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CRAZY COCONUT COW

Shareware publisher

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I just finished two levels of my fabulous game. 1. If I want to put my game up Yahoo and MSN games, do I need a publisher?? 2. If I show my demo for the publishers to look at, is there a chance: they reject the game, steal the game idea and with superior workforce, money etc, develop another better version using the stolen idea? How do I protect myself? 3. How do I copyright my game...copy a copyright note somewhere and slap it on my game? Like (c)2005 Crazy Coconut Cow. All right reserved??

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Quote:
Original post by CRAZY COCONUT COW
I just finished two levels of my fabulous game.

Congratulations!
Quote:
1. If I want to put my game up Yahoo and MSN games, do I need a publisher??

Basically you are choosing them as a publisher by going directly through them. Both of those companies are very picky, so don't be surprised if they reject your game.

Quote:
2. If I show my demo for the publishers to look at, is there a chance: they reject the game, steal the game idea and with superior workforce, money etc, develop another better version using the stolen idea? How do I protect myself?

Most companies won't do that, there is a very high risk for lawsuits. There is a chance that a similar game might show up if your game isn't too unique, but it's probably not because they stole the idea, more likely you both had the same inspiration. See the GameDev catagory on the topic for a bit more information about getting a lawyer if you need one, finding a publisher, and a few of the things you need to do there.

You can use an NDA if you really are afraid of theft, and probably ought to talk to a lawyer for that. Expect to pay $100-$150 per hour for their time. If all you want is an NDA you can probably get it and a consultation in a half hour or less. If you are worried about them stealing it but are not willing to pay the money for a lawyer, you are probably over-valuing your idea.

Quote:
3. How do I copyright my game...copy a copyright note somewhere and slap it on my game? Like (c)2005 Crazy Coconut Cow. All right reserved??

Congratulations! You already own the copyright. You also own the copyright on everything else you've ever written, including your crayon drawings you made as a 5-year-old.

In most countries of the world (except a few places that don't matter) you have copyright protection the instant it is put into a permanent form, such as a disk drive. Adding the copyright statement can help protect the rights but isn't strictly neccessary in the United States.

Registering your copyright with the government is necessary before taking somebody to court for copyright infringement. It costs $30, but don't bother filing it if you think you'll never take anybody to court. The legal remedy is basically the actual damages and profits and a relativly small amount of money in statutory damages. As an indie, you can't afford to go after Joe Hacker, and you'd only be able to go against Mega Game Corp if you could find a good lawyer who is willing to take the case on contingency.

Include the word "Copyright" and/or the copyright symbol, (C) doesn't cut it, the year, and the owner of the copyright. Copyrights aren't that complicated, you can check out the US Code title 17 to read the law, it should take about an hour. Also, Nolo Press has a lot of information about copyrights and patents in software, click on the gray box on their home page, titled "Patents, Copyright & Art".


Good luck.

frob.

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Original post by frob
Registering your copyright with the government is necessary before taking somebody to court for copyright infringement.
The rest is all good advise but this one bit is incorrect. You can sue even if the copyright has not been registered. The difference is that if the copyright is registered you gain additional protection over and above that of a non-registered copyright - for example you can also sue not just for the copyright damage but also to recover your legal costs.

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The best legal advice I can give is "never ever ever accept legal advice from someone in a web-forum". Get yourself a good book on the subject written by a lawywer or (even better) spend a few bucks to bend a lawyer's ear for a few minutes. It'll be worth it.
If you can't afford a lawyer, take a senior law-school student out to lunch. Copyright law is elementary enough that one of them can probably get you started too. And he'll appreciate the free lunch. Law schools are expensive.
Oh, and at least one one piece of amateur legal advice posted above is absolute 100% balderdash. I'm not gonna tell you which one, though, because that'd constitute legal advice, and you really need to get your knowledge of copyright from a professional and not a bunch of teenage programmers.

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