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Copyright issues - movie based game

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Hi,

I was wondering if I would be getting in trouble with copyright laws if I make a game based in a movie even if I don't want to make it "commercial" or sell it. I mean, it is just for learning purposes, but I do plan to release it (for free), or maybe just show my progress in youtube videos or a blog and stuff like that. Because I have seen videos of Super Mario World's and Zelda's and other's clones.

I'm not that good writing scripts and storylines, so I was thinking of just pick a movie and make a game with its story and characters and all that.

What can you tell me about that?

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Hi,

I was wondering if I would be getting in trouble with copyright laws if I make a game based in a movie even if I don't want to make it "commercial" or sell it. I mean, it is just for learning purposes, but I do plan to release it (for free), or maybe just show my progress in youtube videos or a blog and stuff like that. Because I have seen videos of Super Mario World's and Zelda's and other's clones.

I'm not that good writing scripts and storylines, so I was thinking of just pick a movie and make a game with its story and characters and all that.

What can you tell me about that?


Probably copyright issues. If you can satire it, or change enough of the details, you may be able to follow a similar story line. Even if no money is earned companies can get very defensive of their IP(s).

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Hi,

I was wondering if I would be getting in trouble with copyright laws if I make a game based in a movie even if I don't want to make it "commercial" or sell it. I mean, it is just for learning purposes, but I do plan to release it (for free), or maybe just show my progress in youtube videos or a blog and stuff like that. Because I have seen videos of Super Mario World's and Zelda's and other's clones.

I'm not that good writing scripts and storylines, so I was thinking of just pick a movie and make a game with its story and characters and all that.

What can you tell me about that?



This happens fairly often. You can go ahead and make a game based on whatever film or tv show as long as it's free. However, keep in mind that the owners of said intellectual property can order you to cease and desist at any time. It's their property. Most of the time, this issue does not come up. But there have been occasions in the past where projects have been shut down.

If you take a look at the modding community in general, you will probably notice a number of mods based on Stargate, Jurassic Park, and even other games. Hell, when I was just starting out, I was involved in a mod which turned Duke Nukem 3D into Men in Black (called Duke in Black, of course) back in the 1990's.

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To echo what the others said above, you're still not guaranteed to be safe. Not charging for your game only reduces the damages you're liable for if the owner of the IP decides to sue you. Most would decide that you're not worth sueing if you aren't charging anything, so you could probably get by for years or indefinitely without any worry. Some companies also turn a blind eye to this sort of thing or even encourage it, but this varies tremendously from company to company. The vast amount of fanart on deviantART, fanfiction on fanfiction.net and fan games on Newgrounds should be enough to demonstrate that it's usually not an issue.

Trying to make it clear that it's a fan game and that you're not affiliated with the owners in any way further reduces the damages you're liable for in that it would be difficult for a company to demonstrate that you did them considerable harm.

Keep in mind though that you can literally sue anyone for anything, so even if you don't make a dime off of this and make it crystal clear that you are in no way affiliated with the owning company, you could still get sued. Unless you're doing something very objectionable, you can probably carry on without much worry. Just remember that you could receive a cease and desist letter today, tomorrow or a decade from now. And if you do receive one, there won't be a thing you can do but take your game down. You probably won't get taken to court, but you could waste years of your life building the game for that to happen.

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Thank you all for your replies!

As my goal is just to get experience making my first 3D game, for later on developing a concrete project, I think I will not get in trouble for this. So I'm going to do this anyway (maybe tweaking some things and adding some content) and taking care to make explicity whenever I showcase my game that it's just a fan game and that I'm not affiliated with the owners in any way. Afterall I think I just need a context or something to start from.

By the way, have you already watched Tim Burton's movie "9"? That's what I have in mind.

Best regards,

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Business question. Moving to Business forum. Diogo, I believe you have gotten some bad advice. And some good advice after that.
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/faq61.htm
http://underdevelopmentlaw.com/clone-games-and-fan-games-legal-issues/
http://www.obscure.co.uk/blog/category/intellectual-property/

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You would be better off calling the copyright holders and asking them directly. Just because you are not charging anything doesn't remove liability from you. Generally a company won't have any problems giving you permission to use their IP if it's for the use that you're describing. However, copyright law does require you receive express permission before using someone's IP.

Better to have it and not need it, than not have it and need it. That saying applies here in regards to permission.

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Hm, thank you Tom Sloper, I bookmarked your links and will read it later when I get home.

Death&Taxes... I think that contacting the copyright holders would be very difficult, and I don't have any idea about how to do that, but I'll search for it too.

Thanks for the explanations wink.gif

P.S.: and sorry for posting at the wrong place.

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Taking storylines and characters from a film and putting them in a "free" game is still copyright infringement and you run the risk of being sued by the IP owner (most likely the studio that distributed the movie). FYI - in the US copyright holders can sue for statutory damages even if you give the game away for free.

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I think that contacting the copyright holders would be very difficult, and I don't have any idea about how to do that, but I'll search for it too.

Thanks for the explanations wink.gif



Even if you managed to contact them, you are more likely get ignored unless you are coming from a big corporation. IP licensing is one of the cash cows for those who own it. What are the chances of them giving it out to to for free?

If I want to make a Zelda game, I can make a Zelda game. Can Nintendo stop me from making it? No, just as James Cameron can't stop the nerd next door from making an Avatar costume for his next cosplay session. If my game ever gets done and makes it to the public, can Nintendo come and sue me for millions of dollars of IP damages no matter how ridiculous my game is? Yes.

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