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Nayus Dante

8-Bit Tiles - How Similar is Considered Infringement?

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I'm working on an original RPG tileset, and I'm studying existing tiles to do it. I've noticed that in a 16x16 tile, there's only so many designs that work, given the extremely low resolution. A lot of tiles are so incredibly simple that I'm not even sure you could claim copyright on them individually. Take this grass tile, for example... That came from the SNES remake of Dragon Quest. It's just a bunch of little "V" shaped things, with two dots between each row. That's a very simple pattern, but could I legally make something similar, using that formula of Vs and dots? What if they faced a different way? Here's another example, this time from Guadia Quest (Retro Game Challenge)... Using the same colors, I made an original tile using a similar formula. In any four-pixel row, by width or length, there's generally five dots. In any four by four segment, there's either one or two dots. I'm probably not going to use those exact colors, but there's only so many combinations of green that make good 8-bit grass tiles, and I'm sure that a lot have been used somewhere. I know I'm probably overthinking this, but it's a genuine concern of mine and I'd like to know what other people think. [Edited by - Nayus Dante on February 12, 2010 9:05:02 PM]

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Original post by Tom Sloper
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Original post by Nayus Dante
I know that legal advice isn't allowed here

It's NOT????????? \(O_+)/


Whoops, I had originally posted this over on the XNA forums, and copied it over to here. They're REALLY anal about that sort of thing...

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In our country, copyright protection is for the work itself, and excludes "any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work."

Copying their artwork directly is infringement. Deriving your artwork from their creative work is also infringement.

But it looks like you are doing neither of those.

You are simply using the very basic concept that grass texture can look like little lines (*gasp*!). You can depict those lines as little V shapes among many, many, many other ways.

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Original post by frob
In our country, copyright protection is for the work itself, and excludes "any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work."

Copying their artwork directly is infringement. Deriving your artwork from their creative work is also infringement.

But it looks like you are doing neither of those.

You are simply using the very basic concept that grass texture can look like little lines (*gasp*!). You can depict those lines as little V shapes among many, many, many other ways.


I'm not even seeing (visually) where you're getting even that much of borrowing of that basic concept, frob. I know it's late and all, but I still can't see a "v" shape in the images he pointed to as his. Unless we're talking about a very loose interpretation of that letter.

Yes, OP. You are definitely overthinking this. While in some cases the presentation and arrangement of geographic shapes is copyrightable, it's unlikely that this would rise to that standard. There's some other case law surrounding random formulaic images as not constituting works of authorship, but that's still delving deeper than we really need to here.

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I think there's a limit to what's reasonably enforcable, even in a country where you can patent the doubly linked list 50 years after its publication by someone else.

Imagine I have a checkerboard tile in my game. So... do I get to sue you if you use a checkerboard pattern in your game? Heck, I should patent "method and apparatus of using alternating colors in computer graphics" immediately ... :-)

As you said, there are only so and so many combinationsin a 16x16 tile, so as long as your tile isn't quite obviously a 1:1 copy, you should be pretty safe. In particular for "trivial" patterns such as a few dots on a background colour, it seems unlikely to me that someone could successfully make claims or would even try.
After all, even in the most silly jurisdictions, you still have to convince a judge that you actually have a case, and presenting two green color plates with a few more or less random dots on them doesn't really seem like something a reasonable person would accept, especially if it's one from a set of a hundred or so tiles.

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Original post by madelelaw
I know it's late and all, but I still can't see a "v" shape in the images he pointed to as his. Unless we're talking about a very loose interpretation of that letter.


The OP said:

"It's just a bunch of little "V" shaped things, with two dots between each row. That's a very simple pattern, but could I legally make something similar, using that formula of Vs and dots? What if they faced a different way? ... In any four-pixel row, by width or length, there's generally five dots."

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I didn't make one using the V pixels, I just used that as an example. I did TRY to make one like that, but I couldn't get it to tile as nicely.

The one that I made is just dots, and it seems to tile better than the one from Guadia Quest.

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