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ikantor89

Legality of game design

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Hello all! This forum seemed like the best place to ask, however if it would belong in a different location please move it. I am a hobbyist game developer and am staring my first serious project. Without going into great detail, it’s going to be a 2D scrolling shooter. What makes it unique is that it is based on a Hollywood motion picture. The question of copyright and legality arises. If I want to use some of the names and or pictures and or music from the original movie, how do I avoid getting sued by a major Hollywood movie company? I am not intending to use this comercialy (Ill presumes that putting it on my web page does not count as commercial use). Can anyone help? Where can I research the issue? Regards, Igor

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Well If you want to know a better place to post this maybe in the Game Business forum you could have asked.

And regarding your problem, I have seen TONS of non-comercial games using copyrighted names tought you have to say who owns the copyright, and as far as I know no one has gotten hurt. About pictures and music I know that you have to ask for permision first. Even if it''s for free stuff.

Honestly speaking, I don''t know if the company with the copyright would ''waste'' their time in replying an email from a hobbist freeware developer (from experience, the guys at the company that I emailed prolly found my email so funny that it made their day, tought I must confess that I was too dumb at that time and the email reflected that ), but maybe contacting the company and asking for permision on 1 freeware game is your best bet.

That is as far as I know, I''m not a guru at the subject :\

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Techinically speaking, distribution of your game is where you cross the line and it becomes illegal, even if it is non-commercial. Once you distribute you *can* be sued, if they find out that you intend to distribute they may issue you a legal notice to threaten action if you continue.

Practically speaking, this sort of thing often goes unnoticed, but you are not immune. If they do come after you, you will have no legal ground to stand on. They will win, and what will happen with you is largely up to them and the damages they seek. They may simply offer a deal that you stop, or they may come after monitary damages for infringement, loss-of-business, or percieved damage you have done to their intelectual property (If you distribute a product that presents their IP in a poor light, caused an unwanted association, or distribute a product which is of poor quality.) This is especially dangerous as it is entirely objective. It can''t be quantitativly proven, if they charge that you have damaged thier IP, you are essentially guilty if you have distibuted any of their IP at any time.

Ravyne, NYN Interactive Entertainment
[My Site][My School][My Group]

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What you are planning is breach of copyright and as such isn''t legal. There is a chance that the film company wont find out and wont come after you but if your game were to prove popular the may well find out. Several studios are particularly strong on pursuing people who breach their copyright. Fox and LucasFilm have gone after a lot of games that use their IP.

Dan Marchant
Obscure Productions (www.obscure.co.uk)
Game Development & Design consultant

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Thanks guys for your help!

I do however have another question regarding distribution. I was planning on writing the game purely on Java and having it be an internet based game. I’m not sure where the distribution part legally comes into the picture. Is it distributed as soon as the game loads to the computer? Is it considered distribution at all?

Regards,
Igor

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IANAL (I am not a lawyer) but I think it''s distribution as soon as someone else has got a copy, that you have provided somehow so a java based internet game would still be considered distribution.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
This is a subject I''ve been burnt by myself when I was somewhat younger. I was a programmer on a mod for the original Half-Life some years ago and Fox came down heavy on us before we even had anything released or anything on the site, it was still in the planning stage.

The only thing on our site was a front page with one image one of the concept artists on the team drew of an alien, and a link saying enter which just led you to some discussion forums.

Fox''s typical heavy handed e-mail demanded we give them everything we had created, luckily we weren''t stupid to do and therefore incriminate ourselves, but we cancelled the project, closed down the site and heard nothing more.

I was also project leader on Q3F, a modification for Quake III based on the old free and open source Quakeworld Teamfortress. The TF team were hired by Valve and Valve came down on Q3F (previously Q3Fortress) asking us to change our mod somewhat, such as class names and not to copy TF closely, they claimed that they had withdrawn the old open source TF code (despite it being available on the old TF site still) and hence it was a breach of copyright in copying from it. Now, I always figured this was a bit iffy, can you release something as open source, then when someone makes use of it later withdraw it? Either way, we changed the names of the classes, changed a few other things and they were okay with that. Although it''s left a chip on my shoulder with Valve, I understand they''re a company out to make money and protect their IP, but I hated the way they were going on about how they loved to help the mod community publicly, whilst trying to shutdown/damage mods for other games in the background.

On the other side of the coin, I can''t confirm this but there was a few mods based on the Star Wars universe and the story was that not only did Lucas arts allow them to go ahead on it but even gave them a little help.

I think it all comes down to who''s IP you''re basing off, whether you get permission first and whether they''re run by profiteering fat cat nazis like Fox in or whether they''re run by nice, helpful people like the guys at Lucas Arts.

The only sure way to know if you''ll be okay to go for it is to ask the company who owns the copyright on the film, if it''s Fox, I''d give up now, if it''s anyone else, it''s worth a shot.

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quote:
Original post by ikantor89
Hello all!

This forum seemed like the best place to ask, however if it would belong in a different location please move it. I am a hobbyist game developer and am staring my first serious project. Without going into great detail, it’s going to be a 2D scrolling shooter. What makes it unique is that it is based on a Hollywood motion picture. The question of copyright and legality arises. If I want to use some of the names and or pictures and or music from the original movie, how do I avoid getting sued by a major Hollywood movie company? I am not intending to use this comercialy (Ill presumes that putting it on my web page does not count as commercial use). Can anyone help? Where can I research the issue?

Regards,
Igor



if you made it a parodius then you can use without problems, otherwise is illegal.
Take note that illegal is not equal to be punished for example, a free game can use the music or picture of some movie because they lawyers don''t care about "free products". In opposite, if you earn money then the lawyers will want to take some money. Now, if the company of the movie made some game then they don''t want a competitor (even if it''s for free)....







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Quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
This is a subject I''ve been burnt by myself when I was somewhat younger. I was a programmer on a mod for the original Half-Life some years ago and Fox came down heavy on us before we even had anything released or anything on the site, it was still in the planning stage.
This is specifically the sort of thing I was refering to. It was so common that it became known in the games business as "doing a Fox".

On a side issue I think this is a very important issue for developers. I spend a lot of time offering advice to developers and wannabe developers and would like to discuss your experiences, with a view to sharing them with others (while protecting your anonymity if you desire). You can email me via my profile if you care to share.

Quote:
On the other side of the coin, I can''t confirm this but there was a few mods based on the Star Wars universe and the story was that not only did Lucas arts allow them to go ahead on it but even gave them a little help.
I know of at least one that they have shut down so my experience contrasts with yours.

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