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rHornbek

Copyright Laws

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rHornbek    175
What kind of copyright laws are there on game engines when they are developed? It seems as tho everyone and thier brother is using the Unreal Engine to make games. So what kind of protection, if any, do talented programmers have to safeguard thier new or brilliant systems? I might not know what im talking about but someone asked me and i would like to answer them with some confidance. Thanks

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Conner McCloud    1135
Quote:
Original post by Dasubermechen
What kind of copyright laws are there on game engines when they are developed? It seems as tho everyone and thier brother is using the Unreal Engine to make games. So what kind of protection, if any, do talented programmers have to safeguard thier new or brilliant systems?

I might not know what im talking about but someone asked me and i would like to answer them with some confidance.

Thanks

You have all the same rights any other author has. Nobody can use the Unreal engine without permission from the developers [iD?], period. If they choose, they can be more open with their engines. iD has released several of their old engines as open source projects. Even then, they keep complete control over it...I think some of them aren't allowed to be used in commercial projects, for instance. That way, they can still license the engine out to actual game studios should the opportunity arise.

CM

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alnite    3438
Quote:
Original post by Dasubermechen
What kind of copyright laws are there on game engines when they are developed? It seems as tho everyone and thier brother is using the Unreal Engine to make games. So what kind of protection, if any, do talented programmers have to safeguard thier new or brilliant systems?

I might not know what im talking about but someone asked me and i would like to answer them with some confidance.

Thanks

The US Copyright Law guarantees you, the author/creator, exclusive rights over your creations. You have the exclusive right to make copies of your creations/products. If someone decides to take your code and releases it to the public domain, i.e. torrent sites etc, you can sue that person or basically anyone, including the torrent sites, who's illegally making copies of your engine for loss of profit.

Registering your product, although not necessary, will further strengthen your legal position.

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Antimode Siker    146
If you license the Unreal Engine (made by Epic, by the way), you are allowed to release software using it under some particular terms. Epic will still 'own' the engine, but you will be allowed to use it and all game content you create is still yours. So basically the game is yours except the parts which aren't yours.

So to answer your question about what kind of protections you as a game system developer would have: well, you just don't give the engine to anybody who hasn't paid you lots of money for a license and agreed to other terms you might have come up with.

For example, licensing the Unreal 2 Engine on a royalty free basis is $750,000. (Source: http://www.devmaster.net/engines/engine_details.php?id=25)

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CJM    454
Hey,

As stated above, game engines are covered by exactly the same protection that you'll find on any other source code [which should be as much, or more than the ownership that an author has on a novel]. You own the copyright to the actual code, and so if anyone uses it, you have the legal right to demand money / get them to stop using it.

That said, distribution is the key. The sole reason that you don't find Epic's Unreal 2 source code on the net is that it costs a lot [125k or 250k [edit: ok, 750k] USD or something AFAIK]. And for that much, Epic can check that it's a proper, legit company before handing over the code. Similarly, few companies would be so unprofessional as to take other source and publish it - and they'd be giving their competitors a leg up.

Unfortunately however, proving that your code was used in something is very difficult to do, particularly legally. Although you may own the source code and all direct derivatives, you don't own the concept behind a single advanced feature. That's what patents are [supposedly] for. Registering your project will also help in proving that your code was stolen, but as far as I know, the only way to do that is to provide a dissassembly of both programs and show that they are logically very similar. Though, I believe [not sure] that dissassembling someone else's application may have some legal issues in some places.

So, all in all:
You own the code, you sell it under a contract.
Sell it to people that you can trust. Maybe customise each user's product, or if possible only provide object files [if it's low cost - and people don't actually need to modify your source] or something.
It can be very difficult to prove that your code has been used, without actually being able to see the code.

But, like you, I'm not a particular expert, and none of this 'copyright' dealy means squat in some places [afaik, Russia has some 'interesting' rules on copyright, but again not so sure].

I hope this helped, at least a little.

--CJM

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rHornbek    175
Great, its more of what i guess i thought it was, like everything else. But my misconception was with Open Source items, i guess its like patenting the Car but not the wheel?

Thanks again.

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Conner McCloud    1135
Quote:
Original post by Dasubermechen
Great, its more of what i guess i thought it was, like everything else. But my misconception was with Open Source items, i guess its like patenting the Car but not the wheel?

I have no idea where you are going with that analogy.

Open Source licences are just one way of specifying what rights other people have to your code. You retain all rights except the ones you explicitly give up...if you publish a program under the GPL, for instance, you explicitly give up the right to create derivative works provided those works are also published under the GPL. I could release an open source engine that requires any game made with it culminate in a fight against a giant rabbit named Harvey. Or I could just throw it into the public domain and be done with it.

Of course, they're all based around the honor system. If Valve felt so inclined, they could release the source to Half Life 2 without a problem, but just because the law says the code is off limits doesn't mean nobody'll use it.

CM

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Troll    246
Quote:
Original post by alnite
The US Copyright Law guarantees you, the author/creator, exclusive rights over your creations. You have the exclusive right to make copies of your creations/products. If someone decides to take your code and releases it to the public domain, i.e. torrent sites etc, you can sue that person or basically anyone, including the torrent sites, who's illegally making copies of your engine for loss of profit.


I believe your information on torrents is incorrect. I believe I read somewhere that torrents do not violate copyrights. Other P2P systems due thus WinMX and others have been shutting down recently. BitTorrent avoids the same fate because instead of sharing copyrighted files directly, it shares torrent files which, although they contain information about copyrighted files, does not include any copyrighted material.

This may not be right, but I'm pretty sure it's what I've read. It also may only apply to certain jurisdictions. IIRC I read the info in a story about some Swedish torrent sites laughing at nasty lawyer letters from American companies.

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Conner McCloud    1135
Quote:
Original post by Troll
I believe your information on torrents is incorrect. I believe I read somewhere that torrents do not violate copyrights. Other P2P systems due thus WinMX and others have been shutting down recently. BitTorrent avoids the same fate because instead of sharing copyrighted files directly, it shares torrent files which, although they contain information about copyrighted files, does not include any copyrighted material.

Napster tried a similar tactic, and look where it got them. That's the sort of handwaving that I despise...knowingly enabling somebody to break the law is no better than breaking the law yourself.
Quote:
Original post by Troll
This may not be right, but I'm pretty sure it's what I've read. It also may only apply to certain jurisdictions. IIRC I read the info in a story about some Swedish torrent sites laughing at nasty lawyer letters from American companies.

It does depend on where you are. As I understand it, filesharing in general is legal in Switzerland, so obviously Swiss torrent sites are equally legal. I think the same applies to Canadia. Even within the US, different jurisdictions have been interpreting digital copyright law in unique ways.

CM

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Antimode Siker    146
I think he is refering to a recent Slashdot article about the Pirate Bay. The Pirate Bay indeed appears to be perfectly legal in Sweden, where in general, giving directions is not considered illegal.

Now an interesting thing here is your comment that 'knowingly enabling somebody to break the law is as bad as breaking the law itself'. The Pirate Bay perceives modern copyright laws to be destructive and in other words they don't think neither enabling nor breaking is bad in this case. So wether it is 'an equal amount of bad' or not might not be relevant from their moral standpoint since they think that amount of bad is nonexistenant, equal or not.

Just a thought about the thought. :)

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Troll    246
Quote:
Original post by Conner McCloud
Quote:
Original post by Troll
I believe your information on torrents is incorrect. I believe I read somewhere that torrents do not violate copyrights. Other P2P systems due thus WinMX and others have been shutting down recently. BitTorrent avoids the same fate because instead of sharing copyrighted files directly, it shares torrent files which, although they contain information about copyrighted files, does not include any copyrighted material.

Napster tried a similar tactic, and look where it got them. That's the sort of handwaving that I despise...knowingly enabling somebody to break the law is no better than breaking the law yourself.
CM


I wasn't commenting on the ethics of copyright violation, merely the legality. If someone's interest is in avoiding criminal sanctions, it's more important to heed the legality of any action rather than its ethical implications. Depending on one's views, these can differ substantially at times.

I didn't know Napster tried a similar tactic. What did they try? They had centralized servers that matched people up which was a major part of their problem. Grokster and others like it operated legally well beyond the lifespan of napster because they did not have a centralized structure.

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Raghar    96
Quote:
Original post by alnite
If someone decides to take your code and releases it to the public domain, i.e. torrent sites etc, you can sue that person or basically anyone, including the torrent sites, who's illegally making copies of your engine for loss of profit.


Release on torrent sites isn't release to public domain. Release into public domain is imposible without clearly writen permision from the author of the original work.

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