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Airplane licensing costs

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#1 afrobear   Members   -  Reputation: 102


Posted 15 August 2014 - 11:41 AM

Hi everyone,


I am currently developing a few prototypes to decide on a game concept to develop further. One of them is an arcade jet combat game, which is only a viable concept if I could include real world planes. However, I have no idea what order of magnitude licensing costs for something like hat would be. I had guessed they would be beyond my budget, but then I found out about Vector Thrust, which is a game by a one-man studio that includes pretty much every aircraft imaginable. So either licensing costs are much lower than I thought, not required, or the creator of Vector Thrust is ignoring them.


I know there was a bit of a lawsuit back-and-forth between EA and Textron last year over the use of one of their helicopters in BF3 without permission (or licensing fees). EA were arguing that use of these things in an entertainment product is protected under the First Amendment. They eventually settled, however, so not much else is known.


Can anyone shed any light on this?


#2 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 31310


Posted 15 August 2014 - 02:20 PM

How much of a lawsuit can you afford? What will you do in the case of a legal demand?

In the world of intellectual property the safe guideline is that if you didn't create it and didn't license it then you shouldn't use it.

The license cost would depend on time, quantity, distribution, and usage of their IP. Most licenses specify a number of uses (e.g. a print run of one million), the duration (e.g. valid for four years from the signature date), the location (e.g. within the United States, within North America, or globally) and the terms of how it will be depicted, such as a minor item or as a major item or a depiction on the box cover and nearly all advertising materials. Obviously terms are different if it were the titular element of a major AAA game launched globally versus a small product with limited distribution inside a single country and only a few hundred sales. It would likely be a six figure sum for a major game, but whether the first digit is a 1, 5 or 9 depends on details like those above.

There may be many reasons why the other person's stuff has not been forced offline. Maybe he hasn't been discovered yet. Maybe the companies did discover it and figured it wasn't worth the expense right now since he has no assets, or isn't really competing at this time. In the second case, the company may change their mind in the future. It also doesn't mean you will be safe, the companies may decide for whatever reasons to send you a legal demand to negotiate a license or a C&D order.

It is a good idea to figure out your own tolerance for legal issues up front. It is also a good idea to talk with a business lawyer about your specific case with all the details so the lawyer can help you understand the legal risks and ways to reduce or minimize them.

Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I occasionally write about assorted stuff.

#3 afrobear   Members   -  Reputation: 102


Posted 16 August 2014 - 05:34 AM

This is all pretty much what I expected. Thanks a lot for the info.

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