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eclipticalmedia

The Right to Use a City Name/Street/Buildings...etc

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I was just curious as to how you obtain if you need to at all the right to use the name/street or other 'trademark' items of a town.. I live in Ontario, Canada. Of course Im aware that I have to obtain permission from actual stores to use signs ect (as well as being advertising revenue) but are there any legal matters I must address if I would like to use an actual city name in my game title or as a level? [Edited by - eclipticalmedia on November 14, 2004 1:26:03 PM]

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No one owns the names of streets or locations, unless fictional. So no-one can really stop you using them!

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Thanks for the quick reply I assumed the same - it's sunday so I'll call around tomorrow - the only reason I wonder is that lets say my game had sexual or violent content I just wonder if a town would have any say as to being assosiated with that type of product...(My game does not have sexual content but is somewhat violent ) or if they would have any right to ban or otherwise stop it from being distributed or published.

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Nope. Otherwise loads of games wouldn't have released:
GT1
GTA2
GTA3
GTA: SA
Mafia
And loads of others, they can't cotnrol who uses city and location names ingames or movies.

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I just want to be clear on something in your question: are you only intending to use the name of the city/province/county, or are you planning on using the city layout and specific buildings in that city?

In other words, are you only using the name of the region as a reference or are you going to reproduce certain identifiable structures of that city within your game?

If the latter, you may need permission to do so. The same logic applies to films vs. books; you don't need permission to publish a book that contains descriptions of a city and its buildings, but you may need permission to film within that city and permission from the buildings' owners to use their structure in your movie.

Note that I said "may", not "will". Check with a lawyer, as always.

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Just to play devil's advocate, the GTA games you mentioned did NOT have real cities in them. Liberty City, Vice City, and San Andreas aren't real cities (though they are certainly based on real-life locations). Kind of like you can make tetris clones that are rip-offs of tetris, as long as you don't used that word "Tetris" in the title.

Although they did make a GTA: London expansion for GTA 1 or 2.

Still, I think you're fine using real-life city names. Just watch out for certain specific buildings. I'm sure you can use real landmarks (Statue of Liberty), but some modern buildings might cause problems with the architects and/or whoever designed them.

-Gauvir_Mucca

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But going back to the book example, you could have somebody being shot in Safeway, or terrorists trying to blow up the Statue of Liberty I think?

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