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justicar

create demo of copyrighted material?

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I'm hoping the learned here can answer this one...

There's an old (22 years) arcade game that I'm quite fond of. I'd like to post in the help wanted section to re-create the first level (only). The purpose is to go to the rights holder and show them a proof of concept or demo, and request a license. And turn over the source if they decline.

I am in no way interested in developing it further without official sanction, not interested in distributing it to anyone outside of the team, etc. I am not claiming that copyrights don't apply, trying to usurp them or any other shenanigans. I just figured that a demo in hand might be better than showing up on their doorstep empty-handed with delusions of grandeur.

Would this be okay?

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Original post by justicar
I'm hoping the learned here can answer this one...

There's an old (22 years) arcade game that I'm quite fond of. I'd like to post in the help wanted section to re-create the first level (only). The purpose is to go to the rights holder and show them a proof of concept or demo, and request a license. And turn over the source if they decline.

I am in no way interested in developing it further without official sanction, not interested in distributing it to anyone outside of the team, etc. I am not claiming that copyrights don't apply, trying to usurp them or any other shenanigans. I just figured that a demo in hand might be better than showing up on their doorstep empty-handed with delusions of grandeur.

Would this be okay?


Developing the game is always ok, copyright only prevents you from distributing it without permission, if they say no you can always change the game to avoid their copyrights. (From your post i'd guess level design is the only thing covered by copyright).

Personally i'd recommend creating your own levels instead, You can always copy other level designs after(if) you get permission to do so.

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The policy in the help wanted forum is that they will close/lock your thread (even though as mentioned above, you're not strictly doing wrong by developing someone elses IP in private).

I used to work for a company that did this -- they took a successful TV show/Film, privately developed a demo game, took their (infringing) game to the IP holder, and walked away with a signed contract for $11M in funding and the licensed rights to develop the IP officially!

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Original post by justicar
Would this be okay?

It is a risky road.


You can certainly develop it in your basement and never release it to the public. That's fine.

But the moment you show it off, even to the original IP owner, you may be in violation of the law and certainly are exposing yourself to risk of lawsuit. The risk depends on who, what, where, when, and how you show it.

If you have a proper business set up, and you don't mention it or show it off publicly, and you are going through the proper route of making a pitch to the company, and you can demonstrate in a businesslike way that you can potentially bring the product to market, and you can convince them that the product will benefit them and their brands .... then you can be in the route Hodgman suggested. In that case the legal risk is very minimal.

And if you follow the route and fail to get the deal, you will need to throw away that content and try again with your own IP or another brand, making another pitch elsewhere.

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Original post by SimonForsman
Developing the game is always ok, copyright only prevents you from distributing it without permission....

This is 100% incorrect. The reason the law is called copyright (rather than distributionright) is because the primary thing it controls is the right to copy a creative work. Making a demo of the game without permission would be copyright infringement, however it is unlikely that you would end up in trouble if the only people you ever show it to are the IP owners.

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Original post by justicarI just figured that a demo in hand might be better than showing up on their doorstep empty-handed with delusions of grandeur.
Even if you don't have a demo you shouldn't be empty handed. If you want a company to grant you a license for their IP you need to present them with a business proposal explaining what they are going to get from the deal.

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Original post by Obscure
Quote:
Original post by SimonForsman
Developing the game is always ok, copyright only prevents you from distributing it without permission....

This is 100% incorrect. The reason the law is called copyright (rather than distributionright) is because the primary thing it controls is the right to copy a creative work. Making a demo of the game without permission would be copyright infringement, however it is unlikely that you would end up in trouble if the only people you ever show it to are the IP owners.

Quote:
Original post by justicarI just figured that a demo in hand might be better than showing up on their doorstep empty-handed with delusions of grandeur.
Even if you don't have a demo you shouldn't be empty handed. If you want a company to grant you a license for their IP you need to present them with a business proposal explaining what they are going to get from the deal.
A business proposal for a game will require a concept at least as an appendix. A game concept will require the use of aspects of the copyrighted material, thus committing infringement. Catch 22.
...but seriously, who's going to sue you for presenting a business proposal? It's common practice to put together a business pitch that includes "infringing" concept work. As long as you don't make this pitch material public (i.e. you can't even announce it), then you're going to be ok (in my totally-not-a-lawyer opinion). So, the other guys you get to help with the pitch should be bound by an NDA to cover your ass if they leak the work.

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Thank you all for your responses. I'm not sure on some of the legality that was raised, but I'm not going to start an argument over it. I believe that my question, whether or not it would be allowed here, has been answered. It's not and that's fine. Thanks.

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Original post by justicar
1. I'm not sure on some of the legality that was raised,
2. but I'm not going to start an argument over it.
3. Thanks.

1. You can always hire an attorney, and then be sure. We always recommend that you do just that.
2. Good idea!
3. Gracious of you to say that!

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