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GeniX

Copyrights

8 posts in this topic

Hey all... Im developing a game. The current idea is that it will be a revamp of an old classic with multiplayer and all sorts in it (like lots of more flashy graphics Coding is well under way. The problem is that I recently read of a court-case in which a company whos name I forget has bought rights to a lot of old classics and is taking legal action against anyone else releasing software which resembles them. I am worried by this. Until the court-case, I was under the understanding that the old classics (Pacman, Asteroids, etc etc) were almost free ground as I have seen at least a dozen Pacman clones in my time. It is not too late for me to change the nature of the game (new look on graphics, maybe change objectives and viola - new arcade game). However, if I dont need to, I would prefer not to change the game... How close would one have to mimick an old classic to fall prey to such legal predicaments? What if I added a whole lot of new features, and gameplay modes (ie: would it still be classed as the old classic it is taking off?) regards, GeniX
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It''s the Hasbro lawsuite you know of (there''s an article about it here on GameDev and a huge thread on this board).

An important question, is your game going to be published and sold (i.e. will you earn any money from it)? Because if you''re not, I wouldn''t consider it a risc. But if you are, you should be really careful with how much of the game concept you borrow/re-write. You would prolly have to re-do quite a lot before feeling perfectly safe about it.

Since this Hasbro suite and all fuzz about it is really new, I would say not many people know. As far as I know, the Hasbro suit is a long way from being sorted out yet, so I guess the best thing is just to wait and see.

============================
Daniel Netz, Sentinel Design
"I'm not stupid, I'm from Sweden" - Unknown
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Generally, ideas are free. You can't copyright an idea. Graphics are copyrighted, text is, sound effects are, music is, etc etc. But the idea is not. If you are doing your own graphics so it looks and feels different in certain ways, I expect you are fine. Add things such as multiplayer to a previously single-player game and you are offering functionality that the previous design did not and therefore it is a almost a totally different game.

Remember - most lawsuits by large companies in the US are done to scare off potential competitors who cannot afford the legal costs of fighting the case, even though the large company may know it is not legally in the right. Whereas the big company can afford to lose frivolous cases and tends to have no qualms about bringing a suit it is not 100% sure of. I have no idea how it works in New Zealand But here in the UK these cases are far less common. I expect you'll be fine.

Edited by - Kylotan on 4/6/00 10:36:13 AM
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wasn''t Giana Sisters (c64) withdrawn beacuse "it looked to much like Mario Brothers" ??? I´m pretty sure they did their own graphics....

-- There IS something rotten in the state of Denmark --
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"Generally, ideas are free" - sure, but what Hasbro filed a lawsuit about was that the games were too much alike their own copyrighted games. They had stolen the concept of the game. I don''t think anyone knows where to draw the line yet, not even lawyers. So, I''ll be careful with what I "borrow".


Granat: I''ve got Giana Sisters for C64 (btw, great game), so I don''t think it was withdrawn, well then maybe after I got it However I''m surprised if it wasn''t, since it was quite alike Super Mario Bros.

============================
Daniel Netz, Sentinel Design
"I'm not stupid, I'm from Sweden" - Unknown
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Granat - you don''t have to be directly using the original resource to have infringed copyright. If you read a book and copy text from it, you may have physically rewritten the text yourself but you didn''t originate it and therefore the original author''s copyright stands.

Besides, back in those days of 160x200 in 16 colours, or whatever, most platform games had to look pretty damn similar

Spiff - Hasbro can file whatever lawsuit they like, making whatever claims they want. But when it comes down to it, the law only protects certain things. Processes and ideas are not covered by copyrights, they are covered by patents, and unless someone wants to dig up a Space Invaders patent or something, I don''t think they can win the case. If the new game copied the "look and feel" of the original then they are on thin ice, but if they just copied the game concept (player running around maze, blocks falling into a pit) then there''s not much you can do to stop that as almost definitely, no law is being broken. They are almost definitely just doing it to force small developers to settle through being unable to afford the court costs.
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my advice, w8 to see how the Hasbro thing ends then develop it as it is best, meanwhile, work on parts of the game that are independent, wrappers, tools, etc, or build other small games
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Thank you very much people.

What I may do is work on the game as I want it, and release it as freeware (possibly...)

Since I am not gaining from it, the company is less likely to follow through with legal matters.



regards,

GeniX
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quote:
Original post by GeniX

Since I am not gaining from it, the company is less likely to follow through with legal matters.


Stop right there - that is a misconception.

MS gave Internet Explorer away for free. Netscape didn''t like that. The point here is not if you make money off someone else''s work. That''s no big deal, no-one should care. The big deal is whether you potentially make them lose money as a result, and if someone downloads your clone game instead of buying the ''official'' one, you''ve lost them money. In fact, giving it away for free may bring more attention, depending on the company.

Just some advice.
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