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duder673

Legality for Creating a Strategy Guide For a Game ?

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I know that this may not be directly related to game development, but I have learned a particular genre of games so well that it inspired me to get into game development in the first place.

I still support those games and the communities that have been created by them and I hope to create a Strategy Guide for a future release.

What kind of legality issues come into play with this? Can I just create an "Unofficial Game Guide" with images (and videos in the electronic version) of gameplay within the guide and reference the company that created it?

I will in no way claim to be that I am working for the company that makes the game, only offering common to higher level strategies within the game(s).

If you have any information regarding this, please let me know, I do not want to do anything illegal but it would serve as a great fundraiser for tournaments of the very game that it will be informing people about.

[Edited by - duder673 on October 1, 2010 12:02:09 AM]

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Quote:
Original post by Tom Sloper
When I saw the subject line, I figured it rightly belonged in the Writing forum, but since it's a legal question it belongs in The Business and Law.


Yeah I don't need help writing it, I just would like to know if anyone knows the legality of it and I figured this would be a good place to look since there are tons of guides. I changed the topic just to be more clear to everyone.

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Unofficial guides are questionable.

If you are risk averse you should certainly get permission. If you have any significant assets you want to protect (such as your house) you should get permission. It may be unlikely that a major corporation will sue an individual with no chance of recovering their costs, and suing customers is bad for PR, but just being unlikely does not mean it is impossible, nor does it mean it is legal.



Are you including actual game images? You PROBABLY need copyright clearance for them. Your work would probably not qualify as a commentary or other fair use exemption.

Are you including maps? You PROBABLY need permission for them. Maps are subject to copyright regardless of their media. Even crude reproductions of the game's maps are likely considered derivative works from their original work, not commentary.

Are you including drawings or your own representation of their characters? You PROBABLY need permission, since those images are derived from their works. They are also PROBABLY subject to trademark restrictions, since they are recognizable elements.

Are you including the names of their characters, opponents, items, maps, cities, and other elements? You PROBABLY need permission since they are trademarks and your work likely will not fit under fair use exemptions.

Are you using details of their characters, opponents, items, materials, or game mechanics? You MIGHT be violating assorted laws relating to intangible assets. Beyond the legal assets like copyright and trademark, you MIGHT end up violating laws pertaining to unfair competition, trade secret, misappropriation, or other areas of law.

Details of their system MIGHT fall under laws or EULA requirements of reverse engineering. Other details MIGHT fall under trademark, trade dress, or other IP law.




Playing it safe means getting a lawyer and getting permission.

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First of all, thank you for the thoughtful reply.

I would like to have their logo on the front cover (it isn't required but I would still have to use the game(s) name either way), reference to the name of the characters in game because there are specific examples in the gameplay that are character specific (I don't necessarily need an avatar picture of them but it would be nice), and what it comes down to is the bulk of the guide will simply be screenshots of the game and that is about all I would referencing.

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Quote:
Original post by duder673
the bulk of the guide will simply be screenshots of the game and that is about all I would referencing.

Quote:
Original post by frob
...including actual game images... You PROBABLY need copyright clearance for them. Your work would probably not qualify as a commentary or other fair use exemption.
...
Playing it safe means getting a lawyer and getting permission.

In other words, "already answered."

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On a general level companies are happy for gaming web sites to publish screenshots or player guides (which appear free on game review sites), as these help to promote their games. However they also make good money by licensing rights to produce official player guide books which will be sold. The companies that pay for these rights get to use the logos/screenshots/maps etc in their official guide and wont be happy if someone else is allowed to create a competing product, without having to pay a license fee. They would likely put pressure on the game publisher to take action.
Quote:
Original post by duder673
I would like to have their logo on the front cover (it isn't required but I would still have to use the game(s) name either way),

That would be trademark infringement. Logos (and often just the text version of a company/product name) are Trademarks. Obviously you want readers to know that your guide is about game X but in doing so you are using their Trademark to generate sales of your product.

Quote:
reference to the name of the characters in game because there are specific examples in the gameplay that are character specific (I don't necessarily need an avatar picture of them but it would be nice), and what it comes down to is the bulk of the guide will simply be screenshots of the game and that is about all I would referencing.

As Frob said, that would probably be Copyright infringement because you are using images from a copyright work in your own work. The fact that you would be earning money doesn't make any difference to the issue of copyright, but it does make it more likely that a Publisher will think it worth taking action.

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