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RajanSky

Do you have questions about copyrights, patents, trademarks, etc?

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Hey, I was thinking why don''t we get up a list of questions people have on this thread? Just send in some things you want to know. I''m taking this class about entrepreneurship and we''re gonna have an IP Attorney come in to talk to us so I could ask him some of these questions and do some research as well, then I can write up a summary of the stuff he said and post it here. Considering the huge amount of questions people seem to have over this Intellectual Property stuff, I think it may be worth the effort to do something like that? Oh well, anyways post away with your questions if you have any. Thanks! Raj

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One IP related question that I have wondered about for some time is what happens if I want to set a game in a real world location. Am I allowed to wander around London photographing streets and using the images for textures etc to recreate that street exactly. If the image is very exact (you can clearly see shops/logos etc) do I have to get approval?

Dan Marchant
Obscure Productions

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Thanks for the questions so far! I will ask about those.

gamechampionx- Actually your question is fairly general so I think I know a place where you can find the answer.. Go to gaminggroundzero.com- they have an interview with an IP attorney who answers your question if I remember correctly.

I believe basically the way it works is that, any time you finish some piece of work, it is automatically copyrighted just by the fact that you made it. However, I think there''s like a weak copyright and a strong copyright or something, so if you want really good protection then you actually have to go out and officially register your copyright... Anyways don''t take my word for it, check that site out =)

Raj

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Guest Anonymous Poster
There is a webpage on the Internet that exists to determine the inner structure of the Bioware engine (it was used to make Baldur''s Gate).

http://www.teambg.com/iesdp/

The thing is the webpage exposes all of the internal data used by the above engine. From reading this data it is possible to guess the design and create a similar engine. There is a disclaimer on the website and they say if Bioware or Interplay want anything taken down they will do so immediately. To date the only thing they have defended is their acm sound format.
The site has existed for more than 2 years.

If someone used the info on this site to make their own engine would they be liable in any way?


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quote:
How do copyrights work? Is there a legal process, or can I just write Copyright on something, and have it be officially copyrighted?


Wow is that a vague question. I''ll try to be brief, and make the assumption that we''re talking U.S. copyright law.

Once you''ve created a literary or visual original work, you are considered the copyright owner of that work. Simple, right? Wrong.

In an infringement suit, you''d have to prove that your work was created before another''s. How do you do that? The simplest method that people suggest is to take a copy of your manuscript or artwork and mail it to yourself. Take the unopened envelope and store it someplace. You''ll have the postal mark on the envelope with the date of postage as your reference date.

There are better ways to do this. Several sites across the web offer "storage bins" where you can upload a copy of your original work, and have this used as your date of issue/creation. There is also publication (note: from my own research, posting your work on a website for DISPLAY may not qualify as publication); obviously a published work has a stronger case than an unpublished work.

The advantage of having your original work copyrighted is that a copy of the work is placed in the Library of Congress, and is available to anyone who bothers to run a copyright search before trying to publish something of their own. It''s a statement that "this is mine, so don''t copy it". It also allows you to use the registration symbol ("R" in a circle).

You can use the copyright symbol ("C" in a circle) without having registered it.

Also, be aware that updating a document changes the work copyrighted. If you create several versions of a copyrighted work, you must register each version; the original copyright will not extend to any modifications you made. Yes, you will have a certain degree of proof of ownership - but the revised copy will not be available in copyright searches.

I should point out that a copyrighted work does not automatically give you trademark rights to any names within that work, and you cannot copyright ideas. Using Marvel Comics as an example, the brands X-Men, Wolverine, and Magneto are registered trademarks. The images of Wolverine and Magneto are copyrighted images. The idea of a human with mutated genes, who has a metal endoskeleton and retractable claws is NOT copyrighted, nor is it able to be trademarked.

Make sense?

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quote:
Original post by EricTrickster
Once you've created a literary or visual original work, you are considered the copyright owner of that work. Simple, right? Wrong.

You do have copyright upon creation of the work but you must register before you can sue (in most cases). If you register your work later than 3 months after initial publication you'll only be able to sue for actual damages (no statutory penalties, no attorney fee awards).

quote:
In an infringement suit, you'd have to prove that your work was created before another's. How do you do that? The simplest method that people suggest is to take a copy of your manuscript or artwork and mail it to yourself. Take the unopened envelope and store it someplace. You'll have the postal mark on the envelope with the date of postage as your reference date.

That's not likely to work. One thing that might work is to keep records of the evolution of your work. If you can show the work that has gone into the creation of your work the judge will be more likely to believe that your wrote it yourself.

quote:
It also allows you to use the registration symbol ("R" in a circle).

The (R) symbol is used next to registered trademarks. It's not for use in copyright notices.

[edited by - chronos on October 8, 2002 6:46:02 AM]

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The old "post it to yourself in an envelope" suggestion is NOT a viable means of establishing the date something was created. It is very easy to post youself an unsealed, empty envelope and to later put something into it. You need to lodge a copy with a lawyer/solicitor/accountant who as a professional person will make a good witness.

Also as the previous poster mentioned the R in a circle is nothing to do with copyright. It is to do with Registered Trademarks.

Dan Marchant
Obscure Productions

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If you start distributing a shareware product through a web registering service (kagi.com or the like), won''t that service be able (and willing) to offer evidence that your product is on their site since the date you registered it?

And my question: what is the copyright status of classical music/old art? Is it possible that reproducing any of these may be restricted? Do you know of some cases (like works in a museum, etc.) when it''s clearly not?

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Alright... I''m gonna be pretty swamped with work for the next week or so, but anyways thanks for all your questions. When I get some time I will try to look up the answers and post them.

Raj

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