


Edited by 3Ddreamer, 02 September 2013 - 08:41 PM.

Personal life and your private thoughts always effect your career. Research is the intellectual backbone of game development and the first order. Version Control is crucial for full management of applications and software.  The better the workflow pipeline, then the greater the potential output for a quality game.  Completing projects is the last but finest order.

 

by Clinton, 3Ddreamer


#15 cardinal   Members   -  Reputation: 823

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 07:00 AM

 

Game development success apparently requires many skills in order to sustain an income with it.

 

 

Yep, but you can't reasonably expect every person to possess all those skills. That's why AAA titles have such long credits.

 

For indie and hobby titles it is important to minimize risk. Don't use others' IP. Minimize your need for lawyers and a legal department!



#16 3Ddreamer   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3133

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 01:21 PM


3Ddreamer, on 02 Sept 2013 - 10:38 PM, said:





Game development success apparently requires many skills in order to sustain an income with it.





Yep, but you can't reasonably expect every person to possess all those skills. That's why AAA titles have such long credits.

 

There are many types of game development companies of all sizes and shapes which are successful at garnering an income, but they all require many skills for long term success-including the making of wise legal decisions. wink.png

 

 

Clinton


Personal life and your private thoughts always effect your career. Research is the intellectual backbone of game development and the first order. Version Control is crucial for full management of applications and software.  The better the workflow pipeline, then the greater the potential output for a quality game.  Completing projects is the last but finest order.

 

by Clinton, 3Ddreamer





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