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I am currently creating a semi-clone of an old game made back in 1991-1993 or so. I''m adding multiplayer etc... The company that made the game is long gone now. What sort of legal issues would I face even if I did these: *Put no copyright notice on it, but instead declared that the original game is property of the other company *Made my own sound effects

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If your game is like the old game (even almost exactly like), but you''re using your own new graphics and sounds, then you''re in the clear. You can''t copyright gameplay.

If you''re using art assets from the original, then don''t, or at very least don''t sell your version. You *probably* won''t get in trouble if you''re just giving your game away, but if you plan on selling your game, then you''ll need to be working with all new assets. Even though the company is gone, the rights to their old games may still be owned by somebody.

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If you just use the idea then you are ok. If you use the name and or the same graphics then it is breach of copyright and against the law.

If the company is dead then the IP rights will have reverted to the person who created the game or to any company that bought the assets of the now dead company. If the owner doesn't realise then you would get away with it, otherwise their lawyers will come after you. Lots of firms have realised how valuable IP is and are protecting their old stuff.

quote:
*Put no copyright notice on it, but instead declared that the original game is property of the other company
Putting a notice on admiting that you pinched someone else's IP would certainly not be smart.

Dan Marchant
Obscure Productions
Game Development & Design consultant

[edited by - obscure on November 13, 2003 9:38:38 PM]

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The graphics is an interesting issue. They are extremely simple. In some cases, just cubes and cylanders. This was when software rendering for games was emerging.

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quote:
Original post by matt_j
Then again, what about tetris clones?
They are covered by the part of my earlier post which reads "If the owner doesn''t realise then you would get away with it".

A legal clone is one inspired by an idea but using original assets (Hatris for example). An illegal one would be one that uses the same graphics and a name like Tatris. The makers of such a clone could be done for breach of copyright or for passing off (producing a product so similar that customers think it is the original).

Some companies have been stopped from producing clones, others haven''t, usually depending on if the owner notices them. If your game is successful it will almost certainly attract attention, if it isn''t then no one will care.

At the end of the day the only important issue is if you have the money to defend against such a case.


Dan Marchant
Obscure Productions
Game Development & Design consultant

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quote:
Original post by matt_j
One more thing. Due to the nature of the ideas behind this game, it will be freeware. Does that change anything?


Nope, it doesnt change anything...

Lucas Arts shut down a number of Half-Life Star Wars mods...

The reason is that the company doesnt wan to have someone see your game, end up with a bad opinion (well i hope not, but i''m sure someone will..), and then might not like the original any more. Also, companies dont want people to play your free game when the person might be willing to pay for the companies game.

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Thedarking is spot on. A free product would devalue the original and that would damage future sales if the owner decided to revive the title. In fact if the product was good that would be even worse. Why pay for the original if there is a great free version.

You will be ok if you don''t just do a straight copy. Use the idea but not the art/sound etc. Do your own sound and graphics and level designs (if it has levels) and you will be ok.

Dan Marchant
Obscure Productions
Game Development & Design consultant

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