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ThinkTank

Copyrights for design doc AND code?

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Hello,

I have a completed game and a design doc that the game is based off of. Do I need to purchase one copyright to protect the game and purchase another copyright to protect the design doc, or can I just purchase one copyright to protect them both?

Also, somewhere in the game (perhaps the main menu) do I have to use graphics to display "Copyright, 2010."

Thanks

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Quote:
Original post by Tom Sloper
Your copyright does not have to be stated with an image. It can be in text form without being an image file.
When you say you want to copyright the "game," what do you mean exactly?


I mean the actual application that you play. It says on your website in article #39:

"The United States Copyright Office website is http://www.copyright.gov/. Pretty easy to find, and pretty easy to navigate and use. It costs $30 to register a copyright."

I am wondering if I have to register a copyright for my iphone application AND register a copyright for my game design doc that I plan to send to publishers, or if I can register one copyright that protects them both.

I apologize if I am not being clear, legal topics are not my strong point.

Thanks.

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Quote:
Original post by ThinkTank
I am wondering if I have to register a copyright for my iphone application AND register a copyright for my game design doc

What's the point of copyrighting the design doc? All you're copyrighting is the text (the wording) in the design doc. Besides, you already own the copyright in that, by default.
I recommend you do more reading on copyrights -- like the Nolo Press book I listed in my FAQ 8.
You don't HAVE to register a copyright, but it does become important if a legal challenge comes up.
But by all means, download the copyright application form from the gov site, and fill it out, see how that goes. Mainly for the app (in which your copyright notice should be clearly stated), but I guess also for the design doc, if you really want.

[Edited by - Tom Sloper on December 9, 2010 12:36:44 AM]

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Excuse me for a bit off-topic question, but reading this discussion a question came to my mind:

Does copyright have to be stated at all or in such a manner? Do I have to include "Copyright" text in any place of the game? Or is it enough if EULA directly states, that users may not copy, modify, etc.?

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After reading this whole disscussion one thing comes to my mind is

"If as a developer we are showing our Game Idea in the form of a small playable demo or video, what we can do to ensure that Company doesn't reject us and make a game out of it later on their own ? "

Edit : Do we need to make a Game Design Doc and purchase a Copyright for it ?
Or is there any other way ???

(Dunno if it's related or complete different question. My knowlage is zero when it comes to legal stuff like copyright,etc)

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If as a developer we are showing our Game Idea in the form of a small playable demo or video, what we can do to ensure that Company doesn't reject us and make a game out of it later on their own ?

It depends on what you mean by "make a game of it". You cannot copyright the abstract game rules, but you you might be able to show that their game is a derived work if it is too close to yours.

Taking Mario as an example, I don't believe you could claim copyright on any platformer games with enemies you can jump on. You could have a case if an infringer has a little plumber as the main character, or if the world was all stars and mushrooms, etc.

Note that a game company might reject you out of hand (that is, without even looking at your project) for precisely the reason you are afraid of! They might have a project in the works similar to yours in some fashion. By examining your work, you might be able to make a legal claim against them later. Legally, it is safer for companies to ignore you completely, they have their own talented game designers who have plenty of ideas. A publisher might be more receptive, as they are not in the business of creating the games.

It is unclear what kind of companies you plan to approach.
Quote:

Does copyright have to be stated at all or in such a manner? Do I have to include "Copyright" text in any place of the game? Or is it enough if EULA directly states, that users may not copy, modify, etc.?

Copyright is implicitly applied to all works, unless you can find something stating otherwise. However, my understanding is that unless you register your copyright, you can only legally send cease & desist to an infringer. If you register, then you can get damages.



Copyright is a bit of a legal minefield for us non lawyers. I am certainly not a lawyer, so don't make any business plans around anything I've said. If you are serious about taking your game to a company, book some time with a lawyer now rather than regret it later.

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You may need to file an application in the Copyright Office as a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit for copyright infringement in the US. It is not required in order to send a C+D or a DMCA takedown notice, but failure to file an application is often an initial defense people use to throw you off their scent.

I think if you published a game on iPhone App store, then you can file a copyright application to protect the audio-visual elements and the underlying code (technically both are protected under 1 combined work). Remember you have to disclaim licensed works that are included in the App (e.g. open source middleware), but I would not bother registering the GDD b/c it will likely anyone can look at the iPhone game and extract the basic ideas and game play mechanics without looking at the GDD. So it would be kind of pointless b/c it would only prevent a direct rip-off (same art, same story, characters etc.).

Good luck!

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